Many of us saw the U.S.S. Voyager J recently on Star Trek: Discovery and wanted a better look. We got just a little glimpse on the show and wondered what it might look like. Thanks to Shea Walker, the artist, designer, and fan behind Quantum Designs AZ, we can see what the Voyager J would look like in action, and with many of its interior lights on.
Walker is a 3D animator and artist, who lives in Arizona. In his spare time, he dabbles in science fiction, creating custom ships of his own design, or ones that we’ve seen from Star Trek or Star Wars. Sometimes, Walker can’t find enough information to create the ship as a 3D model, so he uses a little creative license to fill in the gaps. This is what happened with his version of the Voyager.
We caught up with Walker and asked him how he comes up with these unique designs, and how sometimes, that means filling in the gaps.
TREK REPORT: Tell us about your version of the Voyager J
SHEA WALKER: The moment I saw [the Voyager J], I knew I had to recreate that vessel as best as I could. But I intentionally waited because I wanted to see if there would be more images of her. I wanted to see if I could make her as accurate as possible, but I fell a bit short unfortunately.
I built the Voyager J in [3D software] Blender, and it took around six or seven hours total. The first day I started, I had a lot of trouble getting the saucer section the correct shape. That was a big challenge. The other challenges I faced — other than the saucer — was the secondary hull. Trying to see how I could get the exact shape right while not making it look too “angled.”
I built this vessel because I loved how she looked on screen, and just wanted my very own. Honestly, I’ve created a lot of vessels right after seeing them in Discovery. The Charon and Shepard class ships I made a day after seeing them on screen. Not perfect mind you, but they still were good enough for me.
TREK REPORT: What kinds of additions did you make on your version?
SHEA WALKER: I actually made several additions to my model. The first was four impulse engines — two on the saucer section and two on the drive section. I did that just in case Voyager had that ability to separate; seeing she’s technically already separated. I created the main deflector in a way that mirrors the original Voyager deflector (meaning the color and the ribbed blue-lit section), just in a different shape.
Other additions were adding strobe and navigation lights in certain spots, and the biggest addition was the shuttlebay. I placed it where it was in the 24th Century Voyager. But this time, since there’s a hole in that section, I placed it near that area, but in a way shuttles would still have access to the bay.
TREK REPORT: What other Trek ship designs or renderings have you created?
SHEA WALKER: I’ve created several hundred vessels. A lot were my own design, others were designs I found on Deviant Art or shipschematics.net or other sites. All are on my Quantum Designs AZ Facebook page. They’re not perfect since I was starting out, but anyone viewing them should be able to see the progression of my skill level. I’ve made a few Star Wars vessels as well — including the Supremacy.
TREK REPORT: When creating a ship design, or working to enhance someone else’s design, what is your ultimate goal?
SHEA WALKER: When creating a design, my ultimate goal depends on the use of the vessel. If it’s a carrier or a cruiser, I try to decide the role of the vessel before I make it. As for extras, it depends on how I feel really.
I might make an entire shuttlebay after I finish the vessel or I might just place a door there. Normally when I create the shuttlebay, I create it separately. That way if I want to animate it, I won’t have to worry about extra mesh from the shuttlebay slowing down everything, especially when the shuttle won’t be seen.
When it comes to enhancing a design, it depends on the context. If I’m enhancing for myself, it really depends on why. If I’m refitting the vessel and doing a complete redesign, or if I’m refitting it for specialized work.
Such as, taking a cruiser and making it into a small carrier by adding more bays and launch tubes. Or making a vessel more combat ready and adding more weapons. The other context would be if I’m doing enhancements for a client. Sometimes I’ll get requests to have add-ons to client vessels I’ve already made.
My ultimate goal is to bring starship designs to life and make people smile. To put a smile on someone’s face whose created vessels they never thought they’d ever see flying, let alone in 3D. First time I ever did that was for this kid who drew a ship of his design on a piece of paper. And the reaction to him seeing it in 3D was just priceless. That’s one of my motivators.
TREK REPORT: How did you become a Star Trek fan? What is your favorite show?
I became a Trekker from my father. He introduced me into it. Thing is, I don’t remember the very first episode I saw. I don’t even remember when it was. All I know is as far back as I can remember — I’ve always been a Trekkie due to him introducing me to it.
My favorite Trek would be Voyager, but I love all of them. Even started to gain more appreciation for Enterprise. Speaking of which, I did make a TOS NX Enterprise.
TREK REPORT: Tell us about some of your popular animation projects.
SHEA WALKER: One video I have that’s really popular is my remake of the Vengeance encounter seen on Star Trek Into Darkness. I had the same questions I think all Trekker/Trekkies had. “Where was everybody during the Battle of Luna?” No starships to assist at the heart of Starfleet? Just made no sense to me. So I recreated the battle with the TOS Enterprise. That’s just part one. Part two is coming.
Since I used that Enterprise, I had to create a TOS Vengeance. So far I’ve created three Vengeances: TOS, Midwayverse (Brandon Brooks created universe), and a Discovery Vengeance for Section 31. Eventually, I’ll make a showdown battle with all three of those. Maybe with the original Vengeance as well if I model her. Here’s a promo to that showdown.
The other two animations I’m most proud of would be the Enterprise Journey, which is of my Discovery refitted Enterprise and set her on a journey from Earth to Alpha Centauri to Vega Colony to Seginus (Gamma Bootis). That was my 100th video, and I plan on fixing the graphic errors and remaking and reposting that animation in the future.
My other most proud animation would be my recreation of the Corbomite Maneuver.
I also recreated the Wrath of Khan initial attack, which is my most viewed video. I made it in four days, and it admittedly has a lot of errors — which people are definitely not afraid to point out in colorful ways. But it was more of when I was first starting out and didn’t know that much. I’d like to say my skill level has vastly improved since then.
Since then, I’ve recreated several Star Trek scenes from Star Trek III, notably Stealing the Enterprise and a new series I created called “What If.” The first “What If” is where the Excelsior catches up to the Enterprise. I plan on creating more “What If” episodes.