Color art notes often hold a special place with me. Not that B&W illustrations aren’t wonderful…a well-crafted line illustrations can be incredibly powerful and dynamic. However, we don’t get to do a lot of color illustrations in BattleTech. And when we do, such as covers, it almost always must orient around the central theme of the universe: BattleMechs.
Now don’t get me wrong…an awesome fight scene is fantastic, and even after all these years I love seeing an artist tackle a cool new fight scene…and it’s especially a treat when it’s an artist that’s never done a BattleTech cover before (wait until you see the Historical: Reunification War cover that just came in…spectacular).
As such, one of the many joys of the Handbook series has been helping to create color artwork that more fully portrays the universe and every day life. The stitching that binds all those great BattleMech scenes together into a fully-fleshed-out universe players can immerse themselves within.
As before, this is nice and long, so if you don’t care for the nitty gritty details, just skip to the bottom for the artwork.
[Note: Please note that the following text is taken directly from an internal word document and was never meant to be published publicly, so there’s not the “editing/grammer” care taken that a public document would go through, while the direct sourcebook excerpts are from documents that have not yet gone through final proofing.]
HOUSE LIAO COLOR ART SECTION NOTES
This will follow the same basic format as what was done in House Steiner, House Marik and House Davion.
The first page of each Handbook color section will detail the throne room in all its glory; my idea is that you are viewing the scenes from the far end of the hall, looking down all the size and grandeur of the hall towards the throne:
The Throne Room of the Capellan Confederation:
“Longer than it was wide and rising up to another level, the cavernous room dwarfed Justin. In the soft, indirect lighting, the walls of the main floor glowed a dull red that lent a feeling of warmth to the chamber. The upper section, with its balconies latticed in intricate teakwork, gave Justin the impression that he had been invited into a viewing gallery.
At the far end of the room was a dais holding a huge throne. The throne’s back had been carved from a single piece of mahogany. Even from the doorway, Justin recognized the carven symbols and images as from Capellan mythology. The throne, quite literally, was backed by the universe. Seated there, with his hands clasped before him, was Maximilian Liao.”
I would take that as wood decor, but with a modern bent, light perhaps from the floor. The focus of the room should be the throne–an assumptive focus. As if everything else in the room exists to serve those who sit on it. Almost certainly no other seats on the floor (seating in a gallery, of course, but not on the throne-level.
Mention is made of slide away panels, so the wall-woodwork should be smooth, perhaps seamed.
Finally, if possible, on either wall leading down the hall towards the throne room, against the painted panels along the wall, there are “hidden” Death Commandos. By that I mean that the paneling is so realistically done and includes Death Commandos standing at attention that someone looking there, even when one isn’t there, would think there’s Death Commandos. However, the concept here is that there ARE Death Commandos…you just can’t tell unless you look down at their feet; beyond that they are as still as the statues they mimic and they only leap into action when the Chancellor demands it.
See the following illustration references:
House Liao Death Commando.jpg
PAGE 2-3 ROYALTY
CHANCELLOR SUN-TZU LIAO
Chancellor Sun-Tzu Liao, supreme ruler of the Capellan Confederation. Age 36.
See illustrations for reference. Sumptuous, “emperor-esk” robes.
Magestrix of the Magistracy of Canopus, wife of Sun-Tzu Liao. Age 28.
See illustrations for reference. Sexy and sumptuous dress fit for the finest opera or throne room.
HALF-PAGE VERTICAL SCENE, RIGHT
The Maskirovka. A darkened room in an out-of-the-way warehouse. A man and woman stand over another bound into a chair. The man in the chair has been beaten and the woman is starting to lash out again when the other man grabs her wrist to stop the blow. All three are Asian/Capellans.
The scene is an attempt to show that for a century the Maskirova terrorized its own citizens more than it did its foreign enemies, but they are trying to change their ways, though such long years of ingrained brutality is hard to kick.
PAGE 4-5: BUSINESS
Capella Commonality Bank. An outside view of the massive structure (this is included on the back of the money, so make sure the two coincide) of the CC Bank, with the logo on the side. Even among the Successor States, House Liao “State Bank” controls the lives of trillions and holds the purse strings to millions of companies and hundreds of worlds…the bank lookg and size should be massive/monolithic and down-right 1984-ish in it’s power/scope (with a nice hint of Chinese thrown in).
Construction of a BattleMech. A scene of the massive interior of the Ceres Metals Industries plant, but zoomed into a Marauder half-way constructed; i.e. armor just starting to be applied over the finished interior components.
Use the following reference: the “BattleMech_A Primer” is a many-page PDF showcasing illustrations and text for what a BattleMech looks like on the interior.
- Marauder BattleMech
- BattleMech_A Primer
FREE FLOATING SPREAD OF CASH AND COINS
This will follow the same format as House Steiner/Marik/Davion, with explicit money illustrations.
Each yuan is divided into 10 jiao and each
jiao into 10 fen. Coins exist in 1, 2 and 5 fen
denominations (copper alloy); 1, 2 and
5 jiao (silver alloy); and 1, 5, 10 and 50
yuan denominations (gold alloy). All Capellan
coins have a hole bored through the center,
allowing them to be carried on money strings.
Notes also exist in 10, 50, 100 and 1,000 yuan
denominations, but they are considerably less
common than coins. Coins display the flag of the
Confederation on one side and the flag of a
commonality capital world on the other (reclaimed
Tikonov being the only exception). Notes are
uniformly designed and of one size. They are
custommilled paper, colored a shade of green to
purple based on denomination; the 10-yuan-note is
green with a purple tint, while the 1,000- yuan-note
is purple with a green tint. The backside of all
bills shows the flag of Capella, the Capella
Commonality Bank building, and the flag of the
Confederation. The fronts are three-paneled,
with the left panel a darndao, the middle a portrait
and the right side a rampant Chinese dragon. The
newest minting of the 1,000-yuan note is a
Xin Sheng note that replaces the dragon with a
stylized rising phoenix.
Fen (copper alloy)
1 – flag of Tikonov
2 – flag of St. Ives
3 – flag of Victoria
Jiao (silver alloy)
1 – flag of Liao
2 – flag of Capella
5 – flag of Sian
Yuan (gold alloy)
1 – Aleisha Liao
5 – Jasmine Liao
10 – Ilsa Liao
50 – Stephen Liao
10 – Barbara Liao
50 – Ursula Liao
100 – Franco Liao
1,000 – Sun-Tzu Liao [Age 37]
See the following illustration references (if there is no mention of a reference below, then there’s no pre-existing look for a given character):
Sun Tzu Liao_Age45.jpg
St. Ives Flag.jpg
PAGE 6-7: SIAN COMMONALITY
Master of Warrior House Imarra, Grand Master of the Blessed Order. Age 69
See illustrations for reference. Clothing should be a standard full-dress military uniform.
Warior House Orders. A 12-year-old aspirant (hopeful) is training with a sifu (mentor) in traditional Chinese sword work in a bamboo hut. The scene appears to be right out of ancient China from a thousand years ago, with only a computer on a back table an indication of a modern setting. On the wall in the background is the House Hiritsu logo (see references).
PAGE 8-9: LIAO COMMONALITY
Lady of Highspire, Leader of the outlawed Thuggee Cult. Age 34
See illustrations for reference. Clothing should be a strange mix of Capellan and Indian (i.e. for the Thuggee influence). She’s totally psychotic, so a creepy, aloof stare would be appropriate.
The fall of Tikonov. On September 23, 3028, nearly 100 JumpShips arrived in the Tikonov and freed more than 300 DropShips which carried all 8 Crucis Lancers Regimental Combat Teams.
The idea is a massive space scene, the sun far below, a field of JumpShips as far as the eye can see in system with another incoming (energy bubble visible). Most of the DropShips on those JumpShips already in system disconnecting and beginning the burn in system, some Jumpships already starting to unfurl their solar sails.
Use the following references, slapping a House Davion logo and Crucis Lancers logos on the JumpShips and logos (length/sizes are provided to show comparisons to each other within the illustration);
Crucis Lancers Logo (for a color version, here here and click on Crucis Lancers: http://www.fightingpirannhagraphics.com/is.htm?reloaded=1#bot)
- JumpShip-DropShip scene
- JumpShi-DropShip scene 2
- Leopard DropShip (Mass: 1,900 tons/Length: 65.6 meters/Width: 51.6 meters/Height: 22.4 meters)
- Gazelle DropShip (Mass: 2,900 tons/Length: 79 meters/Width: 79.2 meters/Height: 28.1 meters)
- Union DropShip (Mass: 3,600 tons/Length: 81.5 meters/Width: 81.5 meters/Height: 78 meters)
- Triumph DropShip (Mass:8,600 tons/Length: 129 meters/Width: 120.2 meters/Height: 43 meters)
- Overlord DropShip (Mass: 9,700 tons/Length: 99 meters/Width: 99 meters/Height: 131.2 meters)
- Vengeance DropShip (Mass: 11,400/Length: 234 meters/Width: 96 meters/Height: 20 meters)
- Mammoth DropShip (Mass: 52,000 tons/Length: 277 meters/Width: 277 meters/Height: 170.6 meters)
- Merchant JumpShip (Mass: 120,000 tons/Length: 950 meters/DropShip Capacity: 2)
- Invader JumpShip (Mass: 152,000 tons/Length: 505 meters/DropShip Capacity: 3)
- Star Lord JumpShip (Mass: 274,000 tons/Length: 660 meters/DropShip Capacity: 6)
- Monolith JumpShip (Mass: 430,000 tons/Length: 750 meters/DropShip Capacity: 9)
Note that the Monolith is very rare, so that should only be 1 or 2 of them…the majority should be Star Lord and lower in size.
Finally, for the artist not familar with how a JumpShip works, below is some detailed text they can read to get a vibe for how they might portray the ‘arriving’ JumpShip.
Here’s some background on something shared between
JumpShips and WarShips: hyperspace.
We wouldn’t be here today if Kearny and Fuchida hadn’t fi gured
out the basic idea of moving matter into, and then back out of,
Jump travel does not involve wormholes, or somehow
ripping holes between two points of the universe and stepping
through, or travel through some alternate “dimension”—to use
the science fi ction term for another plane of existence—at faster
than light speeds. Jump travel entails a transformation of the ship
through hyperspace, and I mean hyperspace in the classic mathematical-
To borrow the classic “fl atland” example: imagine that a 2-dimensional
creature skittering around its fl at world bumps into a
wall. The only way the fl at creature can conceive of passing this
wall is to break through or go around it. But then Flat-Kearny and
Flat-Fuchida come along and say, “We’ve got a better idea: stand
up, into an extra dimension, this hyperspace we call ‘the third
dimension.’ Then you can go over the wall much faster than going
around it or through it. When you’re on the other side, you can
lay back down into your normal two-dimensional world.” Then the
Flat-Kearny and Flat-Fuchida get laughed out of their fl at research
jobs and are forgotten until 80 years later when other fl at scientists
realize they were right all along, and fi nally make a fl ying machine
that can move vertically, utilizing this “hyperspace” that is
the third dimension, and bypass that wall.
That’s what the Kearny-Fuchida drive does for us. A JumpShip
rotates into a hyperspace confi guration and can then pick a new
place to “rotate” back into our normal three spatial and one timelike
dimensions. It generates a “hyperspace fi eld” that encompasses
a volume of space and mass, as shaped by the drive core and
K-F booms reaching to any attached DropShips, and transforms
this to a new location almost instantaneously.
Of course, it’s much easier to call this a “jump” or imagine you’re
somehow making a “tunnel” through space than to deal with hypersurfaces
and hypervolumes and all the other fun of hyperspatial
The first JumpShips were limited to “jumps” of eighteen to
twenty light-years, though this rapidly reached the modern thirty
light-year limit imposed by exponentially increasing energy demands.
During a jump, a ship accomplishes a number of feats
beyond “mere” travel between points that could be kilometers or
K-F Drive Damage to Nearby Objects
The fi rst feat is that the hyperspace fi eld forms at the destination
and performs an incomplete “transformation” on any matter
within the destination fi eld—it converts this matter to energy in
a process that is drawn out and red-shifted into the distinct infrared
glow of an arriving JumpShip. This is done because space is
pretty empty, but not completely empty. Without this annihilation,
ships and crews would be riddled with space dust. No, this
would not produce an enormous explosion—matter is mostly
empty space, so there’s plenty of room to briefl y overlap two objects.
Electrostatic repulsion forces will shove “interpenetrated”
atoms back to appropriate spacings immediately, but this effect
by itself is not a serious problem. The problem is that human cells,
K-F drive cores and computers can be wrecked by suddenly being
laced with space dust and solar wind particles. Any explosions
resulting from a JumpShip landing on top of other mass is strictly
a result of the hyperspace fi eld’s annihilation process.
There is a “choke limit” to this annihilation process, since the
K-F drive doesn’t have infi nite power to convert matter to energy.
It’s actually in terms of kilograms, which is far more than enough
to clean out the stray atoms at even a dusty jump point, and the
destruction takes place over many seconds so there isn’t an enormous
explosion. You likely all know the famous example of the
Mississippi Queen, an SLDF corvette, arriving atop the Richardson,
a transport, during the Liberation of Terra that involves a dramatic
explosion, but this illustrates the choke limits. The Mississippi
Queen arrived with her nose inside the tail of the Richardson.
Were matter annihilation unlimited, the entire SLDF fleet
would’ve been wiped out by thousands of tons of matter converting
to energy. The explosion actually resulted because the
machinery in the stern of the Richardson—including an autocannon
magazine and the ship’s fusion reactor—did not take
kindly to sharing their space with the structure of a corvette.
The Mississippi Queen survived the explosion and was able to
clear the jump point under its own power.
The real damage done by an arriving or departing JumpShip
is to objects caught by the “space warping” eff ects of the hyperspace
fi eld. The ship is trying to “rotate” a volume of space
through hyperspace, but can only do that accurately for mass
that it is aware of. This is accomplished with the K-F core, which
has branches that “map” the mass in the ship, and extensions
through docking collars and into DropShips. Mass that the
K-F drive is unaware of—such as a nearby fi ghter—generally
gets treated as empty space, not as a complicated aerospace
frame and human pilot. Sometimes nearby masses get carried
with the jump, sometimes they don’t, and often they are only
partially carried through the jump, infl icting immense—but
While a DropShip, fi ghter or free-fl oating spacer in a suit
might survive a nearby jump, other K-F drive vessels are in for
a very bad experience. As I said, hyperspace fi elds are formed
in anticipation of mass that they’re aware of. Also, the K-F
core of a drive is meant to form, shape and manipulate hyperspace
fi elds. So when a hyperspace fi eld forms and a “foreign”
K-F core is in it, you get a mess for both ships. It’s a miracle
the Mississippi Queen was able to maneuver at all, since its
core would’ve been ruptured by drive interaction with the
Richardson’s core. The Queen certainly never jumped again.
PAGE 10-11: CAPELLA COMMONALITY
Lady, president of Ceres Metals, member of the Prefectorate. Age 26.
See “Patrick Rivoli” reference, her father. Plain looking, but very determined; despite young age, groomed for her position. Capellan suit; even more conservative than other pure-blood Asians, as though she’s proving herself.
The formation of the Capellan Confederation. A small group of people in a museum on the world of Capella in front of a massive tapestry depicting the following scene.
After hours of quarreling and no end in sight, many of the delegates
were surprised when Duchess Caroline Liao—daughter
of slain Commonality Prime Minister Selak Tucas—appeared at
the foot of the dais, interrupting her husband’s speech. Most of
the rest were shocked to silence when she mounted the dais and
drew her husband’s ceremonial sword from his belt. Taking it in
both hands, she pointed the tip of the Aldebaran blade at Franco
“We have all heard enough this night,” Duchess Caroline said.
“The time is come for us to act, and act quickly. To those of you
who fear the threat of dictatorship, to you I swear I will run my
through should he ever dare to threaten your freedoms. If
need be, I shall demonstrate the truth of my words here and now.”
Her statement rolled across the assembled delegates, and with the
exception of Warren Aris, every delegate accepted Liao’s terms by
acclamation. Each nation and independent world had four hundred
days to ratify or reject the Articles of Confederation, but for
the moment Franco Liao had succeeded.
PAGE 12-13: VICTORIA COMMONALITY
A large market place scene on a backwater world, with signs/logos showing wares and food from House Liao as well as the two nearest Periphery nations, Taurian Concordat and Magistracy of Canopus; think mega Asian market/hodgepodge.
Duchess, member of the Prefectorate. Age 66.
No pre-existing reference. Irish ancestry, not Asian. A women who was once pretty but has spent so much of her time vying for power that she’s become a caricature of herself, too much make-up and the plastic smile covering her bone weariness of decades spent climbing to the top of power within the Victoria Commonality (i.e. think Nancy Pelosi)
PAGE 14-15: ST. IVES COMMONALITY
A memorial peace park, with a massive Asian-accented slab of rock conjoined with a prayer gate, with a a big list of names on it. In Chinese and English, the top should say “Black May”. Park should have several people bringing Asian-appropriate items to lay at the base of the memorial to remember.
Duchess, older sister of Sun-Tzu Liao. Age 79.
See illustration reference. Court finery, but subdued not flamboyant.
PAGE 16: RANKS
Education. A group of very young students under going political indoctrination; i.e. think of a elementary school scene right out of 1970s Mao-tse Tung Communist China.
As with the previous art notes, there’s a pile of references pulled from various sources that are provided for ease of use to the artists; in this instance, while the “general’ art references were provided to the color artists, I’m not going to repeat them here from Part 1 [the name below is the file name I gave it for clarity, while the information in brackets is its original source; again, no page references].
Alesha Liao [House Liao Sourcebook]
Barabara Liao_Color [Succession Wars]
Barbara Liao [House Liao Sourcebook]
BattleMech_A Primer [Total Warfare]
Candace Liao_Age62_Color [BattleTech TCG]
Candace Laio_Age62 [20 Year Update]
Cruicis Lancers logo [Field Manual: Federated Suns]
Gazelle DropShip [Technical Readout: 3057, Revised]
House Hiritsu [Masters and Minions]
House Liao Death Commando [House Liao Sourcebook]
Invader JumpShip [Technical Readout: 3057, Revised]
Ion Rush_Age70 [Masters and Minions]
JumpShip-DropShip scene [FedCom Civil War]
JumpShip-DropShip scene 2 [Technical Readout: 3075]
Kali Liao_Age28 [Shattered Sphere]
Kali Liao_Age42 [Blake Documents]
Kali Liao_Age43_Color [Masters and Minions]
Leopard DropShip [Technical Readout: 3057, Revised]
Mammoth DropShip [Technical Readout: 3057, Revised]
Marauder BattleMech [Technical Readout: Project Phoenix]
Merchant JumpShip [Technical Readout: 3057, Revised]
Monolith JumpShip [Technical Readout: 3057, Revised]
Naomi Centrella-Liao_Age37_Color [Masters and Minions]
NaomiCentrella_Age22 [Shattered Sphere]
Overlord DropShip [Technical Readout: 3057, Revised]
Patrick Rivoli [House Liao Sourcebook]
Sian Flag [Masters and minions]
Star Lord JumpShip [Technical Readout: 3057, Revised]
Sun-Tzu Liao_Age45 [Masters and minions]
Sun-Tzu Liao_Age 20 [BattleTech TCG]
Sun-Tzu Liao_Age30_Clothing [Shattered Sphere]
Sun-Tzu Liao_Age30 [Shattered Sphere]
Sun-Tzu Liao_CelestialThrone_DeathCommandos [MechWarrior 3rd Edition]
Triump DropShip [Technical Readout: 3057, Revised]
Union DropShip [Technical Readout: 3057, Revised]
Vengeance DropShip [Technical Readout: 3057, Revised]
FROM ART NOTES TO FINAL ART
As before, the transition from art notes, through sketches and to a final illustration, and the interaction with Brent, Herb and various authors, is a wonderful synergy. A love for the universe and an enthusiasm to always try and out do ourselves that makes me proud to be a part of this team, as well as the community from whence we’ve all come.
BUSINESS: CAPELLAN BANK-SKETCH
BUSINESS: CAPELLAN BANK-FINAL
CHANCELLOR SUN-TZU LIAO-SKETCH
CHANCELLOR SUN-TZU LIAO-FINAL
ST. IVES MEMORIAL PEACE PARK-SKETCH
ST. IVES MEMORIAL PEACE PARK-FINAL
See ya next time!