Imperial Cog - Discussion


New Member
As I am currently assembling an AT-ST crewman outfit I also digged deeper
regarding the arm patch with the imperial emblem.
It occured to me that the current design used by Lucas Arts,
and I think alos the 501st is a redesign of the one used in the clasic trilogy.

The main changes are the thinner inner beams and more filigrame intersections
of the middle rim. Some interpretations also show asymetric syncronisation of
the circle's portions causing the bases of the links to the outlines being narrower
than the other portions.
Still that is wrong in my eyes looking at the screens and exhibition shots available.
Misconceptions might have occured due to the way the patches and decals were
produced and attached. My guess is that the items were handcut and espescially
the decals on helmets show strange proportions on the beams so I guess the
round shaped surface has been a problem.

The logo follows a geometric pattern which probably is based on a specific formula.
I tried to decrypt it and made several designs following numeric based suggestions.
I used some of the proper shots of original cogs available for reference.
Still I haven't found a really reasonable solution; just an approach.
I have to admit that working with imperial system has been an additional obstacle
as I'm used to metric system.

My first hook has been that most evil things are composed using the numeric codes
3 and 6 and their respective divisors. We find that in the imperial cog as well.
So my first trials were strictly based on these.

Among these cogs there is the also the one which is used by the 501st.
Legion and my last result. Just for comparison. I mixed and left them
untitled to see which one is identified or felt as the most accurate one.

The best approach however evolved out of an idea to get rid of unpractical figures
and instead using a pattern composed of 12 circles in 1" steps.
I then used several images of the cog to get a master which has been quite difficult
due to the surfaces they were attached and/or the perspective.

The strange thing is that the all shapes sharing characteristics of the "revamped"
version apear to have a more harmonical look while the patterns approaching the
original feel a bit strange. On distance however the qualities of the classic logo
are reveiled - the bigger spaces of the beams and intersections are better recognized.
So here is what I came up with and should be base of discussion.

The References:

The Base Figures:

Developing The Main Shapes:


Now I'd like to hear some theories or known facts on this matter :)
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Darth Lars

Master Member
A theory I have is that originally the logos were painted - first the outline and then the outline was filled in. The thickness of the outline brush strokes contributed to the shape diverting from mathematical precision. Then, when the logo was copied, the unoriginal shape was copied.

Here is a pic that I think I got on this board and should be a original. However, I have lost the info about the pic, so I can't vouch for its authenticity.
I think you have done a good job, but I can find a few details that I disagree with your rendition. I have not found any flaw with the logo in this pic, however, which I why I believe it is accurate.


Sr Member
Hmm. never even thought about the numerology aspect before.
You know what, you are entirely correct about the misconceptions... I've worked on more film productions than I care to remember and I've seen it happen... What you have is a design that's been re-worked SO many times between the original designer(S) and the finished products, (films, games, books etc.) that it is hard to determine any "correct" version. From the hand-drawn art to various computer files, (handled by large crews and artists who want to do their "own" version ) there's always going to be discrepencies. Just on one film, a design might be inadvertently changed several times from the art dept. to (for example) the costume department, just by some company hired to create say, a patch or a slik-screen for that dept...then there might be several people/companies doing the same job, with slightly different results. Ultimately, the art dept. would be responsible for maintaining the master designs, so anything coming directly from that department would be the most accurate, but trying to reproduce a logo from so many variations on sets, or props or costumes, could drive you nuts. I'd just pick one that you like & go with it :) So good job on cleaning the poor cog up..LFL should hire you :)
(Who plans to get a cog tattoo soon :) )


Master Member
Well done.

The helmet cogs were decals, in four pieces. This was necessary due to the compound curve of the helmet. Anyone who's tried to apply a one-piece circular decal to a TIE helmet knows how difficult it is to prevent wrinkles or bubbles. You end up having to make slices in it. This, as you mentioned, accounts for the asymmetry, as the pieces overlapped (or had gaps, as seen in some of your caps).

One of the cockpit pilots in ANH has one of the four pieces missing on one of his helmet cogs.


Active Member
never thougt about this
but i agree with jayn and some others
there is no real 100% way to go
same as an E11 blaster
you should find your own base on these small details


Sr Member
I read that entire first post and I have no idea what the hell it said. Maybe it's because it is 4:45am here, or because I have been staring at a computer screen all night (I am at work) or just because I am an idiot but what??


New Member
@ Darth Lars

Fantastic reference. Would be nice to know where it came from.
However comparing to the originals as well as SDS like Sithlord
proposed it seems to be it.

You are also right on the errors in my rendition. I've chosen spaces
between the circles that were too rough.
This results in too thin details (black spaces between outer beams)
and the links to the outline seem to be too thick as well.

@ PMTrooper

As you see in the comparisons the basic scheme never really changed
regarding the general proportions. Thicker inner beams, thicker details.
So many logos used these days follow a wrong or
in case of Lucas Arts/ revised scheme.

This is indeed important for me as I want to go with the classic :).
What anyone else does is not my buisness.

@ Predatormv

I know my lines might be a bit irritating but this has two reasons.

I'm not a native speaker ;).
So espescially complex explanations might be a funny and irritating
read at times. But I try to improve :D.

I'm a designer often developing or working with corporate identity items.
The apearance of quality brands are subdue to very specifically defined
design schemes.
This includes certain symetries and even mathematical base patterns.
It might be that I suspect too much profession in the works of LFL in the
70ies but I thought it was worth investigating.

And I don't think the shape of the logo has been a coincidence :).
Although my younger brother pointed out that some of the older magnetic
cassettes featured reels showing similar patterns - Considering LFL's assembling practices those days.... who knows :D

Thank you all for the help :)
I'm going to rework the cog once more and then go to the printshop
ordering my patches :)

Result in a time frame not too far far away :)


Sr Member
It is not magnetic audio tape but the FILM reel of Eeeevil corporate Hollywood.. :D



New Member
Haha - considering lucas always filmed somewhere else than hollywood...not too bad as source of inspiration :)

here is my update - spaces changed to quarters and using a corrected version (shifting the curved perspective) of the cog posted by Darth Lars it worked out well.



Well-Known Member
I had always thought that the person who designed the symbol was an H. Beam Piper fan. It looks looks (to me) like the sun and cogwheel of the Fourth Galactic Empire from the Terro-Human future history series of short stories.

<div class='quotetop'>(madphisto @ Jun 26 2006, 11:28 AM) [snapback]1268505[/snapback]</div>
Haha - considering lucas always filmed somewhere else than hollywood...not too bad as source of inspiration :)

here is my update - spaces changed to quarters and using a corrected version (shifting the curved perspective) of the cog posted by Darth Lars it worked out well.



New Member
Do you have an example? I am writing background stories about how designs could have been inspired or influenced for my costume weblog and this would be quite a nice example.


a quickrun with google reveiled a lot of illustration stuff that could have been inspiration for SW designs. A lot of wookiee/ewok like creatures and death star/federation ship like ships. Quite interesting as most works seem to be older than SW.