Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Part 3 - How to spruce up your 1/32nd Revell/Monogram Colonial Viper

Part 3 of the Revell/Monogram 1/32nd TOS Mark I Colonial Viper build will touch more on scribing the panel lines, and how to create a "believable" cockpit.

See Part 1 for this kit's introduction, and aftermarket parts
Part 2 highlights works on the engine section

Scribing? What's that?

Firstly, for those who are not familiar with scribing, this refers to re-working of the panel lines on both plastic and resin model kits. You will need a series of scribers to help you work out those lines as you will find you can't depend on just one scriber. How does a scriber look like? See below.

Range of scribers are easily available in the market.

So how do you know when to use one scriber from the other? This is very dependant on experience. I was told to use a certain scriber for X line, and another for Y line, but I found out its really up to you. You may be comfortable using one over the other. I normally uses the straight pointed head to start out my initial lines, and the curve heads to deepen and broaden the lines. Experience will do the rest. So now you know what a scriber is for, how they look and how they work. You can easily get them at your LHS (Local Hobby Shop) or at HLJ or Hobby Search

How do you use them? For me, its just like drawing lines on a kit. I start out easy using very little pressure and once I have the initial line I want, I'll go back on that lines at least 3 times, applying more pressure as I go. This is also dependent on how deep you want those lines to be. Try not get over excited and rush your scribing effort. Go slow and take your time. Its better to create those new panel lines slowly and with little mistakes as correcting them can be a real challenge.
To scribe a straight line, unless your kit is linear or you have very sturdy hands, I wouldn't recommend using a ruler, no matter how much they bend. Its not easy trying to hold the ruler in place while scribing, and any slight movement is just going to misaligned your lines. When that happens, you're going to spend a lot of time just repairing those "accidents".

What I do is use dymo tape labelers, lay them out parallel to the lines you want, and scribe over. The advantage of these tapes is that they conform to the unique shape of your kit and they stick to almost anything and yet do not have much adhesive power to cause any damage when you pull them out. The disadvantage is that you can only use that strip of dymo tape like twice at most, so you're going to need a bunch. But they do provide a very steady base to draft your lines.

For the professional modellers .................. ignore the above. You probably already know this or have better ways around this.

Now lets go back to the Mark I Colonial Viper. The original parts have raised panel lines. This means that instead of a groove, there is instead another super thin layer of plastic representing panel lines. It may look like a good idea if you're going to paint your entire kit with a brush, but the fact is there is no such thing as a raised panel line on any vehicles, even on actual aircrafts, tanks, ships and cars. That's why most professional modellers sand off these line, and "redraw" them again with scribers. It gives a better sense of realism to the finished look.

But why is it there? Again its an issue with cost. It cost the kit company money to create new molds for these plastic kits, and its cheaper and faster just creating those lines on existing molds instead of designing a new one. Unfortunately that means more work for us modellers.

Raised panel lines on the wings
Raised panel lines for the engine covers
Raised panel lines on the fuselages

Here's what other scale modellers did with their kits. Some would just scribe over the raised lines. I tried that and I got some sections that was well scribed, while I missed other areas of the raised panel lines completely. That's why its a good idea to lightly sand off the scribed area to achieve a smoother surface around the panel lines.

Here's how the kit would look after scribing and sanding

Use primer to see uneven areas or gaps.

Some modellers are able to scribe straight lines using free hand. Others require help (hence the dymo tape). Whichever method you choose, use one you're most comfortable with. Its always a good idea to plan out where you want your lines to be. Reference to the actual studio model will come in handy here. When you are engraving the lines, I would recommend moving the scriber towards you. I find this method the best when I want straight lines. Remember, patience is the key word here. Don't rush your work and don't worry about making mistakes. Its normal, and there's always the modeller's putty to fix those mistakes

When panel lines are scribed correctly on a kit, the outlook for the kit changes tremendously. See what Trastoman did and look at how much better the end results are. The lines are now more pronounced and defines the various panels for the Viper.

The Viper's Cockpit

Here's something you want to think about carefully before you commit to working on the cockpit. The way this Viper was designed, once you've put in the pilot, there's not much you can see of the control panels in the cockpit. But you can still see enough to determine if the layout is stock from the box, or if you did any modifications. Usually when lighted up, a well developed cockpit stands out very well. If you're planning to do your with a raised canopy, then you need to spruce up your cockpit.

Viper Cockpit under construction

But exactly how does the Mark I Viper cockpit's instrument panels look like? Thanks to one particular fan, Joel Owens who watched the classic show over and over again, and mapped out the layout of the control panels based on what was seen on TV. Its probably about the most accurate you're going to get to the Mark I console panels.

Port consoles

Centre consoles and Dradis screen

Starboard consoles

As for the "Fly Stick", here's a little revelation where it came from

Kevin Coyne alerted Joel that stick came from a Vietnam era OV1-C Mohawk

Developing your own Mark I Cockpit

You could opt for MMI's cockpit set or wait for the lighting panels from Outer Space Outfitters to be made available again, or if you are creative enough, you could develop you own plans for your own version of the cockpit. Trastoman did just that and basically eliminated the simple cockpit design originally molded unto the cabin. Personally I hate that original design. Tried painting the buttons and consoles and it ended up looking like a 6 year old's art project. If you want yours to look impressive enough to pass as a working cockpit, you're going to need to spend some time creating or engraving new panels.

And a special thanks to Trastoman for sharing tips on how he designed and created his version of console panels. He basically added on to the existing molds and engraved his own designs. Its not canon, but it looks damn good, so who cares. Its not easy doing what he did, and he did it beautifully. Here's how he did it:

  1. He gently engrave the lines in the cockpit cabin using a needle. The lines had to be perfectly straight, and he repeated the process gradually, increasing pressure to the tip of the needle to produce legible lines
  2. He used a steel ruler and strips of plasticards (pieces of styrene sheets) to work on curved areas. Sometimes he would apply a bit of adhesive to secure the plasticards to get those lines
  3. Sand the entire area to clean up the engraved areas
  4. He then uses a scriber to define the lines further, and the amount of pressure used is dependant on how he wanted the panels to look.
  5. Sand entire area again with a fine sandpaper (grade 1000 or 1200) to further clean those engraved areas. The large panels were painted using airbrush, and the panels themselves he used a hard brush
  6. And he also advised everyone if you unsure if you can do what he did, practise first on an older or discarded kit. Get use to working with needles and scribers.

Of course there are more than one way to spruce up your Mark I cockpit. How you want to do it is really up to you. Some modellers go the extra mile by creating panels using styrene sheets.

And then there are those that uses lighting to highlight the cockpit but maintain the original mold design. A great idea to sway attention and have viewers focus on something else

Coming up, Part 4, details on the nose cone and fuselage.

No comments:

Post a Comment