Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Laputa Diorama: Part 3

Hi everyone,

Today I want to talk a bit about how I formulated the idea for the diorama.  The process is basically the same for any diorama I work on. 

The first step after I choose the subject and the kit or models is to look for reference.  This can be photographs, artwork, other peoples work or even real life places. In this case it was mostly artwork from the movie.

Here Google is your friend.  After a thorough search I found several pictures that started to spark up the imagination. The first picture below was the one that gave me the idea for the setting.  The robot extending his arm and giving the little princess a flower.  I knew there and then that this is what I wanted the whole diorama to revolve around.

The next picture gave me the look for the diorama - that of an ancient garden.  The picture below shows the angular paths and water ways that I used in the actually piece.  Naturally I embellished it a bit with flowers and plants, but looking at the other reference and the film itself, you will find that the concept of a flowery garden is not out of place.

The other pictures where more or less a reference for the painting of the robot.  They also show how the princess should have been dressed and how I wanted to re-model her if I had the time.  Also, to my chagrin, they all feature the boy as well, but I did not have enough spare change at the time to justify buying the other kit with the boy and the warrior robot.

The next step was to build up the girl and the robot and pose them together in order to determine how I would build the diorama and most important the angle and size.  So I drew a rough sketch of the layout on a sheet of paper and started positioning and re-positioning the actors until I came up with the angle I wanted.
By now, and after two days of brainstorming,  I knew I wanted to include the pool from the picture above and also an aqueduct leading to the pool.  Once again Google is your friend here.  After a search I came up with the photo reference I needed to build the diorama.
The first three pictures are aqueducts from across the Mediterranean.  Invaluable for the construction of smaller versions.

I knew the pool in the reference was too plain.  The figures are big so I needed to find a way to fill the diorama up, otherwise it would look empty.  One way to go about this was to elaborate on the pool. The pictures below gave me the push I needed to finally galvanize my idea into a workable project. 

I am sure you can all see the resemblance from the pictures above to my finished piece in the previous post.  The conceptual elements are all there to see.  Without this critical and vital step in the creative process, I doubt any modeler can come up with a decent diorama, no matter how good a painter and modeler he or she is.  Naturally, this is just my humble opinion, but I do truly believe in it.
That is why I decided to take the time to write about this vital step in the methodology of how I go about building dioramas.  I hope you find it interesting and instructive, especially those of you who are new to the hobby and do not know where to start. 
Stay tuned next week as I continue to discuss the basic construction of the scene and the materials and techniques employed.
Until then, farewell and good health,

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Laputa Diorama: Part 2

Hi everyone,

Today I start talking about how I built my latest diorama.  The ideas and methods, as you will see, are not new or innovative, nor are they my own invention.  Like most of us, I do my research, learn from others and put what I have learnt to good use.

First off, I want to show you the box and how the parts come in it.  This is a kit from a Japanese company called Fine Molds, and I have to say that they have some very nice kits for sale - especially Star Wars kits at 1/72 and 1/48 scales.  I am very tempted to get my hands on a few of them.

As you can see the robot presents the most work, especially the arms.  Be prepared to spend 2 or three hours putting it together and filling in the seams along the sides with putty and sanding down.  When adding putty filler try to be as accurate as possible.  This is because the robot's surface is not even but rather mottled. So if you spread out the putty too much, when it comes to sanding you will smooth out the sides and this will ruin the nice surface texture.

The girl is not so complicated.  She comes in two parts for the upper body and skirt and the legs are cast in one separate piece.  Once again you will need to fill in the seams with putty, but the fit is very good and this will not require a lot of work. The areas are smooth so sanding in this case will not be a problem. For those of us too lazy to paint eyes, the kit provides two sets of eye stickers for the girl and two sets of emblems stickers for robot.

Once put together the girl is completely static, and any re-positioning will require work.  The robot has limited movement.  It's arms  can rotate 360 degrees and they can also bend slightly but this is also limited.  The fingers don't move at all, and in fact I had to cut them up to re-position them.  The legs are the same as the arms in that they can bend slightly, but the feet are solid.

The accuracy and scale of the models are good in my opinion and look very reminiscent of the movie.  The only problem are the clothes of the little princess.  She is wearing the clothes you see her in at the beginning of the movie.  By the time she actually meets the gardener robot, she is wearing different clothes.  If I was not limited by time I would have re-modeled the clothes with putty.  This irritates me slightly but as the French say, 'C'est la vie!'

Overall the kit is OK.  It is very realistic and the scale is pleasing.  It is also not difficult or complicated to put together.  The only drawbacks are the mobility of the figures (anybody who has built a RG Gunpla kit can see the difference) and the inaccuracy of the girl's dress.  It would have been nice if the kit had both the girl and the boy - but this is something I cannot really complain about.

That is all for now, I will be back soon with how I can up with this idea for the diorama and a bit more.

Until then, farewell and good health,


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Laputa Diorama - Part 1

Hi everyone,

As promised I am starting a new string of posts dedicated to the Laputa diorama I put together for the Plamo modeling competition I entered on the Hobbylink TV site.  Below are the pics I submitted to the judges.  Since this was an online competition, one of the rules stated that the pictures could not be tampered with or modified in any way with Photoshop and the likes.  Therefore, I submitted them in this format in order to avoid any problems with the judges.

As I have mentioned in the previous post, this is the first time I have worked on a kit at this scale (1/20) and it was no easy feat for me.  I also had to do a lot of research and experimentation on the flora I used in the diorama.  A lot of the flora is made up of real plants that were preserved for this purpose.

Lately, I have been very interested in Gunpla modeling - first because it is relatively cheap compared to Warhammer, and second because it is something new.  When the HLJ team announced the competition, I was going to submit a robot from the Gundam universe, but I quickly changed my mind when 90% of the entrants when entering Gundam models!

I decided to go with the robot gardener and I think this choice paid off.  Firstly because it was a unique subject and secondly because it is colourful and catches the eye - these two combined gave me a distinct advantage in my opinion.

Anyway, enough talk.  Here are the pics of Laputa, my Hobbylink TV competition entry:

Next week I will start with how I came up with the idea and the initial construction of the piece.  Please stay tuned.

Farewell and good health,


Monday, February 10, 2014

Plamo Modeling Competition 2013 - 2nd Place!

Hi everyone,

A bit of self-gratification here, but I need a outlet - so there!  I humbly announce I came 2nd in the Plamo Modeling Competition 2013, with my entry 'Laputa : Castle in the Sky'. I am very happy and excited about the competition and I would like to congratulate all the winners for their fine work - especially in the advanced category.
My entry was the 'Gardener Robot' by Fine Molds, and it was a pleasure to build.  It was also very difficult considering I have never done anything like it before.  I am mostly a 28mm to 54mm figure painter when it comes to modelling, so working on 1/20 scale was a whole new ball game for me!  In fact every step of the way was new to me, so I literally had to experiment with many new products and materials in order to get the look I was aiming at.
Now that the winners have been published I can and will publish a series of posts talking about how I built the kit in various stages.  I predict four or five posts altogether.  I hope you will all enjoy reading them as much as I enjoyed building the figure up!

In the meantime hope over to HLJ to see the winners of the competition.  There are some truly amazing stuff!
The link to the winners video presentation is HERE!

Thanks one more time to Hobbylink Japan for hosting this competition and a merited pat on the back to all the modellers who took the time to enter. The comradeship ad encouragement was fantastic - in fact it felt more like a group of old friends meeting together and building models than a competition!

Until next post, farewell and good health,



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