I’ve been sitting on all these sketches ever since we launched the latest starship to bear the name “Enterprise” in Star Trek Online and finally asked for permission to post them here.
I’m not sure if in my future endeavors I’ll ever get another opportunity as cool as helping to design a Big E, and doing so marks the fulfillment of many childhood dreams. I could gush about it all day, but there’s a lot of art to talk about here.
As some of you may know, when CBS and Cryptic decided it was time to develop the next version of the most famous starship in science fiction history, they wanted to harness the creative talent so rich in Star Trek fans. There was a call for entries to “Design the Enterprise” and the winner of the contest was one Mr. Adam Ihle, a talented illustrator, sculptor and passionate Star Trek fan. His winning design is image #2.
Once we had selected a design, it was time to iterate on it. During this process I had just moved over full-time to STO and practically begged our art lead, Jeremy Mattson, to let me help. He let me do some sketching during the early stage of the refinement process. Those sketches were given to Adam “CapnLogan” Williams, our ship artist at the time, who took them and iterated yet again to create the Odyssey class ship we ended up with.
Most of these sketches are pretty quick and rough, as I was doing them in my off hours (I’m a UI artist, not a concept artist). The most developed sketch is the last one presented here, which was posted as part of our blog on the process of designing the Enterprise to mixed reaction. Certainly there are things I’d do differently about it now, but I’m still happy with its role in the design process.
Let’s talk about the drawings individually:
- Image 1: Wallpaper of the final ship in the game.
- Image 2: The sketch by Adam Ihle that won the “Design the Enterprise” contest.
- Image 3: One of the very first things I did was compile a few images of details I liked from other Star Trek ships in hope that a few of them would make it into the new Enterprise.
- Image 4: Started the process of how I might interpret Adam’s design ito various views.
- Image 5: Another set of sketches examining the neck area of the ship and trying to move a bit further away from the Sovereign.
- Image 6: We wanted the aft end of the Enterprise to be unique, and these sketches are where the idea for the Odyssey’s dock escort craft originated.
- Image 7: Another rough sketch pass, this time with a different coloring scheme.
- Image 8: While thinking about the aft escort, we also experimented with a unique saucer separation mechanic that was ultimately scrapped in favor of something more traditional.
- Image 9: This is the high-detail art I made for our “Design the Enterprise” blog based on the rough sketches presented here.
Ultimately, like all of the other ships named Enterprise, the 1701-F involved the talents of a lot of people. Adam Ihle’s concept of a dual neck became a motif that gave the class its distinct shape and imposing presence. Jeremy Mattson’s oversight provided a keen aesthetic eye and vision that kept the ship sleek and fast despite her size. Finally, Adam William’s role as the one who took all this input and forged it into the striking ship she became cannot be understated.
Like any Enterprise, the version you see here launched to a mixed reaction. A lot of people loved it, and a lot of people didn’t. But now it seems, as always happens, people have warmed up to her and have accepted the ship for her namesake. As for me, I’m just grateful to have been witness to, and in a small way, a part of the exciting process of “building” the next starship named Enterprise.