Thursday 4 October 2012

The art of Federation: The First 150 Years

The release of Federation: The First 150 Years draws ever closer (although the expected publication date does seem to have slipped from November into December), and seem to be terribly excited about it, with teases coming every week or so! There latest is this first page of the Articles of Federation:

They have also run interviews with the book's illustrators - Jeff Carlisle compared the book to recent ambitious Star Wars books, The Jedi Path and Book of Sith, which explore facets of the Star Wars universe from a detailed in-universe point of view. Joe Corroney expanded on this:
...they pitched the book to me as an official, "real world"-type journal chronicling the history of the Federation that would make the reader feel like they are living in the Star Trek universe and reading a history book that actually existed for the characters. They wanted the book to feel as real as possible and I think they were hoping our artwork would lend an authenticity to it for that theme. Most of the art I was asked to contribute were illustrations rendered in a "field-guide" style for the book, as if a Starfleet historian was chronicling these historic events and documenting these important items as they were happening or being discovered. In fact, during the first round of approvals for these field-guide style pieces I was asked to make them look even "sketchier" and less refined. It was fun to kind of break down my style and attempt some different, quicker techniques with these pieces.
Each of the artists involved gave an overview of what they have contributed to the book (I have included screencaps from the previous trailer for the book, they are organised at my best guess at attribution per artist). Cat Staggs, a vetran Star Wars illustrator, comic book artist, and recent Smallville cover artist, dealth with a lot of the portrait work:
I'm especially proud of my Captain Kirk and Spock. I also got to draw a few scenes and characters that have never been seen or depicted before, including an avian, so that was really fun. It's always awesome to be able to contribute artistically to something that is going to forever be part of the canon.

Mark McHaley, another illustrator with a Star Wars pedigree, illustrated the chapter-openings, along with a few other images throughout the book. He was particularly pleased with:
The standoff between the Klingons and the Federation over Organia was a nice little piece of unseen history. The launch of the Phoenix was a particularly satisfying illustration for me.

Joe Corroney, who has the most extensive history with Star Trek projects of the four illustrators thanks to his years of covers and more recently interior artwork for IDW comics, got into the book after working on his forthcoming Stuck on Star Trek sticker book:
I was asked to be a part of the project back in 2011, I believe. I was actually working on artwork for another Star Trek book proposal for becker and mayer! at the time called Stuck on Star Trek. So right after that initial artwork was completed for that proposal I was asked by my art director if I would like to contribute some illustrations to Federation. I was excited about this opportunity because most of my Trek work up to this point was for comic books and this project represented new territory for me. It allowed me to flex some different artistic muscles and experiment with different styles than I normally get to do in my usual artwork for Star Trek, which I enjoyed.
My work consisted primarily of illustrations depicting some important, iconic moments and historical objects throughout the years of the birth and development of the Federation. I also created artwork for things like Klingon weapons and armor, artifacts, Starfleet Academy, some starship diagrams and a Starfleet propaganda poster, too, which was especially fun to work on.
There were a few of the historic scenes I was really excited to draw, like the Vulcan ship landing in San Francisco at the site of the future Starfleet Headquarters and the meeting of the Starfleet engineers during the construction of the Enterprise. I included a nice nod to Gene Roddenberry in that illustration, actually, which I hope fans will appreciate.
Finally, Jeff Carlisle was invited to contribute to the book relatively late on, and delivered four of the loose documents and illustrations:
I created the Enterprise blueprints, The Trill Medical Diagram, an interior illustration of a Vulcan relic and some sketches/handwritten notes of Zefram Cochrane written on an envelope.
Interesting the new diagram of the Enterprise will be from the Pike era:
The first thing we had to decide was which version of the Enterprise we would be showing, and it was decided that it would be the original Enterprise from "The Cage" -- and that's when I went into research mode and learned everything I could from a variety of sources about the construction not only of the Enterprise but of the Constitution class itself. I gathered a lot of research, including Matt Jefferies' original sketches, various renderings and plan views of the ship, including the amazing cutaway designed by Doug Drexler that was used in the two Mirror Universe episodes of Enterprise. At one time I even wrote notes back and forth between the ship designers to be in the margins of the blueprint, but they ended up not using them. I just wanted people to understand that the Enterprise was itself a design revision from the Constitution... I guess I got a little excited!

Carisle also put a lot of effort into developing his trill biology image: first the image was going to be a simple Starfleet medical scan with a little red blip showing the Symbiont inside of a Host, but then you have to figure out HOW they fit together. They enter through the abdomen, but there has to be a real link between their systems. The symbiont needs to get sustenance and expel waste as well as have the mental link. So I always thought that it would have to be somewhere between the liver and stomach, possibly connected to the intestines, possibly with tendrils connecting it to the spine of the Host. When the idea was pitched to CBS, the response was overwhelmingly positive. We also decided to turn the whole readout into a Trill diagram, basing our layout and the writing on one of the few Trill computer screens that was shown in the show
You can read the full interviews with Cat Staggs and Mark McHaley, here, and Joe Corroney and Jeff Carlisle, here.

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