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.


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.



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





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.




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.










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.



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






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.

Building the Renoke, Part 7

The last two areas to detail are the top of the bridge and the bridge itself. Nearly all of the parts I used for these areas are from the same model kit – the HEMTT Gun Truck 1/35 from Italeri. Beautifully molded parts and nearly all of them worthy of use on a model like the Renoke.


The gray parts above are from the HEMTT kit.


The old crane mount on the left is a piece of 1/2 inch PVC scrap.


There’s only one high intensity LED light in the engine. But it turns out to be enough.


Nicely glowing engine even in broad daylight.


Above is the circuit I used for all the LEDs in the model. Each one wired to a resister and then the leads that carry it to the LEDs themselves. A single 9 volt battery is all I need to light them. Later, I wired a slide switch into the circuit.


The finished bread board looked like a squid.


The bridge is lit by a red LED and the fiber optics.


Night time test in the garage. You can also see the two F-4 ejection seats I used.


Here is the switch on the left. I probably should anchor the battery in there too.


The headlights are connected to the leads with removable metal plugs. Not what I wanted to use, but what I had on hand.


In preparing the headlight area for painting, I used Fasmask to cover up the LEDs.


One final shot of the pretty bridge lights. Next up is painting, followed by weathering.

Building the Renoke, Part 6

The final areas to detail are the bridge and the bridge cover.


Fitting the top section so that it doesn’t require gluing is not an easy task. But it must be removable to get to the front mount point of the model.


Here is the back wall of the bridge. I love how industrial it looks.


This is the bridge back wall inside.


This image shows the other inside wall and the pilot and copilot seat area.


Here you can see I need to build more floor!


Things are starting to come together in the bridge.


Decided to give the sides some more attention with greeblies.



Here are the bridge fiber optics drilled into the walls and glued in.


Light test. The fiber optics are going into a single LED.

The final bit of light kit is the headlights. For these, I needed to build a box and mount an LED.


Bright as a sun flare!


This is the temporary bread board I use to test my simple circuits before soldering them up.


The mounted headlight boxes.

Building the Renoke, Part 5

This is the start of the engine detailing. I used a piece of transporter diorama that I had from an old Star Trek toy. It had a blue clear plastic part that would be easy to light up with an LED. I just built up the inside of the engine exhaust with scratch plastic pipe and sheet styrene. Tedious.




But the end result looks pretty good.


Here are the details used to bring the engine area alive.


This angle shows the bottom front of the Renoke with the rectangular landing pads.


The final bits of details added for the hatch area of the bottom.


Top of the model after primer.


Back of the model after primer.


Finished bottom of the model after primer.


The bridge and front of the top are the final areas to be detailed.


Sanding the primer gives a nice texture. But it will soon be covered with base coat.


Building the Renoke, Part 4

Continuing the detailing on all that flat white plastic. It’s starting to look like a starship anyway. I listened to a ton of Cubs games on the internet this summer as well as my usual pod casts. I was also fueled by Irish pirate music and fighter pilot songs. It was a blast.


I really like this part of scratch modeling. Taking a plane white canvas and picking out just the right greeblies to make it look like a working starship.


This side of the Renoke turned out pretty decent.


I also liked the pipe and top panels seen here.


This is the top hatch, getting details applied. Lots of layering of panels and model parts.


I decided to put down some gray primer on the areas that were detailed. This helps me see what is working and what is not. I masked off the areas where I still have to detail.


You can start to see a starship emerging from all the rainbow colored pieces. This is where I find out if the details are working, or if they just look like random model parts glued down to the model.


The rest of the top deck is coming together. Lots of truck parts here and probably too many circular parts, but you use what you have in the scrap box and make due.


Here’s the other side of the Renoke. Breaking the outlines a bit with a diagonal cut panel.


Lots of hatches and stuff.


Finally, it looks about done. Ready for more primer.


Flip her over and do it all again. This time I’m using rails and semi truck panels to fill up all that black space.


Had to make the rear landing pad at the stern and two pads in the front for landing.


The back of the ship gets a cover piece of ribbed truck plastic. Also started detailing the back of the nacelle pods.


There’s an even mix of balanced details and unbalanced details to make it interesting for the eye.


Lots of pipes and vertical pieces fill in the ball.

The bottom details are coming together here. Abandoned model trees all over the messy table top.


This is the bottom hatch where people exit. I imagined that it also has a ladder that extends down to the ground. I use a bunch of different pieces to make it. Including tank parts and truck parts.

Building the Renoke, Part 3

It’s critical to get your lines straight on the base shape of a model like this. Nothing looks worse than a finished scratch build that is lopsided. So I took care to line up the boxing. Below, I’m making sure the bottom is smooth before proceeding to detail the hull.


My only regret with this build is the use of thicker wood frame. It makes the ship look squatter than the older card board model. But that doesn’t hurt the overall look of the model and unless you’ve seen the original, you won’t know it should be skinnier.


Creative use of tank parts and truck engine parts mixed with strips of styrene inside the nacelles.


The offset engine needed to have something in the blank area beside it, so I used some tank parts and scratch built what looks like a removed second engine.


In the original film my friends and I made in high school, this top panel was blown away. So I went ahead and made the panel removable and filled it with details to make a little sub room right ahead of the engine room.


Super thrilled with how the details turned out around the engine.


Progression of details


I’m also thrilled with the top of the nacelle area.


Keeping the details flowing as we go back towards the front.


The other side of the ship.


I really like this area of the side runner near the front. It was important to keep the details small and make the panels follow the angles of the model.


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.




Renoke Model Update

It’s been a while since I posted a picture of the Renoke model, so here a few new ones. I’m focusing on the bridge now, adding details and installing fiber optics. I have to wire up the head lights and the instrument panels next. At this point, I have all the parts and pieces I need to complete the model so it’s just a matter of finding the time to do the work. Oh and the engine needs some LEDs too. That should be easy.

I found some resin molded F-4 seats on line and darned if they don’t look totally awesome.


Beginning to add details to the bridge cover and the windows.



Let there be lights! At least a few fiber optic ones.



Phantom F-4 ejection seat is pretty freaking cool.



Some weathering, some after market bolts and a few extra pieces of detail.



After the white/deck tan mix of the base coat. I still need to hit the bottom with this color. But for now, I’ll wait until the bridge area is completed.

The Renoke

The Renoke was my first short story sale to an online magazine. It’s a Shaggy Dog story where the payoff is in the punchline at the end. I didn’t realize that was what I had written until someone mentioned it much later. It’s one of my favorite stories and one that really stretched my boundaries as a SF writer.

The ship, Renoke and the main character, Joule Rouse were featured in the very first short film my buddies and I shot in Super-8 back in 1979. That was also my film debut as I had a staring role playing Joules Rouse, a smuggler. What? You never saw the film Renegade? That’s probably a good thing.

(Click to Enlarge)

I saved the models we built for the film and the one above is the Renoke starship. Built from poster board, Elmer’s School Glue and little bits of plastic models. Old school modeling man! It’s still one of my favorite starships. Designed and built by Ed Halbig and painted by myself.

You  can get it free this week on Kindle.