Tuesday 20 September 2011

54mm diorama- France,WW2

I was approached to produce a 54mm diorama that would be able to display a large number of vehicles and figures on a number of different levels. If the diorama was on just one level then the displayed hardware could get confused and the overall effect lost.
After quite a bit of going backwards and forwards with ideas we came up with the following plan- a road running alongside a canal. The canal also has a small dirt track at 'water level' running under a bridge. The diorama was to be backed by a number of house fronts that could have figures placed in the windows. The final level was achieved by adding a small jetty to the canal. It meant we ended up with 5 different levels for figures to be displayed on.
early stages where you can see the levels involved.
The above picture shows the diorama at a very early stage. The unique thing of this picture is the drawing I have added to the layout at this early stage. I tend to plan and design as I go so to look that far ahead in a project for me is unusual! It does give you a very good idea of how the finished layout will look and what is trying to be achieved.
The diorama ended up being about 3feet x 3feet and to give it strength and to have good clean edges I had a wooden carcass made (as I do with nearly all terrain boards and dioramas) and filled it with polystyrene. That gave me the basic shape and I then knew I could happily add the detail to it or easily cut into it for the stairways and trenches.
The buildings fronts were inspired by real Normandy buildings- the building on the left is based on Cafe Gondaree that you can find next to Pegasus bridge
I had the original window design laser cut and they came out beautifully- the detail is very delicate and the whole thing is perfectly square. The door comes from my stock of resin pieces and the wall finish is a mix of platicard strips and grout.

The next two buildings come from photos I took when I was in Normandy last summer. I can't remember where I was but this is the photo I took of this wonderfully atmospheric French house. I just had to make it.
the real house
early days with the model
The model again is made using windows I had laser cut but this time in a different design. I used brick embossed plasticard to recreate the brick and tile patterns. It doesn't look much now but you need faith that it works out in the end.
The building to the left of this house, that you can see is red, was based on a few I saw on my Normandy trip and was also influenced by the amount of space I had left. I decided on a stone building to contrast with the other two. It is red in the picture because I have covered it in Daz Pronto- the air dried clay. I then carve out the stone pattern in it. I find it works really well as long as you don't run out of patience!
Once I had the basics done, it was just a case of adding more details and painting it. During this stage I pretty much stuck to the original plan although I had planned on adding a trench to the left of the bridge but when I cam to it it didn't work out. There needed to be some sort of wall there to stop people falling over the edge so I extended the wall from the bridge and added sandbags to that to give it the fortified look.
Unfortunately, I don't have any photos from this stage to when I finished so I can't really explain what I did to get to the finished piece. It is a sure sign that I got carried away in the creative process and forgot about taking photos.
All there is now is a series of photos of the finished project:
the whole thing
the stone house- made from carved Daz Pronto clay

the railings are raised 1/56th scale plastic railings

stairs up from the canal- stone is, again, carved Daz Pronto

view from the canal

added broken glass to the windows adds to the look of battle damage

close up of the brick patterns on the front of the house

the sandbags on the retaining wall

a Wespe coming over the bridge

close up of the garden. I like the bullet holes in the window

posters downloaded from the web- they add colour and interest

I just like this shot!

more posters. The bench is from a plastic wild West Saloon set!

close up of the stairs. More posters and a lamp on the wall- I can't remember the company who makes them

roof detail- damaged but neglected

That is it for this project. I was very pleased with how it turned out. I have been asked to make the larger house in 1/56th scale so I am looking forward to that next. Details to follow of course.

Thursday 8 September 2011

Omaha beach- the final instalment

Life is starting to get back to normal now so should be able to start regular postings again.
To get going again, here is the final part of the Omaha beach building story- it is the best bit- when I get photos from the customer of it in action. It doesn't matter how well I make something it always looks better when you get figures involved.
The first few photos are very soon after my customer received the job with just buildings added to the landscape- the calm before the storm.
Now..... day break, June 6th........

The photos stopped after this- I guess the war photographer bought it on the beach. Even early on it looks like a great game was had by all (except maybe for the allied armour commander).
I am glad I was involved in such a spectacle.
The landing craft all came from Ravensthorpe Miniatures. They shipped them to me, I painted them and then shipped them onto the USA. I am pleased how they turned out- it can be tough to make large flat, untextured surfaces look any good.
That is it for this project.