United Star Systems DeBonnaire Class Exploration Cruiser
This design is a tribute to my long-time, fellow spaceship artist friend John DeBonnaire. This ship is inspired by one of his designs. While obviously done in a style very reminiscent of Star Trek, this vessel is set in its own science-fiction universe. I did this to provide the freedom to incorpoate elements outside of the Star Trek design canon. The U.S.S. DeBonnaire Class Exploration Cruiser is envisioned as the flagship of the United Star Systems exploration fleet. It has a Star Trek counterpart in the U.S.S. Travis / Community Class Explorer I did a few years back.
Starships Empyrean, Grand Leviathan, and Catalyst
Starship Empyrean was designed as a descendant of the 2008 version of Starship Leviathan when both ships were part of an earlier incarnation of the Exploration Corps setting. Like its precursor, the Empyean is a large, long-range exploration vessel that represent sthe apex of star-faring technology during the era it exists in. An unusual feature of the this design is the two large separable hulls attached along the underside of the forward section of the main hull. These hulls serve as giant FTL-capable lifeboats. The design of the Empyrean is based on Starship Grand Leviathan which was meant as a descendant of 1999 version of Starship Leviathan. Jeff Robb’s line-art illustration of the Grand Leviathan was used as the underlay for the 2D rendering created using CorelDRAW.
Comments by JEFF ROBB for Starship Grand Leviathan
This design for a large, futuristic starcruiser was directly inspired by David’s own Starship Leviathan Type-IV Starcruiser (1999 version of Starship Leviathan), a design I consider to be David’s signature work due to the great amount of effort he put into it across many years, finally culminating in a detailed stand-alone book, a copy of which he was kind enough to share with me. Some time afterward, in 1999, I entertained the notion of “refitting” or “modernizing” his thoughtful Leviathan design with additional components and curvilinear “bracing” layered onto the hull, and this Grand Leviathan is the result. It maintains many key features of David’s original, while refining or adding some interesting new components. We decided to include this speculative design in our joint book, Interstellar Vessels of the Radiant Era, and highlighted it as the most advanced Human-built ship of its kind.
As someone who admires the designs of real-life modern automobiles and aircraft, I am quite fond of curvilinear, flowing forms. This naturally extends to fictional creations like the Starship Enterprise (NCC-1701-D) of Star Trek: The Next Generation and the Andromeda Ascendant of Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda. For now, a harmonious unit of curvilinear shapes holds the most visual appeal for me both as a viewer and a designer; as such, I strive to achieve such functional and esthetic harmony in my own designs. I enjoy designing a vehicle that I would be proud to operate, or be a passenger on. Fitting a starcruiser design with such artful aspirations into a conceptual universe dominated by David’s more industrial-looking space vessels may be a stretch even after the fact, but David’s welcoming nature prevailed, and the Grand Leviathan took a place in an upbeat spacefaring future as a homage to a friend’s personal design and a parallel dream of my own.
Starship Catalyst was meant as a companion ship for Starship Empyrean. The design of the Catalyst is based on the Catamaran Shuttle by Jeff D. Robb, a companion vessel for Starship Grand Leviathan. The 3D CGI model was originally created by fellow speculative spaceship designer Sean Kennedy and is used here with his permission. The Catalyst is similar in mission concept to the Federation Danube Class Runabouts of Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
Factory Starship: Tribute to Science Fiction Artist Chris Foss
The design of Factory Starship is based on an illustration done by space artist Chris Foss as pre-production art for the science fiction/horror movie Alien. Foss’s illustration can be seen in The Book of Alien, published in 1979 by Heavy Metal Communications. Chris Foss is one of my two favorite space artists / speculative spaceship design heroes.
Starship Epiphany: Tribute to Science Fiction Artist Robert McCall
The Starship Epiphany is a tribute to the spaceship design in space artist Robert McCall’s 1991 painting, Valley of a Billion Stars. McCall’s painting can be seen on page 111 of The Art of Robert McCall: A Celebration of Our Future in Space, published in 1992 by Bantam. While I perceive McCall’s spaceship design as a large exploratory vessel perhaps hundreds of meters long, I believe it could also be interpreted as a sizable interstellar probe directed by a sentient computer. Robert McCall is of my two favorite space artists / speculative spaceship design heroes.