These are a good sampling of the sketches and discarded ideas that became the Romulan Bird of Prey. I was once asked why does it cost so much to have something designed, I think this is the process that people don't realize, it takes time to come up with the ideas, it doesn't just happen, it's not just sitting down and poof the final image appears, there are, at times, dozens of sketches and doodles done to get to that point. And when someone asks what seems like a lot of money for what some see as "just a drawing" remember that you would never do a job that can take hours or days for a few bucks an hour, why would an artist.
Just seeing all the design ideas again gave me some motivation to explore some designs of my own. Really interested in exploring something similar to the shapes you had going on the center left!
I agree with you, it's the same with 3d modelling and texturing. Low poly texturing takes me about 3-4 times longer than doing the model as I have to texture in each detail and go back and forth from the model to make sure it lines up as I have few guides due to so many opened and undetailed spaces.
You I can see being in a similar boat it could take days or even weeks to come up with a design that works. I find concepting a design hard than modelling and texturing it and so I admire and appreciate people like you who can do it and take the time to get the design right, rather than just doing the first thing that comes into your head.
This took a bit of time, more than I would have liked. But I usually do about 20-30 thumbnails and sketches to get a design I am looking for in the right area, usually doesn't take that long but it is still time that is needed to do the job. Many people just don't get that part of it.
Yeah you really need to be an artist or do something similar to understand. The amount of hours I have spent working on a concept for various designs (I'm no good at drawing so I do them in 3D), it takes as long as modelling the final design.