Star Trek Concept Art: 5 Designs We Wish We Got (5 That Should Have Been Passed Up On)
Concept art is a crucial part of the filmmaking process. It is used not only to develop the idea of the project but also to sell the project to potential investors, directors, and producers. There are many talented artists behind the final products we know and love.
Unfortunately, sometimes the artists' work gets changed or thrown in the bin altogether. What we end up with can be light years away from what they drafted. And to be honest, sometimes we wish they'd stuck to those first ideas. Or even when those designs get through to the final stage, maybe the creative team should've reconsidered.
When it comes to Star Trek, there's an entire universe of creative potential waiting to be thrown onscreen and enough concept art to fill books. Here are five pieces of that art we wish made it into the final product and five we really wish they hadn't used.
10 Wish: Altamid
Star Trek Beyond was meant to reinvigorate the movie franchise. Due to poor advertising and a divisive final product, however, it fizzled at the box office. The movie went with a rather bland color palette, perhaps to make it seem more grounded in reality. Concept art from Victor Martinez paints a different picture.
This rendering of Altamid, the planet on which the Enterprise crash lands, shows a much brighter world full of what could be sinkholes. Instead of this gorgeous faraway world, we got a faded planet that looks much more like home than like anything to be discovered in the Final Frontier.
9 Pass: The Discovery
Star Trek Discovery's titular ship actually seems based on a design by Ralph McQuarrie from the 1970s. McQuarrie was tapped to work on a project called Star Trek: Planet of the Titans that was abandoned in 1977. His concept art from this project shows a ship with a triangular body attached to the standard round saucer.
The Discovery's design is credited to veteran Star Trek concept artist John Eaves. Eaves is a talented artist and creator, but his (and McQuarrie's) starship design makes for nothing more than some clunky space geometry. It just doesn't look like a sturdy space-faring design.
8 Wish: Klingon Bridge Chair
Star Trek Discovery presented a unique challenge to its concept artists: design a futuristic world in 2017 that's set ten years prior to the world already designed in 1960. The way we depict the future now is very different from the technicolor fantasy of the future built fifty years ago. Nevertheless, the writers and artists worked around canon to create a semi-believable refurbished future.
Not all of the future made it into the show. This bit of Klingon technology was meant to move along a vertical track as its controller needed to command the ship. Its elaborate design, created by Samuel Michlap, matches the details of the Klingon Sarcophagus Ship. It would've made a great addition to an intimidating Klingon bridge.
7 Pass: The Motion Picture Uniforms
The pajama-like uniforms from Star Trek: The Motion Picture have become legendary among Trekkies. The thin gray suits were both unflattering and wildly unpractical for space battles. Granted, the Starfleet uniforms from The Original Series were also pajama-like but at least they were colorful.
Robert Fletcher's designs do make the uniforms look smarter than they turned out on screen. The lines are sharper than the fabric ended up being capable of. Nevertheless, we wish they'd passed on these designs.
6 Wish: Federation Battle Shuttle
Concept artist Victor Martinez also designed this Federation battle shuttle for Star Trek Beyond. Its sleek design ended up influencing the design of Krall's swarm ships instead of appearing in the film itself. According to Martinez, the shuttles have room for one pilot and two to three passengers in tandem style seating.
It would have been neat to see these shuttles in action. Starfleet claims not to be a military organization but these shuttles might beg to differ. What would the purpose of these shuttles be? Now we'll never know.
5 Pass: Into Darkness Klingons
There was a lot of controversy surrounding the redesign of the Klingons for Star Trek: Into Darkness. The Klingons' appearance has been altered nearly every era they've been on screen. They started as simply particularly tan and hairy human look-a-likes. Then their foreheads became wrinkled and their armor more advanced. This change was explained away in Enterprise as the result of a virus.
Into Darkness changed the Klingons once more. The concept art by Constantine Sekeris shows the battle gear of these new Klingons. They have awkward, bug-like helmets and heavy armor that looks like rhinoceros hide. Some things are better left untouched.
4 Wish: Phase II Bridge
Star Trek: Phase II was supposed to be a television series sequel to the original Star Trek. The series got pretty far in production before it was turned into The Motion Picture. Concept art from the series remains, including this depiction of the Enterprise's bridge by Mike Minor.
This design of the bridge was the inspiration for the one in The Motion Picture but it lost the sleekness of the art. It ended up gray instead of white as well. It's a shame this bridge wasn't used. It looks like it also could've inspired the sleek and shiny bridge in 2009's Star Trek.
3 Pass: Vulcan City
This Vulcan city is only featured briefly in 2009's Star Trek. It sets the scene for what Spock's life on Vulcan is like. It's red and dusty with skyscrapers that look like they're carved out of stalagmites and stalactites.
This concept art by James Clyne looks beautiful but what sense does an upside-down city make? Are the people inside also upside-down being supported by artificial gravity? Or do you take the elevator down to the dangling tip of the building? We have no idea.
2 Wish: The Borg Queen
The Borg Queen has one of the best entrances in Star Trek. Like all Borg, she is made up of organic and robotic parts. When she's not needed she separates her two components. She is at once creepy and fascinating.
The Borg Queen we got was okay, but we could've gotten an even cooler one. This concept art for Star Trek: First Contact by Ricardo Delgado shows a more ornate Borg Queen. This version has almost an ancient cultural vibe. It would have been interesting to see how that translated to the big screen.
1 Pass: The Enterprise-D Bridge
This may be the most controversial item on this list. Andrew Probert's design of the Enterprise-D's bridge is a product of its time. It's slouchy and "retro" and very 1980s. Unfortunately, it looks like more of a lounge than the command center of the most advanced ship in Starfleet.
The bridge is what aliens see when they communicate with the flagship of the United Federation of Planets. It's the background of first contact. It's also the command center during a battle. It is not a recreation lounge. Look at the helmsmen's seats. They're practically recliners! Unprofessional.