the sona battle ship




the first pass

the first pass


pass 2 determined that this shape was more suited for the collector

pass 2 determined that this shape was more suited for the collector

the approved design sketch

the approved design sketch


basic plans

basic plans

top and bottom views

top and bottom views

the underside detail view

the underside detail view


the color pass

the color pass

thank you, thank you, thank you, Mark for the fan boy piece

thank you, thank you, thank you, Mark for the fan boy piece

This one was a really fun ship to work on because I was always wanted to make something out of a boomerang, It didn’t start with that idea but after a couple of sketches, that was where it wound up! Being this was a new race there were no rules or boundaries to follow as far as the architecture went so the use of yard toys were the inspiration for everything Sona. Horseshoes, boomerangs, badminton birdies and lawn darts, were all used to guide the designs. in the earliest of sketches the birdie was the main idea but in the end that idea was used for the collector which was also driven by these begging drawings. With the battle ship it was based on a flat forward flying boomerang, incorporating the Grand Piano string details that were also  incorporated and established as trademark detail in Ruoffo’s ship. the following drawings and especially the orthos were drawn for the CG modelers at Santa Barbara studios to be modeled and composited. When the film came out I was surprised at how few shots there were of this one and it was more of distant pov so you never really got to see what the vessel was made of. The big highlight for me on any Trek project was to sneak over and Watch Jerry Goldsmith score the film. There was a little couch hidden under the sound board right next to the window looking into the studio and I would bring my pad over and draw away out of site from the producers that probably would have frowned upon this. HAAAA! anyways It was always a treat to talk to Jerry, he always wanted copies of my sketches for his Trek collection which Always made me giddy when he would ask what’s new today. He gave me one the  sheets of music that he had written for First Contact and he signed it to!!! HEY-HOWDY-HEY!!! I still remember that awesome day like it was yesterday!!! My Friend Mark Banning was the art director over at Cresendo records and he new I was a big fan of Jerry’s music and I can’t thank him enough for putting the plan drawings of the Sona Battle ship on the CD. That was another giddy fan boy moment.

46 Responses to “the sona battle ship”

  1. 1 Melak
    April 16, 2009 at 8:27 am

    Those are some cool sketches. The first two make interesting ships in their own right, but the ship as a whole looks truly alien.

    Insurrection really didn’t do your designs justice, or maybe they just looked so plain because I dont have the DVD :p

    I see you kept some kind of a theme with ruoffo’s ship with those spikey thingies there?

  2. 2 Don
    April 16, 2009 at 8:30 am

    Love that first sketch, John. I know the development process goes through many iterations, but in this case, the first one was gold, IMO!

    • 3 johneaves
      April 16, 2009 at 8:35 am

      Thanks and funny as it sounds the rejected sketches are usually my fav’s. That first drawing after reading the script really would set the mentality but it usually ended after the first meeting!

  3. 4 Fluxfire
    April 16, 2009 at 8:37 am

    I think that first sketch would have been the cool battle ship, it would have been wicked looking. Love the work you have done.

  4. 6 Howard Day
    April 16, 2009 at 8:51 am

    Looks amazing – I’ve always loved these designs – I wish the effects had been more consistent, but I know that’s almost never a priority. “Make it look cool!” doesn’t always allow for physically correct scales, which is unfortunate. I’d also love to see the first two fleshed out.
    Good stuff!

    • 7 johneaves
      April 17, 2009 at 7:21 am

      Thanks, all the FX shot’s were filmed like a New York street scene with the camera on a tripod on the sidewalk, only left and right movement. Nemesis really took advantage of omnidirectional camera and ships moving on screen.

  5. 8 Mr. Wilde
    April 16, 2009 at 9:52 am

    Awesome! I love this design! Too bad there weren’t any close up shots of it in the movie.

  6. April 16, 2009 at 10:35 am

    I really love that second pass design. It really stands all by itself as a fantastic and elegant design. Even still, I love how these turned out in the film. They’re really fantastic.

    Another thing that puzzled me is how the sona seemed to have such a large infrastructure to be able to build such ships and yet from the film it seemed that the sona themselves were few.

    Great work all in all though! Thanx for sharing!

    • 11 johneaves
      April 17, 2009 at 7:25 am

      Thanks Oz!!! I’ll have to go back to see who commented on this the other day but the point was that these could have been the ships that the Baku abandoned after reaching their Paradise!! It doesn’t answer to how the collector was built unless it was an out bid project!!! HAA! funny to try and put practicality behind these things!!!

  7. 12 Simon Matthew Coles
    April 16, 2009 at 10:56 am

    I always loved this design, she’s a real beaut, John.

    Pity the movie wasn’t as large in scale as the ships that appeared in it.

    • 13 johneaves
      April 17, 2009 at 7:28 am

      Yeah, The issue with this was that it didn’t have (a real VFX director on board) One of the shows producers/co directors took on a triple duty.

  8. 14 Freak
    April 16, 2009 at 11:06 am

    These are so cool.

    I am loving that frist pass on it.
    But it looks like you managed to keep most of it for the final desgin.

  9. 16 IRML
    April 16, 2009 at 11:30 am

    it’s great to see this stuff, is there any chance you could post the concept art for where the captain’s yacht docks to the sovereign? someone showed me it on the DVD special features and I’d love to see it as clearly as all these, I’m building a model of the ship myself and I’d love to get all those details added, especially that little room before boarding the yacht

  10. 18 BB43MAN
    April 16, 2009 at 11:51 am

    Beautiful work! It almost looks organic or grown! How did you do the fine rib detail on the arms so accurately? Top-notch but, then that’s why you’re the professional!

    • 19 johneaves
      April 17, 2009 at 7:30 am

      I really look forward to the sketch phase to end so I can immerse myself into the inking part,,, my fav part of the whole drawing process for me.

  11. 20 johneaves
    April 16, 2009 at 12:01 pm

    It’s funny I can draw mechanical and mathematical stuff easily, But if has to be fabric,people or animals it’s all over!!! DOUG,and DAREN, on the other hand can do it all awesomly!!!

  12. 21 James_M
    April 16, 2009 at 12:16 pm

    The ribbing on the wings is such a beautiful design element. Although it brings back recent memories of eating fish on fridays during lent.

  13. 22 johneaves
    April 16, 2009 at 12:25 pm

    well I personally like the Red Snapper bone pattern over the one found in kefeltafish,,,,,

  14. 23 johneaves
    April 16, 2009 at 12:26 pm

    Sorry I had to look that up,,, Gefilite fish!!!

  15. April 16, 2009 at 2:05 pm

    Great stuff as always John . I really enjoy the ribbing on this ship , it really sets it off . I’ve got a totally unrelated question for you though. I’ve seen Ryan Church’s pass on the NCC-1701 , and Gabe Koerner’s . If they had come to you and asked you to update Matt Jefferie’s classic design , what would we have seen? I am really curious to find out!

    • 25 johneaves
      April 17, 2009 at 7:35 am

      I don’t think it would have mattered much to who was drawing this, it was heavily art directed so It would have ended up looking about the same, with of coarse each artists design sensibilities and personal imaginations showing as far as being a new design. Ryan is awesome and I am glad he got this one. Some of his earlier versions were brilliant to say the least!!!

  16. April 16, 2009 at 3:29 pm

    I know you’re a professional and all, but it still astounds me that you’re able to draw ships as detailed as this so accurately from all different directions. Everything looks spot on! Do you figure it all out by eye, or are there some sort of tricks of the trade involving measuring or something?

    Also, I really like design number two. I suppose it wouldn’t have that much internal space, but it’s a very elegant and powerful looking design. Reminds me a bit of an eagle’s head. With the engines tucked in underneath forming a sort of hollowed out area like that it could have worked as a Romulan ship too.

    • 27 johneaves
      April 17, 2009 at 7:39 am

      It’s all kind of visual,, I work everything out in pencil first and the inking is a trace on top of the blue lines.I used to work in the model shop and the benefit to sculpting something physically kind of makes your mind work better in perception when rendering with pencil. I look at drawings I did before the model shop days and after, and They have gone to being very flat and unbuildable to a more natural look!!

      • 28 Simon Matthew Coles
        April 19, 2009 at 12:44 am

        Ahh, yes, I remember now you worked in a model shop – weren’t you on Hunt for Red October? If you have any materials/memories of that project I’d love to see/read about it on a future blog posting. 🙂

      • 29 johneaves
        April 19, 2009 at 7:10 pm

        Those were the glory days !!!!!! I have to find those photo’s but I plan on putting up the Reg October images soon. If your on facebook there is a group called Boss films rocks and it is full of awesome model shots from the 80’s and early 90’s. it is failrly new and what’ is on it already is really cool!!!

      • April 22, 2009 at 10:10 am

        Thanks for the explanation, John. I can kind of relate with what you say about sculpting helping you get to grips with how things work out in 3D. I think CG modeling has helps me in similar ways. Makes me pay more attention to how things fit together in 3 dimensions.

  17. 31 Masao
    April 16, 2009 at 4:56 pm

    I agree with Ozylot. I like the second pass best. Those close-set nacelles and the dorsal-ventral mirroring of the bifurcated ceratopsian shield are cool.

  18. 33 DeanneM
    April 16, 2009 at 6:07 pm

    ugh, too much geat stuff to look at…my brain is too full today! I’ll have to come back after my homework (hurry up homework!).

  19. 34 Matt Boardman
    April 16, 2009 at 7:35 pm

    I think it’s so very awesome that you got to sketch while watching Jerry composing the music for this film. It is among my favorites of his scores (my others, obviously TMP, but also Stargate). In fact, after seeing this post, I had to pop it in and am listening to it right now! 🙂 Did you find yourself able to draw more focused with the music?

    I like the second design. It has some nice lines to it! I do like the design we saw in the end. It was very menacing and I agree, it’s too bad we didn’t see more of this ship in the movie!!

    • 35 johneaves
      April 17, 2009 at 7:41 am

      Everything I draw has score or theme musically that accompanies the time spent illustrating,,, it’s almost a necessity!

  20. 36 DeanneM
    April 16, 2009 at 9:46 pm

    Oh John, too much good stuff! I never appreciated the Son’a battleship like I do now, probably due to not much air time. It’s definitely a beautiful work of art. I’m finding the piano influence pretty amazing! Being a music major in college, I’m actually a bit jealous of you being in Jerry’s presence while composing the powerful, passionate music he does so well!! Now I want a copy of the CD signed by the artwork artist! 😛 That WOULD be cool to see your work when you play your CD…kewl.

    I was fortunate enough to see the National Symphony Orchestra perform a program entitled “To Boldy Go…” a few years ago at Wolftrap in VA. Leonard Nimoy narrated a performance of Holsts’ The Planets and a number of Star Trek and Star Wars compositions were performed, as well. Oh man, The full Nat’l Symphony playing in their covered outdoor amphitheater these great, moving pieces…it was awesome that all these patrons in eveningware were largely sci fi fans and recognized the music and clapped like little kids as each one began! 🙂 I’m looking for the program because I can’t recall all the pieces performed.

    jpearse, I see what you mean by an eagle’s head on that second one…it could have maybe worked well as a vessel Shinzon used in Nemesis (could have been Reman or Romulan), but I’m not sure where it would have fit it. Scimitar is perfect! Couldn’t replace IT!

    Okay, rambles enough…thanks for the fantastic post!

    • 37 DeanneM
      April 16, 2009 at 9:49 pm

      Oh, I forgot to mention that I love the bottom view! Not what I expected to see on a flying boomerang with a…is that a lawn dart on top? 🙂 Too much cool stuff on this one to point out…time for bed.

    • 38 johneaves
      April 17, 2009 at 7:42 am

      You lucky dog!!! i love those symphonies and concerts, Go see Hilary Hahn when she comes to town,,, Utterly amazing!!!

  21. 39 Mr. Wilde
    April 17, 2009 at 2:40 am

    How close are the CG models of the Son’a ships to your drawings? I had a look at the DVD, and they seem to lack all the fine details.

    • 40 johneaves
      April 17, 2009 at 7:44 am

      As much as you see of them they look identical,, I didn’t see any deviance or artistic liscence by the Cg modelers sadly. I love when the sketch is only a guide and the modeler throws in their own specialty’s!!

  22. April 17, 2009 at 4:51 am

    Love it! It’s a ship that looks like it could tear a foe apart, even without the use of weapons.

  23. 43 evil_genius_180
    April 17, 2009 at 7:58 am

    I used to have that Insurrection CD. It disappeared under mysterious circumstances (like so many things did) when I was in the Army. I love Jerry Goldsmith’s music, he’s right up there with John Williams in my book of great composers.

    Your first and second ideas are certainly cool but I absolutely love this finished design. You really outdid yourself on those great details. My favorite shot in all of Insurrection is when the Enterprise is in orbit and it passes by the camera followed by all of the Son’a ships. That’s a breathtaking shot, IMO. 🙂

  24. 44 Don B
    April 18, 2009 at 5:33 am

    John, fantastic work as usual.

    Jerry Goldsmith was an essential part of Star Trek. May he rest in peace.

  25. 45 DeanneM
    April 19, 2009 at 9:12 pm

    Who’s Reg October? 😉

  26. 46 Tom Pohl
    November 28, 2009 at 10:16 am

    Okay maybe this is just nitpicking but on your drawings you label this ship as a Battleship whereas on the Insurrection Special Features DVD you refer to it as a Battlecruiser. Which is correct? If neither is right or wrong, do you have a preference? I’d like to know so I can properly label it for my Star Trek website I am currently designing. Thanks!

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April 2009

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