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Old 18-08-2013, 10:39 PM   #1
Wardster
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Default UFO -- Albatross 25 rescue aircraft

Here begins a process of documenting some of the details behind how I go about "figuring out the shape" of certain vehicular models, as seen on-screen in various movies and/or tv shows. I'll use the "Albatross 25" rescue aircraft design as seen in the "Sub Smash" episode of UFO as my example, but the tips and tricks should be adaptable to a wide range of vehicular subjects.

To get started, here's a raw DVD screengrab of the Albatross aircraft:



And here's that same image, after cropping out most of the background. (With an oldie-but-goodie Windows-based program called "Paint Shop Pro 5".)



Here's a third (cropped; not quite as-seen-onscreen) DVD capture, showing another angle on the same model.



The flying images were very useful for giving me a relatively undistorted take on what the vehicle's fuselage proportions were, and outlines were; but the size and resolution prevented much of any detail to be seen clearly -- hence taking as many additional DVD screen caps as I could, from other angles etc.

As I'm sure other fans of non-hero models will agree, documentation isn't as likely to be found (in either quantity or quality) on certain subjects as it may be for the more popular subjects ... so, partly what I'm trying to share here is the idea that even when you have images that no sane person would WANT to use, to try to build a model, you gotta start somewhere; and if all you can get is something like the stuff above, and you want a model badly enough, you'll hopefully find a way to make the best of whatever you can obtain.

One reason the profile (side view) image was very useful to me was that the camera operators on the day of filming didn't go for a fancy camera angle, in that shot. I find that Anderson shows are often very good at emphasizing straight-on profile views of interesting new guest craft, as establishing shots, for a few brief seconds ... and then, they may get fancy with camera angles.

Because my ability to make screen captures is limited -- (first off, that I'm using DVD instead of Blu-Ray) -- and in that I only have a laptop PC running Cyberlink's Power DVD program (and rather an older version at that), I find that it sometimes helps to make several attempts at the same "capture". I find that if I have several to choose from, one will be better than the others. I had made three captures of that introductory (straight-on, low-distortion as far as proportions and outline; if low-resolution) profile view shot; and I had put them together into a combined, blown-up image for printing out:



That printout wouldn't be the final image: just something to get me started.

One reason I didn't want to use it as the final "get started" image was that, to fit it onto a U.S.-standard-sized sheet of paper (8.5" x 11") it was blown up by a factor of eight times the original image size. I prefer a more even number, as I find that allows the program and the printer to distort any new printout to a lower degree than would be the case if you've told it to blow something up by some oddball or fractional amount. Ten would work better, in my experience, than something like eight ... so that's what I aimed at.

As it turns out, the nice even number "ten" was good for another reason: I could tell Paint Shop Pro to print the image out (cropped background and all) in landscape mode, and it would still fit onto a "normal" sheet of paper. All in all, that seemed best, as the initial size of the inkjet printer printout I'd make, of that side view shot. (In other words, although it may not look it here, the image on the right is the same exact size of paper; just turned sideways.)

(Still referring to the image above; the one on the right side, specifically.)

Once I had the printout, the next problem to work around is that inkjets lose a lot of subtle detailing and shading and the like; so, to find the outlines of the craft in places like along the upper portion of the fuselage, I had to study what was seen on-screen, on my actual computer; and then carefully trace, on the printout, where the outlines most correctly seemed to be. (Lightly and in pencil at first, and then using a normal fine black ink pen, over that.) When I had the printout traced, I carefully cut around the outer edges using a pair of fairly precise scissors; and used a glue stick to attach the cut-out image onto the upper part of a turned-sideways sheet of thicker (cardstock) paper.

I could then use ordinary tracing paper, taped onto the cardstock so that it would not move around, to trace over the inked marks on the printout -- which is what the line drawing is all about, on the bottom of the paper seen on the right hand side of the image above.

Removing the tracing paper, temporarily, and moving it down so it overlapped the lower (empty, white) portion of the cardstock gave me the modified, in-colour screen capture image on top; and a line drawing just below that.

A run to the local library happened next: so I could enlarge that image to 133% of it's as-drawn size. (In other words, I told the library's photocopier to blow up that sheet of 11" x 8.5" paper, large enough to fit on a 14" by 8.5" sheet of "legal" paper.) You can see the result, below:



Blowing it up by only an additional third was another "avoid weird multipliers, when doing reductions / enlargements" sorta thing. Maybe I'm paranoid, but the methods one has to use to take minimal references, and to try to make the best from them, make me feel like "better paranoid than sorry" in terms of accidentally adding in unintended (and/or unexpected!) forms of distortion.

Anyway, one of those "blown-up to 133%" photocopied images was then checked for "scale" and found to be close (or as close as I'd likely get) to being a 1:48 scale drawing -- going by the size of the door or hatch on the side of model, as compared to the live set, etc. For a variety of reasons, I felt that would be a good size for any final model that I'd build, later on.

Next up was a bit of additional ink tracing work, and some line straightening and so on, as seen below:



What may not be immediately obvious is how I added that "cloud" around the outline of the model. (Or why?!) That's an artist's "kneaded eraser" shown near the top of the drawing; and a stick of (vine, I think?) charcoal next to it. There's a more common style of artist's charcoal product that is really hard to get off, once you put it on -- and that's not what I used here! This is another type of product, entirely; even though they're both called charcoal. In any case, rubbing the easily-smeared, easily-removed type of charcoal stick around the borders of the aircraft (not worrying about getting it where it shouldn't be; that is, inside the image of the aircraft itself) gave me most of what I wanted. Once I'd smeared it enough with a finger to even it out, I then carefully used the kneaded eraser to lift (rather than rub) off the loose powdery stuff that was where it shouldn't be. A shot of Testor's dull-cote, to seal it once it was like I wanted it, gave me a slightly darkened area around the outer perimeter; with a nicely white aircraft profile sitting inside it.

You'll see what all the vertical lines are all about, in the next few steps ...
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Old 18-08-2013, 10:50 PM   #2
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I'll keep following that up, with other installments ... but for right now, I'll just do one short follow-up, since the carpal tunnel in my wrists is acting up!

Skipping a little, here's the next few major steps:





The upper image is a piece of unmodified, as-bought shelving board, used as a flat-enough surface to work on, when building what I call a "half model". I will explain that later, but basically the idea is to avoid wasting time trying to get two sides symmetrical, when you're still in the stages of figuring out what either side should look like: in terms of proportions, outlines, and contours.

The second image is a series of printed out copies of a handmade drawing of what I am probably going to call (for lack of a better term) a "master" cross section. I drew one; scanned it into my computer; put three alike onto one image; printed those "three per sheet" cross sections out, and then cut each of them along the vertical centerline, using an X-acto and a metal ruler.

I then cut them into strips: making a second cut along the slightly shaved-off vertical sides of each slice. (Which, by the way, was an attempt to match what I saw on-screen: a modified half circle being used to generate those initial master section drawings. That is, I started with a half circle, as drawn by a compass; then, taking measurements wherever I could -- but more on that stuff later, as the wrists are bugging, etc.)

The idea being to begin to tape "first stab at it" cross sections all along the vertical lines; to begin to work out the most probable "plan view" and cross sections ... since I'm working from, as mentioned, rather limited references!

(Quick note: I did see, on the catacombs web site, one really sweet image of this craft ... but I'm trying to tell the story in order of what happened, and I didn't find that image till much later ... so, I'll work that in as things progress.)
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Old 18-08-2013, 11:28 PM   #3
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With only one paper cross section (as seen above) taped down to the BIG drawing, most people likely couldn't really see where I'm going with this, too easily ... so it may help to see the next few cross sections taped down / sticking up. Here's one view, starting at the back, and looking forward:



And here's more or less a reverse angle, on the same state of progress:



Something I should mention (before I forget to!) is that there's nothing like a Kinko's or other big photocopying chain of stores within a hundred miles of where I live ... so, improvising a bit is the norm, on anything larger than say, and 11" by 17" sheet of paper. (Which is very helpful for many drawings of smaller models; just not for this one, at this stage of the game!) In this case, that meant making as many 8.5" by 14" copies as I could, times 200% each, with as much overlap on each drawing-portion as seemed reasonable; so I could take each overlapping, blown-up-to-twice-the-size drawing portion and tape it to a big picture window -- lining up the two parts that overlap until they are as straight as they're likely to ever be; and then, taping the mess into one big drawing (using tape on both the viewing side and the underside, to keep it from shifting around) -- and then carefully cutting through both of the overlapping sections ... leaving, with a bit of practice at doing this, two sharply-cut, very-lined-up-well, "just tape us together" edges at each joint.

Once I had that all the way I wanted it, I'd masking tape it (front side) using low-ish tack tape (to be removed, later) and when it was all assembled as carefully as I could line things up) I would Scotch tape it all, along the back.

Once that was done, I'd "tape armor" the whole drawing, on the front side. I do that a lot, for drawings like this -- it's sort of the Poor Man's lamination method, in a sense. (Can't do official plastic lamination in this town, either! And even if there was a shop for that, it'd have to be an all-night place, as I tend to work on this stuff at weird hours!) But to explain the technique: it is basically taking long strips of clear, high-quality packaging tape, and laying on strips (vertically, in this case) over the paper. Thereby giving me a firm, tear-resistant, clear-plastic-coated paper surface; with a drawing under the clear portions. A big part of the reason I do the "tape armor'ing" step is that I'll repeatedly be applying (Scotch "magic" style, 0.75" wide) clear tape, to stick each section down, temporarily -- and then later, pulling it back up. An unprotected drawing's (or photocopy's, I should say) surface wouldn't last!

To back-step even further for a minute, since I see I'm forgetting several things, not just one: I had left the 14" by 8.5" drawings sit for a while, without doing much to them. A couple of days, I think it worked out to be. Piddled around with a cartoon car kit that had arrived, the first day; and watched some "Space: 1999" eps the next, I think it was -- basically just took a break off of "real work" for a bit, to let my mind tell me if I should size that image up, to double that size or not. I eventually doubled the size of the profile view drawing (making it a bit over 26" long; instead of a hair over 13") so that, as I worked on what might turn out to be some very subtle and very tiny section-to-section changes, it wouldn't get lost in my (lack of) ability to draw lines that are perfectly straight; perfectly parallel; or of even thickness!

Basically, by doubling the size I was working with, I'd half the size of errors I would otherwise likely introduce, throughout any of the following stages of the game. And halving the expected amount of errors would be a very good thing, as the End Game here is to hand all of the drawings I will generate to Bernie Walsh (whom I've been quietly talking to, for the last few weeks or so, via private e-mail) so that he can CAD them up and use the computer-traced drawings to laser cut symmetrical sections and so forth for both sides of this thing. I'll just mention that in passing, for now, since he and I are doing lots behind the scenes to see if something like this is feasible, down the road. I do not know if we'll get the okay to make a kit out of this cool aircraft, or if we won't; but even if nothing comes of this, kit-wise, the practice will be a great thing for both Bernie and I -- and would likely allow for possible kits of other subjects, down the road, once he and I have worked out any bugs in the overall process of myself or others possibly handing Bernie some working drawings (which have been tested, by building "half models" in this case) and Bernie then using those carefully-made working drawings to laser cut parts.

Worst case deal, as I see it: it'll hopefully be an inspiring message thread! As a big fan of non-hero models in various Anderson TV shows, I'm all for seeing others pick a model that no one is likely to ever produce, in kit form, and to at least make themselves a cool replica of that subject, from scratch.

Lots of talented people here! But not everyone is comfortable "winging it" on poorly documented subjects ... and I hope to at least give some good tips along the "where would I even begin?!" lines; hoping to show that if you are inclined towards having a particular model, regardless of the work involved, that it can be done. There is a starting point ... and it's wanting it badly enough! The rest, or so I'd like to preach, is just techniques to be learned.

Anyway ... it's getting to be wrist-resting time for me; but there's plenty of more photos, etc. that I still have to "develop" and try to adjust lighting / contrast / colour on (otherwise, it'd be white-on-white and nearly impossible to see what's going on, in these photos) and then I'll resume the follow-ups.
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Old 19-08-2013, 04:56 AM   #4
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Back at it. Okay, here's an easy example of why I love this "paper slice" way of going about figuring out a model's poorly documented shape. Basically, the rules of orthographic drawing give us a good starting point -- and one of the rules is that whatever's true in one view, has to be true in other views, too.



In this case, I had a bunch of individual vertical lines that needed to have a cross sectional drawing to go along with each of them ... and it looked like whatever my "master section" drawing said was true, in about a six-inch long section of this model-to-be's "right behind the cockpit" part of the fuselage, is almost true for a few more slices (moving / looking backwards, I mean) ... IF each slice has a bit of a stretched-limo sort of spacer added into it. In other words: the bottom turns downwards, suddenly; and the upper areas stay on a straight line across the top of the fuselage; so, cutting certain "needs to be taller" slices, and adding a simple spacer, makes the top and bottom of those few cross sections agree with the profile view's data.

Moving on ...

Here's another pic of the "paper slice" work, in the early stage of progress:



And a close-up on the same basic area:



What's going on in those images is basically this: the initial take on what the tail boom thingie's shape is, was to simply see how those sections looked if I assumed, for the moment, that they were simply circular in cross section. It may end up being a more complicated shape, but you gotta start somewhere and that's an easy assumption / starting place, for a tacked-on tail boom.

The initial take on what the cross sections (as seen in the messages above) likely are shaped like, for a good part of the middle section of the fuselage, was to have cut six scale inches off of a perfect circle's side (since areas like the middle half of the door, vertically, appeared to be mostly vertical / flat); and to have raised the roof are, gently, just a bit (less than three scale inches at the highest raised area) along the upper quarter of each section ... with, as it turns out, perhaps an overly fancy curve (more on that later) along the bottom quarter ... leaving me with a rough ballpark to start with, along most of the middle half of the necessary cross sections ... and a "not too bad, for now" take on that tail's apparently-tacked-on boom area ... but with a big "who knows?!" area between those two areas.

Transitions between two "basically known" areas can be a pain to figure out, especially on a solid model ... hence wanting to figure out the possible shape by cutting up cheap slices of paper: either adding bits on or shaving some off, as they look like they need, at any given point.

So, looking at the second photo, immediately above: yeah, the transition areas between those two "basically known" areas are way, way off!

The yellow highlighter is a "no man's land" marked off between a drawn-on, straight-forward circular section line; and the outline of the paper, which I had arrived at simply by cutting up extra "master" sections, to get extra tops that would become bottoms -- in other words, temporarily assuming that the curvature along the upper fuselage might have been copied along the lower portions of those same cross sections. Not quite circular; a modified circle, that was (temporarily) as wide as the widest cross sections, forward of it.

In short: several "slices" are obviously too tall; and need to be trimmed back.

But by how much? That's the idea of the yellow highlighted area: to give me "eyeball room" between an assumed, straight-forward circular shape; and the "no way this is completely right" area shown by the paper's outline.

Using a pair of cheap (but very handy!) plastic proportional dividers -- (which had been set to a 2:1 ratio, so that I could use them as center finders) -- I could set one (wider) leg on the outer limit as described by the (drawn on) inner circle; and the other leg on the widest point of the paper section I was working on, and then flip the dividers over, and marking the center of that imaginary line.

I could then, after a bit of additional eyeballing, cut things off at that mark -- thereby cutting the yellow areas in half, in terms of their excessive width. (As measured on the stood-up-straight model. As shown here, it's height not width that I'm focusing on.)

We'll look again that the close-up, from above:



and you'll see what just happened, when compared to this image:



The "flat-top" thing is only temporary. What I'm trying to do, right now, is to just focus on the "height" (as seen here) of each slice; hoping to find some sort of a way to have a "real world" and sensible imaginary line connecting those dots. So, I'm holding the supporting board up to eye level, and am on the lookout for unwanted highs and lows, at this point. I'm focusing on one thing at a time, instead of twenty. Gradually smoothing things out, so that the imaginary "plan view" (top or bottom) being worked on, here, is going to be aerodynamically appropriate and looks like a good and gentle transition.

Doing another round of cutting half of the extra portions off, left me with an area (on the tail boom, right behind the area I was just working on) that now looks a bit too low. That's a good thing: shaving the high spots down until the areas right behind them looks a bit low, means I'm sneaking up on a "fair" line from both ahead and behind -- so, at the end, it'll be one smooth line.



You can see the new problem areas: the pink eraser is pointing at them, in the shot above. In the shot below, I've sort of done the "stretched limo" thing on two slices -- (and also replaced them with coloured index cards, just to show that you don't always have to use white on white paper sections) and they stick out like sore thumbs, when they're seen in a new colour.

Because I'm cheap, I went back to white sections for the most part ... but on at least a few sections, I wanted to show that colour is a good option.

In the shot below, the pink eraser is pointing at two other slices.



With the two greenish sections raised up, a bit, the two white sections the eraser is pointing at, seem to need a bit more shortening work. I'm ignoring how stupid the slices look, with a totally incorrect "flat top" on them, until I get their height (width, really) to my liking; then I'll work on their outline:



So, above, we have the "flat top" thing going on; but cut circular, below:



You can probably see that the imaginary "as seen from above or below" line that would connect each of those "dots" is getting more and more smooth, with each little adjustment. And each adjustment is super fast ... and cheap!

Here's the same stage of progress, just seen from above the "airplane" and looking towards the back. (Instead of underneath, and looking forward).



The beauty of all this seeming silliness is that once we have a single correctly-sized, correctly-outlined cross section created in "solid" paper form, we can pull that "slice" off of each vertical line on our profile view drawing, and just trace it ... and we have figured out both port and starboard sides, at one go. (Without any of the "brain-twisting" that can happen when you try to figure out too many unknowns, all at once; on both halves at once.)
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Old 19-08-2013, 06:08 AM   #5
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One more pic:



... just to show another "figuring out the shape" step that I used -- (this time, starting to add some material which was shaped like the section in front of the one the eraser is pointing to, to try to visualize how the studio's modelers may have blended or resolved the transition between a series of sharp corners to a series of semi-rounded ones) -- but I think you already see where I went with it, next. (That and I found out from better reference pics that the bottom of each section, where the "ship's hull" area is, wasn't quite the way I shaped it on my first stab at it. The improved clarity of the new references means I'll be slapping a new "hull bottom" area onto that row of slices where the "boat's hull" area is ... but, as you can see: that'll be an easy thing to do. Just draw it up, once; copy it several times; tape it on to any slice that seems to need the alteration.)

Looks a bit weird, at this stage of the game ... but when the next steps kick in (I'm actually a bit further along than the uploaded photos may imply) the full shape gets a lot easier to see; since I generally switch to a more solid material. In this case, I'll probably use pink "foundation insulation" foam.

Something I should have mentioned before: this wasn't some craft I've been analyzing for years and years; or working on for ages, either. First time I had seen the "Albatross 25" craft, ever, was when I watched the "Sub Smash" episode of UFO; and that was on the 30th of July. A few days worth of not scratching the itch (to analyze this airplane's shape, etc.) passed; and then on August 5th I figured the itch wasn't going to pass, so I started making my DVD screengrabs. I got to the point of having a pretty decent profile view line drawing made up, in my spare time, over the next few days. Let that sit, as I did other things for a day or two. Blew it up and bought a shelf board, and cleared half of a day (as best I could) of other things, and started to snap some photos of the progress I was making, on that single day, cutting and pasting paper slices. By that one day's end, I had everything but the cockpit area roughed in, using this method. (And the next day, I switched to pink insulation foam, and in about an hour, figured out the cockpit's glass.)

Once you're used to the disciplined thinking that it sometimes takes, to focus on something like one imaginary line (at a time) whilst ignoring other things that are clearly not yet right, it's super fast. And very forgiving. Inviting you to tweak it, and let it sit for a while to "see it" with fresh eyes; and go again.

Refinements as I went were always a part of the plan; and seeking improved references helped, in that way -- but if none had shown up, I'd have just done the best I could with what I had at hand. (Which, originally, was four aircraft blueprints of real-world flying boats; to see how their "hull bottoms" were generally shaped. The drawings of things like a PBY-5 Catalina and several others helped, there. The studio model may not have quite a fancy curvature -- but that's easy to fix.) If you want it done, you'll find a way!!

Things would have gone even faster, if I had started with both a profile view drawing and a plan view (or a view of the craft as seen from front or back) ... but I had what I had, and was determined to figure the shape out.

This example is sort of a semi-worst-case scenario, in that what I mainly had to work with was a profile view shot, only (as far as the primary or main orthographic views go) -- and from that, and some "several angles at once" fancy camera angle shots, the plan views (top and bottom) have to be figured out and drawn up, by hand; along with the many cross sections that I choose to generate ... since I've learned that once you have the plan and profile views drawn up, correctly, that the main thing you need to work on are the cross sections ... BUT, in a case like this, you can alternatively sort of "work backwards" and generate sections until they look right; and then, from those tweaked sections, you can generate a good plan view drawing.

It's either that or choose not to make models of any of the cool-looking guest craft that happily inhabit many Anderson shows!

Truth is, I've found out that I really enjoy doing this sort of analytical work: not necessarily for every possible model out there, but the ones that appeal to me, I want to "see in 3D" ... and this is one useful way to get there.

There's a bunch of related info in several of my articles in past "Sci-Fi & Fantasy Modeller" back issues, so I'll sorta give the paper slice idea a rest, for a bit. (Unless people ask questions, of course.) I'll skip ahead, next time I do an update: and will try to show how shaping goes, using that pink foam. (Partly 'cause I'm anxious to get back to my workbench, instead of typing!)
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Old 19-08-2013, 06:35 AM   #6
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Default Well Begun Is Half (Model) Done...

Your series of photos does suggest that classic profile of various nautical half-models I've seen...

Hopefully a good discussion, and suggestions, will ensue here as your project continues!
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Old 19-08-2013, 07:11 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by boatshewsd2 View Post
Your series of photos does suggest that classic profile of various nautical half-models I've seen...
Yup! That's largely where I stole the idea!

Quote:
Originally Posted by boatshewsd2 View Post
Hopefully a good discussion, and suggestions, will ensue here as your project continues!
Definitely welcomed!

Here's two more pics, which will (almost) catch me up to "where I left off" after that first major day of work on the skeletal half model:



... and where things actually wrapped up, for that particular evening's work:

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Old 19-08-2013, 08:01 AM   #8
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I have a warm and fuzzy feeling about this project.

The top image in post 7 is a favourite, it really illustrates Mike Trim's elegant design. I think they put as much work into every design as with the "hero" craft. I am so pleased someone has taken on these designs and thank you Ward for sharing & showing the technique with everyone. I am pretty sure even I could have a go at this technique.
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Old 19-08-2013, 05:54 PM   #9
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Very comprehensive article.
Like you, I enjoy the 'analytical work' and can get just as much enjoyment from working things out as I do building things.
At 30'' it's going to be quite a large model!
Looking forward to seeing how this develops.
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Old 19-08-2013, 08:25 PM   #10
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Great project. This will certainly dwarf the little tiny solid resin model, which was released a long time ago (1/144 scale). Looking very forward to your progresses.
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Old 19-08-2013, 08:54 PM   #11
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Just to clarify: I'm only gonna build the half-model at this size. The idea is to work out any bugs / anomalies / inconsistencies / whatever at the larger size, but then to scale things down to half of what's shown, for the finale.

So, although it's basically a 1:24 scale half-model (in-progress) right now, the idea is to scale it down to a less shelf-hogging (and far more common, for most aircraft models) 1:48 scale, once everything seem to be kosher.

But I have to admit: working on big half-models is fun for another reason, and that's having a unique, "flat on one side" shop wall decoration when the testing and analysis period is done! Takes up less space, and still looks pretty cool; and reminds me of how cool it is to have so many things to replicate!
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Old 19-08-2013, 09:48 PM   #12
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Default No Half-Measures Here!



Judging from this image, it truly does present that classic half-model appearance, doesn't it! Linear, ie more rectangle than square...

Rather than be potentially "shelf-hogging," perhaps once it's completed and appropriately mounted, it could be hung on a wall? Possibility?

Last edited by boatshewsd2; 19-08-2013 at 09:49 PM. Reason: clarity
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Old 20-08-2013, 08:25 PM   #13
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It does look pretty rectangular (in cross section) in that image, and I think partly that's 'cause I screwed up a bit ... (no biggie; it's fix-able) but I think once it's "in foam," it'll look less so. at least along the upper quarter or so, and probably along the mid-section of each vertical slice, too. I say that due to having seen the big visual change that each solid "slice" brings, when it goes onto the building board; with each slice's outer surface hiding that vertical line along the table's surfact. Sort of a faith thing / past experience thing. The "loaf of bread" looks very different once you can't see the table it is sitting on. Then, especially at the craft's front and back and top, it'll be a mostly rounded-off shape; with the "flat spot" along the middle of each slice probably not attracting as much attention to itself as it currently is.

But like I say: some of it's just wrong, too. The biggest expected visual change, as I see things now in my mind's eye, will be the craft's (as currently mocked up) almost "flat bottom" -- since the better, higher-res reference image from the catacombs site tells me I got that part of things wrong.

The better image looks more of a "V-shaped" along the bottom edge than I have it here ... so once that "line" gets corrected, I'm sure it will look less squared-off, along the bottom edge; and once it's in foam, even more so.

The coolness of this process is that screwing up isn't a major deal. It's all easily / cheaply / quickly fixed; once you see where you've got it wrong.

All it usually takes to spot the screw-ups, is some time. If you leave it for a few days, and just stare at it, the "oops" dealies can become rather glaring.

More pics later, since the foam work stage of things has actually begun.

This time, I am sort of starting at both ends, and will work towards the middle of the craft. Partly due to wanting to "see" the cockpit area and the tail first. It'll give me time to better visualize the correct "hull bottom" area.

No good reason for starting there, I suppose; other than I'm more sure of the tail area than elsewhere, right now; and I'm anxious to start cutting foam in that area, since there doesn't seem to be any need to delay, in that spot.

As far as the cockpit / nose radome area goes, I'm anxious to "see that in 3D" -- but don't 100% have that firmly in my mind's eye, right now. I tested some theories a couple of days ago, as far as the cockpit's glass area, and am pretty sure of the 3D shape there -- but below that glass, and forward of it, I'm just gonna have to take what sectional info I have now, and "carve" something up until it matches available references. Which won't be too hard, I don't think: the knowns should mostly guide me towards good solutions.

So, the tail I can sort of "see" already, and so I want that built as I see it; but the other end of the craft, I can't quite visualize yet (in all of it's compound curve / angle "3D puzzle" splendor) ... and because I can't see it, I want to start shaping foam, so that I can better picture that key area.

Solving a 3D puzzle like this can become mildly addictive, when it's working!
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Old 20-08-2013, 10:43 PM   #14
pfleming@jbt.co.uk
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Ward, don't begin to understand half the detailed explanation but the pictures tell a story. Watching Darren Robertson scratchbuild his Eagle CM puts me in mind of this, but the Eagle's so well-known as opposed to this rarely seen model. Sometimes working with the cheapest and most readily available materials, as you have done, allows you to make more mistakes and, possibly, reach a greater understanding of the model you're trying to build.

Thanks for the insight, not only into the model itself, but what goes on in your head!

Kindest regards,

Patrick

Note to Boatshewsd2 - thanks for noticing last week!
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Old 20-08-2013, 11:34 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by pfleming@jbt.co.uk View Post
Ward, don't begin to understand half the detailed explanation but the pictures tell a story. Watching Darren Robertson scratchbuild his Eagle CM puts me in mind of this, but the Eagle's so well-known as opposed to this rarely seen model. Sometimes working with the cheapest and most readily available materials, as you have done, allows you to make more mistakes and, possibly, reach a greater understanding of the model you're trying to build.

Thanks for the insight, not only into the model itself, but what goes on in your head!

I'll drink to that!

Note to Boatshewsd2 - thanks for noticing last week!
That's very nice of you to say...!

We all help each other, around here...just as Darren helped me solve difficulty with my avatar! It's what we do.

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Old 22-08-2013, 07:38 AM   #16
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Thanks, guys! Much appreciated! (And then some!)

It's really wonderful to be a part of a site like this one, where, as you guys have already said, people help one another. ("It's what we do," indeed!)

On not understanding some of what I said: "Think Battleship" would be my advice. Rows and columns. That's a large part of the "hidden" mentality behind what I'm doing here; or so it might seem to those who haven't tried to play with handmade blueprints; and/or built much from other's drawings.

Back several ages ago, in my youth, I'd occasionally save up for some type of model I hadn't built much of: including (once only, I think it was) one of those flying-via-rubber-band-power aircraft kits that people describe as "stick and tissue" models. That was a bit of an education, at the time; especially since I chose a WWI biplane, instead of something "simpler". I did get it done, eventually; and am glad I expanded my horizons in that way.

I also have a fond-in-hindsight memory of buying a then-ancient (pre-invention of kit plastic!) military truck "kit" from the 1940s. It consisted of several rectangular blocks of wood; a few nails (for axles); some fairly crude representations of tires with some radically oversimplified wheels attached (the only moulded parts: probably a bakelite or similar material?); and some simple (probably three-view?) line drawings of a military truck. At the time, what immediately occurred to me was, "Are you insane?! How in the bleep do you think some simple line drawings will help me replicate THAT?!" I looked at how hard I'd have to work, to shape those blocks; and I just gave that up.

In no time at all, I was back to buying plastic kits ... but with (after talking to people like my dad, who told me that's all kids like him once had) quite a bit more appreciation for what someone else built and put into a box for me!

The whole idea of being able to pull all sorts of detailed info off of (correctly drawn, anyway) orthographic drawings does take some getting used to. That whole "a line or dot located here on a 2D drawing implies that some feature is located, up-or-down, exactly here; and right-or-left, exactly here" was one of my big "huh?" modes, when I first sat down to get serious about figuring out how to replicate models that were not all that likely to ever get kitted.

And even now, several projects down the road, I gotta admit that there are definitely "huh?" moments when I get my brain temporarily twisted into knots, trying to keep track of all the data and such, located thither and yon ... especialy when it's on some 3D form that's only half built, half imaginary!

It takes some getting used to, but if it's something you may want to try at some point, don't worry ... one of my favorite sayings is "No one was born with the knowledge". And there's no need to pick up every detail all at once, either. It'll come in time, if a person sticks with it.

Where I felt two-thirds lost was, some years back, when I was first reading / studying David Merriman's (sometimes contraversial) "Dove" series of articles; that were once on CultTVman's site. A lot of things he said in those detailed explanations, once threw me for a major loop. But I kept reading and reading those articles of his, and trying to apply the knowledge by doing some of what he talked about; and I finally picked up most of what he was passing on. (Because, as he said in his intro: some models won't ever be kitted!)

I read a lot of how-to stuff, anyway (some easier, some harder; and lots of different genres, too: aircraft and armor kits, and figures and cars, along with the usual diet of sci-fi related stuf) ... and it's cool to see so many spiffy projects that so many of us are working on, in one corner of the globe or another. Neat that we can all "hang out" like this! Even neater that we can all share ways to get things done, which have worked well for our projects.

In other words: I gladly steal ideas from everywhere! (Heehee!?) It probably also helps that I'm too stupid to know when I'm beaten ... (as I keep right on going, anyway) ... and sometimes that's what gets my projects finished!

More pics to come, before too much longer. Weekend mode, perhaps, on that? Until then, know that I'm still cranking along in little ways (when real life doesn't get in my way too badly!) on that model; but using foam now. I pulled the paper sections off of the backing board, and traced their outlines sort of as a back-up ... and will keep taking more pics as work progresses.
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Old 23-08-2013, 05:32 PM   #17
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Okay. Foam! Yay! Foam is good!

I've got about a gazillion pics to sort and sift through on my hard drive, and then upload and explain ... but we gotta start somewhere, so here goes ...





I'll say this up front, so it won't get lost in the verbiage: what I'm using here and just calling "foam" is a hardware store item. The brand I'm using is a pink colour, but colour may be dependent on the individual manufacturer. People at the hardware stores may call it "foundation insulation" or some such, if you try to go buy some. (Telling them "I need some of that foam that people on message boards use to build models with" will likely just get a polite stare. Or maybe one of those "Why do I have to get all the nutters?!" looks.) You'll have to buy a four foot by eight foot sheet of the stuff, all at once, but it isn't ridiculously expensive or anything. Especially when you figure out how many models (and/or diorama bases, etc.) you can build with this stuff. The stuff my local hardware store carries comes in three thicknesses: one inch (which is actually a hair over that) in thickness; or 1.5 inches; or 2.0 inches. I personally tend to use the 1" and 2" stuff the most often.

Joe Brown got me trying the stuff, from reading various articles he wrote for either the CultTVman site; Starship Modeler's site; or WonderFest handouts. (Never been to that show, but I'm pretty sure Starship Modeler has his intro on foam use. Great stuff, if you're willing to do some "outside reading".)

The stuff can be cut and shaped a variety of ways, including a heated wire -- there are even companies that will sell you all sorts of foam-shaping tools along those lines (see Joe's articles for more on that) -- but since I have a bandsaw handy, I tend to do my initial cutting using that tool. That tool goes through this foam like it's not even there; so I tend to cut things slightly over-sized; and then sand off the rough areas with (worn) sanding sticks.

As Joe evangelizes: other than having a delicate surface when you're done, this is fantastic stuff for getting into the ballpark, quickly, on complex forms or shapes. (Later, once the shape is the way I want it on this model, I will throw out some additional tips on hardening the surface -- but for now: the epoxy glues that model airplane guys use for fiberglass work can be mixed up and applied to the surface, to harden it. Artist's gesso strengthens it, to an extent; and I'll go into other techniques once we get to that point of things.)

Okay. The pics above need some explaining, so here goes:

First image shows (on the left side) four "right from the bandsaw" foam slices. Surface looks rough; but that's okay. As you can see on the right side of that same image, I've done some smoothing. Nothing more than gently using a fairly gentle (240 grit, give or take?) sanding stick on it, to smooth off the rough areas. I've also begun to start to match the shape -- the outline of the peices, where it touches the drawing -- on those pieces on the right side of the image. Nothing fancy there, either: just keep picking it up or moving it a bit, to see how much material to remove; then, sand it just a bit; and plop it back onto the drawing, to see how much farther you'll have to go.

Or if you want to go a bit faster, you can alternatively plop tracing paper over the drawing; tape it down so it won't move around; trace the outline (and the vertical lines through it; as they're important fore-and-aft location markers) of the area you want to match the "as drawn on paper" outline to ... and, working from the backside (and thus actually seeing where bits hang out, past the outliness) you can sand to the outline faster, that way.

(The bits on the left, as I said, haven't had that done to them yet. I left them "as is," right from the bandsaw, so you can see the "stair-stepping" that will result at first, on areas like this. The reason for that being: each of those slices needs to be larger on the right side than the left. We're cutting out each slice, at it's maximum width, which is quick and easy to do. Later, we'll sand down the left side, with a sanding stick, until we reach the "glue line" between each slice. We're "connecting the dots" as it were: with the glue lines between slices being our dots. If that doesn't make sense yet, it'll make more sense when I take / show more pics of that work being done.)

To glue each slice to the one next to it, you can use several adhesives. I'm experimenting with the polyurethane glue seen in the background of the second image -- but until I figure out the variables there, I'm mainly sticking with five minute epoxy. The foam is pretty delicate, and easily attacked by some chemicals, so you have to be selective on what glues you'll use. The epoxy glues don't seem to do it any harm; and thus far, the polyurethane glues seem to be good along those lines, too. There are glues made for use with foams, and one day I'll use them, but for now the epoxy works fine.

One way or another, you will have to glue separate slices together; keeping them aligned well with one another, as you do it. It's very helpful to use the drawings to keep everything aligned with everything else, but you don't want to permanently stick the foam slices to the drawings; so when I'm spreading the glue onto the slices, I leave about an eighth inch or so "empty" towards the bottom.

Because any glue you use is basically a slippery film, and the pieces may want to shift out of alignment as the glue sets, you'll want to somehow temporarily keep the "not stuck together yet" slices from moving around. I find that some long sewing-style pins, pushed in gently at various angles, works to keep two "being glued up" from shifting around while glue dries.

Alternately, if you have your drawings laid on top of a big piece of that foam instead of the hard wooden surface I'm using here, you can stick the pins right through the foam slices; through the drawings; and into the foam "building board" underneath the drawings. But the other way works too.

One other thing you may not immediately notice, from the pics, is that the slices of "one inch thick" foam are actually slightly over-thickness. On the three somewhat-smoothed slices seen on the right side of these images, I sanded the slice's faces a bit, until they were each the required width (as measured from back-to-front; or longitudinally I think it is, on the drawings.)

Anyway, because the very tip of the tail boom needs a tiny fraction of an additional "slice" beyond the last slice I actually cut out (study the drawings, to see what I mean) I didn't do any sanding on the "add glue to me" faces of the four slices shown on the left. That made that section of the tail boom a bit over the four inches it would have been, once glued up ... but that's just what we wanted, in terms of the length of the piece. All I gave up by that amount of cheating is that I'd have to remember, later, that my glue lines in that section of the model aren't spaced precisely, at inch incremements ... but that's okay, as that area of the tail is so simple in cross section that I'm not expecting to need to carefully "loft off" the as-built shape, later on. My sectional drawings, as-is, should do fine for that area of that subassembly; but in other areas, which aren't just a simple half-circle in shape, later on I will likely have to sort of measure or trace the sectional shape, along those vertical lines on the drawing; and it's helpful to "cheat" by using the visible glue lines as "measure me, right here" marks. Won't matter, on the tip's tail.

With several tips about general foam usage and what not explained, verbally, in this installment, hopefully the next few pics-n-words installments can sort of be "expanded photo captions" in terms of wording ... but I'll probably use the nose as my next example; and return later to the tail. (You likely got the idea of what's going on at the tail, from the images -- but the nose has so many things going on at once, that I wanted a simpler visual example, first. And after all the tiny steps involved in the nose's shaping work, finishing the tail boom with a few sanding strokes here or there will seem really easy ...!!)

More later, as I sort through the many in-progress pics I've been taking.
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Old 23-08-2013, 06:23 PM   #18
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On second thought, to keep things in the world of better understand-ability, I should stick with completing the tail area's shaping, first (and showing that in pictures, of course) ... and will deal with explaining the how's and why's of the (more complicated and challenging) nose area, after the work on the tail has been explained. It'll be easier to understand, I think, if I do it that way. That'll probably be a "tonight" project, as far as the actual doing; with the pics to be sorted through and written up. (Sometime over the weekend?)

The nose area's work is actually going well, but I'm taking so many individual shots of each step that it might be a while before I get the pics sorted out!

So ... meanwhile, here's a link to the page where folks can find Joe Brown's excellent "Scratchbuilding with foam" article, on Starship Modeler's web site:

http://www.starshipmodeler.com/events/wfest2k5.htm

There's also some other cool downloads on that same page; and in other WonderFest-related reports from other years.

And last but not least: one of the things I wondered about, when I first started considering using these huge foam sheets as a building material, is "how the heck would a person who didn't have a pickup truck, get a sheet that big home?" ... and as it turns out, the answer to that is fairly simple: the stuff is easy enough to "score and snap". The pink stuff I use already has some score lines cut into it, but if a person wanted to try this stuff, but only had a normal-sized car to go buy the stuff with, just take something like a Stanley knife or a serrated kitchen knife or something. You won't have to cut all the way through the sheet. Just score it, say, half an inch; and then snap the sheet over your knee or something. Do that several times, and it's transportable.

Last edited by Wardster; 23-08-2013 at 06:31 PM. Reason: (adding slightly newer version of that link)
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Old 24-08-2013, 08:34 AM   #19
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Anyone else remember the old adverts on the inside covers of various 1970s (U.S.) comic books? The ones for things like mail order t-shirts with cool sayings? One of my favorite of those comical shirts showed two cartoon vultures sitting on a tree limb, side by side. One was saying to the other, "Patience my ass: I'm gonna kill somethin'!"

You guys are probably there, so instead of long explanations or oodles of theory, tonight, here's three new pics.







That's actually where I'm at on the half-model, as of late tonight.

I couldn't stand my own (apparent) pace and I sort of rushed ahead to the good stuff. The idea being to do more of that, if time allows, over this weekend ... and then, afterwards, when Real Life is bogging me down again, anyway, sometime next week ... to try to find the time to "develop" (sort through) all the slightly-different images I'm taking, of each little step / decision in the process; and to upload / explain what's going on.

Basically, I'm thinking it makes more sense to give you folks some of the pay-off to all of this stuff, now ... and then, later, I can always back-fill with more "how to" for anyone who wants the theory / step-by-step stuff.

Somehow I'm doubting there will be any objections!?

Anyway ...

Last edited by Wardster; 24-08-2013 at 08:37 AM. Reason: typos
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Old 25-08-2013, 12:45 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by Wardster View Post
Anyone else remember the old adverts on the inside covers of various 1970s (U.S.) comic books? The ones for things like mail order t-shirts with cool sayings? One of my favorite of those comical shirts showed two cartoon vultures sitting on a tree limb, side by side. One was saying to the other, "Patience my ass: I'm gonna kill somethin'!"

Yes, I do remember some of those!

You guys are probably there, so instead of long explanations or oodles of theory, tonight, here's three new pics.







That's actually where I'm at on the half-model, as of late tonight.

I couldn't stand my own (apparent) pace and I sort of rushed ahead to the good stuff. The idea being to do more of that, if time allows, over this weekend ... and then, afterwards, when Real Life is bogging me down again, anyway, sometime next week ... to try to find the time to "develop" (sort through) all the slightly-different images I'm taking, of each little step / decision in the process; and to upload / explain what's going on.

Basically, I'm thinking it makes more sense to give you folks some of the pay-off to all of this stuff, now ... and then, later, I can always back-fill with more "how to" for anyone who wants the theory / step-by-step stuff.

Somehow I'm doubting there will be any objections!?

Anyway ...

Sometimes describing how a task is performed takes far longer than actually performing it. So, not to worry, there'll come the time for that.

In any event, I'll likely never look at loaves of bread in the bakery in quite the same way again...
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