Review by C.J. Bunce
From Star Trek V: The Final Frontier to four Next Generation movies and the J.J. Abrams Kelvin timeline movies, and Deep Space Nine through the Enterprise and Discovery series, concept artist, illustrator, prop designer, and model maker John Eaves has designed ships and objects familiar to any sci-fi fan. This Tuesday the eagerly anticipated behind-the-scenes book Star Trek: The Art of John Eaves arrives from online retailers and book stores, and we at borg.com previewed a copy. Just as you would expect, the book is full of hundreds of concept art designs, most of them ultimately used for the final model or CGI renderings seen on film. John Eaves has developed his own style over the years, so in the past decade when even passing fans saw a ship on the big or small screen, they could usually tell when Eaves designed it. Take a look at our preview pages from Star Trek: The Art of John Eaves here.
Eaves tells his story, referencing those artists of film that inspired him, some he would work with directly and others he admired from his youth: Joe Alves, Ron Cobb, Greg Jein, Grant McCune, Robert McCall, Nilo Rodis-Jamero, Ralph McQuarrie, Joe Johnston, Richard Edlund, John Dykstra, Syd Mead, and others. The shifting look of Star Trek, its ships, and props, began to take on a new look with his designs for the Enterprise-B in Star Trek Generations, which required a modification to the Excelsior model to accommodate a key scene featuring Captain Kirk. For the update to the ship Eaves incorporated a design from the World War II Catalina PBY-5A airplane. Eaves grew up near an airfield, where he was first given a pad and pencil to make his own illustrations, and his understanding of aerodynamics can be found throughout his work. And as Eaves tells it, Star Trek designer Michael Okuda would often be nearby to point out relevant components to incorporate.
The Eaves design aesthetic is unmistakable, in the elegant Vulcan lander and Phoenix rocket in Star Trek: First Contact, in the arc-shaped Son-a warship concepts in Star Trek Insurrection, in the removal of the “neck” and compact configuration of the Enterprise-E, and in the Reman Scimitar, the Romulan Valdore, and Scorpion fighters for Star Trek Nemesis. The artist says his Discovery designs were inspired, surprisingly, by the rocket that took Taylor away and back in the original Planet of the Apes. You can see the inspiration in the view of the ship from below.
My personal favorites are his designs for the Klingon weaponry, sleek menacing knives and phasers used in Star Trek Into Darkness.
This becomes the fourth account of John Eaves’ work on the Star Trek franchise, but the first complete look at his designs spanning all his Star Trek projects. The earlier accounts of his designs can be found in Star Trek: The Next Generation Sketchbook–The Movies, Generations & First Contact, by John Eaves and J.M. Dillard, Star Trek: The Art of the Film, by Mark Cotta Vaz, and The Art of Star Trek: The Kelvin Timeline, by Jeff Bond (reviewed here at borg.com).
Available for pre-order now here at Amazon, Star Trek: The Art of John Eaves is a must for Star Trek and other sci-fi fans, and students of concept art and filmmaking. Written by Joe Nazzaro with commentary by John Eaves and foreword comments by Greg Jein and Herman Zimmerman, Star Trek: The Art of John Eaves is an over-sized 10″x12″ hardcover with 208 pages of primarily color photographs, scheduled for release November 27.