The airship is one of the main symbols of the Steampunk world. Let's see what makes them so special. In this ultimate guide, you will know everything about these fantastic flying machines!
What is an airship?
Airships are a popular means of transportation in steampunk stories.
An airship is a lighter-than-air aircraft that can be steered through the air using rudders and propellers or other means of thrust. Unlike other aerodynamic aircraft, such as airplanes and helicopters, airships and hot-air balloons operate using a huge balloon filled with gas, hydrogen, or hot air.
Their use in the real world decreased considerably after the Hindenburg disaster, which is the basis of the movie of the same name. This accident occurred in 1937, well after the Victorian and Edwardian eras.
In 1670, Francesco Lana, a mathematician from Brescia, published a small volume describing his various inventions. He included a chapter entitled "A Demonstration of the Feasibility of Constructing a Ship with a Rudder and Sails, which will Sail in the Air." A sketch shows what it would look like: a typical wooden sailing ship, except that the ship would be suspended under four copper spheres, each containing a vacuum which, being lighter than air, would give it lift.
The idea did not work. No one could make spheres with walls as thin as Francesco had calculated - and in any case, they would have collapsed under the pressure of the outside air as soon as they were emptied. But maybe Francesco was onto something. His vision of airships sailing through the clouds, carried by air, sparked renewed interest - and this time, we might have the technical solutions to get them off the ground.
Airships and disastrous accidents
Airships once graced the skies, of course. The first ones were simple balloons filled with hydrogen. Their heyday came in the 1920s when the familiar elongated shape of the zeppelin allowed passengers to be carried across the Atlantic in luxury. The LZ 127 Graf Zeppelin gondola, for example, had a dining room and cabins with beds.
"It's like a ship in the ocean, but with a port that exists everywhere."
This golden age ended abruptly in 1937 with the Hindenburg disaster, in which 36 passengers died when a Zeppelin caught fire. But the dream of traveling with the air never ended.
TOP 5 Steampunk airships
The Steampunk Airship, also known as the Steampunk Zeppelin or Flying Boat, has captured the imagination of steampunk artists and fans. Below are some of the best illustrations, concept art, and types of steampunk ships.
1. The Bucking Bronco - The War of Destiny
We named the best steampunk airship "The Bucking Bronco", because it seems to soar through the sky while the viewers are amazed. It appears to be a warship ready for battle as the iron tip on the front almost looks like a bayonet. This creative airship is from Trae Mitchell's book, Fate's War.
2. May steam be with you - Silvio Aebischer
This brilliant airship combines Star Wars style with classic Victorian steampunk design. It comes to us from a designer who previously worked at SEGA, Silvio Aebischer.
3. Steampunk ship by Circle-Tech - Jarosław Jaśnikowski
This creative airship comes from the surrealist painter Jarosław Jaśnikowski. This one is a clever combination of symmetry and rustic patina.
4. "The City" - (Unknown)
What do you do when at war with another country in Steampunk lands? Put your natural resources on an airship! We couldn't find the original artist behind this artwork, so let us know in the comments if you know who it is.
5. Prince Azrael's Flying Ship - The War of Destiny
This beautiful airship looks like a whale, a bird, or a creature from the abyss. It also comes from Trae Mitchell's book, Fate's War.
Generally based on a rigid or semi-rigid frame containing the lighter-than-air gas, the Steampunk zeppelin also has a structure attached underneath the frame. it can be a basic capsule, a utility chassis, or luxurious fittings such as those in the Indiana Jones movie, based on the LZ129. Obviously, the interior of such a Steampunk ship would be modified to reflect the Steampunk / neo-Victorian genre.
Artists and Steampunk airships
Didier Graffet is a French illustrator known for his fantasy and Steampunk artworks. He uses a good amount of intricate, textured detail to create striking images that ask the viewer to slow down and linger over them. This is one of the best uses of detail in illustration - to encourage the reader to stop and think about the story while lingering on eye-catching interpretations of the text.
After finishing university, he learned traditional animation techniques. He worked as an animator for significant animation studios for almost ten years. Then he started to learn digital painting, character, and concept design. Since 2010, he has been working in the entertainment industry as a concept artist and has become a 100% digital painter. After 8 years, he has started to paint again using traditional techniques. To begin with, watercolor.
Min is a concept artist with over six years of experience in the entertainment industry, having successfully worked on many AAA titles/feature films / TV shows and games. His clients include Netflix, Amazon, Apple tv, Marvel, and many others. For example Brave New World, Penny Dreadful, Snowpiercer, ... His main skills are environment, sets, architecture, keyframe design, visual development, and art direction.
Stephan Martiniere is an award-winning French science fiction and fantasy artist. In 2012, Stephan was voted one of the 50 most inspiring artists by Imagine FX magazine. Over the past 30 years, he has become known for his talent, versatility, and imagination in all areas of entertainment. These include feature films, animation, video games, theme parks, and editorial, commercial, and book covers.
"Although I've been told many times that all artists drink too much absinthe, cut off their ears, and only make money after they're dead, I've always wanted to be one. In fact, it only encouraged me. Based in the northwest of England, I've been working as an illustrator and artist since 2012."
Airships in exhibitions
World's Fair 1900
The 1900 World's Fair was held in Paris, France, from April 14 to November 12, 1900, to celebrate the past century's achievements and accelerate the development of the next century. The exhibition, which received nearly 50 million visitors, featured many technological innovations, including conveyor belts, diesel engines, talking movies, escalators and the telegraph. It also brought international attention to the Art Nouveau style. In addition, it showcased France as a great colonial power through numerous pavilions built on the hill of the Palais du Trocadero.
The Airpusher Collective's Annual Steampunk Masquerade
This festival has quickly become one of the Bay Area's (California) most unique art and music events. What started as an event for 200 people has grown to host over 1000 attendees each year! This festival gets inspiration from the local community art. It has good music to keep you dancing all day and night. This unique atmosphere is brought to life by the "steampunk" costumes of the participants and incredible stage acts.
Doesn't the atmosphere here, which you can see below, have a "Mad Max" feel with its desert and wacky creations?
The Steampunk HQ is located in the Victorian quarter in Oamaru, New Zealand, an hour and a half drive north of Dunedin. This old town with its Victorian streets, is one of the best-preserved in New Zealand. The HQ is housed in a former grain store, built 1883 when Oamaru was larger than Los Angeles. The imposing building, scarred by the flames of a massive fire in 1920, would not look out of place in a Tim Burton movie.
Short films are also shown at Steampunk HQ and events and parties. Next door is The Libratory, an extension of Steampunk HQ. It is a library and art gallery dedicated to the history of Steampunk, where artists show and model their creations. Not only does it connect the past and present, but it also connects the entire Oamaru community. It has become a steampunk town in its own right.
Recent creations of steampunk airships
The artist Jeroen van Kesteren spends his hours making beautiful elaborate steampunk/fantasy airplanes and airships. For the past year or so, van Kesteren has been working on a collection of intricate 19th century flying machines inspired by the steampunk aesthetic. The various devices in his Orphanage for Lost Adventures series reflect the nostalgic relics of the neo-Victorian movement. They feature retro-futuristic technologies found in the literary works of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne.
Every aspect of his creations is carefully designed and uniquely imaginative. From the tiny holes in the wings to the various spokes, pipes, and ladders, each of these meticulous works takes Van Kesteren about a month to complete. The miniature models are made from paper, cardboard, foil, and adhesives. When finished, they measure about 40 to 50 centimeters high.
Steampunk airships in video games
Airships in Bioshock Infinite
A lot of Steampunk zeppelins can be found in video games. This is the case in the excellent Bioshock Infinite, released in 2013. In this adventure, the player is brought to travel through Columbia, a city in the air, floating thanks to balloons and quantum technology. Taking place in the early 20th century, we can say that this game brings together all the elements of Steampunk!
Airships in Gun of Icarus
In "Gun of Icarus", airships are really at the center of the game: it is a battle of airships. Repair, attack, steer, ... Lead your ship to victory; that is the objective of the game.
Zeppelins in Airship Commander
Airship Commander is a VR (virtual reality) game with a steampunk zeppelin combat simulator.
You can also see many steampunk airships in the game Minecraft, where an entire city has been built based on steampunk.
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