Thursday, May 7, 2015

Rambling: Building the Viper

 As anyone who is lucky (!) enough to follow my twitter feed, or know me on Facebook knows, one of the big hobbies I've got back into over the last couple of years is scale figure painting. It's not the first time I've had this as a pastime - at least two phases as a kid, the odd dabble through my early 20s and then during my time is hospital, where I did quite a bit to pass the time. This most recent phase is probably - creatively - my best, which comes with age and patience, and has mostly been centred around Warhammer 40k, because I like the figures and the background and even occasionally get to play the game. I usually stick the odd picture up and no-one really cares much, unless you're also a 40k fan. And then I thought I'd do something different and bought a Viper Mk2 set, and suddenly everyone - relatively speaking - seemed interesting. So here's some more pics, and thoughts. 

So for the record this is a Revell 1:32 kit and they also a Viper Mk7 and the Galactica herself - although not, sadly, in 1:32 scale, This means it's proportionally larger than GW's normal scale and the one I'm most used to working on. The first thing that struck me out of the box is the relatively small part count, which is a bit of a mixed blessing. I mean, if you're a beginner I guess thats fine, but at the same time, having the exposed engine parts moulded onto the main hull means you have to take a lot of care when painting it - especially as it's white. 

Spray Painted and dry assembled
So this is the main hull blu-tacced together and sprayed white. The plastic itself is white, of course, but a very tatty white. The other trick, to make the detail pop out, is to base the whole thing dark grey and then re-spray it white. This means the recesses stay slightly grey, and heighten the shadow artificially. This is the sort of cheap trick I really, really like - it's easy to do and really helps. 

Exciting Cockpit shot 

Another exciting cockpit shot
 So the cockpit can be built separately and fully painted, Its also my first exposure to this kit's ridiculous number of decals, which is kind of awesome but also pretty intimidating. It does look pretty cool though. For all the decals I used (for the first time) a commercial decal softener (from Humrol)  rather than water, which is supposed to "suck" the decals tightly to the plastic and get rid of that nasty plastic film you often get around them. It's frankly amazing and I don't think I'll ever go back. In the second picture you can also see the rear engine cluster which was painted separately too. 

Final Assembly 
So after the cockpit is done it's a matter of sticking it all together. It's a really straightforward build and has a nice interlocking design that gives it a lot of rigidty. This is also where I blocked out all the exposed metal, which is painted Tin (so a very dark metal), with a few bits picked out in either Gunmetal or Brass. Then the who thing is washed down to make it look oily, and then dry-brushed gunmetal to lift out all the edges and boost the texture of it. Hmm, dark metal paints near pristine white. Terrifying. 

Fresh from the Factory! 
Stickers! Decal Softener takes time to work, compared to water, but even so this was a really long job. I did it over two evenings and getting the stripes on (which are decals) took about two hours. But totally worth it, One oddness is that the thruster vents aren't moulded onto the set, but are just decals. You can't tell at a distance, but still, it's a strange choice for the kit designer. 

Here we see Starbuck buzzing my coffee mug
Finally, weathering. Or the moment when you look at a clean, factory fresh kit and decide to mess it the hell up. Most of this is done with a sponge, so get a chaotic speckle effect. Firstly some white over the stripes to represent the paint being chipped off, and then the dark metal and black along leading edges, hatch access and the canopy slide. There is also a couple of big "impact hits" which are black scoring, then exposed metal in the centre of the impact sites. I love weathering, its really fun. 

Anyway - vanity shots!  

More Beauty shots

Rear shot - you can see the different engine metals quite nicely here. 

Top view

Close up on the cockpit

And that's it. Next up is another GW set, but after that I'm planning on getting Revell's Original Series USS Enterprise kit and experimenting with installing lighting to it.