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.

Renoke 09

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.


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.



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.




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.








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






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.




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


Terrox Starfighter Build, Part 3

And then there was the canopy. I wanted it to have good visibility for the pilot and let people look inside to see all that detail I included. I later would put smoked clear plastic for the glass. The canopy was carved from plastic sheet and glued together. Lots of sanding was necessary to make the seams fade away.


Modern fighters usually have the insides painted white. In WWII they used to be zinc chromate a rust inhibitor. In Russia they use a teal blue color for their insides. I wanted to make this like Russian fighters, so I mixed up a blue and white and gray bottle of paint and this is the resulting color. I like it.


More fuselage details, the white pieces are from a WWI airplane model. No idea which one. The engines now have intake cowls made from kid toys. The colors will go away after primer.


Got her up on the mount while I add more greeblies. I like when I can get the model to this point. Makes working on it easier.


Plus you can tilt it over and work on the bottom. Which is way too clean right now.


Next up are the wings. I built them up like little boxes. The inside area is detailed and painted. Panel lines are scored with my scoring knife and some raised panels added. Done.


Here we are cementing the wings onto the engine nacelles. It took some fiddling to get the wing to stand off the side a bit the way I wanted.


Here is the fish, ready for boning, er I mean detailing the bottom.


This is a good shot of the engine intakes. I’m loving the shape of the whole fighter.


Coming at you, ready for detailing on the nose and some guns.


This is about to be awesome. I usually try and find greeblies that fit the area in which they are placed. It’s more art than science, although it helps to imagine what engineering purpose the detail might have.


More landing gear parts seemed to fit around the guns. 


The bottom area has a mount point. It must be covered when I’m photographing the bottom. So I slid a panel all secretly. Can you see what changed?


This is the oldest trick in the book and when you’re making up the ship from thin air, you can do whatever you want to hide your mounts.


Next up are the details for the back side. Again, form follows function. This area is highly functional.


One last look at the top and bottom as I focus on smaller details.


The bottom reminds me of a ME-109.


Here are some engine details including an area not covered with a panel on the left. 


Back side beauty pass.


Some shielding on the back of the canopy.


It took a while to settle on the details for the area behind the canopy but I think it came out pretty good.


Here’s the finished cockpit before painting.


This is the finished model with primer. Looking sharp. Up next – weathering.


Renoke Model Update

Over the Labor Day weekend the Renoke model got some weathering. I started with an oil paint wash using burnt sienna and black. It gives the model a warm tone and makes the machinery look more realistic. It also makes it smell like an oil painting. I won’t be bringing it to work until that dries.

The next stage of weathering will be black pastel chalk, sandpaper and some miscellaneous things like oil leaks and rust. Do starships rust in space? No. But starships that land on planets and stay for a while, do.




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.

Vickers Swift Starfighter Build, Part 1

This weekend I started building yet another model. I’m standardizing on 1/32 scale for my single seat starfighters and starting by building a Vickers Swift Starfighter. Technically, this is the V-28P variant of the Vickers Victory fighter. Known as the Klau by the Votainions and nicknamed Swift by the Alliance. The V-28P was the primary surface based pursuit fighter of the Alliance Fleet. Units stationed on planets or moons with an atmosphere were given this variant. There were some deep space carrier wings that flew the fighter as a support fighter but it usually was found attached to surface units.

This fighter will be featured prominently in the gap novel between book’s One and Two of the Star Saga, called Devon’s Blade. It will be needed for the cover of that book. It’s the first model of my starfighter series in 1/32 scale and using my new mounting system. All future models in this scale will feature this mounting system and I’ve decided that the 1/32 scale is best suited for models destined to be photographed for covers. I was previously using 1/48 scale but only using cardboard as my medium. None of those models were intended for studio shooting, only as displays, so they lack a decent mounting system.

I started this build by doing a side view blueprint of the fuselage. It’s basically a cylinder with wings and a snub nose. I originally designed it to be similar to the Bell X-1 that broke the sound barrier with Chuck Yeager at the controls. Primarily the windscreen design was what I took from the X-1. Time passed and I continued to develop the design, completely forgetting where I got the canopy design from. I stopped by the hobby shop on the way home and found a Bell X-1 in 1/32 by Revell and picked it because it had a pilot figure. When I got the kit home and examined it, I realized the cockpit details could work too, so that’s where I started.

My first attempt at the engine exhaust is the cap to laundry detergent. I may change this later, but for now it looks pretty great. I put a stock piece of plastic that I had on hand inside to be the actual nozzle. I will put a yellow or clear high intensity LED in there for engine lights.


I started the cockpit with the seat and floor of the X-1 model. Check Yeager looked on.

The seat braces with a bulkhead.


Chuck takes a seat to see how the scale looks.

Some of the framing necessary to form the shape of the starfighter’s nose.

A top view shows the Bell cockpit pretty much as is. I’ll be modding the cockpit up to make it look more futuristic.




Votainion Warship Build, Part 3

 Gun Pods

I broke down and purchased two tank model kits so that I could build these gun pods. The main guns are 1/35 scale M-48 wheels and the smaller tank wheels are 1/72 T-90 tank wheels. The rest of the parts consist of keys from an old kid’s computer and zip ties. The white plastic pieces above and below each gun is a plastic keyboard spring cut in half. Everything else is strip polystyrene from the hobby store. I built the first one and made sure that I had enough parts for the second pod. They had to be build in reverse of each other due to being on opposite sides of the model.


Below shows the gun pods being glued onto the side of the model.


New Layered Armor

I’m experimenting with a new layered armor technique to cover this model with. It involves using strips of plastic of varying sizes and just building up layers as I go. This is inspired by the reactive armor found on modern tanks. Also, I don’t have enough random model kits to kit bash from and cover the entire model. So large areas will have this style of armor plating.


Scanner Pods

The scanner pods are made from PC drive mounting brackets of various sizes. I had a bunch of them in my greebly drawers. I then added strips of plastic and some plastic tubes of various diameters. There are also some various other parts from the dollar store toys such as hair rollers and some kind of square puzzle thing. I collect all manner of little plastic bits that I find and sooner or later they wind up on my models.

Again, I had to make sure that I had enough parts for two of these pods. They will be attached at the tips of the main wings of the warship.



Top Deck Details

For the top deck I decided to use some old six pack packaging I had to replicate the tops of the star drive engines. I’m still in the process of adding details to this deck. Once again, I’ve had to get creative with my parts as you can see. Hopefully by the time it’s all done and painted, most of the details will be unrecognizable.

Below, more PC mounting rails, this time used on the top deck.



KIV-1 Model

I’ve been playing around with a 1/72 scale KIV-1 starfighter model for a few weeks now. Thought I’d show it off here. It’s portraying a fighter from the Votainion Empire planet, Con One. The planet is of course a predominately desert one and so the tan and green splotches not unlike German North African fighter planes.

Top View

Bottom View

I’ve yet to weather it, so it still looks pretty clean. I put some Estes model rocket decals on it to spice it up a bit. I didn’t have anything too interesting to use for unit symbols or numerals. I also left out the wires in the wings. I might insert some clear plastic to simulate a clear skin of some sort, to make them more agile in atmospheric flight, considering these are land based fighters.

This will be a fun addition to my cube toys. Aside from that, not much use. It might find its way onto a book cover but not likely as it’s so small. I might use this scale to do a twin body design. But then I’m done with modeling the KIV variants.

Below are some angle views before the camo was added.