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Aztec markings on Star Trek ships

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Is there a point and purpose behind the aztec markings on the ships? Surely it can't be camo of any kind.

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Is there a point and purpose behind the aztec markings on the ships? Surely it can't be camo of any kind.

 

 

to make them pretty.

Leave it to an artist to create something, but not explain it to the fans! Here is a story I heard from Mike Okuda back in the 90s:

 

On the TV show, the model was very plain. I've heard the same thing happened when they first film the new shooting for ST1, it looked too plain. The art dept decided to add colors to it to give it more "detail" and thus Aztec was born.

 

Where the name comes from I have no clue.

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Is there a point and purpose behind the aztec markings on the ships? Surely it can't be camo of any kind.

 

Hi guys, I believe I have a more detailed answer to this question, it's something "Papa" has looked into in the past.

 

First off, the term "Aztec" or "Aztecing" comes from the method by which the Aztecs, and the Mayans as well, except their style was different, of decorating their buildings with certain tile formations. Ceramics of many colors, were applied to exteriors, interiors, and all over the place, usually bright colorful pastel colors like teal, blue, light blue, pink, rose, turquoise, and such. Their jewelry was also expressive in this way, so that's the history of the term. Even their buildings were made of blocks cut in those odd, straight angled shapes, and to this day, we don't have the ability to match their tolerances and accuracy, interesting isn't it?

 

Second, not only were these markings added to the exterior of Federation Star Ships to make them "pretty", or to have more "visual impact", the Engineering of constructing a huge Vessel requires special construction techniques. In the 23rd, or is it 24th, Century, before the current films time-line, they are assembled in space, at a "Space Yard". The Aztec patterns on the Hull, reflect the engineering structural designs, of the many "plates" that make up the entire structure. Look at a current Navy Aircraft Carrier, see all those rectangular Plates, welded together, to make up an entire Hull? Same deal.

 

But as Space craft are going to require difference tolerances and structural integrity, and it being the "future", when we have discovered things like "Trititanium" alloys, and all sorts of new "welding" techniques, you have to keep an open mind. And, who knows what alien sciences, led us to the exact shapes seen on the Hulls of those magnificent Ships? We know it's the Art Dept at the Studio, but use your imagination.

 

So in very simple terms, the "Aztec" patterns, are the "Legos", that snap together, to make up the entire Ship. Their just not rectangular.

 

We cool? Good! :smiley20:

 

Great question by the way, 10 points on that!! :smiley32:

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That's what I kinda figured, that it was an art department's attempt to just break up the monotony. Since there's no 'official' reason, we can invent a whole history of it. The thought occurred to me as I'm writing this that maybe there was a mention of it in one of the trips to the past made by one Enterprise crew or another. Remember in ST IV at the plastics factory Mr. Scott was showing the owner/manager about transparent aluminum ("ahh, a keyboard, how quaint"), and the question was raised about showing him the technology, with the answer being, "How do we know he didn't invent the thing?". What if.... Let's say during Georgie LaForgey's trip back in 'First Contact' he happened to make an offhanded comment about it, or even an intentional mentional. He did, after all, inentionally go back to help Zephram(sp?) Cochran with the warp drive. One paradox can just as easily beget another(movie paradodoxes (paradoxem?) are such fun!). "You can't do that, how do we explain it?!" Hahahahahaha, watch me! The sad part about the whole Aztec concept though, is that even with no official explanation, and any history we care to create, apparently there is an 'official' pattern for each ship, and if you want to please the rivet counters it had better be right.

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That's what I kinda figured, that it was an art department's attempt to just break up the monotony. Since there's no 'official' reason, we can invent a whole history of it. The thought occurred to me as I'm writing this that maybe there was a mention of it in one of the trips to the past made by one Enterprise crew or another. Remember in ST IV at the plastics factory Mr. Scott was showing the owner/manager about transparent aluminum ("ahh, a keyboard, how quaint"), and the question was raised about showing him the technology, with the answer being, "How do we know he didn't invent the thing?". What if.... Let's say during Georgie LaForgey's trip back in 'First Contact' he happened to make an offhanded comment about it, or even an intentional mentional. He did, after all, inentionally go back to help Zephram(sp?) Cochran with the warp drive. One paradox can just as easily beget another(movie paradodoxes (paradoxem?) are such fun!). "You can't do that, how do we explain it?!" Hahahahahaha, watch me! The sad part about the whole Aztec concept though, is that even with no official explanation, and any history we care to create, apparently there is an 'official' pattern for each ship, and if you want to please the rivet counters it had better be right.

 

 

Oh Boy!! You said a mouthfuf there, yes, I too have had to deal with the "Trek Nazis"!! Different patterns for every ship, colors must be accurate, don't you dare add a "greeble" there!!!

 

My good friend, Jack Brunner, of Fuzznoggin Creations, called them by the Historical group, "The Bishops of Canon", hence the term, "it's not Canon". These guys were some sort of Religious purists, and you had "really unpleasant" things happen to you, if you messed up. :(

 

Sort of like the "Spanish Inquisition" types, "Put the old Woman in the Comfy Chair!" :lol:

 

spanish_inq.jpg

 

That's a big PIA, in the model building biz!

 

We try to make it "just right", but most people don't know, that it's kind of hard to duplicate CG, with an airbrush! :blink:

 

Again, a very good point, and quite relevant to the discussion. :P

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Is there a point and purpose behind the aztec markings on the ships? Surely it can't be camo of any kind.

 

I haven't taken the time to read all of the reply posts, but in short it's a nice way of showing different sheens to the hull surface (whether due to differences in material or finishing) - if it were all one color, it would be a little boring on the big screen. I think, however, that the idea of the Aztek pattern has come to be all encompassing of all of the color variations on the hulls of Star Trek ships when originally, it just referred to the perceived difference in sheen of different panels on the ships.

 

If you look at the new R2 1/350 Enterprise, they tout coming with 4 sheets of Aztek decals (which are beautiful, by the way - worth half the price of the kit alone), though those sheets also include the light blue color highlights that go in different areas of the ship - those in my mind aren't technically part of the Aztek pattern, though I'm sure some will disagree.

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I haven't taken the time to read all of the reply posts, but in short it's a nice way of showing different sheens to the hull surface (whether due to differences in material or finishing) - if it were all one color, it would be a little boring on the big screen. I think, however, that the idea of the Aztek pattern has come to be all encompassing of all of the color variations on the hulls of Star Trek ships when originally, it just referred to the perceived difference in sheen of different panels on the ships.

 

If you look at the new R2 1/350 Enterprise, they tout coming with 4 sheets of Aztek decals (which are beautiful, by the way - worth half the price of the kit alone), though those sheets also include the light blue color highlights that go in different areas of the ship - those in my mind aren't technically part of the Aztek pattern, though I'm sure some will disagree.

 

Quite right, the Aztec "Plating," is usually an undertone marking, and rather a light color, some grays, pinkish hues, and light blues in there too.

 

There are also "decorative" stripes, that enhance the beauty of the Ship, so it's not all "Hull Plating" or "Deflector Grids". I didn't meant to oversimplify it, merely explain the origins of the term.

"Aztecing", is the culmination of all that, in a very vibrant pattern, that is quite interesting, and pure "eye candy".

 

I think that covers it. :smiley23:

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Here's the "official" definition of "Aztec", and do note, that although many builders term it "Aztek", it's actually correctly written as "Aztec", as the tribe was, hence known for it's unusual stone work, and mysterious demise. :smiley23:

 

 

 

"What does the word Aztec mean? The word "Aztec" means "someone who comes from Aztlán", an unknown location north of Mexico. The Aztec also referred to themselves as the Mehika or Meshika or Mexica, the origin of the name "Mexico"."

 

Interesting stuff! :smiley20:

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That being said, and this has most likely been mentioned too:

 

What would be the best way to do the patterns on the "A" and the "NX" in terms of what colors and material?

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That being said, and this has most likely been mentioned too:

 

What would be the best way to do the patterns on the "A" and the "NX" in terms of what colors and material?

 

 

In all honesty, I'm not terribly sure - I was lucky enough to pick up a 1/350 NX-01 at the Atlanta Model Expo this weekend for 25 bucks - I have already decided that the colors I'll be using for that will be Alclad Pale Burnt Metal for the slightly reddish / copperish tones and a darkenned aluminum for the darker tones.

 

As for the Enterprise A, really dont know what the best colors are because it's so subjective in terms of how much you want the Azteking to stand out - in the movies, the differences and subtleties in the Azteking were so slight that it looked more like a difference in sheen rather than a difference in actual color. I guess it's similar to the dilema of an aircraft modeler - "Do I want the panel lines shown to scale, in which case, they would be barely visible - OR do I want to make them stand out to give the piece some effect?".

 

I remember a few years back looking at a guys scratch built Enterprise A (1/350th, If I'm not mistaken) and he did his Azteking by some sort of process where he didn't change the colors, but used a specialized metallic paint and changed the direction from which he applied it in order to change the way in which the metallic particles in the paint were aligned in relation to the other panels - this had the effect of changing how light reflected off the different panels.

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I haven't tackled the NX yet, but it looks like a mix of Pewter tones, and a variety of other metallics in that spectrum, not precise I know, but many internet sites can provide more details, time to start doing the "homework" on that.

 

On the A, I used Aztek Dummies masking set, plus a lot of Tamiya masking tape. Again, so many colors, it's another color scheme you need to investigate by hunting the internet. I used Tamiya Pearl white for the base color, and a variety of blues for the Hull detailing colors. For the Panel design colors, I used Reefer White, and very light applications gave it a nice look.

 

There are several Trek sites which give a lot of information on the colors, Starship Modeler's, forum and Hobby Talk, should have dozens of suggestions, as well as Googling, "Enterprise A color scheme".

 

These are both projects that require you to gather information, reference images, and to choose the best method that you are comfortable with, in implementing what you have learned.

 

Some IPMS members have built this kit as well, perhaps they have a concise list to share! :smiley17:

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The term "Aztec' simply comes from the similarity of the pattern seen on the primary hull to the steps of a Central American Aztec temple. And, yes, the pattern is intended to simulate the hull plating of the "real" starship's construction, like the different tones of natural metal visible in the construction of a real metal aircraft.

 

For an interesting article on how the "real" Enterprise was painted, and how to duplicate it, go here:

 

http://www.olsenart.com/strek.html

 

 

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He mentions something in this article I never knew - the cost of the studio model of the Enterprise - over 250,000 dollars - and that was 30 years ago.....

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