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Vernian vectors (steampunk submersible) Nautilus
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By rainingcrow   |   Watch
Published: March 11, 2017
© 2017 - 2019 rainingcrow
So it's a pretty sad state that if you do an image search for the nautilus... about 90 percent of the results are based off the Disney movie design, as if it were the only one out there or like loyalty to that version was based off some secret drawing by Jules Verne himself... 

The problem is that it's just one design. It's the most popular one I guess... but the truth is that a lot of those elements like the saw tooth pattern along the curve, or the high thrust bubble on the top forward... they aren't necessarily a part of the original text... They're iconic and it speaks highly to the designer...(Goff was definitely a genius) but there is still plenty of room for interpretation without that... and I happen to be a Verne fan...

So why not try my hand at something about a hairs breath away from steampunk? (Since the Nautilus technically was electric)

It's such a cool concept and it's physical description is left widely open for interpretation. The strongest points emphasized aside from its dimensions, were simply that it was cigar shaped, it had a type of triangular battering ram on the front that worked like a harpoon, and shippers mistook it for a sea monster. 

So I naturally thought of ships, buckle points, pressure, viewing vantages, hydrodynamics, ramming reinforcements and force lines etc...  Applying the principles of ship building  in a period appropriate way while designing  for something ahead of it's time was fun...I could talk about those things all day but at the end of the day it would remain the same. We do know what woks for submarines now and how well, and why... It's not science fiction anymore. It's applied science... so the point is that I wanted to design something that would function as described, fit the parameters of Verne's context and manage to look awesome WITHOUT copying the Disney version, all while making it my own... What designer wouldn't have a blast with that?

2 things you may notice are...

1. It is designed to resemble an aquatic animal. Specifically from top view I wanted it to resemble a squid... but from the side I wanted it to be more like an off kilter combination of swordfish and narwhal. I could imagine this being the view of an alternate evolution... a sea monster...

2. I moved the large glass viewing port to the front third of the design. So yes, I have re positioned something that many fans may question but it has practical reasons extending beyond aesthetics.

Given the function of the blade on the front and the method of attack to large ships, I had to figure in the size, slope and composition of the outside hull in relation to the affects of sudden impact and rapid deceleration as it relates to shock force and stress upon the longitudinal midline, specifically as it relates to buckling and material integrity... Basically the hardest hit sections begin and extend back just beyond the foremost 3rd... so any brittle or super rigid components along the outer hull had to be reserved for the front 3rd. Hence the largest window and weakest point structurally, being positioned into the first outward sloping section in scale to the upper decks reinforcements in relation tot he ramming sword. Also I felt it proper to include this particular feature in direct line to the forward dive planes for less than obvious purpose.

If you are standing at the wheel, and you are proud. this is your ship. This is your creation. You marvel at the sea... in short, if you are Nemo... then what more beautiful sight could you imagine as you stood there than to look out the window and see the oceans rise above the dive plane as you submerged each day? That rush of water over the surface as you sank below the waves would be the reminder of your crowning achievement... and incidentally a wonderful place to look up or out and view everything that surrounds you as the world moved past. Predators keep their eyes forward for a reason... so it seemed a form of logic to me that Nemo's eyes outside... would be positioned on the forward section of his creation.

Keep in mind that in the book they did disclose that the vessels parts were constructed separately as to not tip anyone off to the final design... so there was that to consider as well. It had to match, but it also had to vary in enough magnitude that any one builder would assume that they were manufacturing sections for a normal ship.

Some of the less noticeable features are 2 periscopes on fore and aft of the deckplank respectivley, as well as the mounting of an exterior searchlight and battering shield. The dual propellers that drive the Nautilus appear to be on a singular shaft but actually achieve counter rotation for rapid adjustment in speed and direction. 

But... my favorite thing by far are something I have included in order to achieve the "squid" appearance from above... Rather than simply calling them secondary dive planes. I am going to refer to them as water-wings. lol... because that is their primary function... Unlike most submersibles... these multiflexing pseudo sails complete with their own control system and multi-angular positioning capabilities ... allow the nautilus to rapidly bank side to side and even to roll upward of 70 degrees along its axis. This is made possible because while the dorsal fin act as a stabilizer and primary rudder respectively,  both of these are able not only to be raised and lowed in relation to their counterparts along the primary steering sections but adjusted in weight through a rapid pump system that redistributes the ballast throughout their hollowed internal structures as they are adjusted in position.

Just in case you aren't a fan of the blueprint approach, here is the link to the parchment graph coloration.

Image size
4424x3672px 8.19 MB
Shutter Speed
1 second
Focal Length
4 mm
ISO Speed
Date Taken
Mar 11, 2017, 12:27:28 PM
Adobe Photoshop 7.0
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avenger09's avatar
avenger09Hobbyist General Artist
I've always loved this story. Something about characters like Nemo who recognizes the wrongs of "Civilization" and goes into isolation where they cannot touch him or his crew. But none the less he will not ignore their evils when they violate his Waters. Sinking slave ships and rescuing the precious lives that would have been doomed to bondage.

Is he a saint? Of course not. He knows that, but all same he's a better quality of man then most. 

This design is quite good as well. I'd very much enjoy seeing this interpretation appear on the big screen, (Hopefully as a model) it's been too long since the last adaptation.

Another great take on the story was this I found years ago. The artist used to be here but I think he closed his account. 


His Nemo and the diving suits are my favorite. 
rainingcrow's avatar
rainingcrowProfessional General Artist
thank you for taking the time to comment. I always enjoy getting to read what someone enjoys about a piece of work or its source material.

I took a look at the links and I have to agree on the suits and costuming, especially Nemo's quilted jacket. That's very nice.

I do think it would be really cool to see a good big screen adaptation done again but I wouldn't want it to fall under the trap of modernizing the story. I really like the idea of it being a period piece and retaining that true Vernian aspect.
avenger09's avatar
avenger09Hobbyist General Artist
Exactly. A science fiction period piece. 
JVNautilus's avatar
This Nautilus is featured in the Catalog of Nautilus Designs: www.vernianera.com/Nautilus/Ca…
and yes, many of the others have features that resemble the Disney icon.
rainingcrow's avatar
rainingcrowProfessional General Artist
Thank you. That is pretty cool.
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