Black Star Build, Part 4

I actually took the time to include Vynn’s four winged starfighter as it would have looked after he rammed the bridge of the Black Star in chapter one of the novella. I build it from strip styrene stock and stuck it into the bridge windows. At least I know it’s there.

I also added a hand painted flaming skull that marks it as a pirate ship in this universe. At this point the model was done and I had nothing to do but photograph her for the book cover.

Here she is with the Weippe.

Took this one with my phone so you could see the set up in my garage. I used the sun as my single key light.

The Black Star made regular trips to my office for show and tell. Below is the final book cover after a decent Photoshoping by my brother, Byron.

Byron improved the flaming skull and composed the elements into a pretty cool scene from the book. Done.

Black Star Build, Part 3

The base color of the Black Star is flat black. The best way to cover these large models is with a rattle can. Ain’t nobody got the funds to pay for model paint via an airbrush. So I used flat black spray paint and went to town.

There’s a dumbbell holding the base down and covered with the drop cloth.

Looks good.

Looks like some kind of massive laser rifle.

Back on the C-stand and ready for weathering.

Not sure why I started here, but I did. I mixed black and white artist chalks with a dry brush and rubbed it in good. This gives the black a more slate gray or charcoal black color that I was after. It’s a slow process.

Soft focus but you can see the whole ship has been dusted with the chalk.

Next up was a pass with brown for rust coloring. Just to add interest and age the ship.

This side’s looking pretty sweet.

Because the model would be photographed in “space” I was a bid concerned you would loose detail. So I dry brushed silver over the details to help make them pop and add another layer of age to the model.

It looks a bit too rust colored here. But trust me, on the cover, it will look smashing. Like the decals and the scribbling graffiti?

Black Star Build, Part 2

Remember last time when I said there would be trouble with the frame? Yeah, well there was trouble. Primarily because there was no backbone for the length of the ship. It turns out yogurt cups can’t hold all those cargo pods together. So I improvised like a Jazz musician and stuck a bracket through the center and bolted it to the RenShape block.

Retro-fitting a frame is not recommended. Prior thought would have been easier.

The model has held together nicely after the aluminum frame was installed. Here it is on the C-stand above the bench.

Here’s the Star and the Weippe in formation.

One last shot showing it next to a yardstick. Yeah, now that’s a starship. Easily the biggest one I’ve built.

Back to the cargo pods and detailing. Mmmm, detailing.

Starting to look like a ship. Pass the model parts, there are some flat spaces in there that need details. Note the clean desktop. It happens.

Something missing on the last section. Oh yeah, details! Better get busy.

For some reason, I started on the bottom first. Check out that bad-ass looking piece on the engine. I think that’s a military tractor or something. Love it.

Then I impaled it with the mount pole and it finally died.

Fast forward to the drive section’s side. More delicious details. I only detailed one side due to reasons. Mainly because I knew I would be photographing it from only one side, so to save time and parts, I only built three sides.

Detailing these models is an art form in and of itself. You can’t just slap parts on there and paint ’em. Things have to look like they have a purpose. It’s my absolutely favorite part of scratch building starships.

It’s okay to recognize parts at this stage, but after it’s done, I don’t want you be able to do that. At least not quickly.

This area is starting to look pretty cool.

Back to the front and some nice neck details behind the bridge section. One of the parts in there is a AT-AT Walker foot from a Star Wars toy.

Bridge windows were created from styrene strips. I with I had a store display of Evergreen plastic. I’d use it all in just a year.

Damn. She’s looking pretty fierce for a transporter.

That’s it for the detailing phase. Next up is paint. Not my favorite part, but paint makes the model.

 

Black Star Build, Part 1

This model was going to be a little different from my others. I wanted to build it fast and on the cheap. I didn’t want to spend money on specific model kits for details and I wanted to use just what I had on hand to build it. I work for a large tech company in the valley and I have access to lots of mechanical parts in the garbage bins. I decided to recycle those parts into a bad ass starship. This would save time and money and hopefully produce a model in record time because I was writing the book as fast as I could and that book needed a cover model.

I used these drawings as I wrote the novella and so started with them when it came time to build the Black Star. The ship was originally a long haul transporter with a single big Class C stardrive and lots of modular container pods to store things. Pirates took the transport over in a raid and then slowly converted it to a brutal pirate ship with lots of guns and shielding.

With this in mind, I surveyed my junk pile in the garage and found some parts that would work for the basic frame. A large plastic pipe and some hard drive mounts would be the first parts I selected. I went with a block of RenShape for the mount, as has been my standard for some time now. You can drill it out for a metal rod mount that can be secured with a set screw and that fits on my C-stand model mount

The SS Wieppe model is there for scale. The Black Star had to be bigger than the tiny corvette.

The plastic pipe fit into this piece from the junk bins at work. All I added was some PVC board to give it some heft and to build out the container pods.

The head was a concern until I found this wonderful clear plastic fan cover from a high end PC. The above photo shows the mount block drilled out and the PVC boards cut for the pods. Always laying out the design in a test fit before reaching for the glue. Also in the above shot you can see some plastic bits that I thought would make great container details.

I used PVC pipe for the neck and now the final size of the ship comes together. Can you spot the yogurt cups? Used as spacers between the cargo pods.

Once again, you can see the true scale next to the 1/350 Weippe model. The Black Star was wired for light in the stardrive, but I elected not to use it in the end.

Close up of one of the cargo pods showing the details placed on the sides. I had enough to cover both sides of each pod.

Here is the engine section showing the mount. It’s not a solid as I had thought or hoped for. Bad things were coming…

Building up the cargo pods and boxing inn the bridge section. Boring work that needs to be done.

Some more computer parts are selected for the bridge section. These black pieces will go on each side of the bridge.

Had to have some fun, so I started detailing the bridge with model parts. I love this part of scratch building.The PVC board lets you glue plastic parts on with plastic cement.

More juicy model bits on the bridge section. That’s it for this installment.

Corvette 2 Update

Corvette 2 is in the hands of beta readers and hopefully, by the end of the week will be in final edits. At that time I’ll format the paperback and ebook. In the meantime, the models used for the cover are being photographed. Here are some shots from the first attempt by me to capture the Black Star and the Weippe.

The above shots were taken with my phone while I waited fro the sun to clear clouds. Meanwhile, the shots I took during the clouds are probably more interesting to look at. Glad I have a few of both. I played for a little over an hour with ship and camera positioning. Hopefully my brother can use something to create a dynamic cover.

Above is an example of one of the shots we may use taken with the good camera. The models are the same scale, 1/350, so you can see the size disparity between them.

I’m still aiming for a Halloween-ish release date, fingers crossed.

Weekly Summary

Corvette – Seer of the Black Star is progressing this week. I’m currently in the middle of chapter 3 as the above image shows. That white paperback is the plain cover ARC of Corvette that I use for reference. The computer is new, a System76 Galago Pro for fans of Linux.

She may not look like much, but she’s going to eventually be the Black Star pirate starship. Right now it’s little more than a mount point and some HP computer scrap. Going to be pretty cool though, stay tuned. Eventually this will grace the cover of the book I’m currently writing. I keep a photo bucket on my model builds, so if you like to follow such craftiness, please check in as you can to follow my progress.

Yours truly after a lunchtime writing sprint this week. I listen to play lists on Spotify while I write. Currently the list I’m using is called Corvette 2. If you enjoy pirate music give it a spin. Some songs in the list are not safe for work, wear headphones.

 

GCU Sherman Build, Part 2

I needed to address the uneven PVC tubes and decided to just use fillers to even things out. I then proceeded to build the main super structure with sheet styrene. This model didn’t require a sturdy frame underneath as the boxing in of the super structure would not be too large to support the model.

I had to cover the front edges of the bottom of the PVC pipes with styrene as you can see in the below image.

Before getting too far along with the boxing in I ran some wires down the engine tubes for lights. You can also see some framing for the top of the super structure. There will be a landing bay on one side of the ship and it will have a LED light.

Next came construction of the engine details that will house the LED lights. I kept things simple here. Using a plastic greeblie found at work and the housing for an electric toothbrush. The rest were scrap styrene and a tank wheel to hold the LED.

The top of the model was going to be built entirely out of sheet styrene just like the main super structure. But I found a really interesting printer ribbon cover at work and decided to go with that instead. You can also see the top deck over the super structure.

Next came the top deck creation, again using 0.60″ thick styrene sheets. I followed the original pencil sketch as closely as possible and built it up over the orange printer ink cartridge cover.

I next turned my attention to the head or bow of the starship. Again, I used sheet styrene to box in the basic shape. I built a shelf along the inside so that the top of the head could be removed to add fiber optics. I’m always trying new techniques with each model and this time I used a thinner piece of styrene over the top of a thicker piece to create the hidden attachment of the top piece.

I found some other plastic bits from work that would make perfect gun boxes for the sides of the bow. So I added some model kit parts and thin sheets of plastic and then attached them to the head.

The top of the head is where the bridge is located. All of the ships during this time period had similar bridges, each one being its own variation. Note the whole for fiber optics to run.

The front area of the bridge was often a target for enemy starfighters to attack so it gets extra armor. These are thicker pieces of styrene and some model kit parts.

Fiber optics were then added to the bridge and a top was built. The size of the FO is 1.0 mm.

I started detailing the outside of the head next, in order to decide where the FO would go for portholes. I use a combination of plastic model parts and scrap styrene. It’s important to note that I’ve already established a look and feel for these ships with two other models, so I had to stay true to that style. Even the blue and orange juice bottle caps were used for neck mounts on other starships.

Moving to the bottom of the head I always start by arranging pieces on the model to see if I can achieve the effect I want with what I have on hand. I always try and purchase kits that have details I think I’ll need for each model I build. In this case a 1/72 German tank body fit the bill. With some modifications. You don’t want to just slap parts on in random order. You want to place them as if they actually have some purpose. In the case of the engine halves below, I didn’t use them here but did use them in another location.

See how much the original placement changed over time? I’ve also started adding pieces to the nose. Scoring the panel lines was done BEFORE adding the model pieces. The top deck was scored too with some panels being smaller for interest.

The back and bottom nears complete on the details. Some of the parts are model pieces and some are plastic bits cut and trimmed to simulate machinery. It’s a lost art these days with everything being computer designed. But it’s my favorite part of scratch building.

Next came the sides and that’s where most of the FO portholes were drilled and threaded.

You can also see some battle damage created by my hobby grinder. Once the portholes are places and the FO threaded, I can started detailing the sides. I leave the FO fibers hanging out to be trimmed after it is painted.

The tiny tan pieces are tread links from a 1/35 scale Russian BMP. In another model of this scale I used these as escape pods. So I had to recreate them on this model.

The top of the bridge area also houses some antennas and scanners as well as a big anti-starfighter gun. The gun was a modified destroyer model gun from a 1/350 ship model. I made my own large barrel out of metal tube.

She’s starting to look like a proper starship head now. I particularly love how the nose details turned out.

The completed head is now set aside as I begin to tackle the main body.

Modeling How-To: Detailing Part 3

This is part three of a multi part series on detailing scratch built starship models. Part 1 | Part 2

Cleaning Up Kit Parts

You can’t just clip off model parts from their trees and glue them directly to your model and expect it to look good. Model builders all know that removing the part from tree is only the first step. Parts don’t come out of the mold without mold lines. These lines have to be removed or else the part will look like it was molded. Sometimes the real part is case from a mold and the line is supposed to be there but that rarely is the case. So you have to remove this mold line without changing the shape or texture of the part. This can be done most efficiently by using a small, jeweler’s file.

You can also use sanding sticks of various grits. You generally want to use the file in one direction, not back and forth. Plastic is soft, so only a few passes will remove most mold lines. This same procedure is used to remove the post of plastic that remains on the part after you cut it off the tree. Most modelers use either a hobby knife or special clipper to remove model parts from their trees. Forever and a day I always used a sharp knife for this task. Recently I’ve taken to using specially designed hobby clippers to do this task. The idea is to leave as little of the post as possible on the part you are removing. So that you don’t have to file as much to remove it.

After you file, as seen in the image above, you may have some plastic built up on the edges. You can remove that with your finger nail or some light sand paper. As you may have guessed, this is a huge time sink in just removing parts and cleaning them up. Models are not built quickly and the best looking models take time to complete. Take the time to clean up your parts and you will immediately see better results in more realistic models.

Using Stock Styrene

I’ve found the best brand of stock styrene to be Evergreen. You can find it in most well stocked hobby stores in a display like the one pictured above. It’s also available on line from hobby web sites. The display’s like the one above are ideal because you can see all the variations in thickness and shape. Each package will run you about three to four dollars US so chose wisely and only get what you need. I’ve always joked that I should just buy this display outright and that would be cheaper.

Evergreen strips of plastic are the scratch builder’s best friends. I use them extensively on every model I build. Most of the time I build the models from sheet plastic and use the thicker strips for bracing. Then I wind up covering the models with cut bits of plastic to form shapes and combining them with model parts to include raised panels.

I always use sheet plastic for building or boxing in the shape of a model. The model pictured above has a wooden frame but that is covered with plastic. Then I used sheet plastic to shape or box in the engines and cockpit area. Depending on how large your model is, sometimes you can just use the plastic for the structure.

When creating the panels that cover the model you can use various sizes of Evergreen and even cut them to the sizes you need. Below is the top of an engine from the same model showing various sizes of Evergreen used. You can vary the thicknesses to achieve a layered look.

Sometimes you can change the shape of your panels by sanding off the edges and using a file to create notches as in this panel from the same Renoke model.

Evergreen also comes in tubes both hollow and filled in various sizes. Below are some examples of using Evergreen tubes for pipes. I bend the plastic by using a fireplace lighter to soften the plastic.

Pipes made from stock styrene and from model parts.

Sometimes you can combine square and round tubes as on this starship’s main body.

Scratch built landing gear from Evergreen tubes.I’ve also developed a style for using strips of Evergreen for deck stubs on my Alliance starships. Some examples are shown below.

As you can see from these examples, I’ve used Evergreen extensively and in many different ways to detail my models from starfighters to starships.

Reference Pictures

It’s always a good idea to have are folder filled with pictures from other models to get ideas from. I have collected images from movie models and other hobby modelers to see how they are detailing. The thing to remember is that you should always consider what your details are replicating. The parts should look like they actually do something. Don’t just randomly slap them onto the model without any thought. The best models look real and don’t look like they are simply covered in tank parts that anyone can identify.

The Best Model Kits to Use

I have found that the best model kits tend to be tanks, ships and trucks or other mechanical vehicles. I’ve used just about every kind of kit made for parts. Motorcycles are also good, although I have yet to try them. One unlikely kit that I found had perfect parts for my Votainion warship model. It was a big wheeler truck accessory crane kit.

Part of the fun of building a larger starship model is searching the internet for images of kit parts to see if there is something that would fit with the model I’m building. I literally spend hours of my free time searching for the right kits. I usually have to purchase two to three kits per larger model in order to have enough interesting parts. Many kits have lots of parts that I wind up never using, like tank wheels. The trick is to never buy a kit for just one part. Try and make use of as much as you can to justify the huge price of the model kits. The best kits often cost between $35-$70 and it’s hard to spend that much when you don’t even build the models you’re buying.

I usually don’t use every piece in a kit and as a result I often wind up with a bunch of model trees with missing parts on them. I’ve found no good way to store these extra parts. I usually strip them off and toss them into plastic bins but that process takes time and if you want to use two similar parts later, you have to cull through the boxes to find it and that takes time. Depending on what stage of modeling I’m in, my garage could look like a complete mess.

Speaking of messes, your workbench will become completely overrun with bits of plastic, model trees and cutting tools while you are detailing. I’m a pretty neat person but I just give up trying to be tidy during this stage as evidenced below.

 

 

 

 

Modeling How-To: Detailing Part 2

This is the second in a series of posts about detailing your scratch built starship models. Part One is here.

Kit Photo Buckets

Every time I get a new model kit in I make a point of photographing the parts trees and then collecting them into a bucket for later use. This lets me refer back to where a part came from in case I need to get that kit again. I spend way too much time on Google Images searching for similar model tree pics for models that I’m interested in purchasing.

Here’s an example of a photo bucket for a model kit I’ve used.

This bridge on a tank model was a gold mine for great parts to use on a warship.

When the model parts are molded in light colors, use a dark background. When they are dark, try and use a lighter background color. It’s no more complicated than that. I don’t spend a lot of time on it and I include a picture of the front box art so I can order it again.

For each model that I scratch build I have to asses whether my boxes and boxes of kit parts is going to cover it. Not only in volume but in type of parts. For instance, tank kits are great for mechanical parts but you always wind up with 200 road wheels that you never use. So, do I really need another tank kit? Maybe I could get a boat kit or a train or here’s a wild hare, how about a truck accessory kit? Believe it or not, I’ve used all of these examples.

Boat kits are awesome for starships that are the same scale as the boat, in this case 1/350.

Generally, if you are replicating the used car look of ILM models you need lots of mechanical pieces to include pipes, boxes, gears and grills and engine blocks. The trouble is, if you just slap them on your model without trying to integrate them correctly you wind up making a model that people look at and go, “Hey, that’s a tank cannon, right?” This is not good. You want your detailing to imply actual mechanical devices that do something. Form follows function. Is that a flapper thingy that pops up from the fuselage? Maybe it needs a hydraulic activator arm under it. Starfighter engine? Maybe it needs some pipes or tubes around it like a jet or rocket engine. I’m not suggesting that you know what every piece does, only that you make the viewer think that it does something.

Strips of plastic on the body remind the viewer of wing strakes on fighters, while plates behind the cockpit remind one of armor.

This is where we cross over from amateur modeling skills to pro level skills. The best models make the viewer think, “Damn, that looks real as heck. Like it could take off and blast a TIE fighter into a million shiny pieces.” Detailing can go a long way towards suspending the disbelief that you’re looking at an actual machine rather than just a model.

Truck parts and pipes used to build the interior of a 1/32 scale starship bridge. They suggest a working, mechanical ship.

That same bridge in the finished cockpit, complete with weathering and lights.My creations are usually built to be photographed for my book covers. So I build them with that purpose in mind. My models don’t have glass cockpits and sometimes they are unfinished when viewed from behind. Why detail and paint what is never seen? So far I’ve only done this once with a large scale KiV-3 model for the cover of The Rising. Usually I complete the model because I never know from what angle I’ll be taking the picture. Or I want to give myself options to photograph it from any angle.

Here you see more than one mount point inside this fighter using a block of RenShape and set screws.

My models always have more than one mounting point and each mounting point has to be hidden from the eye. Display models typically only have one mount on the bottom or through the engine exhaust. But I need the flexibility of multiple mount points. This is why models are more like movie models or Studio Scale models. Typically a model is built to the scale needed to photograph or film it. Most of them are much bigger than you’d first expect. Some of the Star Wars models were measured in feet not inches and they weighed hundreds of pounds.

The massive Star Destroyer model built by ILM for The Empire Strikes Back.

I can’t build my models that big. I’d have no way to move them and no room to store them! So I usually stick to 1/350 to 1/32 for starships and starfighters respectfully. Sometimes I’ll build a smaller fighter in say, 1/72 or even 1/350 or a larger fighter in 1/24 scale to show off more detail.

The large scale KiV-3 model’s cockpit was super detailed because you can see it on the cover quite well. Behind it is not even finished because you would not see it.

Non-Kit Parts

Don’t limit yourself to just model kit parts. You can use any plastic or even some non-plastic parts. I prefer solid plastic pieces and not flexible pieces that are more rubbery, because they don’t stay glued on. I have boxes of greeblies that are collected from all aspects of my life. If it looks interesting, I’ll save it and maybe I’ll use it or maybe not.

Can you ID all the non-kit parts used in the cockpit from above? Even a hair beret!

Glues

Up until about a year ago my go-to blue was Tester’s Model Cement in the iconic red tube with a white cap. I used it to glue ALL THE THINGS. However, it was not the best tool for gluing tiny, detail pieces.

Standard Tester glue is my old faithful.

In the past few years I’ve come to really appreciate Gorilla Glue. I use it for binding metal, and wood to plastic or PVC. This stuff is magical. It doesn’t stink, in fact it’s odorless. It takes about thirty minutes to dry a night to cure. And it’s easily available at hardware stores. LOVE this stuff. But it does have a tendency to expand and explode out from under where you put it. But I can deal with that now and it doesn’t bother me.

Need to glue wood and plastic or metal and plastic or PVC? Gorilla Glue is golden.

Whenever I come across a troublesome piece of plastic I go back to that magical red tube of glue from my childhood. Tester cement. Below is a starship frame with gray plastic and white strips of styrene. The gray stuff, will not take a decent bond with cement. You have to sand it dull to give the glue something to hold onto and you need to use some kind of Cyanoacrylate based glue.

Oh look, it’s good old Tester cement!

My latest favorite glue for model pieces is Revell’s liquid glue with a metal tube applicator. It’s not found on the shelves in US based hobby stores. I order it from Amazon and it comes from Germany. I now reach for that glue more than any other glue for attaching greeblies. It dries clear but can leave clumps if over applied. However, it does put the glue where you want it pretty accurately. And that is pretty awesome. I’d love to get a syringe with a metal tube instead of a needle. I know they are out there, just need to find one.

Revell’s liquid model glue is my new favorite. But what’s that in the background? Testers cement. *sigh

Finally, I’ve been using Mr. Cement’s liquid glue which comes in a clear square bottle with a blue brush cap. This is comparable to Tamiya’s Extra Thin liquid cement. Apparently everyone building kits switched to these and didn’t tell me. Using capillary action, it goes on sloppy and then evaporates from around your part. I’m not a big fan of this stuff yet. But it’s growing on me. Check back in a year to see if I’m using this more than the Revell liquid.

Here we see all three glues in one shot. Also, just off camera right is, you guessed it, Testers cement.

Size and Details

The golden rule for detailing is: the bigger the ship you are modeling, the more detail you show. So if you are building a starfighter, don’t get too detailed outside of the cockpit. You can show panel lines, but not tiny ones. Keep them consistent with airplane panel lines at the same scale. If you are building a starship, you can have some larger panels but then also show much smaller ones that are perhaps smaller than a man in size. Ships are made from smaller parts and larger parts. So go hog wild.

Starfighter panel lines are usually larger at 1/32 scale.

Here are larger panel lines on a Swift model. It looks very much like a modern jet fighter.

On this warship model 1/350 scale, you can see medium sized panels and small panels. This works to help create the scale of the model.

In the warship model above, you can also see smaller plastic pieces as well as larger pieces to the left, on the ship’s neck. Use larger pieces to cover larger areas that have lots of machinery. Use smaller pieces near windows and such to once again, create the impression of scale.

Another thing to keep in mind about panel lines is that you should make some of them angled and some could follow the lines of the vehicle. Look at airplanes and ships and other Sci-Fi models for ideas and patterns that look natural.

One last note on smaller size panels. There is another method of detailing related to scribe panels and that is added panels of different thickness. It’s important to not use raised panels that are too thick for the scale of your model. I’ve built many fighters and sometimes I used strips of styrene that were far too thick for the scale of the model. This breaks scale and looks poorly to the trained eye, much less the untrained eye.

Look at the strip above the wing root. It’s way, way, way too thick for the scale.The strips of plastic below the model are much thinner and would have been preferred to the thick one I actually went with. In fact I’d even go so far as to say that just about every raised panel on this model is too thick for the scale. How do I know this? I’ve built a lot of scale models in my life and I know what looks right. It’s a feeling based on years of experience. If you have no experience building scale models then you won’t have that eye for what looks right.

So why did I use that thick strip on the above model? I was covering the sloppy wing root area gaps. Sometimes even people with lots of experience can screw it up.

Modeling How-To: Detailing, Part 1

This is the first part of a series of posts where I describe how I go about detailing a scratch built starship. Detailing usually doesn’t happen until after the model is boxed in or shaped by plastic. Roughing out the intended shape is my least favorite part of the whole process, but if you don’t have a sound platform to start with, your model will wilt and become unstable under the weight of all the stuff you will be adding when you detail it.

Detailing has three major types: Panel lines, greeblies and scratch building. Panel Lines are achieved by inscribing the plastic base shapes with lines and shapes, greeblies are all the tiny model kit pieces or interesting plastic bits and scratch building new and interesting shapes is done with extra styrene that you always have on hand.

Here is a smaller starship model after it’s boxed-in with plastic. It has a solid RenShape core with a set screw mount and a few pieces set on top of it to get ideas going on what to do with the greeblies. The main gun turret is from a German destroyer kit and those squarish pieces behind it are keys from a kid’s computer keyboard. Everything else is just .060 styrene sheet or PVC tube.

The model is basically a clean slate right now. I have to decide what parts will have more detail and what areas will just have panel scribes or raised panels on it. What guides this decision process are two primary things: the purpose of the starship and the age of the starship. If the ship is an old scrap heap, it will have more details exposed if it is old, it probably has undergone a lifetime of refits and structural changes to keep it space worthy.

In the case of this particular model, the SS Weippe is an old, corvette military ship. I happen to know that it’s over fifty years old and is used primarily for escorting shipping lanes to protect them from space pirates. Although it’s military they are not currently at war with anyone. So no battle damage is needed.

I usually have to purchase at least a couple of model kits for each build. This time I got a German destroyer model. Trumpeter kits are excellent overall and this destroyer was perfect for naval inspired greeblies. It’s also the same scale as my model – 1/350. Always a bonus although not required. The gun turret I’m using for the Weippe was actually from a different warship kit.

At this point I’ve refined the bridge area, the top deck including the cannon and the engine area. I’ve also used all three techniques! I’ll start with the bridge and work my way back, explaining how and why I did what I did.

All I had was a blocked out shape from sheet styrene. For the bridge I was after a nautical look. This ship is featured in a novella called Corvette and its basically a naval story set in space. The ship is small, just like the WWII British Navy Flower class corvettes.

I used mostly naval parts from destroyer models. Because this is pre-war starship, I couldn’t use some of the design features found on ships at war. So there are no reactive armor blocks or anti-starfighter guns. But we do have a suggestion of comm antennas and other similar types of gear on top and to the back side. I used an engine cylinder head from a car model on the very back and detailed around it with strips of styrene.

 

Moving on to the top of the main body and I start to integrate model parts with strips of styrene and some raised panels. I have another circular piece ahead of the gun turret but I’m not sure what that exactly is. I just like the way it balances out the detail on the top. I also added fire control towers and some deck plates from the destroyer kit.

For the stern or engine area I was constrained to follow the detailing I have done on a slightly larger destroyer model. So I tried to mirror what that model did for the entire engine area. Whereas the destroyer had two star drives, this one only has a single drive. Below you can see the larger destroyer model built to the same scale. Not exactly the same, but similar enough to be related.

Next came the sides of the starship. I used mostly sheet styrene of various thicknesses and strips for this area. That’s a ship’s main smoke stack in there too. Sometimes you add pieces for eye interest. That was the case for the grilled piece on the bridge area. I drilled out the port holes, but won’t be installing Fiber Optics in this build. I think they help give you a sense of scale though. I also added some square tube and a round tube to the side. I tried to make it look like modifications to the base design have been made. Because this is an old starship.

Along the side of the body I used a big old car muffler that was chromed. Rather than bleaching off the chrome I just scraped it off so I could add details to it. Glue doesn’t stick too good to chrome. Car model builders can attest to that. I also used the destroyer’s torpedo tubes here. Most of the rest of it is layers of styrene shapes and plates. The grooved styrene strips of various sizes comes in handy here to suggest beams or girders. The one pipe that sticks up by the gun turret is kinda cool. No real purpose.

The back of the Weippe was kept pretty clean. I mostly just used sheets of styrene for raised panels. Eventually I’ll paint a registration number on there or use a decal. So I wanted it to be flat.

A brief stop at the nose to show off some scanners and such. I went extra heavy on the sheet styrene for some reason. I think I was just trying to add bulk because the Flower Class corvettes were kinda chubby boats. Some of the “scanners” were actually life boats from the destroyer kit.

Moving on to the bottom of the bridge area now. A few larger funnels were used to suggest mechanical complexity. Pretty boring though because I knew it wouldn’t be really seen much. Another great reason to use smaller boat model parts is that they are small and can easily suggest all kinds of industrial purposes.

The bottom of the main hull has the mount pole going through it. So I had to devise a sliding section to cover it if I ever photographed the model from another mount point. Hiding mounts is fun and can determine to some extent what your detail looks like. Sometimes I have sneaky sliding parts and other times I have parts that can be removed to get access to the mount point. Details here are flat and mostly strips of plastic either boat parts or stock.

The back of the engine area is dominated by aircraft fuel tanks or travel pods. I had to follow the design logic of the destroyer model for that. Some larger kit parts under the tubes in the middle. Under the body is a bay door for a shuttle. I chose to keep it closed on this one as there is a solid block of RenShape inside there. The big chrome truck wheel is pretty obnoxious, but again, won’t be seen much.

An import step in detailing is to throw some primer on the whole model so you can see how things are looking without the distractions from all the weird colors. I usually spend some time just looking at it and seeing if there are areas that need more attention before proceeding to painting and weathering. Here’s what the model looks like with primer.

I want to circle back here at the end and talk a bit about scoring panel lines. The only place I did that on this model was on the top of the head or bridge area. I sued a Tamiya scribe for that and stupidly did it late in the build. Ideally you should plan to scribe your model before laying any complicated greeblies down.

Sometimes you can get away with scoring panels before you even put a piece of styrene on the main model. Below you see the tools I used to do this on a Votainion warship model. The toothbrush is used to file off the raised areas and rub finger grease into the cracks so you can see the lines. I use a thin leaded mechanical pencil and a metal ruler to draw out the lines before scribing them. It’s important to use a metal ruler for this so you don’t cut the ruler and your lines stay straight.

Sticking with the warship model for a moment, I’d like to bring up the point that you don’t just have to use model kit parts for greeblies. Just about anything can be used. Below the bridge on this model is a cartridge of some kind, kid computer keys and a fan blade from a PC fan.

I did this crude parts call out to illustrate all the various things I used in this one part of the model.

Heck, I even used a light saber on the bottom!

The biggest takeaway from all this is to have fun and be creative. Don’t just slap parts on willy nilly or you’re going to have yourself a mess, like the models from Star Crash! Where they left model parts on the trees and just glued them to the side of the model. No form follows function or any of that nonsense.

Or you could look like the models I made as a kid!