Modeling Update

Just finished the primer coat on the GCU Griffin model this weekend. I still have some bits and pieces that need to be added, so will have to coat again next weekend. But you can start to see the general shape and fit of the ship now. I’ll admit that the design is a bit unconventional, but I still think it looks awesome. I originally designed this one back when I was a kid. Even built it in cardboard in almost the same scale. If you read Starstrikers, you’ll learn all about this important starship.

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This new acrylic primer I’m using is much darker and bluer than the auto car body primer I was using. But it doesn’t stink near as bad.

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The other side of the model for reference.

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I used the whole bottle on the model, so will have to order a case of it or something. I also need to find some gloss coat and dull coat for decals. Probably use whatever I can find at Home Depot.

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This is where I hid the slider switch for the internal lights. Sometimes you have to be sneaky. I didn’t plan this nice over hang, but it turned out to be the perfect spot to hide the switch. It’s starting to get warmer out in the garage studio, so eventually I’ll have to move operations inside or suspend the modeling until fall. I’ll be building smaller stuff until it cools off again. 

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Building The Renoke, Part 9

The final stage of building a model is always the weathering. Star Wars pioneered the “Used Car” look of starships back in the seventies and since then it’s become standard for movie models. Since this model could be used for film but is primarily used for cover art, it will be properly weathered. Running around in space is probably not going to do that much to a starship, but the Renoke has visited many different planets with varied environments and has been through all kinds of crazy situations in which it’s been chased and shot at and ran into things. So the surface of the model will need to reflect that history.

When you weather a model you are telling a story about the history of the vehicle. Remember that time when I hit that thing or flew through that messy stuff? Yeah, I can point to my ship as proof of that. See that smear right there? That’s when my oil inducer blew and leaked all down the side. I had to fix it and move on, no time to clean it up.

So with that in mind, I used a number of techniques to build the history of this freighter. I started with an oil based wash consisting of Burnt Sepia and Black mixed with thinner. I applied in a gloppy manner with a stiff brush and then wiped it away, leaving it in the cracks and crannies of the model. This gives the surface detail a more three dimensional appearance and it did something interesting to the surface paint. It gave it a brown tint that I probably could not have replicated with paint alone.

The original Renoke model was made from card board and had lots of colored panels all over it. In order to weather it, I lit a candle and used the black smoke from just past the flame to carbon score the model. I then sanded the model with fine grit sand paper. The resulting finish was unique to say the least. Looking at the image below of that original model you can see that the overall color is an off white with a slight tan tint. That’s what I was trying to replicate with the new model, at least as far as I could.

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After completing the oil wash I was left with a similar tone on the new model. So I began to color some of the panels to add interest and history to them. I used earth tones as much as possible, so dark reds, dark greens and grays. Below is the forward bottom of the Renoke.

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Below is the stern bottom. I added lots of oil leaks and stains here to simulate the engine compartment of an old car. After the paint for the panels dried, I brushed them with sand paper to knock off the paint on the edges and to give the surface added texture.

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For some flat areas of the models I sanded a bit more to give it a worn smooth look and to try and bring out some of the off white base color.

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The final stage of weathering is hitting the model with a hobby grinder. This can be very effective at replicating impacts but you have to be careful with it. If you over do it, you can easily ruin the model. I used a rounded grinder head and let it bounce off the model while spinning to get multiple dings and scratches. You have to come at it from many directions to add the randomness required. Again, a little bit of this goes a long way. The grinder will take off the surface color, the gray primer and get right down to the original white of the plastic. Which is okay for this model. It also reminds me of some of the damage to the Falcon from Star Wars.

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The overall effect of all this weathering makes the model more interesting to the eye and more realistic at the same time.

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The final area that needed weathering was the bridge. Again, about the only thing I needed here was leaking machinery and general wear and tear. I maybe overdid it a bit but this is an old ship.

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And that is all she wrote. The model is complete. The bridge windows were added late in the game using tinted clear plastic sheeting. This model will be featured on the cover of XiniX, Book 5 of the Star Saga and probably used for short story covers and elsewhere as needed. The captain of this ship is a character named Joules Rouse and I’ve written many short stories about him over the years. You can read one over at SpaceWesterns.com

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Triak Starfighter Build, Part 1

The Triak starfighter was derived from the Two Piper design from the start of the Great War. The design goes back to the 1980s when I was still in High School. I always imagined there were dozens of starfighter designs during the war, just like there were so many different fighter plane designs in WWII. The First Generation or Starforgers Trilogy evolution chart below shows the Two Piper design.

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Here is a line art drawing a friend did of the Triak a few years ago. I really like this kind of profile art for fighters. Anyone want to volunteer to draw all my designs like this? Contact me, I’ll give you full credit!

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I had some 1/32 scale jet models laying around and decided to build the Triak fighter from them in a process called kit bashing, instead of my usual scratch building. I had an F-104 Starfighter and a F-14 Tomcat, from Hasegawa and Tamia respectively.

I cobbled together two engines from PVC pipe and then used the intakes from the Tomcat and the fuselage from the Starfighter model to rough out a possible shape for the Triak starfighter. I held everything together with yellow camera tape and took some pictures. The model sat on my shelf for a while until I had the time to actually build it. Below are some shots of the taped up version of the model.

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For a short time I pondered just doing a scratch build. But then opted for the kit bash route.

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First step was to take apart the taped mock-up.

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Terrox Starfighter Build, Part 2

Continuing with the Terrox build, we start to focus on detailing. I started with the hidden area between the missing engine covers and the fuselage. I used some F-104 bits in silver and various bits of scratch plastic to add some interest. You know, for when someone shines a flashlight in there to make sure I’m honest. ;-)

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Some strakes are added to the top of the fuselage because it looks cool and it’s a bit of a call out to the old MiG-15. I’ve also added some interest behind the pilot with some plastic greeblies.

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The engine details started with this child’s whistle from a dollar store and continued with landing gear bits from the Tomcat model. Lots of them. Oh, and some scratch tubing.

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Added some pipes to the whistle and suddenly the engines are beginning to look interesting. I used more Starfighter parts for the cover plate on the left in the shot below. I knew the open area where the fuselage meets the engine nacelles was going to be a greeblie pile. So I started with some grooved plastic.

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Backing up a bit we look at the boxing in of the fuselage.

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I used some braces inside. I was going to put some LED’s and a nine volt batter in there, but opted for a static build to save time.

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Here’s the Tomcat cockpit with some F-104 instruments and various other greeblies.

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I needed to fill some gaps behind the cockpit so I used pipes. I like the look.

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I like that silver piece from the back of the F-104 on top of that block behind the pilot.

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Now we have the engines glued on and you can start to see what this puppy will begin to look like.

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Here we are with some more engine details. I covered the one inch PVC engine parts with thin, .010 plastic but not everywhere. Some thicker areas too for interest.

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Next time we’ll focus on fuselage details and get some primer on it,

Weathering the Terrox Model, Part 2

There’s not much to add about my weathering techniques. I just go slow and make multiple passes, each with a different layer of gunk or scratches or in some cases, battle damage. To this point I’ve mostly done none invasive stuff like painting, rubbing pastels or a bit of light sanding. But I have also done some pits and tiny holes around the port nacelle where some panels have been removed. Presumably due to battle damage. But not everything was removed and I may even put on some patch squares in different shades of gray or perhaps the blue-gray interior color. Which I imagine is some kind of rust protector coating.

For small nicks and pock holes I use a hobby knife or my hobby grinder. I lightly sand over the burs and nicks. The battle damage from fighting would require forethought and internal detailing, so I’m keeping it light. Surface damage only.

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I also sprinkled some on hand decals around the model. I’m usually dissappointed with decals and avoid them as much as possible. I like this German unit decal and used the pre-weathered version.

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Here is the other side along with a decal placard, too small to read.

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On the shot above you can also see some nicks and bumps on the leading edge. This was done with my variable speed hobby grinder on low.

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I had a triangle decal next to the canopy but it came off. The underlying lighter shade of gray is fantastic, so I’m leaving it off. I may use this technique again on the bottom for panels. Just cut squares of random decals and then pull them off after I weather.

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The back side of the model is full of nice details and all I did was a black wash and some black pastel dusting.

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I do like the contrast between the gray details and the blue-gray. I’m thinking the blue-gray areas are usually covered, but the covering was removed for ease of maintenance or perhaps as a weight savings field modification.

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I like the nose and canopy weathering. I might like more fingerprints and such from ground crew. My inspiration for this is modern Navy fighters on carriers.

Okay, below are the beauty passes. Part three will show the bottom and whatever else I add in terms of damage.

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Weathering the Terrox Model, Part 1

My second favorite part of modelling is weathering. After the details have been finalized and the base coat of primer and paint applied the final step is giving the model a history. That’s what I think of when I weather a model. No machine stays looking factory fresh over its lifetime. Dents happen, weather happens, maintenance happens. Sometimes battles happen and damage occurs. This is the secret history of a vehicle over time.

For the Terrox model I decided to just go with the base gray primer color and instead of adding unit markings and exotic camouflage patterns I’d just concentrate on heavy weathering. This is a front line starfighter in a war that has raged for hundreds of years. Field maintenance, battle damage and modifications are the norm. All of which can be simulated in weathering.

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I started with the port wing and the engine nacelles. All skin after the wings has been removed for easy access. The Votianion starforce used a blue-gray color for interior paint. I mixed several Tamiya grays and blue and white to get the color I was after. This color was inspired by the teal blue color inside Russian fighter planes. It contrasts nicely with the flat gray primer base. For the exhaust pipes I went with a burnt brass color. This was to mimic the exhaust pipes of modern fighter planes.

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The area along the engine tubes was detailed heavily with mechanical looking model parts. I wanted this to be oily and dirty to add interest for the eye mostly. In this shot of the starboard engine you can see where a panel has been removed on the body of the nacelle exposing some ribs. This was done to suggest a field modification.

The technique I used on this part of the model was mostly a black acrylic wash. I touched it up with a bit of dry brushing of the original blue-gray paint. I then dusted it with black pastel dust and a soft brush.

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The panel lines on this wing were done with a Tamiya scribe. I love that tool. Then I accented them with a #2 pencil that was carved with a hobby knife to have a sedge shape to get into the panel. I got this technique from Fine Scale Modeler magazine. Then I went to work on the panels themselves to make them pop. Most aircraft modelers use a technique of filling panel lines with black and then lightly spraying over that with the base coat of paint. This leaves a shadow area around the lines.

I don’t do that with these starfighter models. For this one I used my own process of dusting the panel lines with black pastel dust and then hitting the middle of the panels with white pastel dust and rubbing it all in with my fingers. It’s a tad bit messy but the results can be pretty good.

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This image above shows my pastel brushes and chalk dust covered paper towel. Someday I’ll have to do a video showing me dusting panel lines.

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The next area of focus was the port nacelle. The blotches were done with a dry and wet brush of gray and black dabbled on with a brush. Then I hit the area with a fine sand paper and repeated the blotching. I was quite pleased with how it came out and hope to emulate that all over the model.

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I just had time to continue the blotching a bit on the front of the nacelle intake.

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I’ll do another post as I get further along in the weathering process. Since I’ve taken these pictures I’ve begun adding a few smaller decals. That process will be explored in the next post.

 

Modeling Update – Terrox Fighter

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This is my latest modeling creation – a Votainion Terrox starfighter from the Starstrikers Era of the Star Saga. This is one of several primary, or front line enemy starfighters the Alliance faces during the mid-war time period. This model is built from PVC tubes and plastic and is detailed with greeblies from kit models. There are two mount points, bottom and rear and no lighting. The scale is my standard – 1/32.

The above photo is what the model looks like at this point in time. The basic shape is finished and now I’m moving on to detailing. After the details are applied, painting begins, followed by weathering.

Spieron Starfighter Build, Part 1

This is the primary starfighter during the Starstrikers Trilogy or middle time period of my Star Saga series. It was first sketched on paper by myself probably twenty years ago. I built a cardboard model of it about a decade ago and was not completely satisfied with it, so now is the time to do it in styrene and up the scale to 1/32.

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Scaling up the 1/48 card board model using PVC for the engine and a fabric stain remover cap for the engine exhaust. The seat is from the Renoke model and is just to help suss out the scale. I make a paper model blueprint to start with and then use it as a pattern to cut the more expensive styrene.

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Above we see the paper model with a four sides to the fuselage. The gun will be a push-pump soap dispenser.

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The engines get LED lights. I used a car wheel and a tank wheel to mount the LEDs inside the bottle cap funnels and PVC engine tube.

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Above you can see the parts before gluing them together.

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Next I started with the bottom of the fuselage to anchor the mount. I still had a tapped block of aluminum with two mount points on it so I didn’t have to do that part again.

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The bracing for the mount is basically a bunch of plastic.

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The fuselage sides when up pretty fast. The area behind the pilot is raised a bit and so is braces accordingly.

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The top area is cut out, but not glued in place yet. I have to cut out the cockpit area and detail and light it before I close it up. The battery and circuit board will go in the area between and above the engines.

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The nose cone for lack of a better name, was walled off at the last minute and the cone inside the tube was left inside. Not so smart. I know the nose is flat, but the original design is that way and I figured that a space fighter didn’t need a pointy nose.

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Detailing inside the nose before attaching it to the main body.

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Also took the time to detail the nose extension piece. This is probably an area that has had the covers removed on a regular basis, so I’m making it look like you could have it covered if needed.

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You can still see the cone coming through the cylinder. Ugh. Good thing that will be covered.

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My stand in 1/32 scale pilot as the cockpit comes together. Actually using the base from a resin seat behind him.

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Some cockpit details coming along, including the metal Imperial Walker model that a friend donated.

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The canopy frame is coming together next.

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Starting to look like a Y-wing or a Snow Speeder now.

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Here’s everything sitting together on the bench. She’s big!

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The Martin Baker ejection seat is from an F-4 Phantom resin mold. Very detailed.

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This is looking pretty cool about now. Next up: lights!

Building the Renoke, Part 8

Painting continues with the bridge getting a flat gray color via my trusty airbrush. I purposely didn’t cut the fiber optics so that after painting, I can trim them and not have them covered with paint. I chose a darker gray so that it contrasted with the exterior. Weathering will probably lighten the color a bit as well as make it look worn down.

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The over all base color of the Renoke is flat white/deck tan/gray. This is a nod to the Star Wars universe and in particular, the Millennium Falcon, which has the same color. I wanted it to have a non-gray base, because gray is military and this is not a military starship.

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You will never see a more clean version of this model. It’s about to get all broke in with weathering.

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The first level of weathering is done with a wash of thinned out artist’s oil paint. I used to do this wash in regular paint, but after having tried the oil paint, I’m a convert. It gives the model an earthy tone that I really like. You basically drench the cracks with a brown and black mix and then wipe it away with a rag. What you are left with is what you see from here on in the pictures. A wonderful lived in look.

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I also started painting some of the panels red and green and gray. This needs to continue with more shades of gray and white. It’s a slow process.

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The next phase of weathering involves rubbing the raised pieces with super fine sandpaper and or steel wool. This gives the model a more worn out look that a ship of this kind is prone to. It’s a big, dirty universe out there and space is full of particles that ruin your perfect paint job.

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Flipping the Renoke and working the same magic on the bottom.

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The next installment should be the final one for this build. More weathering and sanding and panel painting will result in a finished model. The bridge is yet to be weathered.

Alliance Spieron Starfighter

The primary starfighter of the Alliance in the middle trilogy or Starstrikers Era is the Spieron. It’s fast and sleek and well loved by pilots. I built this model in 1/48 scale out of poster board. But it’s due for a plastic update in 1/32 for the K’nat Trap novella cover. So I expect to be building it this winter.

 

The finalized plastic version will probably look like a mix between these drawings and the cardboard version. I’m excited to build this one in plastic with real mounts and possibly lights. You’ll be hearing more about this model’s progress this winter as I build it and the new Triak fighter.