NASA Space Poop Challenge

It’s always nice to have nice clients and Hugo Shelley of fame is one of those. He designs all manner of wonderful things, but when he asked me if I could model shorts for him, I replied that I didn’t have the legs for it.

Fortunately, this did not involve appearing on camera, but modelling his entry for the NASA Space Poop Challenge, launched on

It was a crazy week and a half of no sleep and surreal conversations, and everything went swimmingly until it came to the documentation. I wanted one illustration titled with the technically correct caption:

“Suit Hermetic Interface Tubing connects via the Peripheral Integrated Suit System to the Combined Recovery Appliance Piping”

HSSP render 100

Naming the system was another issue. I suggested “Suit Hygiene Internal Toilet and Tertiary Effluent Recovery” and “Peripheral Organic Ordure Processor and Effluent Recovery” and for some unfathomable reason Hugo rejected those.

All of this was crammed into one and a bit weeks, with numerous revisions of every component. This combination of organic and hard surface modelling is quite a challenge, but is just the sort of thing Blender excels at. Even with the very limited time available for texturing and rendering, I still managed to achieve a reasonably good looking results for what is, after all, a technical illustration. There were over 100 hundred renders produced, sadly none of which (other than the one above and the turntable, of course) I can show here for obvious reasons.

Despite the power Blender offers, there were numerous challenges involved, since every model had to be as flexible as possible, allowing for all the unknown changes that would be required down the line, and there were loads of them.

Hugo is the kind of client every artist and designer wants: he understands that this sort of thing is complex, that sometimes the wires will go quiet whilst some pretty tricky stuff is being handled, and that there are times he has to take the designer’s word that something has to give, for whatever reason. He took my more sensible suggestions on board, laughed at the really silly ones (OK, I wasn’t being all that serious) and respectfully declined the more unlikely ones.

It was a great thrill to participate in this challenge, a greater thrill to see Hugo come in as a winner!