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Skip to Aztec photos
For Star Trek the Motion Picture in 1979, airbrush artist Paul Olsen painted the Enterprise “Refit” with a pearlescent patch work of panels. The pattern on the primary hull was done with an “Aztec” motif that is still used on Star Trek Federation ships today. Unfortunately there are very few color reference photos of the original studio model, however, there are extensive black and white surveys.

The challenge is to map the color photos and Blue Ray screen shots to the black and white photos. I have read the work of Andy Grams (aka Gunstar1) and others but could never quite figure out how the aztec was done exactly.

But I think I finally figured it out. The key is that "primary" aztec is not uniform from panel to panel. There have been theories that it changes based on a trick of light...and it does...but it really is different from panel to panel. It is primarily blue, however, can be over sprayed with other colors and in some cases, hit heavy with gold. It can be very heavy blue, or almost nothing at all. I also discovered that the gold looks very dark in the b&w photos HOWEVER, only when it is in the non-pearl state. It is reflective bright when in a hot spot from the light. In short, gold is the most influential color on the ship.

With this information we can cross reference the b&w photos to the color photos...and the screen shots. The "secondary" aztec is mostly gold with some red and a few greens. This is very evident in the hidef screen shots where the ship spotlights are off. On the top of the saucer there are not that many per panel. Some panels have one or two, some have up to 10 or so. On the bottom of the saucer it is much more "busy" and random.

The Rosetta stone is the following compare shot. The one on the left is in the non-pearl state and the one on the right is pearling color... Note the darkest areas in the b&w match gold in the color.

Any theory should be reproducible. I believe this model represents the most accurate representation of the original studio model produced to date. For the finish I used Rustoleum flat white as a base coat and PearlEX Interference Red, Green, Blue and Gold mixed into acrylic top coat and airbrushed.

The photos below show the model’s “Aztec”. As well as the pattern I used, based on my research, and compare shots to the original studio model.

Aztec photos

I beleive this is the most accurate reproduction of the Star Trek the Motion Picture Refit Enterprise to date.

This page documents my research of the original studio model.

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