What's up with modern ship designs?

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astroboy

Master Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Obviously I'm using trek and wars as the motivation for this thread but it seems like the modern designs are all garbage. I think the only ship I've liked in the entire disney wars catalogue has been that bounty hunter ship from rebels (the frienemy of sabine) everything else they've has been derivative of mcquarrie, the OT or just simply lazy.

The same goes for jjtrek.

I think the last really cool ship I liked was the destiny from Stargate.


What's going on?

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harrisonp

Sr Member
Are you familiar with the Halo series at all? Curious what you think about the designs present there, ships like the Forward Unto Dawn and Pillar of Autumn are pretty interesting to me.

It's probably difficult for things not to seem derivative when a lot of the original starships are deeply influential to multiple generations of artists, as well as being beloved by legions of fans.
 

blipper

Sr Member
Absolutely. This is something that bothered me greatly in TFA. It's like they didn't spend any thought on ship design, just a brief and uninterested discussion over lunch about re-purposing existing designs. It's such a waste and artistically criminal given the legacy TFA had.

When I look at the OT with such out there designs like Slave 1, the Falcon, and so on you can tell there were passionate and visionary people involved who wacked the weirdest of elements together and let the audience figure out it's design purpose - just because it defied conventional expectation and looked interesting.
Now everything needs to be minimal/spartan/symmetric and grounded in realistic functionality or it's just a bland update of an existing design. There's a playfulness gone these days, replaced by safe and conservative design.
 

astroboy

Master Member
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Are you familiar with the Halo series at all? Curious what you think about the designs present there, ships like the Forward Unto Dawn and Pillar of Autumn are pretty interesting to me.

It's probably difficult for things not to seem derivative when a lot of the original starships are deeply influential to multiple generations of artists, as well as being beloved by legions of fans.
Although I've never played halo, what I've seen has me really impressed. That's actually the thing that made second guess this thread.

In fact, I would say all the great designs are happening in video games

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astroboy

Master Member
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Are you familiar with the Halo series at all? Curious what you think about the designs present there, ships like the Forward Unto Dawn and Pillar of Autumn are pretty interesting to me.

It's probably difficult for things not to seem derivative when a lot of the original starships are deeply influential to multiple generations of artists, as well as being beloved by legions of fans.
But I feel that the new designs don't follow any rules of design. Look at the JJ prise. I feel like all of the older starship had a great balance to them. They looked sophisticated AND aggressive. But the nacelles on the new enterprise are so close together that they look wimpy. The relationship between the nacelles, disk and hull are all off.

And then there was nero's ship. It would have made more sense attacking new York in a bayformers flick

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harrisonp

Sr Member
a lot of it seems to come from the nearly limitless reach of computer generated vessels. The lack of understandable scale or space can come as a side effect of CG, vs the model work that a lot of the originators were achieved with.
 

Sluis Van Shipyards

Legendary Member
My opinion as far as SW is that Lucas was keeping the look of the universe cohesive. He had a bunch of people designing, but he would go and okay designs or mix parts from different drawings. Now you have a bunch of people who want to make their own mark on SW and put forward their own designs, and you have the director or who knows picking the final designs. Maybe not, but that's the only way I could see such bad designs as the TFA shuttle, TIE Fighter, and landers being the designs that won out. All they had to do was go through any SW book and they'll find better EU TIE designs for an advanced TIE or assault shuttle.
 

PoopaPapaPalps

Master Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
The statement above me by Bryancd is correct, however, there is a noticeable connection or "style" of design that's become really prevalent lately. I don't know how to sum it up in a way that everyone may understand it but the gist of it is soft forms and with lots of plating/separation/segment lines breaking it up. Concept artists borrow from each other a lot and that's where it factors into the aesthetic of most of the things we see in films. One person creates one thing, another sees it and is inspired by it, incorporates that into their work; repeat on and on. Beyond just seeing what others have done, many concept artists are coming in from overseas where there are courses being taught on the subject and teaches that one particular style, unfortunately, lending it to look all a bit same-y. It's just the zeitgeist at the moment, whenever something is needed to look "future-y" or some form of advanced, that's the fall back look.

I'm not to say it's good or bad but I do wish for something else, something new, to show up just to shake things up a bit. Had I the resources and capabilities myself, I'd try it.
 

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CB2001

Master Member
The last three ship designs I liked was Moya from Farscape, the Galactica from the RIS BSG and the Arks from Defiance.
 
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annanake

Sr Member
Absolutely. This is something that bothered me greatly in TFA. It's
like they didn't spend any thought on ship design, just a brief and uninterested discussion over lunch about re-purposing existing designs. It's such a waste and artistically criminal given the legacy TFA had.

When I look at the OT with such out there designs like Slave 1, the Falcon, and so on you can tell there were passionate and visionary people involved who wacked the weirdest of elements together and let the audience figure out it's design purpose - just because it defied conventional expectation and looked interesting.
Now everything needs to be minimal/spartan/symmetric and grounded in realistic functionality or it's just a bland update of an existing design. There's a playfulness gone these days, replaced by safe and conservative design.

You mean you were not impressed with general Leia's new brick ship ?
 

JBLAKE

Sr Member
None of those ships in tfa were impressive or fun in any way. X wings y wings snowspeeders a wings bwings rebel blockade runners slave i vaders tie the millenium falcon those were the ships of legends. As a child i wanted them all. This garbage that was on display in tfa could stay on the toy shelf for a very long time. Boring and uninspired.
 

swgeek

Sr Member
I liked the ships in Interstellar, but I might be a little biased there. I also liked the Milano but generally I would agree. I haven't seen anything recently that makes me want to build it as a miniature. I think all the designs in TFA and the new Trek have been terrible. OooOo look the Falcon has a rectangular dish...really?
 

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Jaitea

Master Member
I liked the ships in Interstellar, but I might be a little biased there. I also liked the Milano but generally I would agree. I haven't seen anything recently that makes me want to build it as a miniature. I think all the designs in TFA and the new Trek have been terrible. OooOo look the Falcon has a rectangular dish...really?

I loved the Milano,....& very disappointed there's no styrene kit of it....:angry

But the whole design thing,....I'm not that worried,....I only bought two crafts from TFA as kits,....the Falcon & the new X Wing,....there wasn't many cool new designs in Ep 7.....I'm glad that they didn't need to just throw blink & you missed them new crafts in just for the toy sales

Rogue One on the other hand has made me sit up though,....The variations & improvements of the troopers,....the new AT-AT's,...the tank craft....The 4 wing shuttle....The Rebel U Wing lander....The TIE Striker,....all pretty cool to me.....the angular stealth like Krennic's Shuttle reminds me of Lukes T-16.....

....& I'm sure there'll be more in the film.....come on.....it's more Star Wars,...would you rather be back 5 years ago & all there was was a kids cartoon?

LFL/ILM had an ad out on FaceBook looking for design talent in a competition,...Artstation.... The Star Wars aesthetic (Episode IV to VI)
All submissions for the ILM Art Department Challenge must fit within the aesthetic of Star Wars from Episode 4 to 6 (Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi). Everything used in the submission must already exist within the world of Star Wars from Episode IV to VI.

I think it's a great time,....& we are very fortunate that we have kit manufacturers like Bandai who can deliver, for the first time in 40 years of Star Wars,.....very accurate & brilliant kits,....the Disney acquisition was the best thing to happen to the franchise

J
 

CutThumb

Sr Member
Its all about period and asthetic. Sci fi and fantasy art changes over time ,depending on the media. And spaceship design shifts with it ,they go. And they comeback.
And you aren't reading or watching the right stuff. Some of the best starships are now in video games ,I love the "Halo" craft !!!!
I have collected so many books of sci fi art and design over the decades my shelves groan under the sheer weight of them. I've got volumes of work that date back to the past masters of the SF paperback cover like Chris Foss, Jim Burns and Peter Jones. Which is why I loved what they did with "Guardians of the Galaxy", the colour schemes and ship designs are so from that era because they brought Chris Foss back to help with them and I still feel a cold disappointment that the "Dune" concepts he designed for Jadorowsky never came to be, and instead we have had all these adaptions since whose concept designs were truely disappointing.
So I don't agree that with the broader statement that recently all ships are poor. Because CAD has come so far there has been a tendancy towards what I call a more "biological" design, ie craft that have many sleek complex curves and insectoid features that give them a more alien feeling that can now be modelled without the need to physically building them (which would have been impossible decades ago) but its mostly tons better than the bulk of the garbage we had in the 80's and 90's (SW and ST excepted!)
I do think the iconic success with SW OT concepts comes down to just a couple of basic things.
Firstly neither Ralph McQuarrie and Joe Johnston were actually sci fi artists. Ralph, like Syd Mead was a futurist and superb draftsman and designer and both he and Joe and a huge number of the guys from that era were heavily influenced by the designs of WWII aircraft, tanks and militaria, which was the look George Lucas wanted at the time. A war set amoungst the stars but one that looked gritty and real, because he didn't have the budget for anything else.
So they all had an instinctive eye for what look "proper" in the context of the film and for our generation that were raised on war films ( I still enjoy the "Battle of Britian") it was the visual jackpot. And it wasn't just down to the artists ,once the modellers got to work and had time to add that extra dimension of making the concept a physical model that looked proportional and real it gave the ships of that time a unique appeal that has never been bettered to my mind.
But when GL had the money to do what he wanted he went the full "Buck Rogers" ,which moved the SW universe into what I call the sci fi fantasy realm ,rather than that of the practical futurist. So everything became "over the top" elaborations of mirrored and complex spacecraft that made the worlds look perversely less real and less interesting, which upset alot of the core fans (though I still like the Radiant , the tanks and many of the pod racers).
I liked most of what they did with "TFA" . I thought the updated X wings were terrific , I was pleased that they kept the Ties , the SDs and much else ,particularly with what they achieved with the sets and costumes, but I hated the B Brick and the F Frieghter. Looking through the TFA artwork book there was lots in there that was just as unappealling.
The trailer for "Rogue One" REALLY got me excited,simply for what they are bringing back. Of the models at the SWCE I think alot will depend on how they behave on screen. The Tie looks like its wings swivelled up and down, the Walker has a detatchable cargo pod (which rather cooly reminded me of a Space 1999 Eagle Transporter ). The shuttle confuses me a bit, but then the pictures of the front aren't that good.
Personally I'm back to drawing and trying to build designs I did back in my twenties to recapture that star wars feel. I particularly miss the great landcraft like the Sandcrawler, and Jabbas barge, so I'm going for heavy loaders , land barges , and argicultural harvesters plus versions of battlefield craft that are there to fill in a necessary gap between suborbital assault craft and defensive positions.
 

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