Nov 172016
 

It will, I imagine, come as almost zero surprise that I’ve long been a fan of the various “Star Trek” blueprint sets produced over the years by fans and professionals. They range from the “why did you even bother when you had to know you had neither skill nor talent” to the “I want to frame that and hang it on my wall.” In my opinion, just as a matter of aesthetics, the best ones were produced in the 70’s and early 80’s (the original Franz Joseph “Constitution Class” set, the McMaster “Klingon Book of Plans,” the Dreadnought, etc.). These were drafted by hand. The errors are in evidence, inconsistencies can be readily found, imprecisenesses here and there, a whole raft of unfortunate things that were eliminated when people started doing this sort of thing on the computer. And when vector graphics, CAD systems and 3D modeling came in and cleaned everything up, a little bit of the art seemed to go out of the enterprise. Dunno… maybe it’s just me.

So, promptly after pointing out that I prefer hand0drawn over computer aided…. here’s the beginnings of my own stab at the art form, done entirely on computer.

Something I have been working on for quite some time is a series of 2D diagrams of the “Messiah” spacecraft from Deep Impact. This is an outgrowth of the 3D CAD model of the Messiah I made for Fantastic Plastic (I gather there were some hiccups in the process, but I understand that things are back on track) a year and a half ago. This is the very definition of a “back burner” project; it’s not a secondary effort, not even a tertiary effort. There are paying gigs ahead of it. Still, going in and tapping away at it from time to time is a good way to destress from the other projects.

I’d spent a long time considering what to do with “Messiah.” Options included some sort of book/magazine/thing, or one or more large format (24X36, say) prints, or even cyanotype blueprints (I did in fact make a grand total of two *very* large Messiah blueprints, quite a while back… a year and a half, as it turns out). But I’ve decided to adopt the “Book Of General Plans” format. In this case,a  set of prints, say, 11 inches by 36, folded and in an envelope. Retro!

The Messiah would cover about half a dozen sheets, plus or minus. A lot depends on scale. The image below (purple coloring just a drawing aid, will go to black before printing) shows the 2D diagram in 1/200 scale… which is a quite large sheet. Below that you can see a rectangle, 24X36 inches, subdivided into two 11X36 strips. At 1/200, the plan view of the ship will just fit. Thus, there’d be one sheet for the top view, one for the bottom, one for the side, one for the fore/aft. There are also a number of scrap views…the Shuttle/lander in both flight and landing configuration, details of the Orion booster section, an inboard profile, others.

messiah-2016-11-17-a

Here’s a quick look at a small fraction of the illustrations created of the lander:

messiah-2016-11-17

Along with the diagrams there’d also be “in universe” text and data, with my best efforts to rationalize the design. In the case of Messiah… it’s powered by a wandwavy form of nuclear pulse that uses bomblets that are more akin to “nuclear hand grenades,” with explosions that are slightly oblate rather than spherical… justifying the elliptical pusher plate. The large chemical boosters are liquid systems filled with high-energy space-storable propellants… FLOX burning with a kero-boron slurry. The aft boosters look like Energia boosters; the forward boosters look like Ariane V boosters, but in both cases they are much larger than the originals. This was done because… ummm… well, they were in a hurry (so they copied what they had), and they were working in secret (so they made the boosters look like things people had seen before, so if they were photographed at a distance they could be passed off as the more mundane boosters… yeah, that’s it…).

 

I’m doing this (veeerrry slowly) because I’m just that much of a geek. Anybody else interested? If I have ’em printed off in quantity, I’m thinking of selling them for around $20 a set, on a print run of *maybe* twenty.

After Messiah, there are a number of other designs I’d like to do the same with. 10-meters USAF Orion (real design). 4,000 ton Orion Battleship (Pax Orionis). Helicarrier (Avengers). USS Ascension (from the miniseries of the same name… oy, the monkeymotions to rationalize that).

 Posted by at 8:20 pm
  • Tango_Charlie

    Can I pre-pay?

    • Scottlowther

      Naw, I don’t think pre-ordering something like this is a good idea. Could be a while. Could be never. Right now I’m trying to judge interest, to see if this is something I should go to the bother of finishing up to publication quality, or just far enough to make me happy.

  • B-Sabre

    …a little bit of the art seemed to go out of the enterprise…

    I see what you did there.

    • publiusr

      –and I like it.

  • RLBH

    Huge sucker for general arrangement plans here. I’d certainly buy copies (Messiah and both Orion’s, at least) if only I could get them shipped to the UK without incurring huge, arbitrary handling charges from Royal Mail. Would you consider selling them as PDFs?

    • Scottlowther

      Meh, probably not. Done, they’d be a nice, rare thing. Done on PDF, they wouldn’t sell any better (behold the failure of the PDF CAD diagrams of various aircraft I took a stab at earlier this year).

      I’m not sure what Royal Mail has to do with the shipping cost, though, since I charge you what the US postal system charges me.

      • RLBH

        > I’m not sure what Royal Mail has to do with the shipping cost, though, since I charge you what the US postal system charges me.

        I’m sure you do. Unfortunately, when Royal Mail sees something with a non-UK postmark, they charge taxes (rightly) and a flat-rate handling charge on the package (less rightly). That makes it uneconomic to import anything worth less than maybe $100.
        Sucks, but that’s bureaucrats for you.

        • Scottlowther

          >they charge taxes (rightly) and a flat-rate handling charge on the package (less rightly).

          The former, I’ve heard of. Always tempted to scribble in “$1,000,000” for the value on overseas labels, just to see what would happen. But I’ve never heard of the latter. Sounds like bureaucratic bullcrap… nations are supposed to accept mail from elsewhere without any such nonsense. I’ve certainly never had to pay anything extra for packages coming from overseas.

          > That makes it uneconomic to import anything worth less than maybe $100.

          Simple solution: maybe I should charge $100 for a set of drawings…

          • RLBH

            > Sounds like bureaucratic bullcrap… nations are supposed to accept mail from elsewhere without any such nonsense.
            I think they get around it because technically the handling charge is for administering the taxes, which are zero on items valued below £15 (or £34 for gifts, which is a weird number). No tax, no fee.
            My fiancee once ordered some cookie cutters from the US, priced at $35 or so, and found that the various charges were as much as what she paid for the actual goods.

          • Scottlowther

            > technically the handling charge is for administering the taxes

            Whenever I think that the government of the US is bad, I need to be reminded that the Old World has raised corruption to a Fine Art. Raising taxes so high that you need to tack on more taxes to administer the first set of taxes? Evil friggen’ genius.

  • Earl Nicholson

    Hi, delurking here Mr. Lowther. I thought I’d mention when you described the chemical fuel part of the Messiah, I thought I’d test the new, smarter Google and put the phrase you used into the search box, and what I was looking for was the first item on the first page.