Secret Santa voor Ilkke. Kind of breaking the mold here on the Opacus Secret Santa Mech tradition, but not completely :')
Ilkke's likes were broad and he only really specified liking nature. I noticed he had a particular love for post apocalyptic themes with nature reclaiming the planet, so I wanted to do something along those lines.
I wanted it to tell a little story instead of it just being a pretty picture, so after a little research I came across a rather prophetic short story called 'The Machine Stops' by E.M. Forster, written all the way back in 1909. It's about a future society where mankind lives underground as the surface has become uninhabitable. All humans live underground in isolation and are completely dependant on a giant, practically omnipotent machine that was built by humans long dead. The machine was built so far back that humans have long since forgotten it was them who built it and they have come to worship it as a mystical, God-like entity with an appropriate religion fashioned around it. At a certain point, the machine begins breaking down and eventually stops as they no longer have the means or understanding to repair it, resulting in almost all of humanity perishing. Only a few people are left, people who took to the surface and abandoned the machine and its religion before it stopped.
I think the story only sounds more relevant today. Extremely impressive, for something written more than a 100 years ago.
The machine pictured here then is the machine from the story. I worked some symbolism into it. The all-seeing eye should be obvious (though Gravity Falls fans might see something else :). I also tried to fashion its wiring as wings so it kind of resembles a fallen or tethered angel, to feed more into the religious aspect.
Finally there's some minor technical stuff worked into it: the torso is based on a quantum computer's dilution refrigerator, which super cools it to around -270 degrees celcius required for the quantum process to operate. They're made out of solid gold which I felt further emphasises the religious aspect as religions have a well established love for bling.
For the circular base of the machine I referenced prototypes of nuclear fusion reactors.
Ended up using 21 colours. I'm sure the palette could have been optimised a bit further. There's still some stuff I'm not quite happy with: I think the black silhouette on the left doesn't work quite as well as I'd have liked. I also think there could have been slightly better separation in the layers of depth. Right now it feels like the front layer is slightly too homogeneous for my tastes. And I'm sure there's a few slightly rough spots I missed and maybe some minor perspective issues and the light source is a little confused sometimes. But in general I think it's pretty polished and I've sunk over 20 hours into it, so I'm calling it done
Finally, I just had a real blast working on it and I hope to leave less than a 6 year gap between this and my next pixel art.
Sorry for the wall of text :)