November 2019
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Back to Business

Okay, I haven’t made any new posts since March, so it’d probably be a good idea to get this blog back on track. I’m going to put up some new stuff on the Polaris 3D model within the next day or so, and I plan to FINALLY post some details on my other signature project, the USS Grandeur.

I’ve also been doing a lot of digital art stuff with my Cintiq tablet and I think I’m going to start posting some of that on a fairly regular basis. “Sketch of the day” type stuff. My goal is to post at least one new article on here each week, but we’ll see how that goes.

Polaris – Other Ship Concepts

As promised, here is a collection of other ship designs for the Polaris project. These are still under review and subject to change, but they were still fun to do regardless of how or if they wind up being used.

United Worlds Ship Concepts

United Worlds Ship Concepts

There are some common elements to these designs, all inspired by certain characteristics of the Polaris. They all have disc shapes in various configurations, which I am interpreting as a key element of United Worlds FTL drive technology. Also, the two on the right follow the Polaris trend of a “vertical” profile, taking traditionally horizontal shapes and turning them on-edge. Another feature common to all but the upper left design is a longitudinally-stacked deck configuration. I suppose the one in the upper left could have that, too, but it makes less sense with the way its hull is shaped. Perhaps that one could turn out to be a Transhuman Authority (the opposing faction in the Polaris universe) design.

On an artistic note, I really had a blast with these sketches, trying out a few new techniques, and I actually completed all of them in less than two hours. I made a deliberate effort not to overthink them, which I have a tendancy to do, to just let the pencil flow and see what came out of it, and I think I wound up with some fairly original results.

Starship Polaris – Detail Sketches

I’m getting down to the nitty-gritty details on the Polaris concept sketches in preparation for the serious 3D modeling work:

Polaris - Hero Ship Detailing

Polaris - Hero Ship Detailing

Some concept sketches for additional ship designs will appear in the near future.

Pardon My Dust

If you’re a regular visitor here, you’ve probably noticed that I keep changing themes and configurations about every five minutes. I’m just experimenting with different options and flexing my WordPress customization muscles. I’m shuffling categories and links, tweaking image sizes and generally messing around with anything and everything to make the look of the site more to my liking. Currently I’m using a very cool theme called Atahualpa by BytesForAll WebDesign, which offers a level of customization unlike anything I’ve ever seen. There are twenty-nine pages of configuration options for this theme. I can’t guarantee I won’t be using something else an hour from now, but it’s hard to imagine why I would need to.

Anyway, bear with me and I’ll try not to confuse you all any more than necessary.

Starship Polaris – Going Three Dimensional

When I originally signed on to Dennis Bailey’s Polaris project I was only going to help contribute some design ideas for the hero ship, but now it looks like I will be building a 3D model of it as well. I say a 3D model rather than the 3D model because I work in 3ds Max and the actual effects work will probably be done in Lightwave, though it may be possible to convert most of it from one format to the other.    

Here, then, is my first pass at Polaris in 3D:     

Polaris 3D - Top View

Polaris 3D - Top View

  Continue reading Starship Polaris – Going Three Dimensional

Starship Polaris – Round Four

So, after the latest round of coordination with Dennis, the “sails” have been restored to the design for the Polaris. I had a backup plan in case he decided to go that way and I have to say I’m glad he did. I liked the version without the sails but I like this even better.  

Sails Folded

Sails Folded

 

I decided to try to have the best of both worlds by making the sails transformational. Ordinarily, they are folded back in a standby position like you see above, but they can also rotate forward into a “deployed” position, probably when the ship is about to jump into hyperspace.  

Sails Deployed

Sails Deployed

 

The Starship Polaris script refers to “hyperspace sails” and a “drive grid.” This is my interpretation of those concepts, with the “drive grid” being the glowing blue arrays on the inside surfaces of the sails.  

Other refinements to these latest sketches include some changes to the main engines. Again, per Dennis’ request, I eliminated the bullet-shaped front ends of the main engine housings and created more of an integrated, backswept “shoulder” profile similar to a version he preferred in one of the earlier sketches.  

Dennis is reviewing these as I type, so we’ll see whether this turns out to be the final version or if I have some more tinkering to do. I’m having so much fun with it that I’m cool either way.  

See also:  

Starship Polaris – Round Three

Looks like Dennis Bailey and his team are making good progress on set construction for the bridge of the Starship Polaris, as noted in his latest blog entry. In the mean time, I’m continuing to submit ideas for the look of the ship itself. Here is the latest sketch showing several new design elements:  

Configuration Concepts

Configuration Concepts

 

What happened to the sails? Well, those have been giving me problems for a while now. They look kinda neat from a couple of angles but otherwise they’ve really lost their appeal for me. I have an idea how to include them in this latest design if Dennis really wants to keep them, but I thought I’d leave them off for now to see what everyone thinks.  

I really liked the Y-shaped twin engine assembly I showed in my previous post but they were a bit overpowering and I’ve gone back to just two main engines instead of four. However, the “tail fins” I added to the top and bottom edges of the saucer could house another pair of smaller engines for redundancy and thrust balancing.  

Other additions include the ring at the aft end, an homage to one of Dennis’ and David Nielson’s earlier designs, and what I’m calling “mission module hard points” one on either side of the forward fuselage. I envision these as mounting locations for sensor arrays or other scientific equipment relevant to the ship’s original role as an exploration vessel. When the Polaris was refitted for service in the United Worlds Navy, these hard points served as mounting locations for the ship’s weaponry. I have an idea in mind for a weapons module that combines what they are calling a CANE (Casimir Accelerated Negative Energy) gun, upper and lower missile racks, and a point-defense beam cannon in a single assembly to be mounted on each of those hard points. I’ll see if I can work up some sketches of that in the near future. I also have what I think is a pretty good idea for the lander modules, so keep an eye out for that as well.  

On the artistic side, I’m continuing to refine and–hopefully–improve my technique, both in general and with my Cintiq tablet in particular. These sketches I’m doing are still kind of rough and scribbly as opposed to the very clean line work and careful shading you see from the pros, but part of that is deliberate as I rather like the scribbly look, and the rest is just a matter of continuing to improve.  

Feedback has been pretty slow since I switched the site over to a blog format so feel free to jump right in and let me know what you think. I know Dennis would also appreciate your comments on the Starship Polaris Official Site.  

It’s an exciting project and I’m honored to be a part of it.

Starship Polaris – New Concept Sketches

As part of the ongoing Starship Polaris project, I just completed another batch of concept sketches for various configurations and parts and pieces of the eponymously named hero ship. Here are three of the better ones:  

Configuration Concepts

Configuration Concepts

 

More Configuration Concepts

More Configuration Concepts

 

Sublight Engine Module

Sublight Engine Module

 

I’ve been going back and forth between vertical and horizontal orientations for the ship as you can see in these sketches, but I think that decision has now been made in favor of the vertical. The jury’s still out on various other features, particularly the “sails,” but I hope to pin some of that down with more sketches later this week.

NX-01 Sketches

NX-01 from 2001 TV Guide Article

NX-01 from 2001 TV Guide Article

 

Back before Star Trek: Enterprise premiered, the first clue we had to what the new ship would look like was a photo from the set showing a printed copy of the mission patch with a stylized plan view of the NX-01. Not long after, it made its official debut in TV Guide with the photo shown at right:     

The fan reaction was mixed, with many taking an immediate dislike to it as a supposed rip-off of the Akira class from Star Trek: First Contact, a design from well over a century in the future. Personally, I never really saw the resemblance beyond the similar configuration in plan view and I liked the design overall, though I felt it could have used some stronger stylistic cues to the Enterprise from the Original Series. It was designed by Doug Drexler, who has an interesting article about it on his blog where he talks about some of those very issues.     

Meanwhile, those of us who were excited to get our first tantalizing glimpse of the new ship were nonetheless frustrated that all we had was a top view. It seems obvious in retrospect but a lot of people weren’t even sure whether the nacelle struts were angled up or down, especially with comparisons to the Akira muddying the waters. I took my best guess based on that one photo and drew up some perspective views and details. I first posted these on TrekBBS shortly after the TV Guide article appeared:     

NX-01 Speculative 3/4 View

NX-01 Speculative 3/4 View

 

Continue reading NX-01 Sketches

NX-01 Shuttle That Might Have Been

Back in 2000/2001 when the buzz was really ramping up for Star Trek: Enterprise (or just Enterprise, as it was controversially called in those days), a lot of people in the fan art community were speculating on what the new ship, the technology and the general appearance of things would look like. The infamous TV Guide top-down photo of the NX-01 had already appeared, sparking a lot of debate about the aesthetic direction of the show and how well continuity was going to be maintained, but I was still hopeful they would retain some of the look of the Original Series and that we would get a somewhat grittier, more adventurous and more nuts-and-bolts type of Star Trek than we’d seen in the 24th century era. I did a series of sketches reflecting my own ideas for the new ship and some other rumored elements like the new “shuttle pod.” I’ll be showing some of my NX-01 sketches in future posts, but for today, here’s a look at what I had in mind for a pre-TOS, non-warp capable, surface-to-orbit shuttle craft: 

NX-01 Shuttle Pod Concept

NX-01 Shuttle Pod Concept

 

This was long before I had a Cintiq tablet to draw this kind of stuff digitally so it was done by hand using pencil and paper, then scanned and colorized in Photoshop. This was also some of the first real, hand-drawn artwork I had done in many years, so it’s a little on the rough-and-dirty side. Then again, I find that I kind of prefer that look so I suppose you could call it a “style” of sorts. 

I’ll try to post of some of my NX-01 sketches in the next couple of days, including my take on the TV Guide photo with more of an Original Series look applied to it. I’ve been taking way too long between posts since I got this blog up and running and I aim to correct that from now on.