A cold, wet winter on Arch-to

After too many weeks of cold, wet northern British Columbia west coast weather I was looking at modelling shelf and had the idea that if Luke Skywalker was living on an island in the middle of the ocean on the Jedi planet Arch-to, he had to deal with the same oceanic winter weather as does Skellig Michael in Ireland in the Atlantic Ocean. ( where two Star Wars movies were shot and where September weather actually delayed shooting The Last Jedi). So here is the Hasbro Star Wars Luke dealing with the Arch-to equivalent of December rain, cold and wind.

The Hasbro Skywalker figure actually works quite well in close up.

Shot with Sony Alpha 55 and a Tamron 70-300 macro lens.

Star Wars #ourgreatindoors

The #ourgreatindoors concept came about during the Covid-19 pandemic when outdoor photographers were stuck in their homes and recreated images of the outdoors by using anything they could find around the house. I decided to use the same concept using my Star Wars Micromachines figures.

The idea was featured on CBS News Sunday Morning. (video autoplays) based mainly on the work of photographer Erin Sullivan. As CBS’s Conor Knighton, reported: “When COVID-19 hit, all of travel photographer Erin Sullivan’s far-flung gigs dried up. So, the woman known as “Erin Outdoors” began recreating the great outdoors indoors, turning her Los Angeles apartment into imaginative landscapes made out of spaghetti, vegetables, sugar or tinfoil. Her Instagram photo series, #OurGreatIndoors, has inspired other homebound travel buffs to imagine vistas of their own in miniature.”

Sullivan’s website Erin Outdoors.

Here are my inspired photographs.

Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker battle in the Death Star in the Empire Strikes Back. In this case, the Death Star is actually the interior of my dishwasher. (Robin Rowland)
Darth Vader takes on his son, Luke Skywalker, in the Death Star. (Robin Rowland)
A closer image of the two Hasbro Star Wars Micromachines figures of Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker. (Robin Rowland)
Finn, Rey and BB8 cross the desert of Jakku. Actually the arm of my sofa. (Robin Rowland)
BB8, Rey and Finn on the desert of Jakku as the Force Awakens. (Robin Rowland)

The Rusty Romulan

An unfortunate Romulan Bird of Prey crashed on an alien world many years ago and nature is taking over. (Robin Rowland)

My latest project, The Rusty Romulan, was begun to solve a very old problem. When I was a teenager (yes that long ago, when Star Trek the Original Series was still on the air on NBC) I built all the available Star Trek models from AMT, including the Romulan Bird of Prey.

My original build of the Romulan Bird of Prey from the late 1960s.

There was one problem with that model. There was something wrong with the spray paint I bought (memory fades) either at my neighborhood hobby shop or perhaps a hardware store was faulty and the metallic paint was rough and potmarked.

Somehow, unlike all the other models I built in those days, the Romulan Bird of Prey was the only one that survived. Like some other models, it ended up in a box of books that I unpacked when I retired. (Yes it was that long ago).

So the Bird of Prey was hanging around on a shelf until one day I had an idea. Living in northern British Columbia you often come upon crashed cars in the bush, completely rusty and overgrown. Or illegally abandoned vessels rusting on a shoreline and also becoming overgrown.

So why not make lemonade from the Bird of Prey and turn it into a rusty Romulan.

So that’s what I did.

The repainted and now rusty Romulan Bird of Prey.

The Romulan Transportation Safety Board has not yet investigated the crash. The Bird of Prey is listed as missing. So the reasons for the crash (and if the crew survived) is unknown. The space craft managed to reenter the atmosphere intact. There was no significant battle damage and the crew did not trigger the self destruct. However there was clearly some exterior damage, either in space perhaps causing the emergency landing or during reentry.

The Bird of Prey livery was damaged during re-entry. (Robin Rowland)

I scored the old model with my Dremel sander on a very slow rotation. Then painted some areas black for the re-entry burn and then added the initial rust in light washes.

The Rusty Romulan on the workbench. (Robin Rowland)

I wanted the Bird of Prey to be somewhat upright, so it came to rest against a ridge so that the livery can be seen. With that design in mind, the decades on the surface of this planet alien to both Human and Romulan will take its toll on the unlucky Bird of Prey.

Top view of the diorama. (Robin Rowland)
A side view (Robin Rowland)
A view of the wreck as if someone, Human, Romulan, indigenous to the planet or other alien is walking up to it. (Robin Rowland)
The Bird of Prey came to rest against a ridge face. (Robin Rowland)
A closer view of the Bird of Prey on top of the ridge. (Robin Rowland)

I wanted an alien look while maintaining the scale. The Bird of Prey has four decks and is 21.9 metres (71.8 feet) high by 90.6 metres (297.2 feet) wide. So the trees and other vegetation (allowing that this is an alien world) had to be proportional.

A visitor approaches the rusty wreck of the Romulan Bird of Prey (Robin Rowland)

One of the species of vines on this part of the world are made from ornamental moss from a dollar store, the kind usually put in planters.

Our visitor is walking around looking at the Bird of Prey, with the winged livery still visible among the rust. (Robin Rowland)

The “conifers” are the standard, cheapest, model railway trees, with purple foam added.

Our curious visitor continues to walk around the wreck. (Robin Rowland)

The trees are Woodland Scenics Light Green Forest Canopy using just the very tops of the plant material. (Chaos theory is at work here, the tiny tops are just like the bigger trees designed for a model railway.)

The visitor looks up at the rusty hull. (Robin Rowland)

The original AMT model did not have the portholes in the Bird of Prey so I drilled the holes. The fibrous material is a model railway grass and the orange fungi is a chalk.

Now the visitor ventures to walk on the hull of the wreck. (Robin Rowland)

The built up leaves on the hull are just that. Autumn leaves collected, dried and then pulverized in a blender. (It is another model railway technique. However if you are using a blender make sure to use one that comes with both glass and metal containers–and use the metal one).

The visitor looks over to what was once the bridge of the Bird of Prey. (Robin Rowland)
Our curious visitor continues to explore the hull of the Bird of Prey. (Robin Rowland)

The final touch, the second species of vines, are “silk” from corn-on-the-cob.

Hot chicken Jedha

There’s another citadel temple city on the moon Jedah. And the Empire is occupying this city as well as can be seen from the Imperial Star Destroyer overhead. (Robin Rowland)

According to Wookieepdia, there is more to the moon Jedah than just the NiJedah Holy City destroyed in the movie Rogue One A Star Wars story:

澳门太阳城注册|官方网址
太阳城

《攻占总统府》ipic4.jpg

红星奖章ipic3.jpg

Many settlements on the moon, such as the ancient Holy City, sat atop the world’s natural mesas…

So the model above is my latest semi-canon creation. The mesa temple city is scratch built. The Star Destroyer is the Hot Wheels model.

This all started one evening when I had a speaking engagement and so, with no time to cook, I picked up a whole hot roast chicken at the local supermarket. Delicious. Then I noticed something. Hey, I thought, in my sometimes off the wall way, that container resembles that city from Rogue One.

A hot chicken container that resembles that ancient desert city from Rogue One –or that’s what I thought over dinner. (Robin Rowland)

After I got the black plastic “mesa” out of the dishwasher, I went to my stash and pulled out the Star Destroyer I bought a year or so ago cheap at a dollar store, just to see if would work.

Hot Wheels Star Destroyer on top of a one-time chicken container. (Robin Rowland)

Given the huge size of a Star Destroyer and its size in relation to the Holy City, it was clear that this model city would be a larger mesa and settlement that one in Rogue One.

Screengrab from Rogue One showing the huge Star Destroyer over the Holy City of Nijedha.
The Star Destroyer leaves NiJedah as the Empire evacuates its forces prior to the destructive attack from the Death Star.
The same scene using with the model. The stand has been erased in Photoshop. (Robin Rowland)

The next step was to turn the chicken container into a city on Jedah.

Top view. Buildings were added using scrap plastic, tops of tubes, the top of a dental floss dispenser and chopped up Evergreen plastic strips. (Robin Rowland)
The iconic domed buildings found on Jedah and Tatooine are bits of sprue. (Robin Rowland)

The Star Destroyer was repainted and weathered.

Then I built up the city, painted it, weathered it. Then it was glued onto a foamboard base and the desert landscape was added.

The Jedha model city. (Robin Rowland)

The Star Destroyer on its Hot Wheels stand. (Robin Rowland)
The city and the Star Destroyer. Stand removed using Photoshop. (Robin Rowland)
Front view of the mesa, the city and the Star Destroyer. (Robin Rowland)
Jedha model opposite view. (Robin Rowland)
Jedha model with the Star Destroyer on its stand. (Robin Rowland)
Jedha model and Star Destroyer (stand removed by Photoshop. (Robin Rowland)
Top view of the mesa city. (Robin Rowland)

Star Wars in camo II. A forward observation post on the front line

I began recreating science fiction models about two years ago for a couple of reasons. One I wanted a creative outlet that was somewhat separate from my career as a photographer, journalist and writer. That鈥檚 so I could relax and have fun. Second, as a kid in the 1960s inspired by Star Trek, the Original Series, I had built the kits and scratch built my own models and now that I鈥檓 retired I wanted to start again.

I began following various modellers and toy photographers on Instagram and came across the amazing work by Matthew Callaghan, a U.S. Marine photographer who also has a hobby of recreating scenes he is familiar with using the larger size Star Wars figures in photographs that simulated the reality of combat in Iraq.

Callaghan鈥檚 work immediately struck a chord, and not just because I am working on my own Star Wars model projects. From September 2003 until I retired in March 2010, I was the photo editor for CBC News, based in Toronto. That meant as soon as I got into work and for the rest of each day, I would see the photo feeds coming out of Iraq and Afghanistan from the Canadian Press, the Associated Press, Reuters, Getty/AFP and Canadian Forces Combat Camera.

I worked closely with CBC reporters, producers and technicians based in Kandahar, many of whom would be filing their photos back to me in Toronto. Finbarr O鈥橰eilly who was embedded with both the Canadian and US Forces, including the Marines, was once one of my students at Ryerson University School of Journalism. He is co-author of Chasing Ghosts聽 along with former Marine Thomas Brennan.

At CBC, as editor, I worked on an Afghanistan project with photographer Louie Palu who was also embedded with both the Canadians and Americans in Afghanistan and is known for his portraits of Marines and is author of the new book Front Toward The Enemy.

I had just started working on my Star Wars camouflage project and was looking for an idea for doing some kind of similar combat simulation , inspired by Callaghan鈥檚 gritty and realistic photos of the Storm Troopers

I work with Star Wars Command figures which are much smaller than the larger figures most photographers work with. I noticed one of the rebel fighters from Hoth with a pair of galactic binoculars and that gave me the idea of recreating, in Star Wars terms, one story of my father in the Second World War, when he was a British artillery officer in Malaya, fighting the Japanese.

The battle was at Kampar . My father鈥檚 88th Field Regiment of the Royal Artillery was defending the outer British perimeter.

As Wikipedia says:

Major General Archie Paris (temporary commander of the 11th Indian Division) had to defend a line from the coast through Telok Anson (now Telok Intan) up to the defensive positions at Kampar. The defensive perimeter at Kampar was an all round position, straddling Kampar Hill (Gunong Brijang Malaka) to the east of Kampar town, overlooking the Japanese advance and well concealed by thick jungle. Paris placed artillery spotters on the forward slopes protected by the 15th/6th Brigade on the western side of the position, and the 28th Gurkha Brigade covered the right flank on the eastern side.[2] The two brigades were supported by the 88th Field Artillery Regiment, which was equipped with 25 pounders, and the 4.5 inch howitzers of the 155th Field Artillery Regiment. Once the 12th Brigade had passed through Kampar Paris sent them to cover the coast and his line of retreat at Telok Anson.

My father, Lt. Frederic Rowland, was one of those artillery spotters. For his actions that day he was awarded the Military Cross.

What the citation doesn鈥檛 say was that my father was in a spotter dugout along with two 鈥渙ther ranks鈥 connected to the artillery headquarters with a field telephone. At one point a mortar round landed right in the dugout. The two men with my father were killed instantly but in the random nature of the universe, my father had barely a scratch, although he would tell me that most of his uniform was blown off. He had to crawl out of the dug out to re-splice the severed telephone wire and then crawled back into the dug out to call in the artillery on the advancing Japanese tanks.

Later as a prisoner of war in Changi Jail, Singapore, he commissioned the war artist Leo Rawlings, who later became famous of his drawings and paintings of POWs聽 to recreate the action at Kampar. Here is a detail of that painting. The two spotter positions, black box, are suggested with just a couple of strokes of a water colour brush.

RELATED

Star Wars in camo I. If you were a Storm Trooper wouldn鈥檛 you want some camouflage?

The first step was to paint the Hoth rebel figures not in winter white but in the Second World War British uniform colour (somewhat) from Vallejo paints, with a couple of appropriate adjustments.

Here’s a close up of the spotter officer, the forward observation post commander, as he might appear in a WWII photo, using the Kodak Tri-X filter from Perfect Effects.

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A contemporary digital image of the聽 spotter officer and his two men with an R2 unit in the background.

Of course, I added聽 an R2 unit, which I call R2C1 (C for camouflage model) plus one other soldier, a reinforcement.

So I started, as with some other projects, with a聽clear blister pack provided an idea for a futuristic popup but portable armoured forward observation post, complete with all kinds of high tech communications gear.

Then I added a coat of grey auto primer on both sides.

Then some dark brown camouflage super flat spray paint.

Then I found the right position for the figures.

I created the com panel using the web and reduced the images using Photoshop, then reduced the entire image even further to fit on to a square on the inside of the original blister pack.

You can see that AT-STs are approaching just like Japanese tanks were attacking my father’s FOP.聽 Given the tech of the galaxy far, far away they are in communication with rebel headquarters and have multiple sensors, rather than binoculars and a field telephone connected by a wire. And yes the multi coloured buttons on the panel are from the Star Trek Original Series bridge <grin>.

 

The R2 access panel was created the same way.

 

 

Combat is never found in a clean environment. So I wanted to dirty up the scene. The fallen trees are from hothouse tomatoes, painted black as if they鈥檇 been scorched. I laid down a layer of standard ground cover, including some grass. Then it was all covered up with a mixture of about one third ashes from my barbecue, one third talcum powder, and one third a mixture of fine model railway ballast and fine rubble.

 

 

 

 

As well as the standard photographs, I wanted to duplicate a Second World War look with black and white and some old style photographs plus two water colours, one where I tried to duplicate the limited colours available to Leo Rawlings as well as the kind of quick watercolour painter that was common in that era.

To duplicate the Rawlings watercolour from the image, I first used the charcoal and chalk filter in Photoshop, then added a sepia photo filter. Next I duplicated that layer and used the Jixipix watercolour filter. It was a bit bright, so I used the lighten tool under the Photoshop saturation adjustment, then adjusted opacity to bring out more of the chalk and charcoal layer.

This follows the style of the “quick sketch’ watercolour used by some war artists from the Napoleonic era to the Second World War and probably even today. Created using the Jixipix water colour filter.

The front of the forward observation post as it might have been captured on old Kodak film, using a VSOC Lightroom plugin.

Another view that duplicates a faded colour photo from the era, no filters, desaturation in Photoshop.

And a couple of gritty black and white images.

Star Wars in camo I. If you were a Storm Trooper wouldn鈥檛 you want some camouflage?

First this is completely non-canon (so far) and non legends. I fell in love with Star Wars the moment in 1976 I saw the original trailer 鈥渢he story of a boy, a girl and a universe鈥 a billion years in the making and it鈥檚 coming to your galaxy this summer,鈥 months before the movie was released. Of all the scenes in all the Star Wars movies in all the galaxies, my favourite scene is still Luke Skywalker walking out to watch that double sunset on Tattoine. So this is just a bit of fun with a series I love.

The double sunset (Lucasfilm/Disney)

When I began to transfer my love of Star Wars into model making (as you will see on the right hand menu) I began to wonder for the first time (about the same time that Star Wars Rogue One came out last December) why after so many years, the Storm Troopers are still in white body armor?

Star Wars Command figures one painted in a light green camouflage, and on the right a standard issue white armour Storm Trooper. Who has a better chance to survive a battle? (Robin Rowland)

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Now I鈥檝e worked in movies and television for 40 years (most of that time in TV news). Always the most important thing is 鈥渢he look鈥 which is part of the production ethic and creates an atmosphere for both the actors and聽 the audience. John Mollo, who passed away just a couple of weeks, created the original costumes and most of the look of what came to be called 鈥淎 New Hope.鈥聽 based on concepts by John McQuarrie .

Mollo won an Oscar for his work on A New Hope, and the white armored Storm Troopers became iconic, along with Darth Vader, CP30 and R2D2. So I am sure Lucasfilm and now Disney stick with what works. Later movies have enhanced 鈥渢he look鈥 but haven’t changed it. But maybe it’s time to question if that white look is still working?

In this promo for Rogue One, the Storm Troopers are charging across open water in their white body armour while the opposing rebels aren’t wearing camouflage, their dark clothing is closer to the terrain. Would you want to be one of those Storm Troopers? (Lucasfilm/Disney)

Now if we take it from the point of view of the Empire and later the First Order, we have to ask whether the upper echelons of the Empire or First Order actually have any respect for the Storm Trooper grunts?聽 (Even if they are the movie “bad guys.”)聽 Both Galactic Powers have spent billions of credits over the decades on聽 new聽 but vulnerable Death Stars ( a clear waste of taxpayers’ money),聽 then bigger and bigger and even bigger Star Destroyers.聽 There are new and advanced Tie Fighters and other space craft. But the poor Storm Troopers, what about them?聽 They haven’t had an equipment upgrade in 40 years.聽 (The equivalent聽 would be using Vietnam era or perhaps even Second World War聽 technology聽 in today’s聽 fighting)聽 So, imagine, James Earl Jones in his Darth Vader voice echoing Donald Rumsfeld鈥檚 infamous 鈥淵ou go to war with the Army you have 鈥 not the Army you might wish you have.” After all whether they鈥檙e clones or draftees, the Storm Troopers are no more than Imperial/First Order blaster fodder.

If you were a Storm Trooper in the Endor System wouldn’t want some camo? (Starwars.com/Lucasfilm/Disney)

Why even have body armor when a rebel fighter in grubby clothes can take a Storm Trooper out with a blaster or if he/she is a Jedi in some robes can take you down with a lightsabre? What good is body armor if聽 the blind master聽 Chirrut 脦mwe, can take out an entire Storm Trooper platoon?

What good is body armor against a blind man and the Force? Rogue One (Lucasfilm/Disney)

Just having the聽 Imperial/First Order soldiers in cloth uniform could be just as effective (and much more easy on the mobile credit dispensers of the war-burdened galactic taxpayers).

Any scene in any Star Wars movie, the white clad Storm Troopers stand out in any environment. Even if rebels or other enemies have super tech sensors in that galaxy far, far away, most of the battles are line of sight, which means the Storm Troopers are easy targets even for the most inexperienced rebel fighter.

While Storm Troopers may have superior fire power and some air cover, they usually lose in the end. Rogue One. (Lucasfilm/Disney)

So I let imagination run and here is the result, if you are drafted or recruited as a Storm Trooper, wouldn鈥檛 you want some camo?

RELATED
Star Wars in camo II. A forward observation post on the front line

Would you like to suddenly meet an AT-AT driver on a jungle trail? Star Wars Command figure (Robin Rowland)

 

An AT-AT makes its way through an alien jungle. Star Wars Command figure (Robin Rowland)

The rebels or perhaps an other enemy successfully downed the AT-AT so the driver has to make his way on foot. Star Wars Command figure (Robin Rowland)

Adapting to different planets may mean adapting the camo on the body armour to suit the situation. Star Wars Command figure (Robin Rowland)

Another view of the darker camo body armour. Star Wars Command figure (Robin Rowland)

A Storm Trooper in the brush of the Forest Moon of Endor. Sure stands out. Wouldn’t you rather be green trooper? (Lucasfilm/Disney)

I call this R2 unit R2C1. It’s “C” for the camouflaged model. Star Wars Command figure. (Robin Rowland)

Another shot of R2C1. Star Wars Command figure. (Robin Rowland)

Opposing the Storm Troopers are rebels in their own camouflaged bush uniforms. Star Wars Command figure. (Robin Rowland)

Another rebel fighter in the bush. Star Wars Command figure. (Robin Rowland)

The rebel fighters are part of a related project,聽 a forward observation post diorama which you will find in Star Wars in camo II.

The rebel in the same dark forest as the AT-AT driver. If they meet their camouflage will help both survive. Star Wars Command figure. (Robin Rowland)

The Storm Trooper with the light green camo armour aims his blaster. Star Wars Command figure. (Robin Rowland)

The Storm Trooper aims. Star Wars Command figure. (Robin Rowland)

Catching the Storm Trooper from on high (perhaps from a drone) Star Wars Command figure. (Robin Rowland)

A Storm Trooper in white is definitely an easier target for a rebel. Star Wars Command figure. (Robin Rowland)

Another side by side look at a Storm Trooper in camo and a second in traditional white. Star Wars Command figure. (Robin Rowland)

In the Navy

Another idea I had and am working on in a future project that if there is a Storm Trooper ground army, there might also be a Storm Trooper Navy.

A naval Storm Trooper. Star Wars Command figure. (Robin Rowland)

Disney is branching out from the original Star Wars story line with the announcement that director Rian Johnson will create a new trilogy somewhere in that big galaxy far, far away, that is a separate story line from the Skywalker family epic. As Ben Child wrote in the Guardian “it also suggests that Johnson is the man to take Star Wars into the kind of dangerous new territory that might be required if these movies are to last another 40 years鈥 Star Wars directors cannot make movies about Death Stars, fallen Jedi and Skywalker scions for ever; they must eventually begin to truly expand the universe. New worlds, races, supernatural phenomena and coteries of evil are needed if we are to be remotely interested in a galaxy far, far away in the year 2050. ”

For the various shots I used a Sony聽Alpha 700 with a Tamron 70-300 in macro mode and a Sony Alpha聽 77 with a聽 100mm lens in macro mode and a Sony Alpha 6000 with a Sony 18-55 E Mount.

A pirate starship chase, scratch built from toothbrush packages

An alien pirate ship in pursuit of an another starship . (Robin Rowland)

So here are the results of my latest project, scratch building a couple of alien starships and then applying my photographic and Photoshop skills to put them in some star systems not too far away.

Scratch building the Golden Starliner

You start by going to the dentist for a teeth cleaning and scaling. 馃檪 聽 And then take the clear plastic packaging for the tooth brushes that the dentist gives you at the end of 聽the ordeal.

Add modellers’ masking tape to mark windows for the bridge and viewing ports. The exterior tape is the exact size of the windows I want, the interior is much wider.

Spray paint inside and out. I use a heavy duty plastic compatible automobile primer.

Detail the starship with appropriate scrap that will add to the appearance of the starship. 聽Remove the inner masking tape and replace it with images (in my case I reduced stock photos to a few millimetres in Photoshop).

Then decide what the basic “look” of the starship should be. After the two halves were glued together, it came to be that although this is designed to be a starship, 聽it had a sort of steampunk look. (The projection in the stern is not a smoke stack. 聽The bit of scrap plastic was there to fill a gap in the original toothbrush package). So I used a gold spray paint and decided it was a luxury liner for that alien species The Golden Starliner. Remove the outer masking tape to reveal the windows.

Later I added detailing paints, varying the gold in areas with brass and copper paints and adding colours including reds, greens and blues where appropriate.

The pirate ship

Once the Golden Starliner was complete, I decided the neat thing to do would be to have it pursued by a pirate ship. For that I already had one look in mind, that the ship would be black. 聽Although sensors in that star system not too far away might detect the ship, it would be black to make visual spotting and identification difficult. 聽The vessels are not the same scale.

The main body is a shampoo bottle. 聽The upper deck is another bit of clear plastic packaging, enhanced with one of my favourite candies, Cadbury Cream Egg packaging.

The upper deck was glued to the shampoo bottle and secured with push pins for drying. I originally had planned to remove the pins after the glue was set but decided to keep them. 聽 I used the same grey auto primer. The nacelles, as you can see, are from used highlighters.

The bow is 聽the top of a bottle of mouthwash, another cream egg package plus a bit of scrap from a juice container as the sensor unit. (Thinking that the forward sensor unit could mean the pirate ship could be part of the Star Trek universe)

The pirate ship was spray painted flat black, with the engine end of the nacelles (the highlighters) masked by tape. 聽Some parts were painted in a metallic blue, which was also used to dry brush “space rust” with some other parts also painted in different metallic colours to enhance the model. 聽Here it is seen as I am setting up to take the photographs.

Here I am setting up the chase scene for the camera, showing the completed scratch built models.

The photographs

The photographs have three elements. 聽The models are photographed in low light with a black background on 聽black cardboard. 聽The planets are created in the Photoshop filter plugin LunarCell by Flaming Pear Software. The sun was created in Flaming Pear’s Solarcell filter.

Backgrounds were public domain downloads from NASA’s Hubble website.

Lighting with a LED TV news lamp was adjusted to fit with the illumination of 聽the planet or the star.

The Golden Starliner

The pirate ship

The pirate ship orbits its base, a marginal planet where normally no one would live.

The pirate ship is an ambush predator, orbiting as close as possible to a red dwarf star so it won’t be seen.

The Golden Starliner follows its usual course from planet to planet, oblivious to what awaits it at the next star.

And the ambush predator begins the chase.

 

Camera Sony Alpha 77, Minolta 28-75 lens, Iso Auto, F32 apperture priority.

The hunt for the Millennium Falcon – the diorama

Once again the Millennium Falcon is on the run. Once again in this non-canon, non-legend Star Wars Micromachines diorama, the Falcon is trying to hide out in a crater on an unnamed, uncharted minor planet at the edge of that galaxy far far away, perhaps in the mysterious “Unknown Regions.”

The Millennium Falcon hides at the edge of the galaxy. (Robin Rowland)

The Millennium Falcon hides in a small crater on a minor planet in the middle of galactic nowhere. (Robin Rowland)

Unfortunately for the Millennium Falcon crew and passengers, a bounty hunter comes up over the planetary horizon.

A Slave 1 class scout vessel comes over the horizon of the minor planet right over the Millennium Falcon. (Robin Rowland)

 

The Slave 1 class scout hides in another crater, while waiting for the Super Star Destroyer to arrive so the bounty hunter can collect a reward.. (Robin Rowland)

The Super Star Destroyer appears in orbit over that minor planet where the Millennium Falcon is in that crater. (Robin Rowland)

So what happens next? I’ll leave that to your imagination.

Creating the dioramas and photographs

All the models are Hasbro Star Wars Micromachines that were part of a Hasbro Star Wars Micromachines Epic Battles 48 piece set that fortunately was on sale at half price in my local supermarket.

Rebelscale.com lists the MicroMachines Millennium Falcon at 1/682 scale, the Slave 1 at 1/551 scale 聽and what Rebelscale calls the Imperial Star Destroyer (if it is the same as the Super Star Destroyer) at 1/23529 scale.

The problem with the Millenium Falcon MicoMachine is that the detailing is way out of scale, especially compared to some of the other models. Also the shiny “vinyl plastic” (according to Rebelscale) didn’t really work for the much loved but by now old and beat up Millennium Falcon. 聽The model was first painted with Krylon white primer, 聽then 聽lightly sprayed with Krylon Ivory Satin. 聽I added detailing using sharpie style art ink pens. I then sprayed with Krylon Matt finish. 聽Some of colours of those inks run when sprayed with the matt finish (especially reds). 聽After the matt finish had dried, details were touched up with the pens.

I left both the Slave 1 and the Super Star Destroyer as is.

The base is聽the Lunarscape vacu-form crater mold from 聽Amera Plastic Mouldings聽聽from聽Low Prudhoe,聽Northumberland, in the UK.

The sheet of plastic was first covered with Krylon white primer. 聽Then I brush painted a thin grey wash with ordinary (not modeling) arcylic artists’ paint. 聽 I then sprayed the surface with Krylon Fusion for Plastic white paint and Krylon Make it Stone textured grey paint, two handed, at the same time. 聽 Finally I finished off with a quick pass of the Krylon Ivory Satin to give the surface some variety. 聽Serendipitously by that time the Ivory Satin can was almost empty and the spluttering spray left lumps of paint which became the surface rocks.

The spray painted Amera Lunarscape with the Micromachines Millennium Falcon (Robin Rowland)

My work table is grey and some what dirty as you can see. 聽I pinned a black cloth on the wall in preparation for photography. The light for this image was daylight through a window to the left.

Setting up the shot of the Millennium Falcon and the Super Star Destroyer (Robin Rowland)

To take the photograph of the Millenium Falcon and the Super Star Destroyer the Star Destroyer model was on a platform (actually a pile of books) also covered in black cloth. 聽The main lighting for the shoot was an LED video light high on an extended light stand at the door to my workroom. For this shot the overhead light was also on.

All closeup images were taken with a Sony Alpha 77 and a Sony 100mm prime macro lens.

I wanted imaginative backgrounds, like the covers of 50s-70s science fiction paperbacks, so I choose public domain shots from NASA.

The barred spiral galaxy NGC 6217 (NASA Hubble)

The barred spiral galaxy NGC 6217 was photographed on June 13 and July 8, 2009, as part of the initial testing and calibration of Hubble’s ACS. The galaxy lies 60 million light-years away in the north circumpolar constellation Ursa Major.

The NGC 4536 galaxy, captured here in beautiful detail by the Hubble鈥檚 Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3). Located roughly 50 million light-years away in the constellation of Virgo (The Virgin), it is a hub of extreme star formation. Released April 14, 2017聽聽ESA/Hubble & NASA

HH 901 and HH 902 in the Carina Nebula Star-forming Pillars and Herbig-Haro Objects with Jets聽 Taken in 2010 by the Hubble the region is two light years across and聽7,500 light-years away from Earth. ESA/NASA

Photoshop

For both the Slave 1 and the Super Star Destroyer, 聽the NASA image was added in a new layer, then the eraser tool was used to reveal the spacecraft which were lighted the same way as the Millennium Falcon on the surface.

The “line” between the Lunarscape craters and the work table was blended using a combination the blur tool, the clone tool and the healing brush tool.

 

“Do or do not. There is no try” – the diorama

Yoda and Luke Skywalker on Dagobah after Yoda lifts the X-Wing from the swamp, (Robin Rowland)

For my second diorama (the first was the Emperor Palpatine and his guards) I tackled two scenes, from different perspectives from The Empire Strikes Back.

Photographed from one side, young Luke has arrived at the swamp world of Dagobah and has met Yoda.

Welcome to Dogabah, young Luke. (Robin Rowland)

Shot from the reverse angle and using forced perspective, the frustrated Luke Skywalker has just watched Yoda use The Force to raise his sunken X-wing fighter from the waters of the Dagobah swamp.

Both Luke and Yoda are Star Wars Command figures, painted in the appropriate colours. The Luke figure, unfortunately, is one of the poorest in the Star Wars Command line, compared to other personalities and even ordinary stormtroopers.

The snake (the creature that ate and threw up R2 D2) is from a $2 packet I bought at a dollar store. The flying creature was a lucky addition to the background shot I chose.

Here is the concept art of the scene from the official Star Wars site

How I did created the diorama

I started with the X-Wing which I painted in the standard colour scheme. The tiny R2 unit on the model was removed since on Dagobah, R2-D2 was with Luke. Military modellers often dip figures in Miniwax wood stain to bring out details. Usually I use a light stain, Minimax Fruitwood. This time I used the darker Walnut stain and rather than cleaning most of the stain, I let it drip into the a small aluminum pan.

Yoda also was dipped but he was wiped clean.

For the X-Wing I then added deadfall Witch’s Hair lichen (Alectoria sarmentosa)聽which is common in northern British Columbia where I live.

I then built the diorama using standard materials, with one exception. The styrofoam base was small so instead of commercial model water, I used several layers of standard food cling wrap (which actually comes with a slight blue tint in a private brand version) to make the snake/monster emerge from the water. I painted the layers of cling wrap with a light brown wash.

Here’s how the diorama 聽looks.

To photograph from different angles I then chose photos that would work as backgrounds.

Did I visit Dagobah? I wish.

The background images were photographed during a canoe trip in Okefenokee National Wildlife Refugee in south Georgia, ten years ago in April 2006. 聽The photographs were printed on Epson matt paper so there would be no extraneous reflections

Background image for Welcome to Dagobah

Background image for Do or do not, There is no try.

Finally here is the X wing on the diorama 聽showing the aft end of the star fighter.

Close up images shot with a Sony A77 and Sony 100 mm macro lens. 聽Others shot with a Sony 6000.

An Imperial AT-AT on patrol in swamp

An AT-AT on patrol in swamp, planet unknown. (Robin Rowland)

Star Wars Command AT-AT photographer in the woods near my house. Now that it’s spring will be able to do more outdoor photography where appropriate (the small approx 54mm Star Wars Command figures don’t always blend into a real world setting as easily as the larger 3.5, 6 and 12 inch figures).

Shot with Sony A700 and Tamron 70 to 300 on macro mode.