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People Today: Greg Stewart Makes It (Just) So

(Photo - Greg Stewart)
Greg Stewart with the 2010 calendar image he created. (Photo by Nicholas Bock.)

Looking around SLAC, it's hard not to come across Gregory Stewart's work. As a graphic designer with the InfoMedia Solutions group, Stewart has created images for all varieties of posters and animations around the lab, as well as print publications and the Web.

Design has been a passion of Stewart's for a long time. He became interested in the field as a teenager, after seeing what movie studios were doing with computer animation in movies like Toy Story. He started creating some computer graphics of his own, and after high school decided to try making a career of it. He moved to California, earned a degree in graphic design, and was hired on at SLAC in 2006.

Although his work with InfoMedia keeps him busy, Stewart has continued doing his own projects on the side as well. His genre of choice is science fiction, including what he describes as an immense passion for Star Trek. He has always received positive feedback on his designs, but the ultimate compliment came last October, when he received a surprise call from the editor of the Star Trek: Ships of the Line Calendar—a yearly calendar published by Andrews McNeal that features original Star Trek related artwork. The editor found some Star Trek battle scenes that Stewart had posted online, and asked whether he might be interested in submitting an image for the calendar's 2010 edition.

Stewart said he was a little skeptical at first. He buys the calendar every year—it just seemed a little too good to be true. After some background research, though, he realized that the whole thing was for real.

"I looked up this guy, and he was totally legit," Stewart said. "I was pretty excited that he contacted me. I've had this calendar on my wall since it came out ten years ago."

Greg Stewart's Star Trek inspired t-shirt design
Gregory Stewart's winning T-shirt design contest entry. (Image: Greg Stewart. Star Trek ® & © 2009 CBS Studios Inc. All Rights Reserved.)

Stewart spent a few weeks preparing an image to submit—finding 3-D models of the ships he wanted to use, then creating the rough effects and background for a draft starship battle scene.

"I didn't know for sure that I was going to be chosen," Stewart said. "I was a little nervous, but I was willing to give it my all to prove that I could stand up there."

He sent his draft in, and several days later it was accepted for the calendar. Stewart started working in earnest, refining the lighting, textures and effects to bring the scene to life. He would bounce different ideas off his brother, another long-time Star Trek fan, and week-by-week everything started coming together. Stewart completed the image last January, after three months of work.

Working on the calendar hasn't been Stewart's only recent success in science fiction design, though. In May he prepared an image for a t-shirt contest held in conjunction with the release of the latest Star Trek movie. The design, a collage of Trekkie iconography arranged in the form of the ever recognizable Vulcan v-shaped hand sign, took third place in the contest.

"It was really exciting to have these two things come together right after another," Stewart said. "I've had a great time working on them."

Not that Stewart doesn’t have big things going on at SLAC as well. For the last two years, his main ongoing project has been to create an extended version of the Linac Coherent Light Source animation. He is almost finished with the work, and the animation will premiere in conjunction with the LCLS startup in September.

—Nicholas Bock
SLAC Today, July 15, 2009