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Corona Self-Isolation made me build a STAR DESTROYER

Corona Self-Isolation made me build a STAR DESTROYER

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Project Blog by fourtytwo Cult of Games Member

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About the Project

Since my childhood over 30 years ago - when I started building model kits before I got into miniature gaming - I always wanted to have a model of a Star Destroyer from Star Wars. Since then, a handful of attempts have been made and discarded because I wasn't convinced by the kits, my attempts to make them more accurate, and ultimately the results. Most of all: I lacked the patience and time to focus on the task, and a Star Destroyer is a quite complicated thing, despite its basic shape. So, when I had to go into homeoffice late march with not much to do for work, I needed to fill the time with something worthwhile. Why not attempt another one? - I thought immediately. Apart from Randy Cooper's really good (and expensive) garage kit made from resin, there are two affordable kits available currently which are top notch for different reasons. First, there's the 32cm Bandai kit which also comes with (crappy) lighting and is a formidable replica of the original 8-foot studio model, both in detail and proportions. However: It is only 32 cm long, and you don't need to improve anything about it. Then there's the 60cm kit from Zvesda which is now a repackaged model distributed by Revell. This kit has a good size, all the shapes and proportions are correct except for two major flaws: The superstructure is too flat, and the bridge-sections sits at an incorrect angle. Plus: While there are details, there are too few of them and many, many defining details are completely missing. The Zvesda-kit seemed to be a good challenge for a modeler to bring it into correct proportions and custom-build loads and loads of studio model-accurate details for it. Sounded like fun time - and it was and still is! So here it is - my Star Destroyer-project. The goal is to create a ship that comes very close to the original 8-foot studio model even on a close inspection, although I also rationalized all the tiny differences as it being an improved retrofit of the 'off the rack'- Imp Deuce like the 'Avenger'. Also - no lighting (edit: Yeah, I'm doing lighting now..!). Not because I'm lazy or don't know how to do it, but because the only way to light such a model is via fiber optics, which requires drilling lots of tiny holes in-between the hundreds of tiny or complicated custom-built detail without damaging it or knocking it off the model, and if that succeeded, having to go in with a tiny side cutter cleanly cutting off the strands of fiber optics - again in-between the hundreds of tiny or complicated custom-built detail without damaging it or knocking it off the model. No way - I wanted to come out of self-isolation sane!

This Project is Active

Star Destroyer 'DOMINATOR' is operational.

Tutoring 15
Skill 19
Idea 19
3 Comments

It’s done! The most ambitious, difficult, demanding, and eventually rewarding model-building project I’ve ever done to date. I’ll keept it brief, and post the first photos of the finished model – more will surly come. I’ll keep the project open for the time being, so that I could post how I’ve done the electronics and lighting of the model.

Star Destroyer 'DOMINATOR' is operational.
Star Destroyer 'DOMINATOR' is operational.
Star Destroyer 'DOMINATOR' is operational.
Star Destroyer 'DOMINATOR' is operational.
Star Destroyer 'DOMINATOR' is operational.
Star Destroyer 'DOMINATOR' is operational.
Star Destroyer 'DOMINATOR' is operational.
Star Destroyer 'DOMINATOR' is operational.
Star Destroyer 'DOMINATOR' is operational.

Back from the repair dock...

Tutoring 15
Skill 20
Idea 19
4 Comments

After an accident which destroyed a few of my custom-built details on the port side of the superstructure, I put the kit away and was a bit demoralized. Two weeks ago, I dared to closely inspect the damage and came to the conclusion that I could repair it flawlessly. Most bits came off whole, so that I only needed to clean and repaint the break points. A few parts required to be built again, which I did meticulously. I’m very glad that the repairs turned out undistinguishable from the inital bits which got destroyed.

Back from the repair dock...

With that out of the way, I resumed my work to finish the model and happily share the results here. At the moment, all fiberoptics for the lighting of the upper half of the Star Destroyer are finished:

Back from the repair dock...
Back from the repair dock...
Back from the repair dock...

Work on the Fiberoptics continues - 60 done, roughly 500 to go...

Tutoring 13
Skill 16
Idea 17
No Comments

I never liked how the hull-lighting on many lit-up Star Destroyer models is way too bright. To avoid this, and to also get a nice even warm-white light on all light dots, I cover the end of all FO-bundles with one layer of white electrical tape before it goes into a slot above an LED.

Work on the Fiberoptics continues - 60 done, roughly 500 to go...

Light It Up!

Tutoring 18
Skill 21
Idea 20
2 Comments

The model-building part of this model is now done, as are all the modifications to greatly enhance the model and make it as movie-accurate as possible, as well as preparing it for everything required to light it up.

I’ve started installing the fiberoptics – beginning with the bridge section, which was by far the hardest. Fortunately, it went well and all 30 FOs are now in place, bundled up and ready to get stuck into a port above one of the 9 LEDs for the hull-lighting.

Now I have 400-500 more fiberoptics to do…

I guess this is where the fun begins!

Light It Up!
Light It Up!

First Engine Test

Tutoring 17
Skill 22
Idea 20
1 Comment

While I’m getting closer to finishing the lower half of the hull, I’ve also created three light diffusors for the main engines: I cut out three appropriately-sized disks from a transparent blue BluRay-case and filed the surface to a fine rough finish with my electrical micro-rotating tool. I also applied matt varnish for good measure, and then carefully glued them 1cm deep into ridged engine-tunnels at the center inside each of the three huge engine bells. Each engine will be lit by three LEDs arranged in a triangle on a disk-shaped board which will be set behind and right up to each light diffusor. I test-fitted them and powered them up to see if everything works okay, which it gladly does:

 

First Engine Test

Lighting Kit and more Panel-lining and Panel-shading...

Tutoring 17
Skill 20
Idea 20
No Comments

Today, the lighting kit arrived, and I immediately put it together and hooked it up with power to test it. It works fine. The lights are not as stark as in the photograph below, but I still wouldn’t recommend staring directly into the engines of the Star Destroyer once it will be finished and the lighting kit is running…

Lighting Kit and more Panel-lining and Panel-shading...

The power for the lighting kit is supplied via a micro USB-port, so this will be a Star Destroyer with a micro USB-port.

Of the two sub-assemblies of the model, the lower half still needs to be finished painting, and work is progressing nicely on that front. I already drilled holes for the fiberoptics, and also opened up the main engines so that they are ready to receive their LEDs. Here’s a WIP of the lower half:

Lighting Kit and more Panel-lining and Panel-shading...

Okay - let's go the whole mile and then some...

Tutoring 18
Skill 21
Idea 20
No Comments

Once the super-detailing was finished and I was able to test-assemble the whole damn thing, I realized how cool and accurate the correction of the proportions and the multitude of custom-built details turned out. I already rationalized why I didn’t want to light it up, but *beep* that – this model needs to be lit up, to make it look even more impressive, so I researched some lighting options and came upon a lighting kit produced by Greenstrawberry specifically for this model kit, and it comes with a programmed board which enables you to light up sections in sequence and even has effects for the engines to be fired up, flickering a bit until they glow bright end evenly. I pulled the trigger and I’m now expecting it to arrive in the next two or three weeks. In the meantime, I ordered 0.5mm fiberoptics, grabbed my electrical micro-driller and proceeded to carefully drill hundreds of tiny holes, as well as opening up the ‘light-gallery’ in the main hangar. In the following pictures, I placed a very bright LED under the model to give a hint of how it will look once the lighting kit is installed. Note, though, that once the fiberoptics are installed, all lights will be the same brightness. In the test images below, the light is shining through holes at different angles and with varying depth.

Okay - let's go the whole mile and then some...
Okay - let's go the whole mile and then some...

 

I also finished painting, panel-lining and panel-shading the upper half of the model, so that I could varnish it with a nice flat coat. It is now ready to receive fiberoptics…

Okay - let's go the whole mile and then some...
Okay - let's go the whole mile and then some...

Improving Details on the lower Half of the Model

Tutoring 18
Skill 22
Idea 22
No Comments

Since the upper half of the model was coming along nicely, I decided to study more reference images of the original studiomodel and add accurate detail to the lower half – mainly the side trenches – and then proceeded to prime and pre-shade it, and finish the paint job on the side trenches:

Improving Details on the lower Half of the Model
Improving Details on the lower Half of the Model
Improving Details on the lower Half of the Model
Improving Details on the lower Half of the Model
Improving Details on the lower Half of the Model
Improving Details on the lower Half of the Model
Improving Details on the lower Half of the Model

More Painting andTest-Fitting the Subassemblies

Tutoring 16
Skill 19
Idea 18
No Comments

Before I continuedthe paint job with panel-lining and panel-shading, I decided to do a bit of test-fitting and to make sure the side trenches are straight. I also added studiomodel-accurate details to the engine section and finished painting that subassembly.

More Painting andTest-Fitting the Subassemblies
More Painting andTest-Fitting the Subassemblies
More Painting andTest-Fitting the Subassemblies
More Painting andTest-Fitting the Subassemblies
More Painting andTest-Fitting the Subassemblies

The same entry was posted twice - so I removed this because of redundancy...

Tutoring 10
Skill 13
Idea 14
1 Comment

The same entry was posted twice – so I removed this because of redundancy…

Which color is a Star Destroyer?

Tutoring 20
Skill 22
Idea 22
No Comments

Oh, no – never post that question in a modeling forum! Everyone has one opinion, and everyone’s opinion ist the only correct one. Of course.

No, I’m interested in truth and facts and care shit for opinions, so I studied the subject matter myself and came to the following – nuanced and therefore truthful – conclusions:

The color of your Star Destroyer depends on what you want to go for. You can do a general representation of a Star Destroyer, in which case a neutral mid-grey is appropriate, or you could go for a screen-representation, in which case a slightly darker blueish mid-grey would be appropriate. I went for a studio model-representation, so a very light grey, almost off-white, was the way to go. I choose this route for two major reasons: The very light grey gave me the option to maximize contrast in the deepest recesses and thereby bring out the volumes and details more than if I went any of the other two ways, and it also allowed me to go for a very precise, albeit subtle panel lining and panel shading.

I started by undercoating the whole sub-assembly in USAF grey. Then I gave the whole model various light zenithals with an off-white, thereby creating natural shading in the volumes and details. I then lightly drybrushed all the detailed side-sections white to bring out the details even more, and gave the whole thing another single light zenithal to bring it all together. With that done, I went in with a brush and used dilluted white to highlight all flat raised details.

I also started to do panel lining. I used a very high-tech method for this: A very sharp, hard pencil. 😀

Which color is a Star Destroyer?
Which color is a Star Destroyer?
Which color is a Star Destroyer?
Which color is a Star Destroyer?
Which color is a Star Destroyer?
Which color is a Star Destroyer?

The bridge-section, custom detail, more custom detail, and much more custom detail

Tutoring 17
Skill 20
Idea 20
No Comments

Let’s say it as follows: I had a very steep learning-curve when it comes to working with plastic card. So much plastic card. But while the process of building and attaching so many custom details seems tedious and boring, I found it to be fun and exciting. I got to know the original studio model very well in the process!

It’s a good idea to start with larger, defining structures like the ‘shelves’, and work from there, adding smaller details and tiny details last. The bridge-section of the kit is pretty accurate as it comes, only that everything is mirrored. So I had to remove certain elements from one side or the other and replace it with detail like on the studio model.

Before I did all that, however, I had to correct the angle of the bridge-section and the ‘neck’ on which it sits. Out of the box, both are along a line with the side trenches of the hull, but they should be along a line with the super structure as they are on the studio-model. I simply cut a thin triangle from the bottom edges of the ‘neck’ until it fit on the hull and superstructure at the correct angle. This was made easier by the detail and panel lines on the ‘neck’, since they could be used as markers as to which angle would be parallel to that of the superstructure.

The bridge-section, custom detail, more custom detail, and much more custom detail
The bridge-section, custom detail, more custom detail, and much more custom detail
The bridge-section, custom detail, more custom detail, and much more custom detail
The bridge-section, custom detail, more custom detail, and much more custom detail
The bridge-section, custom detail, more custom detail, and much more custom detail

Prepping - not for Corona, but for building a Star Destroyer

Tutoring 15
Skill 19
Idea 19
No Comments

I ordered the Revell re-pack of the Zvesda 1/2700-scale Imperial Star Destroyer. I also ordered plastic glue, superglue, and loads of plastic card in various profiles and strengths, and blades for my hobby knive and scalpel. I also required masking tape, a needle, and pincers.

With all that set aside and/or ordered, I studied, saved and printed dozens of high-quality reference images from here:

https://modelermagic.com/star-wars-identities-display-in-france-star-destroyer-avenger-photographed-by-jean-marc-deschamps-olivier-cabourdin/

Once the kit arrived, the first order of the day was to build the super-structure and make it higher using plastic card. That was a very straight-forward task and easy to do. I also started adding detail – especially on the sections raised with plastic card which were plain and had to be filled. The challenge here is to not simply fill it with random detail, but to re-create the specific detail and texture of the 8-foot studio model as accurately as possible.

 

 

Prepping - not for Corona, but for building a Star Destroyer
Prepping - not for Corona, but for building a Star Destroyer
Prepping - not for Corona, but for building a Star Destroyer

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