Doug Drexler and Vulcan Design

Doug Drexler began his work with on-screen Star Trek in 1990.  Having won an Oscar for special effects make-up on Dick Tracy he asked Michael Westmore if he could join the make-up team on Star Trek: TNG.  During his time in that department he was responsible for make-ups on Data’s daughter Lal, aging Picard for “The Inner Light” and character make-up for Mark Twain in “Time’s Arrow.”  Three years and two Emmy nominations later, Drexler moved over to Mike Okuda’s art department.  He would later become the lead scenic artist on ST: DS9 a visual effects artist for ST: Voyager and, finally, senior illustrator for ST: Enterprise.  He agreed to let me ask him some questions about his work.

Vulcan fans owe Drexler a huge debt of gratitude for helping to improve Star Trek: The Motion Picture in its 2001 Director’s Cut format.  Daren Dochterman, an old friend of Drexler’s, was overseeing the director’s cut and asked him to design new monumental statues for the re-vamped Vulcan sequence.  Drexler’s attention to detail and love of the original series paid off.  He created designs featuring costumes very much influenced by  William Ware Theiss and Robert Fletcher’s designs.  Some of them even include iconic Vulcan props such as the Lirpa and Wah Chang’s Vulcan Lyre.

Drexler created designs for six statues reflecting the six-sided stones that Spock kneels on to receive his Kolinahr necklace.  You’ll notice he also worked those six-sided shapes into the costumes on some of his statues.

Later, in the ST: Enterprise episode “The Forge,” we see more monumental statues on Vulcan that were clearly influenced by these designs.

For ST: Enterprise, Drexler cemented the idea that Vulcans use a warp ring, rather than nacelles, on their ships.  He was responsible for designing the impressive Vulcan Command Ship for “Fallen Hero” (the CG model was built by Pierre Drolet).  I asked Drexler about his design process for this ship and he said ”My main impetus was to get another classic [Matt] Jeffries concept on Star Trek as a signature ship.  So the Enterprise Vulcan spaceship design ethic came from Matt Jeffries ringship for Gene Roddenberry’s “Starship!””

Scott: “I’ve always thought the Vulcan ships on Enterprise were sort of related to the IDIC symbol with triangular and circular shapes meeting.”

Doug: “The IDIC correlation was absolutely on my mind when putting the command ship together.  The main fuselage when viewed from the front suggests the triangle against the ring that comprises the IDIC.”

Scott: “What was the design process like for the command ship?”

Doug: “The Enterprise Vulcan ship actually had no design pros. I doodled one real loose napkin sketch and went directly into 3D.”

Drexler’s warp ring design influenced all of the Vulcan ship designs that would follow.

Following ST: Enterprise, Drexler went on to become part of the two-time Emmy Award-winning visual effects team for Battlestar Galactica.  He also worked as a consultant on the re-mastering of Star Trek: TOS and continues to be the mastermind behind Pocket Books successful Ships of the Line series.

This last photo is of Doug Drexler on the set of ST: TMP in 1978.  Little did he know his work would one day complete that statue!

I’d like to thank Doug for taking the time to speak with me and for allowing me to post some his amazing work!  Doug maintains a blog called Drex Files which is a must-follow for fans interested in the design of Star Trek.

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