the art of Helix, or an exercise in futility!

Way back almost 10 years ago a new show called “Enterprise” was in the works  and the creative team from DS9 headed by Trek Legends (Production Designer) Herman Zimmerman and (Graphics Designer)Mike Okuda were getting the group together to flesh out Paramount’s new venture into Star Trek and TV. The majority of the DS9 crew came back with some new additions, Louise Dorton from “Voyager” came on as art Director, Anna Packard from “ST the experience” joined on as set designer, and she was very expectant with her first baby making the distance between her tummy and the drawing table quite a reach. all together the art department was this. in graphics and playback there was Mike and Denise Okuda, Anthony Fredrickson, The world famous Jim Van Over, and the iconic Doug Drexler. in the art department there was illustrator extraordinaire, Jim Martin, myself, Fritz Zimmerman, Anthony (Tony) Bro, Anna Packard, and Berndt Heidelman, with Herman and Louise as the designers. Craig Binkly joined us as well as the prop designer. we all started the show running and the first thing to hit the desk was the new Enterprise which proved to be a hellish project that went solely to Doug Drexler about a month and a half into the project. Herman pulled me away from the E to start on ship interiors and mainly the new race of bad guys the “Sulibon” they were to be a gumby-ish, stretch Armstrong, rubbery typed aliens with cup cake sprinkle patterned skin. Anyways this group had a bizarre mathematical style to their existence and architecture so we tried to immolate that in there ship designs. the script read that there main ship  was a massive helix with all their little Cell ships making up a good portion of the ships exterior. so with that came this first massive drawing, that when seen by the producers came back with a note stating; When we say Helix we don’t mean Helix!!! this started a very long drawing process of creating a helix that wasn’t a helix but actually was kind of a helix yet had to be a helix but not exactly a helix but sorta like a helix without being an exact helix that in the end was a great big HELIX!, HAAAA! this brought back a wash of sad and silly memories, HAAA! The drawing itself was a big 24X36 marker, ink, and massive cut n paste, in the old traditional style and is still in pretty good shape today!

the helix

cu 1



27 Responses to “the art of Helix, or an exercise in futility!”

  1. 1 evil_genius_180
    June 8, 2010 at 8:34 am

    I honestly didn’t know you could say “helix” that many times in one sentence. 😉

    Wow, that thing is really cool. It’s very complex compared to your final design. Too bad it never made it into any episode, they could have had you modify it slightly and then have it belong to a different race on down the road. 😉

    • 2 johneaves
      June 8, 2010 at 2:09 pm

      Yes you can say Helix a lot in one sentence and I stopped myself for sake of being to repedative, HAA!

      • 3 evil_genius_180
        June 8, 2010 at 9:04 pm

        Great. Now all I can think of is someone sitting there saying “helix” repeatedly like a broken record. 😉

  2. 4 Richard Knapp
    June 8, 2010 at 8:53 am

    Hi John:
    Wow! I really like your big marker and ink drawings – tons of detail. This one is beautiful, unique, and definitely looks like a helix! Thanks for posting this one.

    Back in the Wonderfest thread someone included a link to a picture with you. I couldn’t help but notice your Dominion Battleship lurking in the background – that’s my all time favorite John Eaves design. When time allows, would it be possible for you to post some larger scans of your Dominion ship designs? Like this current image, the detail on those drawings was just incredible!

    Do you ever sell prints of your work? I sure would love to have a framed John Eaves piece hanging on my wall.

    Hope things are well with you.
    Best regards,

    • 5 johneaves
      June 8, 2010 at 2:04 pm

      Yes I have those large, I posted them about a year ago but I guess they were small pics if your needing big ones,, Yeah let me know where to send it and I’ll send you a drawing or two if you like!

      • 6 Richard Knapp
        June 8, 2010 at 2:15 pm

        Hi John:
        That is an incredibly generous offer – thank you! What would be the best way to get in contact with you – posting here or would you prefer me to email you? If the later please drop me a quick note and I’ll get right back to you.

        Thanks again, you are the best!

        Best regards,

  3. 7 Lt. Washburn
    June 8, 2010 at 8:55 am

    This reminds me of the Bajoran Orbs that weren’t orbs…they were hourglasses or something.

    • 8 johneaves
      June 8, 2010 at 2:03 pm

      HEY!!!! I was thinking about you the other day and was thinking that you haven’t been here in a while!!! Glad to see your note and thanks for stopping by,,, HAAA and yeah those not so orbish orbs!

  4. June 8, 2010 at 9:19 am

    Those sketches would have given us a much more elegant helix. But I am quite pleased with the busy bee-hive style of the final helix.

    I just notice that there are certain similarities to Annorax’ weapon ship:

    • 11 johneaves
      June 8, 2010 at 2:01 pm

      Hey how are you doing!!! I looked at that ship and I’m unfamiliar with it,, is it from Voyager????? I lightly made mine with a little inspiration from the Derelict from Lost in Space

  5. 15 the bluesman
    June 8, 2010 at 11:23 am

    It’s about time you mentioned Stretch Armstrong in a post!

    Nothing wrong with “ye olde markers” I still find it the fastest way to get an idea down,and I always take a sketch book with me to client meetings so I can visualize what we are talking about.

    Nice concept…it’s kinda of a helix, but not really, but iwth elements of a helix, but not so much.

  6. 17 CarlG
    June 8, 2010 at 8:22 pm

    “When we say Helix we don’t mean Helix!!! this started a very long drawing process of creating a helix that wasn’t a helix but actually was kind of a helix yet had to be a helix but not exactly a helix but sorta like a helix without being an exact helix that in the end was a great big HELIX…”

    This sentence made my brain weep. Just looking at it makes me want to travel back in time and buy you guys a beer or something for your pains. 🙂

    It’s a beautiful design — too bad we never got to see it on screen. 😦
    And I love the monster-size pic you posted; it’s fun to check out all the little details!

  7. 18 Buckaroohawk
    June 8, 2010 at 10:10 pm

    “When we say Helix we don’t mean Helix!!!” This is a sentence that could only be spoken and understood by TV and movie producers. Roughly translated it means “This is exactly what I told you to do, but it isn’t what I asked for,” or more generically, “I don’t know what I’m talking about or what I want, but you’d better get it right.”

    How your heads didn’t simply explode from contradictive critical mass I’ll never know. Still, somehow, your team developed exceptional work time and time again. Cheers to you and the rest of the creative staff for riding out what I’m sure were many storms.

    • 19 the bluesman
      June 9, 2010 at 4:13 am

      Its not jsut the crazy tv business that does that. I see it with my design clients all the time.

      The one I love is “brilliant, great, these cocnetps are beautiful, you knocked it outa the park, man, you do great work, these are fabulous….BUT…”

  8. June 9, 2010 at 4:24 am

    Wonerful designs. Thought like everyone else the thing that looks like a thing but isn’t a thing story… all too common. I was once hired to design something, given someone elses work to copy and told “I want it to look exactly like this, but look like we didn’t rip it off. What if you made it blue?”

    …but now I’m writing and can be irritating like that. I just told someone I wanted something like Galactica that doesn’t look like Galactica, but essentially to be Galactica.

  9. June 9, 2010 at 12:13 pm

    dont make me repeat that !

  10. 23 Matt Boardman
    June 9, 2010 at 9:37 pm

    So you’re saying they wanted a…helix? ;D Love your marker work and this design is really top notch. Very alien!

  11. June 10, 2010 at 2:57 am

    This is very cool! I love it, would have been cool to see on the small screen.
    If you get to work on the next Trek film and the story call’s for something like this. would be cool to see it on the big screen.

  12. 25 Jeff Wright
    June 11, 2010 at 12:26 pm

    Spinrad’s sketches are a bit similar.

    Remove the hard sphere, and replace with a wormhole, as if the frame of the thing forced twistors into existence as a wormhole stabilizer, something like this:

    This design seems to have something to it.

  13. June 12, 2010 at 7:25 am

    I think the version we saw on screen turned out really well, especially as it was made up of smaller ships, but the drawing above is awesome. I can’t get over all the detail on that central section and I would’ve loved to have seen it on screen. That intricate helix wiring would have provided some really interesting camera angles (a PoV shot of a ship heading through the structure, for instance).

    Hehe, HELIXY UNHELIX-LIKE HELIX story reminds me of lots of clients. I think the problem is often that they’re not very used to describing things in visual terms, so they’re not really sure how to describe or visualise in their heads what they want.

  14. 27 Scott D
    June 12, 2010 at 12:21 pm

    Very Intricate. I could see the Suliban using this as a replacement Helix if the series continued or if there was an Enterprise movie.

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June 2010

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