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Star Trek Duty Roster Release

Release Day

Today the Star Trek Duty Roster poster is released. It was a long time coming and it went through some strange iterations along the way. The poster is now for sale in my CafePress Shop under Posters. Now that the poster is finished I will begin stocking the rest of the sections.

Orientation Problem

One thing about the shop. CafePress seems to have a coding issue with the posters and the only poster orientation they do is landscape. This makes the portrait oriented posters look funny as they're sitting on their side. There's nothing I can do about this until someone at CafePress fixes their code.

The Poster's Beginnings

This poster originally started out detailing the Tropes of Star Trek as obtained from tvtropes. Their definition of a trope comes from their and might help understand where it started.

Merriam-Webster defines trope as a "figure of speech." For creative writer types, tropes are more about conveying a concept to the audience without needing to spell out all the details.

A Storm Was Brewing

The problem I ran into with tropes was their subjective nature. Some of the definitions were rather hazy and I was often confused if it fit that trope or not or maybe was an entirely different trop altogether. Finally I decided this was not going to work and looked for a more reasonable way to use the data.

Knowing I needed more objective data, I concentrated on things I could see in the episode. The new dataset eliminated many items but was made it easier to see forms begin to emerge. I learned how many times the yeoman/waitresses served coffee to the bridge crew, how many times spock said interesting and fascinating, and many facts about the phasers. Like what episodes they were on-screen, the number of times they were fired, and the color of each phaser shot. All very interesting data that I might use.

Then I then came across the line that, "The navigator's chair had a revolving door attached to it until Chekov came in at the start of the second season". That was the start of what I originally called the Star Trek Musical Chairs chart. But people thought that sounded a little funny and encouraged me to find something that sounded a little better. After some thought, I remembered that a list of jobs performed by military personnel was called a Duty Roster. That was is. It sounded good and described the chart perfectly.

First Draft

Below is a picture of the chart as it stood upon the first printing. With this poster I was able to check some aspects of the chart closeup which I couldn't do on the computer screen. Namely that some of the items I designed were too small to be seen on a printed copy. That left just one thing to do. I sent a copy of the poster to Jürgen in Germany and for three days we messaged back and forth till we hammered out solutions to replace the small details with other better modes of display. He also had a few design suggestions which will be plain in the image of the final piece. I replaced the background of the information boxes to black. This reduced the overall heaviness of the look. I moved the text from the top two text boxes to the bottom and reducing the amount of text when necessary.

Final Draft

This is the final with the design changes. A much cleaner look with the text and images better weighted. With the additional time I needed to spend on the redesign, it gave me time to consider the annotations, some repositioning but also some additions. Other too small to see graphic elements were also moved to the annotations.

The new design is cleaner and I'm much happier with how it looks.


I want to thank all the people who helped or were waiting for this to be finished. A shout out to David Palmer for the suggestion to use the large circle as the saucer section of the Enterprise. To Jürgen for some excelent design guidance and suggestions. To Paul Scarrone and Alex Loya, two programmers I hang out with at the White Rabbit for having the patience to look over my work and let me know when they thought something might work better. And I'd like to especially thank my relevant other, Beverly. who put up with me ranting about this or that problem and wondering if I'd ever get this finished. I appreciate everyone's patience.

Final Pitch

If you know of any Star Trek fans who might like this, please send them this link to the CafePress Shop under Posters. I've been told it would make a great present for a Star Trek fan.

Thank you.

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