This site uses cookies to improve your browsing experience. By continuing to browse this site you are agreeing to use our cookies. Get more information Dismiss
You're using an unsupported web browser. Some features may not work correctly. Please check out our list of supported browsers for the best experience. Dismiss

Star Trek Online

Art of Command Ships

By LaughingTrendy | Fri 20 Feb 2015 10:00:00 AM PST

Samuel “Swallrus” Wall here, the new Art Lead for Star Trek Online. 

The ship team worked tirelessly to give you 9 amazing ships. They outdid themselves with the command ships and have made each faction ship have unique interchangeable parts with its counterpart command ships. Any command ship purchased will share parts with their faction’s other command ships. With 3 command ships available, there is an amazing amount of customization if you own all 3!

Refer back to the Command Ship Introduction blog for the gif images of how customizable these ships are.

I’m going to take you through the process of how we created the Command Ships for the most recent bundle. When we were planning the features for our Anniversary Update and the discussion shifted towards the command specialization tree, and eventually the concept of command ships I got really excited. I always look forward to the opportunity to create our own faction style ships in the Star Trek universe. These ships had to be large, had to be imposing, and had to look like they had the mechanical capability of commanding a fleet of ships. We wanted to really make something unique within the classic Star Trek faction framework, and most importantly we wanted to take the time to provide a wide variety of customization options that would really make the ships in this group feel unique. 

I’m going to pass this off to Hector who will get into the process of concepting the Federation and Klingon ships. I will jump back in and finish describing the Romulan process. I hope you enjoy this blog as much as we did creating these ships!

For any additional information on out ship creation process you look at “Dev blog: Ships – Start to Finish”

Thanks,

Samuel “Swallrus” Wall
Art Lead
Star Trek Online


Concorde Class


When I was tasked to create the Fed Command ship the only art direction at that moment was “it’s going to look like a flying city” and got handed the ship stats so I could get a clear picture of the vehicle we needed. A new type of ship is always a bit intimidating. First we (production, art, AD) had to define what the command theme would look like across the Federation, Klingons, and Romulans.  It couldn’t be too visually overwhelming, but had to be noticed right away and also had to be multi faction safe. We did a lot of research and arrived to the conclusion that given the command powers nature, we were going to use a mixture of the Airborne Early Warning and Control Radars and Navy Carrier’s Control towers visual language as the theme for our command ships. In the case of the Federation ship we went the extra mile by creating a new configuration to the familiar saucer, nacelle, hull and neck geometry.

Command ships would share the following visual cues:

  • Massive looking (cruisers / battleships)
  • Have control tower indications like antennas, etc.
  • Have a clear spinning disc shaped section
  • Have 4 nacelles, but must look like a 2 big nacelles split in two.
  • Fed would have a new ship section between the neck and the saucer (almost like a second hull)

After the command theme was clearly defined we then proceeded to the sketching part. This is the most difficult stage since here is where we define the overall shapes.


(Click For Full Size Image!)

This is usually how our process starts.  Many ideas are tossed together regardless if they work or not. The idea is to draw anything that comes to mind. The ships are drawn in a way that allow us to mix-match their individual parts with each other. That process is called “kit bashing” and it allow us to find unexpected, but solid combinations from the drawings we really like. The favored combinations are then put aside for later refining. At this point we should have a concrete idea of the overall look if the ship. In this instance the chosen ship layout was the one circled red in the previous picture. From this moment forward I do 3D mockups of the ship… Many of them.


(Click For Full Size Image!)

The 3d mocking method allows for many things. Among them:

  • A quick and accurate model for the ship artists to match that rarely requires orthographic drawings from my part
  • The lack of drawing orthos allows me to focus more on details and callouts
  • We can do kit-bashing on the fly during meetings making sure we get exactly what we’re looking for

 

Once the rough shape of the ship has been blocked I then proceed to paint on top of it in Photoshop. This gets rid of tedious perspective matching / making and allows me to go deep into design. This technique is also great for sanity saving purposes! Many accurate iterations can be achieved really quickly with this production method. As soon as the ship is designed its different component renders are assembled into a production deck, which is just a fancy term for a document full of drawings, blueprints, indications and annotations that are given to the 3d artists. Once this deck is approved the ship goes into full production.


(Click For Full Size Image!)

Then the final product is done. Depending of need the final 3d piece would look like the concept or might only use it for inspiration. The ship artists then extrapolate the concepts to generate variants and those customization options everybody loves!


(Click For Full Size Image!)


(Click For Full Size Image!)

Presidio Class


(Click For Full Size Image!)

Geneva Class


(Click For Full Size Image!)

Ty’Gokor Class


The KDF command battle cruiser’s main purpose (visually speaking) is to look like it can take whatever the enemies can throw at it. It’s also the kind of ship you want in your fleet to boost morale during battle.  Like its main inspiration, the Bortasqu’ it features a stocky hull and short wings. Its quad nacelle configuration allowed us for the first time, to split the wings and then use the space in between to create two hangars / shuttle bays. The overall control tower design borrowed heavily from Nimitz-class aircraft carriers and their clearly defined multi levels and window rows.


(Click For Full Size Image!)

Many configurations were tried before we settled for the actual production models. Also, no matter what we choose as the final ship, some parts should be interchangeable among them. The following 3d blocking picture helped us determine very early on if the chosen configurations really do work. This step is really important since it allow us to fix and improve things before we put a team of people to work in something that might not work eventually.


(Click For Full Size Image!)

In the final production deck (AKA the next picture) we added some variants for the ship artist to choose and improve upon. The ship’s materials are usually left to the ship team with me just giving some indications early in the process.


(Click For Full Size Image!)


(Click For Full Size Image!)

Klinzhai Class

(Click For Full Size Image!)


An’quat Class


(Click For Full Size Image!)

Deihu Class


Like all Romulan ships we took inspiration from nature, looking at a lot of birds. The one that stood out for the direction of this ship was an owl swooping in for the kill. We wanted it to feel aggressive and the far forward swept wings really accomplished this. Hector did some amazing thumbnails and we had plenty of directions to go.


(Click For Full Size Image!)

To hit design criteria of having 4 nacelles for the command ships we concepted second pair of wings with nacelles that went under the hull. We realized that we ended up with something too similar to the ha'apax. 


(Click For Full Size Image!)

So we shifted the design so that the second set of nacelles would be intergrated into the main wing. We made them smaller and attached to the main nacelle. We also completely removed the small wings under the hull.


(Click For Full Size Image!)

The Deihu really turned out to be a unique ship. The Romulan Command ships are some of favorite ships that we have designed.


(Click For Full Size Image!)



(Click For Full Size Image!)

Baratan Class


(Click For Full Size Image!)

Vastam Class


(Click For Full Size Image!)

 

Thank you for taking the time. See you in game

Samuel “Swallrus” Wall and Hector Ortiz

 

Discuss in the forums.

sto-news, star-trek-online, sto-launcher,

Most Recent More

Starting very soon, you'll be able to command a Tier 6 Starship at any level! Start with your favorite ship at level 1, use rewards from events immediately, and more!
Read more
Check out all the exciting changes coming to Star Trek Online in our latest patch notes!
Read more
Check out all the exciting changes coming to Star Trek Online in our latest patch notes!
Read more

hover media query supported