Aztec Hull Pattern.

NeoTrinarty asked what Aztec hull pattern is, and I figure the best way to describe it is with a post and pictures. Basically, Aztec, Aztecing, Aztec pattern, whatever you want to call it, is a blanket term for the hull panel patterns done on Star Trek ships, to show the individual plates that comprise the hull. It first started appearing way back in the late ’70s.

Origins

When they were making Star Trek: The Motion Picture, one thing they had to do was decide how best to represent the Enterprise on the big screen. They’d already scrapped the model being built for Phase II and had done some tweaks to the design to give the model more detail needed for the size at which it would be seen. Finally, someone came up with the idea to paint all of the individual panels on the ship, thus giving it a sense of scale and more detail. (I’ll go into why this isn’t necessary for scale in a moment) They came up with a pattern that is now known as “Aztec” and painted it on the hull in paints that varied slightly in color and shininess. Here’s a great screen capture from TMP showing the pattern on the hull, thanks to Trek Core:

Now, that’s the Aztec pattern in all its glory. As you can see, it’s very subtle. In fact, it’s so subtle that it only appears clearly in certain lighting conditions and up close. In wider shots, it’s still there, but harder to make out:


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