Sunday, April 24, 2011

Christopher Callaghan's Forced Perspective TOS Viper Diorama

I've been meaning to post this as Chris was kind enough to provide me with pictures and a very nice write up on how he did it quite a while back, but I was so engrossed with my Magnum PI marathon my blog was neglected for a while. Its kind of hard not to watch these old episodes, and re-discovering why I loved the series so much. Before I knew it, just like when you're gone on holidays for too long, topics started to pile up. I seriously need to get my butt back in front of the PC so I can clear up my backlog of reference materials I had scheduled for myself here.

Anyways, here's a radical way to display your diorama, an illusion using false perspective. Its not an easy thing to do cause any miscalculation is scale and presentation and your diorama instantly looks like its something out of a B grade movie. But when done well just like when I saw Chris's work at a glance, I thought he created a diorama that was 4-6 foot long. I was about to ask him why he hadn't fill up the empty space with more Vipers or figures until I saw his whole diorama was actually on a "forced perspective".

The concept used by Christopher Callaghan on his "Forced Perspective" diorama seem simple enough. Use an original series Mark I Viper to develop a little story there while the background "blends" in around it. The nice thing about what he did is that no matter which angle you look at he, the diorama always seems bigger or longer but in actual fact, its only at 22 inches.

A definite A+ for creativity but as you would already noticed, this diorama was not created based on accuracy but rather on a "feel right" factor, something I surmise as enjoying your scale modeling to the max. That is after all what scale modeling is all about.

Here are more close ups on his work with the Mark I Viper, and the figures around it.

I was informed that the reference materials for the Revellogram Mark I Viper were obtained from this blog as well as from, and most of the other items you see in the images were scratch build. One of the thing he did that impressed me was his idea for the Mark I Viper's landing gears. The landing gears were constructed on the diorama itself, and if Chris decides his Viper needs a workout with a Cylon Raider, then just lift Viper up, place her on her display stand and let a aider chase her around for a bit.

Here are his plans and how he scratch build those landing gears. Its really close to the studio model from what I see. According to Chris, the landing gear in particular was very difficult to scratch build as everything was done via a blueprint. He placed the landing gears anchored to the base and designed it in a way where it would also support the Mark I Viper. Talk about having the best of both worlds, a model that can be displayed in a diorama AND as an individual model!

The one thing he wasn't able to get to work was an attached canopy that was to be held by a hinge to allow her to open and close freely. The scale was too small and the inside angle were too tight, so the canopy was creatively fitted snugly whether if it's open or closed.

That's right, the moment she's on her display stand, that Cylon Raider just had to show up out of nowhere.

Tools of the trade. Here's what Chris worked with to realise his diorama from a simple plan into reality. Simple and cheap building materials like plywood would suffice.

The star field and planet in the background was lighted up using an USD$8 LED brim light. The effect looks dimmer in the picture below and designing just that area alone actually took as much time as building the actual display.
It was really difficult getting the angles just right while trying to retain a certain level of realism. In the end, Chris still felt that the diorama isn't as grand as he had originally hoped for, but it did serve to compliment the Viper well.  Hefound the Mark I Viper model online for USD$20, the wood base cost him USD$7, and additional paints & glue came to about USD&15. All in all, Chris created this diorama for around USD$50- not too bad!

Another thing I was impressed with Chris was how he turned a "he" into a "she".  Check out the figurine he used for this diorama, and after he was done with it. That's really some very neat work there. He used a Western gun fighter character, carved and molded the figure into a female shape, and Wallah! Its amazing especially on how he managed to shave off that character's beard seeing how small that scale is.

According to Chris, the end result of this diorama is more of an elaborate display for one of his best scale modeling work. The Viper took a lot of tweaking, especially with the canopy and its guns. The panel lines on the Viper proved to be quite a chore since Chris was not used to scribing panel lines, and he did them nicely using an Exacto knife with a broken tip to create an even line that was both wide and deep. He was assisted by the use of a metal ruler taped down to the hull and wings prior to their final assembly.
If I was to see this displayed in an event or exhibition anywhere, I know I'll be hanging around it for a while studying how Chris made this. Its an excellent display based on an idea very few thought about, and the craftsmanship that went into building her was top notch. Congrats Chris on yet another work of art.

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