In the past few months Iíve received a few e-mails requesting details about the making of the Star Trek schematics featured on this web site. Therefore I decided it wouldnít be a bad idea to feature a making off, in a manner of speak, so that everybody could see the creation process as closely and detailed as possible.
Now, I donít say the method I use and which will be described in this section is perfect or even optimal. As a matter of fact, Iím not aware of anyone else using Macromedia Flash MX Ė or any previous incarnation of the program Ė to make Star Trek, Star Wars, or any other type of schematics. The few people Iíve encountered on the Internet who make this sort of thing, use programs like iGrafx Designer, Corel Draw or Xara, Adobe Illustrator, CAD programs, or even the good old drawing board. The high quality, which is some cases, is extremely elevated, of their work demonstrates that it is not the tool that makes the artist.
In my case however Ė perhaps Iím the exception to the rule Ė it is the tool that makes the artist, as I am unfortunately deprived of any drawing skills. That was also one of the reasons I stated doing these, to improve that inexistent ability as I am very fond of drawing. And since my work as web designer Ė yes a web designer who canít draw Ė requires the use of Macromedia Flash, I was more then at ease with its capabilities. Consequently, it was my natural choice upon embarking on the schematic making project.
Concerning the actual process, it is continuously improved as both software program and my drawing expertise improve. Nevertheless, the core guidelines have pretty much remained the same since the beginning. As a result, for better or for worse, this is the way I make the schematics.
The process of making a schematic, be it of a ship, vehicle, or object, is fundamentally the same and is divided into the following phases:
Step 1: Research
The first step in making a schematic is doing research on the target object. This normally includes searching the online world for the key materials required to make the schematic. These include photos of the actual model employed in the show or movie, any other existing schematic, official or otherwise, and screen captures of the object.
The photos must be in the highest resolution and from the most varied angles as possible. Close ups of certain features are also welcomed as the more details and accuracy I can put on the design, the better. The availability of such images is presently crucial to the making of the schematic. I used to make schematics without this source material; but this have caused several errors to be made on the schematic. Therefore, now I donít start a project without the model photos.
Another important source material is any existing schematic, be it official or fan made. The former however tends to have inaccuracies, which in some cases are extremely blatant. As for the ones made by people like me, they vary from the crude to the extremely well made; fortunately, the tendency lean towards the later then the former.
Finally come the screen captures from the object as it is seen in the show or movie. Although it is also an important source material, these materials are normally not used besides serving as another source for in error correction.
Step 2: Organizing Source Materials
This phase is pretty much straightforward. It basically consists in the organization of all the materials obtained during step one and sorting out any possible contracting information via itís analysing. Any errors or contradictions are then noted for use in later steps, thus saving precious time. If necessary, further research is done, although this rarely produces additional details.
Step 3: Selecting the Starting Point
This is where the actual drawing process commences, by selecting the starting point (Fig. 1) which is, normally, the easiest portion of the object to make. This could be an outline or a major detail. Sometimes however this step requires some thought, especially when concerning asymmetrical objects, ergo ones whose sections of the design cannot be duplicated.
In this case it was the saucer section as it is basically a circle Ė almost a circle as it is in reality an ellipse (Fig. 2). Since most of these ships have symmetrical hulls, only half of the ship is fully designed. Once concluded (Fig. 3), that part is then duplicated and inverted vertically. Even in cases where the ship is not symmetrical, like for instance in the Klingon Bird of Prey, the same method is applied as the overall structure is symmetrical; the differences mostly lie in the details, which are then altered or added accordingly. This I employ this technique in the vast majority of the schematic designs.
Step 4: Design the Bulk and Large Features
After the initial starting point and seeing that the saucer section of the hull is mostly featureless, as is the remaining ship, it was decided to make the entire main hull details right from the start (Fig.4). The only exception was the bridge section (Fig. 5), since it crosses to the second half of the ship and thus will only be made after the duplication. When a ship features many smaller details, those are normally left to after the conclusion of the major features and outlines.
Sometimes, a different colour then the one of the overall schematic is used in order to single out certain particulars for later processing (Fig. 6). Green means those lines will be thicker then the rests, while blue represents the opposite. The later is normally employed on certain particulars that are almost indiscernible from hull paintings. As for the red coloration of the design frame that is due solely to technical reasons; that colour is simply easier to see once it is selected.
Once the main work on saucer section is completed, its time to move onto other features in that area like the outline of the bridge section, the main feature immediately being it, and the impulse engine section (Fig. 7). Next was the design of the outline of the engineering hull (Fig. 8) and the warp nacelle pylons (Fig. 9). The entrance to the shuttle bay is left to be done later, after the duplication and vertical inversion of the port side of the ship.
With most of the main hull done, we came finally to the last part of the design of the main bulk of the ship: make the warp nacelle (Fig. 10). Unlike before, the nacelle will be made in its totality, including even the smallest details, but starting with the main outlines just like before (Fig. 11 and Fig. 12). The reason for this is mostly due to the fact that the nacelles are usually symmetrical, just like the rest of the ship. Consequently, in order for the port side to be duplicated, the entire nacelle must be completed (Fig. 13); this would also save superfluous alterations or addictions after the duplication. The only exception will be the pattern covering the nacelleís termination, which will be left for addition in part seven.
Step 5: Design of the Smaller Details and Conclusion of Initial Schematic
With the main bulk of the hull already made, it is time to start adding the smaller particulars, starting from the largest to smallest (Fig. 14). Since the saucer section is the most featureless, it will be the first to be done.
On every schematic designs there are always problems derived from the sometimes Ė or most of the times Ė contradicting information of some source materials. Sometimes that is due to the existence of two or more contracting data concerning a certain detail; but in others that is simply due to the lack of any material at all about a certain particular of the ship, or such materials present unclear information.
The first problem in the making of this schematic came up when there was no clear image of the pattern covering certain areas of the impulse engines. The source materials pointed out that it may have been the same as the one present at the outer end of the warp nacelle; but that was nothing more then an educated guess. In these cases it must be decided either the omission altogether of the detail, or simply extrapolate it from uncertain sources. In this case, I decided to go with the later. In any case, since the designs are open, any information pointing either way may present itself in the future, leading to the correction or not of the existing choice.
This option has also led to another issue when concerning such small details. Sometimes the details are so complex or small, that its inclusion in the design must be left to the final stages of the schematic design, more precisely step seven. This not only saves editing time on that phase, but also their original attributes will be maintained. Consequently, the surface pattern of the impulse engines will be left undone until later, as well as other particulars like the pattern of the patches on the outboard nacelle.
The final step in this phase is finishing all the remaining minor details, like windows for instance, on the engineering hull (Fig. 15), since the saucer section has already been completed. When such task is completed, it is time to duplicate the port side of the design and invert it vertically.
The more symmetrical the ship is, the easier this task becomes, since further tweaking in the design is not required (Fig. 16). But sometimes, the illusion of symmetry can cause some unexpected problems to arise, like certain hull and features not coinciding in both parts of the hull. Most of the times, this can be fixed with minor tweaking on the design. However other times, entire sections of the main design have to be re-worked in order to correct all the discrepancies, while remaining faithful to the original design. Fortunately, this was not the case.
Once the inversion is complete, the next step is making all the connections between the two parts, so that the design can be at last become one (Fig. 17).
Finally, all there is to be done is the remaining features that were left out before, like for instance, in this case, the bridge section (Fig. 19). There are always certain parts of the design that are left to be made after the duplication and merger. The reason for it is mostly practical; it is simply easier to make these details, which are normally located at the central area of the ship, at the end then in the early stages (Fig. 20 and Fig. 21). This also avoids the making of errors, and improves the schematicís accuracy.
And thatís it. The main bulk of the design is now ready and the final stages of the schematic design can now begin. But before that, all the other views must be done as it will assist in their creation; the finished designs can be used as source material. That way, all the views will feature the same features ,and consequently will be more accurate. This also helps the factual verification of certain details in the early finish schematics, either confirming or nullifying them. Moreover, some parts of the design can be re-utilized in the making of the other schematics, which not only saves time, but also improves the designís accuracy and later editing. In this case for instance, the overall outer layout of the dorsal view can be used in the making of the ventral view schematic.
This technique has also helped detect a minor drawing error in the aft section of the warp nacelles, which was promptly corrected
Step 6: Enlarge the Design and Make the Border
The border of the design is still made on the original working design, before the enlargement. The process simply involves selecting the outer lines of the schematic (Fig. 22), and move the remaining schematic into another layer. The outline lines are then transformed into fills (Fig. 23), and the excess is removed (Fig. 24). The creation of the boarder also helps correct or eliminate excess lines originated during the design phase.
Previously, the change to the schematicís final colour, white, also happened during this phase. That continues to be so in designs that have no colour annotations. However, since the introduction of the colour annotations, that process was left to after the magnification so that any colour coded annotation in the schematic can be preserved.
With everything set to go, the next and final step in this phase is to move the entire schematic to a new file, a template (Fig. 25) that will hold the final version of the schematic (Fig. 26). Finally, the magnification occurs (Fig. 27). This is a simple enlargement of the original design to a proportion that will not be too visually deformed, ergo with details too big or imperceptible.
Since the original schematic exceeds the templateís resolution, this had to be enlarged as well to the final schematic dimensions.
Step 7: Tweak the Design and Correct Any Mistakes
The first step in this phase is to covert all the lines to the schematicís main width (Fig. 28) and colour, white, and performing the alterations designated by the coloured annotations (Fig. 29). These are always the first to be tweaked, starting with the blue ones. This also represents the schematicís final design stage, the tweaking and error correction phase (Fig. 30, Fig. 31, Fig. 32, Fig. 33, Fig. 34, and Fig. 35). During this phase, any additional details can be either added or removed, according not only to the original source materials, but the finished beta schematics.
After a final verification, work on the schematic itself is complete. However, during the next step, further additions or corrections may still be made. This is really an open design even after its conclusion on the drawing board.
Step 8: Making the Legends and Titles
This is a relatively easy step, almost mostly composed of transposing data already gathered and organized in phase two to the schematic (Fig. 36, Fig. 37, Fig. 38, Fig. 39, Fig. 40, and Fig. 41). The veracity of the actual information is another matter altogether. Most of the times, there are so much contradicting information about what certain details of the ship really are, that mistakes are made about their correct identification.
With this step the making of the schematic is at last complete (Fig. 42).
I hope everyone became enlightened with this explanation of the schematic design process, which I tried to present as clear as possible. Keep in mind that I may and no doubt will revise this section with new information about the procedure, as my drawing abilities improve and the whole process becomes organic. If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, fell free to contact me.
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