Appreciate each others’ work

How things have been rolling as of late has reminded me of Ralph McQuarrie’s quote A real artist wakes up and does what he wants, instead of what the client wants, the agent wants, the gallery wants, etc. I consider myself a craftsman, a draughstaman. The reason for this is standards.

To use the product design industry as an example, consider your main chair back home. It may be wooden, plastic or combination of multitude of materials to create a cohesive whole that fits your taste. How many times have you given that chair a thought after your first purchase and impressions outside the few times you felt uncomfortable in it?

The best of designs tend to go unnoticed in many ways. That chair you use is most likely built to human body standards and it is made to support your back just the right way. After slight adjusting here and there, of course. Maybe it even has a headrest and an armrest pair that allows you a more supportive and comfortable positions. You may find them nice and appeasing your needs, but sweet hell does it take a forever to find that right spot during the design phase.

Design is a source of life enhancement was the motto of the late Kenji Ekuan, best known as the designer of the Kikkoman soy sauce bottle, which probably stands as the best design of the previous century. It is without a doubt a bottle that has a nice curves and size that fits your hand just right. How it’s used and it functions is even more impressive and took Ekuan long enough to fine tune it. If we were to talk about high standards, the Kikkoman bottle is up there in regards how an everyday item should be.

That’s not exactly the standards that has been muddling my mind, but they’re part of it all in the end. To return to your chair, if it is one of the workstation chairs with combination of multiple materials, you can bet your ass that each connected section has sub-millimetre standard that the producer has to adhere to in order to make a satisfactory product that will not break down, can withstand certain loads and stresses and still be economically feasible to produce. Each section has required some bit of machining at some point in the production, be it when making the moulds for the plastic or some bolt, these are within third of a millimetre standard deviation in size, and that’s not even the finest allowed standard deviation.

The welded parts of that chair of yours have standards of their own as well. If you start taking notice of welded parts, you should notice the same thing repeating in most cases; uniform look, uniform thickness and uniform methods. The common consumer most likely doesn’t give one flying fuck about this, as it is something they are never concerned with in their lives. Welding is just something that a worker does and it keeps shit together. Nevertheless it is an arduous work to gain experience in and requires both hands on training and theory studying. Credit is where credit is due, and it would seem everybody thinks that their work is least appreciated out of the bunch.

If your chair is wood and not made by your local craftsman, you can be sure that in the factory it came out they have similar standards when it comes to joint manufacturing and so on. If you picked something from IKEA and had to build it yourself, each of the part is made with standards.

This combines somewhat to the previous issue with Bandai Namco’s Asian English translations, making this a possible Monthly Three in retrospect. Translation has standards as well, yet especially companies and corporations are very willing to simply force through the translation process instead. However, imagine if companies would do the same thing with your chair. It’s good enough if it just manages to hold together and sells, the consumer be damned. The reason why consumer would not find this satisfactory is because things would break down or bend out of shape due to out of standards cheap black iron parts, terrible fragile plastics used and the most rough deviation machining used. The design itself would be somewhere out there and wouldn’t support your back or contour accordingly. That’s what Bandai Namco’s Asian English translations are, with the only difference that we don’t have any other options to choose from outside Japanese. Honestly, the scripts would look loads more polished if they were just edited properly. I can almost see some fans taking the existing English scripts and just doing that. Currently, they’re just waste of space and resources, and support further┬ádetrimentation of not just English translations, but translations overall.

To return to McQuarry’s quote, the one thing an artist doesn’t need to bother himself with is standards. That could be seen as one of the things that separate art and other fields. For example, in design you still need to adhere to standards and conventions to achieve certain desired results. Within art, there are no standards as such what you can or how. This becomes more muddles when we take into notice classical paintings that adhere to a puristic style like realism and were ordered pieces. However, art has always been about selling your piece, and the modern take on being something that shouldn’t be “sold-out” is largely laughable. Just like dada.

To assume this is valid, it is one more argument for things like literacy and movies not being largely art in themselves. For exactly that reason we have art movies that encompass that whole thing of doing whatever the hell they want however they want, sometimes even changing the concept of how a movie is played in a theatre. Books too have these takes, as some books make a statement by having hundred blank pages or a poem collection with just one word per opening. Seems like a waste of material, but who am I to judge what people buy?

We tend to not give a damn about standards unless they directly apply to us and rarely even realize how strictly standards play out in our daily lives. We don’t appreciate them to a certain degree, and while we want shit to work like it should, we also give in far too often and far too much in certain things like translations where these standards should be hold up as almost sacred things. Not just because it will create a better product, but for both culture and appreciation of each and every field of work there is, art or not.

McQuarrie’s designs recycled

What common element is shared between Star Wars and Star Trek? Well, the title spells it already. With the Star Trek Discovery test footage revealed, the first reaction to many was Is that the Enterprise from Planet of the Titans? Those who are into Trek at least asked, and for a good reason. The title ship does indeed look like it was lifted from McQuarrie’s concept design for the refitted Enterprise.

McQuarryprise uss disco

Continue reading “McQuarrie’s designs recycled”

Comparing the two X-Wings

With the new Star Wars movies coming up, I’ve been waiting to see a glimpse or two of the new and old designs we’d eventually see in the movies. This is mostly because Star Wars’ designs make little to no sense when it comes to progression, as we’ve seen with the Prequel Trilogy. I hope that the upcoming Sequel Trilogy will do better in this regards, but it can be argued that it is easier to take an existing product and refine it further to meet the modern standard.

Just recently we got a full body view of the new X-Wing Starfighter, and it’s an interesting piece by all means. Let’s put it against the good ol’ Incom T-95 X-Wing Starfighter.

The newer, sleeker design fives hopes for practical effects, but only a little bit
The newer, sleeker design fives hopes for practical effects, but only a little bit
The old X-Wing is iconic and well loved everybody expect the Imps
The old X-Wing is iconic and well loved everybody expect the Imps

First of all, the overall size of the new X-Wing is smaller. The dimensions compared to the pilot and the director are more compact than what the original legends had. However, compact is not the right word to describe the overall look of the new fighter. It’s smaller, more sporty but also sleeker, and in some regards, more tactically aggressive and nimbler. It’s not as long as its predecessor and has more slopes and curves, which gives an impression of a smaller bird of prey, but just as deadly as its older brother.

The smallness also brings in some in-universe problems, as it loses space to hold more proton torpedoes and luggage as well as other things. It could be that this fighter has been made to rely on carriers more, but it’s still a good sized ship to have a hyperdrive. Of course, a lot of things could have been miniaturised further, thus leaving more space for other things. Because of the length being shorter, the proton torpedo chutes are directly under the cockpit rather than starting directly under where the original’s cockpit glass ended.

I’m glad to see the aforementioned slopes and curves, to be honest. The Original Trilogy had a very industrial feel to its designs with daily grit etched to them. This spirit is carried by the ship designs as well, where the Y-Wing is most likely the most prominent example with exposed parts everywhere. This new X-Wing carries a familiar taste, but because of the more softer shapes applied to the design, it gives off a bit more younger, fresher breath. Something like stepping outside the workshop after a long day, where you still have that smell of steel and snoot, but with the fresh air. The wingtips actually have a curved design, where they curl up to the laser cannons.

The curves have been applied to make the overall silhouette of the fighter smaller, as the aft of the fighter curves inside to the centre. The nose has that familiar X-Wing design, and you can even see the same extra tidbits alongside the fuselage. The intakes are the largest step away from the original X-Wing, but are true to Ralp McQuarrie’s concept design. You could say that the new fighter is a cross-bred between the original movie fighter and McQuarrie’s concept. The engine nozzles at the back don’t seem to be completely well thought out; they’re just sticking out in an able from the main construction. It would have been nice to see them grow from the form naturally, but they do give that slight industrial taste to an extent.

Do note the difference in the Tie-Fighter as well. The dimensions are slightly different
Do note the difference in the Tie-Fighter as well; The dimensions are slightly different

The wings are the most different from the original or the concept. At first I thought that the wings wouldn’t separate, which would have meant that this fighter would have continued to follow Z-95 Headhunter’s way of thinking. This is because the wings themselves are thin and do not hold any seam that two separate wings would make. It would have been an interesting twist, but luckily my old friend informed me that the wings do indeed open, but in a different manner. Rather than splitting alongside the wings’ length, the wings open in from the middle, splitting the wings’ depth. If you look closely to the left wing’s top, you can see a line going in the middle. Another point is the curled wingtips, as you can see the back wing going behind the front wing and leaving a distinct seam. This is the seam where the wings split. The front part of the wing turns downwards and the aft turns up.

Speaking of the laser cannons, they have a slight redesign as well. The new X-Wing share’s the same basic design with the original. In the new fighter the half-pipe shaped protectors (or something like that) are slightly thinner and have a blob design in the middle to conform with the barrel of the cannon. The overall design is the same otherwise with similar minor adjustments or additions.

I’m not all that good with colours, but the X-Wing line has always had subdued colours, from the original’s earthly red to some Expanded Universe ships. The choice of blue is a safe bet and the applied decals look as they should. The overall image of the colouring is very controlled. Giving this X-Wing a new, attacking colour scheme could make it look more eye catching as well as far more threatening. I hope this is one of the things that looks small, but packs a punch. I’m already expecting to see one in outrageous yellow with falcon design, or a royal paintjob of reds and gold.

There’s also one possibly positive side on this X-Wing; it seems to be easier to draw. This is because the design is simpler and doesn’t require the drawer to align four different spherical engines properly with each other and maintain their relation to each other and to the main body. However, when the wings open this might go out of the window depending on the geometry they introduce with it. From what we’ve seen, the changes don’t seem to mass to anything worth noting, but it wouldn’t be the first time something with variable form capability could surprise everybody.

I’m eager to see this one the big screen, or more of its builds. Concept illustrations would be a great thing to see in the near future. Perhaps they’ll release a lot of concept illustrations before the release of the movie, like they did with Phantom Menace.

Ralph McQuarrie, June 13, 1929 – March 3, 2012

Ralph McQuarrie was an inspirational artist. His works have been inspiring many people around the world for years, and while he is most known for his contribution on Star Wars, he has worked in numerous other films as well. He has always had his own rather unique style that is simply lovely to look at, and the detailing is amazing.

McQuarrie’s works has always been inspirational for me. At times when I’ve felt the block, looking at his paintings and sketches gives me new ideas and breathes life to a dried mind. The shapes, the lights and the colours dance in his art, creating more than a live image. His works tell more then a tens of thousands words.

You will be missed, McQuarrie. You left a piece of yourself to this world in your art. This is a legacy we all will cherish. Today, I will rise my glass in your memory.