Byte's Cypherpunk 2081

Nexus

Despite the bleak and desperate atmosphere here in the FIX district, the Nexus stands out as a beacon of hope for those in the know.  This above ground cyber-store draws elite hackers of all types from across the city. A virtual cornucopia of cutting-edge black market technology and the latest designer drugs. Need a few cybernetic upgrades to push the limits of your human capability? Looking for a taste of the elusive Red pill to unlock a better reality? Have an itch for some Zero-Day exploits to take down the corrupt vampires sucking the life from our dying city? The Nexus has it all – if you’re skilled enough to gain entry. For the Nexus doesn’t let in just any geek off the street, you’ve got to be lethal with the keys and earn your keep.

As you approach the brightly lit entrance, you’re reminded that this is your 3rd visit this week, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to resist the seductive glow of the Nexus.  If you continue to make nightly trips here, it is going to cost you a lot more than just your crypto and some sleep.  You can feel the weight of expectation bearing down on you, weary of the monstrous data break you’ll be assigned once you pass through these doors. You press the buzzer, and after a moment of tense silence, an inquisitive voice crackles through the intercom. “Yes?” she says, her inflection conveying a mixture of suspicion and curiosity. You state your business, and after a brief pause, the door clicks open.

Please watch your step and let me welcome you to the Nexus.
<3 -TC

Introduction

Nexus” is a virtual location from my “Byte’s Cypherpunk 2081” VR series, the most technical, intricate, and novel Equirectangular image series I’ve ever created.

Image Specifications

  • Equirectangular Dimensions: 18,432 x 9,216 pixels
  • Resolution: 240 Px/In
  • PSB file size: 9.26 GB
  • Color Space: SRGB

Software Used

  • Pano2VR
  • Photoshop
  • Lightroom
  • Topaz Gigapixel AI
  • Topaz Photo AI
  • Blender
  • Mid Journey
  • Blockade Labs

Artwork

The Journey

With a number of locations already banked through prompt engineering I focused on developing details that would tell a story.  Mid Journey was used to generate all the inhabitants and objects in this scene.  Mid Journey v5 was absolutely incredible at creating beautiful life like renders.  I alternated between command prompts –v 4 and –v 5. I often found a grungier look from v4 but v5 had an element of realism that couldn’t be matched. I concentrated on getting color and light consistency for all the signs, graffiti, objects, and paraphernalia. All images went through an AI upscaler by Topaz Labs.  All exports were brought into Lightroom where additional details, highlights, curves, color, texture, and sharpness were applied to all the images including the Equirectangular image.

For this view I added more signage and complexity to the scene, I also increased the layers of smoke, fog, and steam elements. With the background layer under the overlay grid in Photoshop I composited both the smoke and the individual high resolution objects into the scene. Just as before the imported smart objects were warped in Photoshop to convert them from rectilinear to Equirectangular projection.

Initiation into the NEON

Devils in the Details

For this Cyberpunk scene, the devil truly is in the details. With lengthy sessions of visualizing and generating elements that were cohesive in 3D space. I approached this task by focusing on the fundamentals of Cyberpunk, and re-watched Blade Runner and Hackers a few more times just for good measure. Careful attention was paid to the grittier elements in the scene. I added several grunge layers, lots of tagging/graffiti on buildings, I explored some very dark and very punk iconography.  I kept the use of my chosen color palette limited which made renders throughout the scene consistent.

The sheer number of composited elements in this scene is dizzying, with some extremely challenging composites like the Cyberpunk drone.  I found I could direct AI to get the aesthetic and camera view, but it was an entirely different challenge to blend this object in such extreme lighting conditions.  I solved this by layering the smart objects on top of each other, with a variety of blend modes and layer properties until the illusion was achieved.

Heavy use of fog, smoke, steam layers helped sell the vibe of this scene.  With the most generous use of this effect so far in the series.  Once again this extra layer proved to be useful in compositing.

Cyberpunk Aesthetic & Ethos

The signs and tags scrawled across this grimy urban landscape were a chance to weave a tale of Cypherpunk intrigue and authentic Cyberpunk grit. My aim was to blend the savage brutality of this cityscape with a touch of divinity. The heart of Cyberpunk lies in its capacity to reveal a stark dichotomy of the human experience. It’s not just a style, it’s a way of life, the PUNK ethos raises a middle finger to the morality police and their sanctimonious nonsense, because in the end, it’s your life, your code, and your rules.

It’s a rebellion against the status quo, a refusal to conform to the moralistic norms of a society that’s rotting from the inside out. In the Cyberpunk world, it’s survival of the fittest, and the only morality that matters is the one you can live with. Whether you’re a decker, or a hacker, you know that sometimes you have to get your hands dirty to stay alive.

I love this genre because celebrates rebellion, anti-authority, individualism, and the human spirit’s resilience against all odds. Cypherpunk and Cyberpunk’s themes resonate deeply with me, my generation experienced the birth of the home computer and watched an increasingly digitized world become a reality. I’ve seen the boundaries between reality and the virtual become blurred, and even more so lately as I’ve spent a great deal of time interacting with AI.  Truth be told I’ve spent nearly all my life directly behind the warm glow of a computer screen, from 1989 to the present.

I’ve watched people react in fear from each new technology as it appears, while others were quick to embrace our new digital overlords. We get to see new generations build their systems and then become old enough to watch them die. Cyberpunk highlights our modern issues and projects them into the future. It’s this potent mix of prophecy, reflection, conflict, escapism, and a punk attitude that makes Cypherpunk and Cyberpunk such a captivating playground for me.

Prompt Engineering

Mid Journey v5 was really outstanding in its ability to dream up my vision for the Nexus sign. I requested the text “Nexus” and it nailed 4 of the 5 letters, with only some minor PS work required to complete the image.

Carefully crafted prompt engineering is essential to the success of any AI generated project.  The process of directing AI to very specific constraints with lighting, color, depth of field, exposure, style, subject position, camera angles, seed numbers, and negative prompting, are all crucial to create a seamless composite across all images.  Countless hours of practice with AI, and the concise economy of words used are required to keep the constraints consistent across all renderings.

Even with specific prompting you will undoubtedly need a healthy dose of patience and some re-rolling of prompts. For the Nexus signage I combined these first two prompts and edited them together in PS.

Example mid journey prompt: red cyberpunk marquee sign with the words “nexus”, detailed, neon, dim light, sharp focus, front view –v 5 –ar 8:4

prompt: beautiful red lips, circle shape, neon, futuristic. red light –v 5 –ar 16:9 –q 2

prompt: cyberpunk phoenix sign, detailed, elite, royal, circle shape, neon, dim light, yellow, teal and pink, sharp focus, top view –v 5 –ar 4:4 –q 2

Cyber Cats

I’m a huge fan of these weird little psychos, I had a number of cats growing up.  Both indoor and outdoor varieties.  The first cat I remember loosing was Flash, I cried my eyes out for months over loosing my little dude, he was FAST AF.

The next cat we had was Herschel, a beautiful black Persian kitten.  Herschel stands out in my memory because I remember saving his life. One morning while eating breakfast I heard a strange thumping coming from the dryer, so went to see what it was, and it was Herschel. He was in bad shape and he had permanent scars for life, but he lived.  We became very close after that day.

<3 CATS.

For me cats are a natural fit for the Cyberpunk genre. They are sneaky, cunning, and adaptable – all qualities that are highly valued in the underground world of hackers, street samurai, and other outcasts. They are creatures of the shadows, lurking in the corners and observing the world with a detached, almost otherworldly demeanor. In many ways, they are the perfect symbol of the outsider – a creature that is at once both predator and prey.

For all these reasons, cats have become an iconic element of Cyberpunk culture – a symbol of the outsiders and rebels who refuse to be tamed or controlled by the powers that be. And for those who understand their mystique, they offer a source of comfort and solace in an otherwise chaotic and unpredictable world.

Example mid journey prompt: stray Selkirk Rex cat, walking on ledge, dim light, teal lighting, grunge, top view neon lights, yellow, teal, pink, blade runner –v 5 –ar 16:9 –q 2

Prompt: stray Selkirk Rex cat, digging in a grey trash can, dim light, teal lighting, grunge, top view neon lights, yellow, teal, pink, blade runner –v 5 –ar 9:16 –q 2

Continue to Imperium's End

Byte's Cypherpunk 2081

NEXUS

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Byte's Cypherpunk 2081

Joans

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Byte's Cypherpunk 2081

Introduction

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Byte's Cypherpunk 2081

Imperium's End

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Byte's Cypherpunk 2081

Dragon's Den

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Byte's Cypherpunk 2081

Deep Blue

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Ruby's Cafe

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Tom's Pantry

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Trausti's Taproom

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A Tribute to my brother Kevin

My older brother Kevin’s departure in 2023 sent shockwaves of sorrow through our family. Yet through tear-filled eyes, I channeled the anguish, dedicating this sanctum to him. Kevin was a gateway to life’s vibrant hues – the rhythm of Rock and Roll, the calm of golfing greens, the thrill of fast cars, and the hearty laughter following a good joke. His demeanor was a blend of humor, sarcasm, and warm smiles, making every moment special. I reminisce about unveiling the early days of my VR world to him, his eyes lighting up as he remarked, ‘You’ve ventured farther than I imagined.’ Kevin now resides in that tender part of my heart where pain and joy intertwine. His memory, a blend of love, laughter, and life, lingers on.

We miss you Kevin.

<3 -TC

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