Designing the Breen Attack Ship - By John Eaves.
As Star Trek: Deep Space Nine's last major villains, the Breen needed an impressive ship that looked
radically different to anything that had gone before.
The Breen attack ship was one of John Eaves' last designing jobs on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. He remembers
that, as the series was coming to an end, the producers wanted something a little unusual. "It was for the
show 'Penumbra.' Executive Producer Ira Steven Behr wanted a new ship. This was going to be the final ship
design for DS9, so they said, 'Have fun with it and do what you want.' I started out with a 'T' shape; I
wanted to take a letter out of the alphabet, and I thought the T would make a fun ship. I put all the
engines and the heavy stuff at the back, and put a real long nose on it. The first sketch I turned in - at
the first meeting - they said they liked that direction very much, so I did a whole series of detailed
drawings on it."
Even though Eaves had been given more freedom than usual, his first design had a lot in common with familiar
Star Trek ships, and while he was adding details to his initial sketch the producers decided that they wanted
something a little more radical. He says that when he came to the next meeting they told him to go back to
the beginning. "They said, 'Oh, that's what we figured you would do, but we want to go with something
different.' They said, 'Come up with a completely different shape that doesn't follow the Star Trek lines -
the normal position of the engines and all that stuff.'
"So I went with another shape, but it still had that T shape to it. I always kept to that T, no matter what.
Upside down this one still has the T shape to it, even though it's broken up. I gave it two heavy engines,
kind of a batwing through the center of it, and I thought it might be fun to modulate things and suspend
pieces as we went. So, in the second drawing it had a bridge module, which is up front and suspended on
these wings; I was trying to give it a real distinctive look." Eaves felt particularly free to experiment
with the shape of the ship because so little had been established about the Breen; the only thing we had
seen in previous episodes was
their costumes. The producers like his new design direction, and asked him to produce a drawing of a
three-quarter view. He says that at this stage they only had one comment. "They didn't like the wings
breaking the exterior of the engines, so they had me take those off, and they liked that. I did the
three-quarter view and they started likeing it more, but then they started seeing thing they didn't like.
They weren't sure what they wanted, so they had me do some other passes."
The part of the ship that caused the producers the most concern was the bridge module. Eaves says, "They
thought it looked too much like a ship on its own - like it could break off and do its own stuff. They
wanted me to change the shape of it so it became more of a module as opposed to a bridge. They wanted to go
very asymmetrical; they liked that idea. I met with Dan Curry and all the effects guys, and we started
working it out together. Curry had a lot of ideas that would be fun to work with, and, as the meetings would
go on, it continued to funnel into different shapes. "I started doing details of that module. By the time
these drawings were done, they had thought a little bit more about it and they wanted to go in a whole new
direction, so that ended this whole design phase." The bridge module was dropped, and Eaves developed a
pinched, 'dartlike' ship that looked very aggressive. "The next design was probably one of my favorites.
I initially drew it to fly in one specific direction, but then I got to thinking - because of a
misunderstanding that came up on Star Trek Insurrection - I would draw it so it could fly either way and it
wouldn't matter. "They really liked that, and
I got to continue with the T shape. I did another drawing showing it flying the other way, and they really
liked the aggressivness of it. But as they looked at it, scalewise, it looked more like a fighter than a big
ship. So they asked for a whole new look, putting the previous design to the wayside. Gary Hutzel saw this
design and said, 'Keep that, and we'll put it somewhere in the background if we get the chance.'"
Eaves says that his next drawing didn't quite satisfy everybody, but it did hold the key to the design of the
final ship. "I went with another design, which had all these open-faced wings and forks. I tried to give a lot
of different planes, and tried to keep it as alien as I could. They really liked this idea, but there was
something about it they still didn't like. They weren't really sure what, though. They said, 'Take it and
mess around with it a little bit more.' That's where the final drawing came from, and this is the one they
really liked. They said, 'It's really nice, it hads all these different planes, we can layer it, and it
looks like nothing we've had before - it will really stand out in a battle scene.' They had me do a plan
view, which was the top view."
Eaves explains that once he had finished his work, one of his colleagues in the art department took over.
"Doug Drexler did all the modeling for Digital Muse to do their final passes on. Gary Hutzel had him do it
because it was something Drexler always wanted to do, and he had the program. Hutzel wanted to give him a
chance to see what his creativity could do. He [Drexler] spent the whole time refining areas, putting
details through. He stretched it a little bit, made it a little longer, which really added some
aggresiveness to it. He came up with a really bizarre gun on the front, which worked out really nice."
Looking back, Eaves says he is pleased with the way his last ship for DS9 turned out. "It was very nice to
break the modl of the standard Star Trek style; it was a very fun ship to do. We went through a lot of
changes, but I was really happy with the final ship. I think it worked out great that we all got to work
together on it; the drawing wound up being a rough guide for Drexler to use. All the shapes are the same,
but when it went to the extremely fine detail, he did a real good job and had some great ideas."
"DESIGNING THE BREEN ATTACK SHIP" - NOVEMBER 1999 ISSUE 7 STAR TREK: THE MAGAZINE COPYRIGHT OF PARAMOUNT