New Eden Expedition
Journey to New Eden (or New Eden Expedition Vol. 1) was my 2013 undergraduate thesis. It was a speculative fiction book in the style of a faux journal covering the fictional New Eden Expedition. It was inspired by the “Ology” series of books, the speculative works of Wayne Barlowe, C. M. Kosemen, & Dougal Dixon, the fantasy works of James Gurney & Terryl Whitlach, and the paleoart of John Conway & others.
As the project developed it was first pitched as a book, then just scaled down to a series of digital paintings, then returned to the idea of a book when the time for a proper page layout had been available. It was self-published on Blurb, an online self-publishing site.
The original sketches and prints of the finished works were on display at the Islip Art Museum as part of the New York Bound: International Book Art Biennial Exhibition
The drawings are hand-drawn, then scanned, and painted in Corel Painter & Adobe Photoshop. The book is laid out in Adobe InDesign. The font used to layout the book was created by myself and is my own handwriting using FontCreator.
New Eden is similar to Earth during the age of the dinosaurs, it is mostly warm and tropical, dominated by rainforest and rich mangrove swamps, and rocky seacoasts.
Reptiles, reptomammals, and avians are the larger species, while mammals remain usually on a small scale, save for the small arctic poles. Common apex predators are theropod-like, large birds, or crocodilian the land, and mosasaur-like marine reptiles, sharks, whales, and cephalopods inhabit the sea.
There is minimal tundra and desert nearer to the poles. In the poles, mammals dominate, followed by the birds. There are little to no reptiles to be found, as the snow and cold prove almost fatal.
In the desert, the parts nearest to the poles are a cold desert, similar to Mongolian steppes, while closer to the equator are more the conventional hot desert like the Sahara and others. Small to medium mammals, reptiles, birds, and insects are found, adapted to a life of minimal water and strange desert plants.
The concept of an expedition patch ala NASA expeditions was pitched in earlier parts of the production but put aside due to my limited time and budget in creating actual embroidered patches.
Below is a closeup of some of the apex predators of the tundra (that was unfinished), a smilodon-like leopard– unnamed– and Luposarchus shanei, a mammal analogous to terrestrial wolves.
Luposarchus shanei is based on the hyena-like Andewsarchus (which is actually a carnivorous distant relative to sheep!) that lived in the grasslands of what is now Central Asia during the Eocene. It is possibly one of the largest land mammals to ever live.
My Luposarchus, however, bears a thicker coat akin to terrestrial grey wolves, as it lives at New Eden’s poles. It is still a large predator and one of the apex species of the poles. Mammals are the apex predator of the polar regions, and southern/equatorial New Eden is more similar to Mesozoic Earth.
They are pack animals, tribes anywhere from six to ten members, standard pack structure. The “alpha” pair is mated parents with a pack of offspring (and sometimes their mates). They are active hunters and prey on smaller mammals and snowbirds but have been known to scavenge corpses. Sexual dimorphism is not present, but the packs of Luposarchus that live closer to the steppe-like biomes are smaller than their polar counterparts.
Scanned copies of the original sketches (sadly the originals were lost after the Exhibition in 2013).
- Caves: Many of the caves are home to bioluminescent fauna and flora. While some adapted to make their own light, others developed to live in the dark and evolved with little or no eyes.
- Coast: Rocky cliffs serve as homes to many avian species, while the beaches are the domain of pinniped-like mammals and marine reptiles.
- Rainforest: Dense jungle is the home to a myriad of lifeforms– large therapod-like reptiles, birds, and insects dominate smaller mammals, amphibians, and insects.
- Mangrove: Fish and Amphibians fill the waterways, with a small cetacean similar to river dolphins hunt in the waters. Large water birds stalk the waters above, and insects fill the air between the trees.
- Pelagic: Open ocean is the home to jellies, large bony and cartilaginous fish, and large marine reptiles, and smaller marine mammals.
- Abyssal: Cephalopods and arthropods dominate the seafloor and its thermal vents.
Revisiting this project (writing in 2021), there are some things I think I would improve on with the luxury of an afterthought; that would be to split the ocean into two different biomes Pelagic and Abyssal, and with the luxury of time add the tundra and desert biomes. I would also explore something a little less familiar and play more into the alien aspect more. Many of them were just drawings of terrestrial life painted just so and could have been the potential to do more.
I am aware the time constraint for the project had limited some part of my imagination and project scope back then, and perhaps in time, I may actually recreate the pieces after almost 10 years apart.