Bubblepunk Babes and Robots at the Beach - Process
I have been building a Bubblepunk universe, in which fashion and styling from the 1920's-1940's live alongside with very futuristic robots and technology. For this Universe I have already created scenes in Suburbia, at Work and at Play, in Factories in Downtown, in Luxury Villas and even in Space. For more about this world, check out the progress here.
The Bubblepunk world has a bubble-look and a particular vibe that I have been developing for the last few months, as I create its characters, environments, architecture and overall styling.
This is important because I have used images from my previous explorations and sketches, to influence the new images using IMG2IMG in Midjourney (MJ) V4. Below, a sample of some of these earlier moods.
Some of the prompts for these earlier images would be on the lines of:
/imagine prompt: bubblepunk 1950s cosmopod beach house by the beach :: volumetric light, symmetrical, insanely detailed, unreal engine render, artstation trends, hyper detail :: epic art style. cinematic, concept art --ar 16:7
This time, I started simple:
/imagine prompt: Mecha girls at the beach --v 4
This very first image was interesting, but nothing at all in line with the rest of my Bubblepunk universe... so I got prompt-crafting and rerolling.
The first attempt was very old-school "Heavy Metal" and needed more volume, so I tested things like
" insane detail, 3D 4D 16K, octane render, extreme angle POV"
"octane render, Unreal engine, extreme angle POV, cinematic coloring, volumetric light, film VFX"
"--test --creative" and "--testp"
... none of which I liked. It didn't fit my universe.
In parallel to this Beach experiment, I had been refining the 'look' for my Universe. I preferred a more expressive, loose style than a hyper-realistic 3D one. A graphic novel style suited storytelling better than a less expressive but more refined 3D look. I had been moving away from Unreal Engine / Octane towards Gouache illustration / French graphic novels. Below, the comparison.
With a style and color palette, some good elements to work with and a direction, I prepared the next iteration in the following format:
Translated to Midjourney prompting:
gouache concept art, french illustration graphic novel by Frazetta,
bubblepunk Mecha girls at the beach, girl in best resolution,
insane detail, hyper-realistic 3D, 4D, 16K, octane render, Unreal engine, extreme angle POV, cinematic coloring, volumetric light, insanely detailed, unreal engine render, artstation trends, hyper detail, epic art style, cinematic, concept art, photorealistic bubblepunk
I liked the 'bubble-ness' of this robot, befitting of a Bubblepunk world - and also the girl's hair and face profile. I upscaled the image directly from Midjourney and saved it as a .png, which I then imported into Photoshop for some light retouching.
Light retouching in Photoshop
On the example on the right: you can see her chin and profile, her eye, neck and the contrast and saturation of her hair.
I did similar touch-ups across the robot, the background and a few other elements, just because it felt good to clean the image up a little and prepare it to import into DALLE, to expand it further.
I imported the square image into DALLE and inserted the same prompt (minus the -- parameters), and generated the 'sides' of the image until I was satisfied with the direction of the composition. It took me about 60 images before I had a layout I was happy with.
Bringing a story to life
Once the layout was created, I started refining the elements and deciding what story I wanted to tell with this image. Were the robots storming the beach? was the girl going to defend the beach? or was she directing the robots? By looking at the big picture, I could see all the elements that were still missing.
Trawler robots and a day at the beach
I was not happy with the idea of a military scene or a superhero showdown; they both felt very cliche and unsurprising ideas. I did like the fact that seeing these massive robots right at the beach might be an unsurprising event after all, and beach-goers could just watch it all happen on a regular sunny weekend. I loved to contrast.
Eventually it was my wife who came up with the idea of making the robots as massive fish-trawling engines, busy capturing fish in their massive nets, while people at the beach sunbathed and observed from the distance.
With this in mind, I was then able to develop 'beach-goers'; people at the beach playing, and non-menacing robots in the distance.
Bringing it all together
Eventually added the rest of the people in the beach, did a feeble attempt at making the robots look more like trawlers and added some lively elements across the whole area to give a sense of a busy Sunday beach.
I could continue working on this image by making the robots pull the nets (dragging them) across, full of fish - and to improve on the fashion of everyone involved, so it would be more 'bubblepunk'. I did like the yellow retro-futuristic swimming dress I painted earlier...
Alas, by this time I was happy to stop working on this image. I was happy with the colour palette and the atmosphere. It also gave me a visual of what the beach could look like. I was now ready to move on.
The Bubblepunk universe is a happy and imaginative endeavour which I like to visit depending on whatever mood I am in at the time. Today it was about the beach, another day it would be about a speakeasy, or about the factories downtown, or the luxury villas in Bubblepunk LA, or the sprawling suburbia.
In the process of exploring the beach, I came across many new ideas and elements that I might visit further in the future. Now that we know what the beach looksl ike, I wonder what beasties live further out to sea?