All about the base

All about the base

I recently promised you some background on my struggles with the base of my diorama My Worst Nightmare.

Therefore:  it’s all about the base

There is no higher purpose to this blog post other than that I hope that you can learn from my mistakes. It may save you some valuable bench time for your current or future projects.

Well, the title My Worst Nightmare is definitely applicable in many ways, but the base of this project has cost me some serious blood, sweat and tears, metaphorically anyway.

I have made various versions of the base and I would like to go through three of them in this blog. In the next three images you can see the version that was about to become the final one until something happened on the way to heaven. Actually the base was not the only part of this dio that went through various versions, the mast and the shark were also re-done several times. The only two elements to come out in one go were, surprisingly, the bicycle and the figure.  The devil is in the details and often not in the obvious. You can take my word for that.

Pic 1 shows the base with the shark  embedded. Pic 2 shows the freshly applied acrylic gel, still opaque, and on the third one the gel has turned translucent….and the remainder of the broken off mast. Bummer!
Can’t really remember what happened exactly, but I guess that a clumsy movement while painting or retouching details was the cause of that little unhappy accident

Perhaps equally important is that I didn’t like the final look of the base. The wave had become to dominantly present compared to the other elements and there were just too many small things that I didn’t like and last but not least,  the composition came out not exactly the way I wanted, mainly due to the position of the shark. The guy on the bike was looking way from the shark. FAIL!

So, all in all, it was back the drawing board.

I decided to make a less dominant wave this time. Less is more, as they say and it’s definitely true. The suggestion of something can be stronger than actually showing it in full. A new base was shaped from HD Styrodur (the yellow stuff!), and the main elements were added.

Next the base was covered with waterproof (water colour) paper. Besides the advantage that this does not dissolve in water, it also has a nice texture. In hindsight that particular property was of little use in this scale, roughly 1/35th. The texture more less disappeared under many layers of a lot of things, acrylic gel mainly.  The paper was shaped over the Styrodur with diluted white glue or wood adhesive:

and held in place at the edges with 6814891 pins until dry. 

Before the fun (read: painting) started I attached the main elements to the base and filled the edges with Magic Sculpt. 

Enter…the airbrush. I used my AB to paint the base with various blue and grey tones

Next, I applied a glossy coat with a product so secret that I don’t know what that was, actually. That’s a laborious way to say I forgot what I used. Best guess is that it was Johnsons Floor Polish, applied in 2-3 layers.  You can also still see the texture of the water colour paper here.

And then….the magic happened. Or perhaps I should say, was supposed to happen.

Entering stage right: Vallejo’s Water Texture Atlantico.

I applied this coloured acrylic gel as a start to colour the sea a bit brighter blue. As this gel becomes translucent once dry, the underlying airbrush job would still be visible.

But…..this stuff has a nasty side effect. I applied it with a brush, making sure to keep the direction of the strokes parallel and in one direction, in order to recreate the flow of the water. However, by doing this, the pigments (I suppose it has pigments to make it blue) are kind of squeezed by the bristles, basically leaving brush strokes. I checked with someone who has used this gel too, someone way more skilful than I am,  and he confirmed this is actually an issue with coloured acrylic gels.

This image:

shows the result after the acrylic had dried.
Needless to say that I was ready to pull my hair out, if I’d had any  😊

So, Water Texture Atlantico exits stage left….

After long and very confronting therapy, I decided to pick up this project again. Actually , and according to the dates on the images I took, this was next day.

All drama aside, I decided to be a man about it and started with base numero whatever. The original shark had disappeared into the same bin as the previous base(s), and Magic Sculpt,  Apoxy Sculpt, and a wee bit of Evergreen came to the rescue for another shark species. 

I also had to paint a new lifebuoy as the other one did not survive while being rescued from the other base. 

And again, a new base was made with HD Styrodur (the yellow stuff, remember?). Cut and sanded to shape. Gaps were filled with self-hardening clay and Magic Sculpt. The larger gaps were filled with clay as it’s a helluvalot cheaper than Magic Sculpt….. in case you wonder. 

I used the water colour paper again to create a smoother surface

 and did some happy airbrushing:

This time I covered the base with Acrylic Artists Gel Medium from the Rembrandt brand. Obviously the translucent drying type 

I repeated this process and added more local layers, alternating between the same gel and Vallejo Still Water. All of this to create depth in general and more volume to certain areas where I thought that this was needed. The final layer was created with brushed on and ever so carefully and slightly tainted Still Water (to add a bit more blue to the final look). After all these layers the original texture of the paper went AWOL. 

I tried to keep the blue tint of the water very moderate as I didn’t want to create a deep blue sea, because to me that would define the weather as very sunny, and if you look at the rest of the scene you will understand that a sunny atmosphere would be not very appropriate for this scene.  

So what else is left to say?  Well, I have no images to prove it, but trying to use two part epoxy resin for water on this kind of base is a bad idea too. Been there, done that.  I tried to add thin layers of the stuff, but of course this resin is supposed to level. Trust me….it does….always.

In hindsight I could have casted the wave from resin, but perhaps I was too lazy or even more likely, I just didn’t want to spend a lot of money on mould rubber and resin. Mind you, it would have become a serious block of resin. After I finished this project I did see some very interesting and stunning projects where the waves were cast indeed. But like I said…….that was after I finished this one.

I started this project January 2015, according to the data of my pictures. I finished it four years and one month after I started it, according to the same data. The wave being the part of the project that made me hesitate time and time again to finish it and just put it aside to work on otther projects.

The moral of this story? Stop whining and just do it! 😊

Happy modelling.




New diorama added: Stake Out

New diorama added: Stake Out

I have added images of my latest diorama to my gallery, entitled Stake Out!

You can find the images of the finished dio in my gallery

In due time I will add a blog post with some in progress shots and tell you a bit about how you can turn an initial idea around and still come up with something pretty decent 🙂

Untill then I need keep my  promise and add some additional info on another diorama, My Worst Nightmare.

Enjoy viewing Stories in Miniature!


Major update of our website

Major update of our website

It would go a bit far to say that this is part of our New Year’s resolutions, but after a long hiatus , it was high time to refresh our website.

Lack of time has been the main reason why we haven’t kept this website up to date. As organizers of SMC and the 11th World Model Expo we have had , and still have, a lot to chew and to deal with given the current circumstances. Let’s not mention the “C-word” here. 🙂

While we had to delay the WorldModel Expo again with another year, to 1-2-3 July 2022, we hope that later in 2021, we can run our (sort of) annual event SMC again on 16-17 October.
And although the world looks to be in an even bigger crises than before, we keep our fingers crossed and have started preparing for SMC 2021.
Better to be safe than sorry.

As for the core business, scale modelling and figure painting, we have been busy. Well….Margot anyway. I’m a wee bit slower when it comes to finishing stuff.
Anyway, as a result Margot’s gallery especially is very much refreshed and now counts 18 projects, of which 75% is from the past 20 months.
My gallery has a bit less new projects, and two of them are dioramas, or should I say vignettes?

The gallery overview has received a make-over too. You can browse through a so called carrousel of thumbnails.
Clicking on a thumbnail will take you to the page of that particular project and you can find a nice selection of images of that project. The good thing is that the carrousel runs automatically. You only have to drop your thumb or click on the image when you see something pass that you like to see more of 🙂 .
We hope that you appreciate the new set up.

And now?
Well, the next post here won’t take as long as this one did. Promise!

I will post some additional background about my diorama My Worst Nightmare shortly, for those interested in how I struggled with the final concept.
Speaking of struggling: I have also picked up a very old shelf queen that will also get the Blog treatment, as I think the developement from it’s original concept to the (almost) finished project shows some interesting insights. Mainly to myself, actually, but more on that later.

Enjoy viewing Stories in Miniature!

Margot and Robert

My Worst Nightmare…. revisited

My Worst Nightmare…. revisited


Revisited indeed. It never took me so long to complete a project. And honestly, it isn’t even finished now.
Not that I didn’t finish other stuff in the meantime, figures mainly, but still. This project has been on a stand still most of the time over a period of 3 (!) years. Life’s all about priorities, I guess .

Anyway, I am finally pretty close to finishing off this project. Nearly all elements are painted, and done.
Here’s the man-in –distress. Sort of completely sculpted.

And here’s the unpainted and temporarily assembled set up of the guy on his bike. Click on the images to enlarge!

And the man’s head in close up:

And here’s the painted version of it all. Still have to work a bit on the guys trousers and shoes and then start gluing the remaining parts together.

And then, the biggest challenge still to overcome…the wave. The water needs the most attention still: it needs more painting, mainly white foam and most of all, it needs more coats of acrylic gel. The top of the wave also needs additional work as it’s in a premature state right now.

Some of the accessories, painted and ready to go.

Obviously the shark needs to be properly embedded in the sea, and I am stil in doubt where the pelican will go.

To be continued……soon! (really)

Our webblog has been refurbished

Our webblog has been refurbished

After roughly 16 months we have re-installed our website. It took us a while to decide whether we should proceed with it or simply ditch the whole idea and post our work only on  social media. We decided to hang on to the website, or blog concept, after all. Although nothing really ever dissappears from the internet, we believe that eveything digital vanishes into oblivion rather fast, particularly on social media. So there you have it, our own website. Just like in the good old days, that aren´t even that long ago when you come to think of it.

Whatever reasons we have for making this website, we enjoyed building it and we hope that you enjoy viewing it.

A lot of the older work has been archived, and we have decided to focus on displaying only our latest work and some of our own favourites in the galleries.

We left the old blog posts intact as they contain some in-progress and step-step-by-step info you might find useful, and some in-progress articles are still relevant. Not sure if that’s a good thing though, as it means that the project still hasn’t been finished. Anyway…..

The intention is to use this blog also for show reports, to show you what’s on the workbench now and also to share other hobby related stuff with you that we think is worth sharing.

Enjoy viewing Stories in Miniature!

Margot and Robert

Pin It on Pinterest