Arts of Murray Elliot Breen Fine Art & Scale Model Dioramas Thu, 26 Jan 2017 06:17:13 +0000 en-US hourly 1 ABOUT MY BLOG Sun, 13 Jan 2013 00:11:00 +0000 A blog by Murray Elliot Breen, aka: surfthearts 

“About my blog called “surf-the-arts”

My former website, before 2007, contained my art and paintings of Hawaii. I lived on Oahu from 1995 – 2007. It helped to spread my name, and sell paintings and prints etc.. 

‘Lei Making’ Watercolor on Arches Paper by Murray Elliot Breen 1996

‘Lifeguard Station 4B, Sandy Beach, East Oahu’ 
Acrylic on Masonite by Murray Elliot Breen 1998
* A Limited Edition of 10 Signed Prints on Archival Paper, at $35.US + Shipping, have been produced of the above image – contact the artist for availability.
My art expanded around 2005 to include the art of Scale Modeling, and my creation of Model Dioramas.
Built and detailed Warhammer Game ‘Chaos Tank’
Built and detailed Japanese Gifu Castle on custom landscaped base

On leaving Hawaii, I decided to cancel my Hawaii directed  website. I created a free blog on Blogger, known earlier as Blogspot.  The purpose was to share with others my art, paintings, and my new found interest of modeling by using my two dimensional art talents in a three dimensional modeling world. I also wanted to blog once in a while about other people’s design, art, collectibles, and any important issues to me. My  eldest daughter, a computer science designer, has now linked my registered site’s name to my present blog ‘surf-the-arts’ at

I moved from Hawaii to British Columbia, Canada in 2007 til March, 2010. In that time I had shared over 100 blog writings. Moving again in 2011, this time to Tigard, Oregon, USA. My wife and I love it here. My youngest daughter and her family also live with us in our large home.

2012 = Home Renovations

2012 was a bad ‘blog year’ for me, with only two entries last January …even though I created several models and four unique painting projects.  Most of the year was spent time designing, and co-ordinating a major landscaping of our new property over three months, along with a stone BBQ, large dog kennel, and a do-it-yourself garden shed. It was hard work and costly, but turned out wonderful! We also did a lot of renovations with new floor materials and painting inside. Our family is now putting it to all to good use.

‘TRON Tribute’ – Acrylic + Mixed-Media, 24″x24″ by Murray Elliot Breen 2012
In 2012, I added another expansion of my art expression, by beginning to create, from previous sketches, works which include two dimensional painting, plus three dimensional objects. Elements could include recycled materials, found objects, momentos, and collectible toys. I am calling each one of these art piece’s purpose as a ‘tribute to…’
‘Korean Temple, Paolo Valley, Oahu’ 
Acrylic on Masonite by Murray Elliot Breen
Two built and detailed ‘E.F.S.F. Pegasus Class Assault Landing Craft 
SCV WHITEBASE’ by Murray Elliot Breen (each over 24 inches long)
I love sharing my art works with others on my blog. I believe this to be an important part, and fun part in my art creation. So, I’ll try to write more blogs about my works, as I have fun creating them.

My Studio
A reason I bought my new home, is the large office/studio work space with plenty of space, shelving and cupboards, used as work stations for my computer, my modeling and my painting. As a developer, my home’s previous owner used the office as a design center, and for working with clients. 
Our home also has a heated third garage that I”m transforming into a shop for my hobby use power tools. I’ve also built an hobby spray booth with exhaust.
Time to get off my computer, and start creating …and then blogging!
‘Orcas, Johnstone Strait, British Columbia, Canada’ 
Acrylic on Masonite, 1990 by Murray Elliot Breen
‘Ponte Vecchio, Florence, Italy’ 
Acrylic on Canvas, 8×10 inches, by Murray Elliot Breen 2008
 ‘Heron and Barns, West Prince Edward Island, Canada’ 
Acrylic on Masonite by Murray Elliot Breen 1991
‘Heat Exhaustion, Diamond Head Lookout, Honolulu’
Acrylic on Canvas by Murray Elliot Breen 2008
PS: Comments are really appreciated on my blog, you can also use the Sales/Contact page, or email me at  …everyone needs feedback! 
]]> 1
ALIENS Deluxe Play Set – Customized Sat, 12 Jan 2013 00:02:00 +0000 CUSTOMIZING ALIENS DELUXE PLAY SET
ALIENS Playset © 2004 by Tree House Kids

ALIENS Deluxe Playset Box Cover
ALIENS Deluxe Playset Box Back
This ALIENS Deluxe Playset features the confrontation between the Colonial Marines and the Creatures from 20th Century Fox’s sci-fi classic film ALIENS. This was the first play set licensed by Fox.
Assembly Sheet 

Play Set Contents 

The play set, out-of-the-box, contains 3 different plastic extruded floor levels with column supports, and a card photographic back wall from a ALIENS movie/film setting. Ladders, stairs, railings, and crates add to the realism. The levels have different printed metal grate floor patterns …also nicely detailed from the film. 
Seven 3 inch ALIEN Warrior figures with eight ALIEN Eggs are included.
Six 2 inch scale Colonial Marines very well-detailed from the film are included. The figure representations are Corporal Hicks, Sergeant Apone, Private Frost, Corporal Dietrich, Private Chow and Private Wienzbowski.
Also available from Tree House were mini packs of extra figures. These included ALIEN Warriors in different positions, plus the following Marines: Private Hudson, Private Valquez, and Private Drake.
Below are two photographs of the ALIENS Deluxe Play Set set-up out-of-the-box:
 Play Set as set-up ‘out-of-the-box’


Although (as shown above) very nicely created out-of-the-box as a child’s play set, I decided to customize my play set, figures and the accessories. I wanted the Marines and ALIENS positioned in a stop-action fight/battle with each other, creating a fixed ‘Action Diorama Model’.

Creation of My ALIENS Diorama Model

My Idea Steps to Give It Realism:
1. To make the card background last longer and avoid warping over time, it will need to be laminated or sealed with a coating on both sides, before securing it to the vertical plastic back supports (shown in the Assembly Sheet above).
2. The printed floor surface of the different levels would also need to be sealed.
3. All plastic looking surfaces, and accessories, such as the crates, also need to be painted, to omit the cheap or raw plastic look.
4. The molding of all ALIEN creatures is very well detailed, but they are only finished in one color – Black, so they require a re-paint and detailing for realism.
5. The ALIEN Eggs are also painted plain Black in color, and require detailing.
6. Like the ALIEN creatures, all of the Colonial Marines appear in one color – they definitely need to be fully painted.
7. As I want all figures, Marines plus ALIENS, to be in a displayed diorama fixed (glued) position, I’ve decided to remove ‘all the figures and creature’s flat stand-up bases.
8. Once all the stage, figure/creatures, and accessories, that came with the play set, have been positioned, I would add a few extra parts.
9. To finalize, I would add a ‘little greenish-copper blood’ to wounded ALIENS, and some ‘acid slime drip to floors, steps and railings. Also as part of this step I would group some ALIEN eggs together, giving it a ‘nest look’.

Note: I was able to find lots of ALIENS reference online, to help me detail all of the figures and components of this play set.

Directly below is a photo of my customized and finished ALIENS Deluxe Play Set


The background photo card panel was coated both sides in a Matte Acrylic Varnish. I also applied this to the floor levels before adding any detail. Most surfaces were scraped to the raw plastic where gluing was required. I used epoxy and super glue where suited. The ladders and rails were Red plastic, so I finished them in a darker red paint. Front and side edges of the platforms were painted, along with the floor support columns in a Middle Range Gray. 

I’ve added some more notes on the photos below:

In my battle scene there are 4 separate battle actions going on (shown above).

Lower level: 
– An ALIENS egg area, with 1 Marine and 2 ALIENS
– A Marine who has fired upon an ALIEN badly damaging it’s leg.

Middle level: 
– 3 Marines attacking an ALIEN who is retreating up a stair.
– On the other end 2 Marines have downed an ALIEN.

Top Level (small platform): 
– 2 ALIENS have entered and are looking over the railing at the battle.
– 1 Marine is ready to fire at an ALIEN climbing up towards him.

* I guess you can tell I want the good guys to win …LOL!


Above an ALIEN retreats up the stairs. I have hand painted and detailed the Colonial Marines and their weapons using colors that are repeated for all figures, example the pants and boots. There are differences in the figures wear, example: helmets and caps. Yes, I removed all of the figure’s flat stand-up bases. Nearly every figure is a different mold, which really helps the realism.


Extra parts from my recycle bin were placed around the floors to add more supplies and stored items.

Crates were painted and some of that metallic green/copper ALIEN slime was added.

Downed ALIEN shown above.

Right side view of the 3 levels, showing the ALIEN nest on the lower level, and the ALIEN retreating up the stairs on the middle level. 
I added a couple of plaster shapes into the ALIEN Egg mess here, so the egg nest protecting ALIEN could stand a little higher – making him more menacing! Bronze, Gunmetal and Chainmail Silvers were dry brushed onto all the Black ALIENS to bring out their ‘ugly’ forms!
An ALIEN guarding the ALIEN egg nest, while a Marine tries to surprise an ALIEN behind the column. The eggs were painted and detailed, and then dripped ‘slime’ was added all around. Note that I added a lot of color to the nesting material on the column tops. You can compare it to the original ‘out-of-the-box’ photos shown at the beginning of this post.
In the photos shown directly above and below, a Marine fires multiple rounds at an ALIEN severely damaging it’s leg. I cut a section out of the ALIENS leg and positioned it fallen and twisted. Another Marine works himself into the scene.

The above photo shows the conglomeration of supply/storage items that I added from my recycle bin. I added a few ALIEN eggs among these things, and a couple of crates that came with the play set. Again ‘slime’ was added also.

As you can see, with a little effort in customizing, and with extra patience painting all those figures and creatures, I think that I ended up with a nice diorama of this battle between Colonial Marines and ALIENS! Note: The play set designer(s) also deserves credit for the attention to figure and display details.

ALIENS Diorama by Murray Elliot Breen, aka surfthearts 

]]> 4
Ban Dai’s O TESTER SEABASE/COMMAND CENTER Thu, 10 Jan 2013 19:04:00 +0000 O TESTER Seabase Command Center
A Sea base, Land base, any model that equals a potential diorama – I love it! I’ve had this model for a while, and I don’t know too much about it, because the box cover and all instructions are all in Japanese. A date found on the instructions is 1999. I have completed a few land bases previously; a Macross, Thunderbird, and a Space 1999 Alpha Moon Base,, which I previously blogged on, …so I thought this would be interesting and challenging.

Instruction Sheet A

Mini Flying Craft Assembly
As well as the large 13 1/2 inch watercraft with many parts, the craft comes with four mini O Tester flying craft # 1,2,3 and 4.

As I did not find color information reference online for the large watercraft, I decided to follow the very colorful illustration on the box top – which was shown above. Also, a couple of the mini flying craft are shown in the illustration, but not the others. By looking up ‘Ban Dai O Tester’ on eBay, I found that there are other larger models, that you could purchase, of these mini ships. So I made note of the colors shown on those models online. 

Note: Reference is one of the most important things in creating your model, unless you are designing and scratchbuilding your own model.

I spray painted all the ships in a semi-gloss white acrylic and then hand painted the detail colors. When I saw the instructions above showing the numbers and identification on each vehicle, I looked for the decals – but either my model did not come with them, or possibly I misplaced them? …*#!@.

Instruction Sheet B

Instructions #3 shows the assembly of fin like hull supports, 4 propulsion hubs, and small wheels (meant for play use). The hull comes in a light blue plastic, that I didn’t like, so I finished it in a middle neutral gray, leaving the lower window areas Blue. The propulsion hubs and supports were painted in dark Gunmetal Silver, with the in and out propulsion ports being finished in Chainmail Silver. The wheels were sprayed Black. Assembly was done after all painting. Glue areas are normally scraped to the bare plastic before fusing parts.

Instructions #4 begins the assembly of Spring holders for propelling the mini flying craft (if used as a toy). Note: see also Instructions #10.

Instructions #5 is for the construction of a circular domed hanger with access (lift up front). I followed the box top for color, spraying the object parts white, and then masking when totally dried for the red areas. Inside was finished white.

Note: Most model parts were painted and detailed before securing them to the larger water craft.

Instruction Sheet C

Instructions #6 and 8

Yes, there are little mountains on this watercraft with Secret Places! One mountain has a large access door. I painted the mountain parts by hand, by using a dark Umber Brown, then dry brushing a Sepia Brown and Sepia Brown with a small amount of white to bring out the highlights, leaving the crevices and shadow areas in the Umber Brown.

Instructions #7

These instructions cover the assembly of many small parts (probably power and other ship mechanics). After assembling each little part, I spray base painted them in a Chrome Silver.

Once dry, I detailed them using White, Gunmetal and Chainmail Silvers. Color was added to a couple of parts – as shown on the box top.

The above photo shows a back/rear view of the craft’s top deck/floor with some of the power/mechanical parts installed. 

Note: Before assembling and fusing the mountains and mechanical type small parts, the base deck/floor was hand painted in an Ochre Yellow, with randomly brushed Yellow Ochre mixed with a little Sepia Brown. For a top translucent dirty look, a mixture of Umber Brown and Acrylic Medium was used which lets the under-color show through. A little Black with Acrylic Medium was dry brushed to ‘dirty-up’ some runway areas. 

Instruction Sheet D

Instructions #9

The raw plastic base deck/floor had the mechanical/power parts base shape lightly engraved into the surface, to show you exactly where to place each little part. Painting it first, I could no longer see those markings, so I just followed Illustration #9 to place each one. Note: I probably could have also made a tracing of the engraved shapes to position guide me after painting.

Illustration #10

Spring loaded parts, to catapult the mini flying craft, are highlighted in this step. Some parts are on the top deck/floor, but most are on the underside. With a little patience, I held the spring loaded little caps in place while the glue dried.

The above photo shows the deck/floor detailed, the Red and White dome positioned, the mountains in place, and some of the mechanical/power parts at the rear/back. The front runway section, shown in Illustration #10, is not installed yet in this photo. The center medical tower will be installed next, and then finally the bottom sea craft’s hull.

Instruction Sheet E

Illustration #11

All parts of the little tower top flying craft, and the medical tower were fully painted and detailed before assembling and positioning over the recessed area on the deck.

Illustration #12

This illustration shows the assembly of a runway platform section that you can raise up from the hull of the craft through the decks opening hatch doors. Note: the Last Illustration Sheet (not numbered) shown below, highlights the opening of various doors and hatches, along with the four little flying craft.

Also above, is shown the final placement of the upper finished deck, with all parts, positioned to the bottom hull.

Last Instruction Sheet

Creating a Base for our Sea Craft Command Center

A section view of the base’s construction is shown above, along with a photo below of the painted ocean I created before the clear coat, and frame finishing. The clear coat is a clear acrylic that you pour (like water) over your painting. It is liquid enough in the beginning so you can quickly smooth it out – omitting any bubbles or recesses. The base must be on a level/flat surface while applying and while the acrylic sets/dries. The clear acrylic coating comes in a bottle from Woodland Scenics. It is called “Realistic Water” …and is often used by modelers and model railroad diorama creators.

Photos of My Completed Sea Craft with Custom Base

The finished base is 10 1/2 inches x 14 5/8 inches.
PART VIII (Conclusion): SCRATCHBUILDING & KITBASHING MODELS Sun, 06 Jan 2013 01:35:00 +0000 Tutorial by John Selvia:

PART VIII (Conclusion):


My Model Creations:

Hello, as promised, I’m posting some pics of my scratchbuilt/kitbashed (don’t know exactly what term to use) spacefighter. I started with the front section of an Italeri 1/72 Mig29, and the body of an Revell 1/48 F-14, turned upside. A lot of putty and sanding was required to unite the two parts. The nose is a Super Glue cap, and the gun under it is the weapon of an Macross Valkyrie. The weapons pods are two minibombs dispenser from an OTAN missle set from Airfix, and the other missles too. The wings are from the Mig29 kit, and several bits and pieces from my spare parts box.
Photo below of Macross Valkyrie and Weapons kitbashed for my ship.


Separated ship sections interlock.

Below is a 40 inch, scratchbuilt/kitbashed original cruiser design.
In painting and ceramics I like texture too! Painting with a base of sand.

This post concludes a eight (VIII) part tutorial on Scratchbuilding & Kitbashing, originally posted by John Selvia, aka Ivanis in 2005 – 2006 on his website which is no longer available. 

John A. Selvia, 45, of Kettering, Ohio; died on March 18, 2008 (please see PART I of this series of tutorials).

“I hope you find this Tutorial Series very informative, and that it helps you in your creations, as it has done for me. Thank You, John”
Eight Part Tutorial Compiled/Edited by Murray Elliot Breen, aka surf-the-arts.
]]> 6

Tutorial by John Selvia (June 22, 2006):

Tutorial PART VII


For the sci-fi modeler, graphic designer or the interface designer, coming up with convincing runes, letters, or other alien alphabet-type concepts may be challenging.
I’ve been creating alien/fantasy/ancient alphabets for years, influenced by Japanese Kanji, Mayan symbols, Egyptian hieroglyphics, my own fascination with line, and of course, all the different runes and Elvish alphabets created by Tolkien.
Eventually, this “hobby” crept into my illustrations, interface designs, sci-fi modeling and even sculpture and ceramics. Here’s 10 symbols I made in Photoshop:

Here’s those 10 symbols used in a block of “text”, to show how the letters form “words”:

This tutorial explains some techniques on how to create your own symbols/alphabets in Photoshop (the techniques are similar for other graphics programs), but its purpose isn’t to teach you Photoshop, but you should have at least a basic understanding of that program’s drawing tools.

Here’s an interface example where I used the symbols above to make monitor readouts, console panel readouts, etc. The interface shape is a rune itself, and I used the symbols above on the monitor readout:

The next one is a ship console panel design which, when printed on transparent media, would allow light to show through where you see white.

Here, I’ve used some different symbols on the front edge of my Dropship Model.

Here’s some runes on the front of my alien temple diorama, made from balsa foam.

And here I’ve made some ancient runes to decorate the bottom of my Wounded Spirit Vessel.

Early Signs of Geekness

When I was a kid, I used to chisel exotic symbols and letters on rocks and in caves, thinking perhaps, someday someone would find my “runes” and wonder what they meant – of course, they meant absolutely nothing, but it was something fun to think about as a kid.

I haven’t cleared this tutorial with the “Official Alien Alphabet Creation Consortium”, but as an artist and a thinking person (I’m a Geek!) who has made numerous symbols in his life, I feel somewhat qualified to discuss this with others.

You can follow these techniques in Illustrator or Photoshop (or similar programs), but I’ll be using Photoshop since I own it, eh?

The English Alphabet

Before we can start creating alien alphabets, let’s talk about the English alphabet. Not because I’m some “English-only” bigot who wants to force English on the world, but because it’s what I’m familiar with.

We’re So Lucky

The English alphabet is only made up of 26 letters (like you didn’t know that). Some cultures have thousands of symbols in their “alphabet”, so we can consider ourselves lucky I guess. I can’t even imagine singing an alphabet song with thousands of letters. Yikes! 🙂

Those 26 letters can be broken down into angular letters (no curves), round letters (all curves), and hybrid letters (angular and curves). Obviously, it can also be broken down into vowels and consonants, but we’ll deal with that later.

Here’s the angular letters:

And now the curved letters:

Here are the letters that are hybrids (curves and angles):

Of course all this really depends on which font you’re using. The “Q” for example is a circle with a short straight stroke, but in some fonts, it’s a curly stroke instead. For our purposes, we’ll assume this alien civilization has developed something like good ol’ Helvetica. Plain, simple–gets the job done.

Why do we care whether a letter is straight or curved, since an alien alphabet might have hundreds (thousands) of symbols with exotic strokes?
Part of what I’m trying to accomplish when I put alien symbols on a ship, or on a ship’s console interface, is to make it look like it says something. By mixing up angular, curved and hybrid letters, we give the “text” more of a sense of readability.

Technically, you don’t need dozens or hundreds of letters to make something appear to be text.

Here’s an alien font based entirely on a box and a circle (sort of a cross between morse code and binary). Although it says nothing (or does it?), simply because I mix up the length of “words” and use double (and triple) combinations of “letters”, it almost looks like it does say something.

See? Just because we have varying word length and spaces and repetition of shape, we get the feeling this is some kind of ancient text (or future – I’m not picky), waiting to be deciphered.

Now, people who’ve studied alien culture and alien alphabets their whole lives (you know who you are) will immediately point out: “Hey, why do aliens have to have spaces between words anyway? Why do they have to have words? Why would an advanced civilization even use a written language? Wouldn’t they just communicate telepathically? Your logic is obviously flawed and you are totally wrong, so get off the web!”

To which I would reply, “As soon as you prove me wrong, I’ll retract the article.” Ahem…

Look at any of these sentences. They have a certain flow, created by variances in height, width, upper and lower case, angular and curved letters, etc.
For this tutorial, I’ll stick to “uppercase” letters, which helps make our job easier since we don’t have to do 2 versions of each symbol, and I’ll keep most letters roughly the same height. So to create a flow, I’ll mix angular and curved shapes similar to our own alphabet. In fact, to make the symbols feel more like an alphabet, we’ll steal some techniques from English sentence construction. No one will be able to read our text, but it’ll feel like it says something if we pay attention to established sentence construction methods.

This is similar to when you make a spaceship model, even if it’s a completely alien model, the modeler will still include things like doors, hatches, cockpit glass, engines, etc., so there’s a familiarity with the ship. This familiarity creates acceptance and suspension of disbelief.

“Let’s look at a really simple sentence. Like that one. Or that one. Or…”

Let’s look at a really simple sentence.

Note that we have a mix of short words
at a
A few medium length words:
Let’s look
And a couple of longer words:
really simple sentence
We have 2 words that start with the same letter:
simple sentence
A word with a double vowel:
And a word with a double consonant:
Plus, there are 6 spaces: See, there they are, all 6 of them. 🙂

So in a typical sentence, we have some spaces, we have words that start with the same letter, we have short, medium and long words, and we have double consonants. This will help us construct a convincing sentence once we get our symbols drawn. Speaking of which…

Working Off The Grid

The very first thing you must do is construct a grid. This helps keep the letters roughly the same size, helps establish a half-height point if needed, and just helps provide continuity in all our letters.

In Photoshop, you can easily create a grid by dragging out guidelines from the horizontal and vertical rulers, spacing them equally. Or, you can simply use Photoshop’s Grid option under the View Menu/Show/Grids.

And here’s my preferences for that grid.

Whichever way you do it, determine whether you want a tall letter, or a square letter, or a fat squat letter. I’ll do a square letter by defining a 160 x 160 pixel document and establish an 8 x 8 grid.

We’ll start with angular shapes to keep things simple. Make sure you put each symbol on its own layer, otherwise you end up with a jumbled mess.
This first character is going to be a symbol that might appear in not only alien alphabets, but alphabets on Earth as well-a single stroke, reduced to a rectangle. It represents first or one in so many languages (alien and non-alien alike). To make it more interesting though, we’ll cut a chunk out of the middle.

By the way, if you’ve done any of my Photoshop tutorials, you know how easy it is to cut a piece out of another piece-make a selection, then hit the delete key! So here, we used the Elliptical Marquee tool to create a circle, made sure it was centered, then hit the delete key.

Our next character will also be a common character-a two stroke character representing second or one + one.

Alright, the universal 1st and 2nd character are now out of the way, so let’s get a little more complex.

But still keeping it simple. See how easy this is using our grid? We can make thin strokes with a single vertical column of grid squares, and thicker strokes by simply using 2 or more columns.

So, basically our 3rd character is a 1-stroke, like our first character, but we’ve added a cross-bar on the top and bottom, and a balancing stroke on the left side. I centered the balancing stroke, but you could raise or lower it to vary it if you’d like.

Next, we’ll modify that character a little to create one a bit more complex by adding a second vertical thinner stroke.

Now let’s do a pair of letters that look like the same letter but with a single tiny stroke making them distinct.

Perhaps the second letter is a stressed version of the preceding one or merely the same letter used only on the end of words or something. Here’s our next 2 characters.

Simple, but with enough hooks and angles to be interesting.

Split and Hybrid Characters

The next 2 are kind of reminiscent of an English i or j because of the dot above the characters.

And a variant of the last letter.
Note we’re now doing hybrid letters that combine curves and angles. To create the curves, use Photoshop’s pen tool and make sure Snap To Grid (or Snap to Guide) under the View menu is turned on–this will guarantee junctions of curves and straight lines match up perfectly.

Now, we’re going to get a little looser with our shapes, with more curves and a more exotic look to the characters, while still keeping unity by making them feel like they belong to the other characters already created. Here is our next 6 characters. 

And that’s about it for our alien font. Oh, we could create hundreds more, but I think we have enough to make a convincing block of alien text. Here’s all our letters used in some alien text.

And here it is used in a computer screen.
Perhaps it would look better on ancient paper.

Modeling Uses

To use this font on a model, arrange the letters and fit them to the space required on the model. Print out the arrangement, then using a hobby knife, cut out the letters and use as a stencil, spray with appropriate paint. I would suggest if it is a dirty greasy spaceship, that you spray with light strokes to give the appearance that the paint is fading, then spray another light coat of a different color over that to create discoloration.

How To Use Your Symbols 

Once you’ve created your symbols, one per layer in Photoshop, create a new document that is larger than your grid size. To start, make a new document that is 1024 x 1024 pixels.

Now, drag each symbol from your grid to the new document at the bottom. This is kind of like a pasteboard, where you’ll have all your symbols ready for placement.
Once you have all your symbols in the new document, turn on Rulers (View Menu/Rulers), drag out guidelines from the horizontal ruler, equally spaced, and drag each symbol to sit on the guideline to form sentences. You can use OPTION-DRAG (PC: ALT- DRAG) to drag copies, which speeds up placement considerably. Also, you may want to turn on Auto Select Layer which will also speed placement and duplicating up.
Here’s a shot of my pasteboard, with loose jumbled symbols at bottom, and the horizontal guidelines and placed symbols at top.

PART VI: SCRATCHBUILDING & KITBASHING Sat, 05 Jan 2013 20:02:00 +0000

Tutorial by John Selvia:


Whenever I work on a spaceship model, I view the hull as sort of a blank canvas – it’s the foundation for all the detail I’m going to put on it. The way I develop details for that ship is to look at the hull and break it down into sections and sub-sections. This simplifies the task by letting me work on small sections at a time. Allows time to set achievable goals. Even though concentrating on different sections, I’m ALWAYS conscious of the fact that the entire model must look like one unit, not a collection of detailed pieces – must be tied together somehow.

You unify or connect sections together with additional detail that overlaps each section. This could be a ship’s intercoolers, pipes, or whatever. In some cases, I just use a long pieces of styrene strip with a few additional smaller pieces of strip on top of it. Some times I create a detail that rises above all other surface detail. like some kind of access boom or fuel conduit or something.

Visually this is similar to a chain with individual links. If they don’t interconnect, you just have separate links – no strength.

By linking them together – everything feels right!

Ancient Secret

One way you can create detail that doesn’t look a mess is to base your detail (loosely) on the Yin-Yang symbol.

Say What? I’m serious! Look at each part of the symbol – each part has a head which is larger; and a tail, which is smaller. Note how the head of the  white part, fits nicely into the tail of the black part and vise versa. This symbol is so compositionally perfect, so beautifully balanced, it’s scary. The artist didn’t just make 2 shapes side by side to represent balance – that would be too ordinary. No, the artist achieved a visual balance that moves, flows, comes alive.

We need to simplify the above symbol for our needs. Here is a squared off, simplified version.
Imagine them as Styrene pieces.

If we split them a bit further, stretch them we end up with something like this.

Add a bit more detail, then a little more. 


We begin to see potential starship surface detail. Below is an illustration utilizing the above technique. A re-arranging of the head/tail concept.


Illustration of 2 square pieces of styrene. It is balanced (symmetrical), but boring. No movement – it’s static – it’s safe.

Split one of the pieces into 2, still have balance, but more interesting. Repetition = rhythm, which causes the object to be more dynamic.

Add a few small rectangles, and we get more interesting surface detail.

Note how I balanced out the 3 medium size squares with multiple smaller rectangles on the opposite end.

Add a few more rectangles and a cylinder, and we have a fairly respectable piece of surface detail.

Again, I balanced out the cylinder and its connecting rectangle by placing 2 rectangular tabs on the opposite end. Remember – when you add even a small piece of styrene to a model, you’ve thrown the visible balance off a bit. You then have to balance that somehow.

Symmetry & Repetition

Okay, so it sounds like perfect symmetry is evil and should be avoided. Well, it’s okay to have some symmetrical surface detail mixed in with your asymmetrical surface detail – it provides a breather, breaks the monotony, etc.

Two examples of mirrored surface detail, which, using repetition helps to create movement, actually works pretty well as is.


A Gallery of Surface Detail
Here are some examples of surface detail that can be made with styrene strip, cylinders, and cut-out circles.


Please see the next blog which contains “Scratchbuilding and Kitbashing” Tutorial Part VII by John Selvia.

PART V: SCRATCHBUILDING & KITBASHING Sat, 05 Jan 2013 01:26:00 +0000

Tutorial by John Selvia:

Tutorial PART V

A Detailed Subsection and How It’s Constructed

*The Chopper came in real handy in creating this section of my model.
The first photo shows the piece we are going to deconstruct (break down into pieces).
Here is an exploded view rendering with all of the parts roughly in place.
Everything here except for the tank wheels is made from styrene stip, rod and sheet. It’s about 3 inches long, so won’t need much material. When together it looks simple, but as you can see, it’s made up of a few pieces. Below is an illustration of all the pieces laid out.
Here is a view of the main sub-assemblies of the piece.
Here is the first sub-assembly. I took 13 pieces of styrene rod, carefully measured and cut, and glued them together on the back rectangle right up against each other. A square or other right angle tool helps keep them parallel with the base edges.
And here’s all the tubes in their place.
Next, we need to build a box around the tubes so it looks like the tubes are down in a subsurface. Here are the box  parts.
Here is the box assembled with the sub-assembly.

Next, we add a little detail to help step-it-up to the front detail piece, sort of helping to blend the front sub-assembly and back one together.
Next is the wedge piece on the front assembly.
And the extra detail that goes on the sides of the wedge. Note the sanded round corners.
Last, we add the tank wheels (see first photo of this Tutorial PART V.
Here is the final version of the above construction combined with engine detail for my 40 inch exploration vessel.
The above photo whole engine core, was then fitted into an larger engine hull assembly shown below.
End of Tutorial PART V
The photo below shows the use of styrene tubes. You bend the tubes by holding them over a candle (not to close) until they bend/fall easily. Then quickly lay them on a grid, such as a cutting mat, to form them into a right angle – or other angle desired.

Please see the next blog which contains “Scratchbuilding and Kitbashing” Tutorial Part VI by John Selvia.
PART IV: SCRATCHBUILDING & KITBASHING Fri, 04 Jan 2013 23:54:00 +0000

Tutorial by John Selvia:

Tutorial PART IV

Surface Detail Build-Up

Okay, we have our aspirin bottle with a styrene sheet applied, we have spare model parts, and we have our styrene sheet strip cut to size with a Chopper or X-Acto knife. We’re ready to lay stuff down.

You now can use regular model glue to attach smaller styrene pieces since we wrapped the bottle(s) with styrene sheet first. We glue smaller pieces partially around the bottle to create raised panels on the sheet that is already there. Vary the thickness, length and width of the pieces (1 or 2 inches long and a half inch or so wide), and offset the pieces so the edges do not line up.

Next, add a second layer of smaller panels on top of SOME of the other panels (don’t overdo this – you need just a few additional panels on top of the previous ones).
Now, cut a bunch of shorter rectangular pieces from your styrene strip, and place those on. Again, don’t overdo it, just a few to bring out detail.

Rounded Panel Corners

I use rounded panels quite a bit – and sometimes rounded smaller rectangles on top. 

First, use a Sprue Cutter, X-Acto knife or scissors (if sheet is thin enough), and cut off the corners at a 45 degree angle. Next, use 320 or 240 grit sandpaper, until you get your desired roundness. On thicker stock use 80 or 100 grit.

More Interesting Detail

What is a Nibbler?  A Nibbler is primarily used to cut designs into sheet metal PC Cases. But I’ve discover a better use – to make perfect rectangular cuts in thin sheet plastic. 

You use it like this: Place the sheet plastic under the cutting head and squeeze the handle to make the first cut. Continue cutting around the edge to get the pattern you want.

The Nibbler will only cut a small amount into the edge of the plastic, but if you keep pushing it forward, you can make your cuts deeper with each squeeze of the handle. 

The end result are panels that look very much like the panels on a Star Wars Millennium Falcon. Yes there was a Nibbler in 1977. When done cutting, use sandpaper to round corners if you prefer. 

Here are a few Nibbler pre-cut panels.


Once you’ve got a single bottle built up, it’s time to create more. Repetition adds to a model’s personality and sense of realism. Not only the small details (like rectangles), but also repetition of larger forms (like multiple bottles).

Thickness of the chosen sheet material should suit the design scale of your model.
Closeup of the Middle Section
Note the box used to create the extension with the small bottle. This was easily made with pieces of sheet styrene shaped and glued together.

Closeup of Top Section
Need a spacer? Make it by cutting out 2 bigger circles in the diameter you need, then cut holes in the middle of them to fit the pipe that runs down the center of all your objects. Next, cut out a srip the height of the spacer and bend and glue between the 2 circles.
End of PART IV. A few more photos of Nurnies applied.


Please see the next blog which contains “Scratchbuilding and Kitbashing” Tutorial Part V by John Selvia.

]]> 1
PART II & III: SCRATCHBUILDING & KITBASHING Fri, 04 Jan 2013 22:58:00 +0000

Tutorial by John Selvia:

Tutorial PART II

A Backbone

Using the manufactured cylindrical shapes (Aspirin and Vitamin bottles) to create a form requires a backbone. The bottles are centered on and attached to a piece of plastic pipe. You carefully need to drill centered holes in the caps and bottle bottoms, at the size of the center pipe. Slide the bottles and caps on and glue in place with epoxy or super glue.

This has created our basic form, but to make it look like a real object (shown above) , rather than a bunch of bottle parts, we need to add details. Most of the detail will consist of applying styrene strip, rods and tubes, that you can purchase at your local hobby store or online hobby sources.

Before Beginning Construction

Removing Labels

A combination of applying dish soap overnight, then putting hot water inside the bottle, with the bottle sitting in a pan of hot water. You may still need to use a scrubby to get off the residue. Glue-Off, available at hardware type stores, can be used also – test a spot first. Rough up the paper surface of the label gently, so the un-stick solution can soak into it. This will help speed the process. Wash with dish soap, rinse and dry thoroughly afterwards.

Incompatible Surfaces

In most cases a bottle’s plastic surface is NOT compatible with normal plastic modeling parts and styrene that you will want to adhere. The simplest way, is to attach a thin sheet of styrene (.010 or .020) to the Aspirin bottle first. You must use Epoxy or Super Glue). TIP: Use Epoxy, that you can spread on thin and cover the area evenly, rather than applying in thick lines, which may show through your thin styrene wrap-around. Then you can use standard modeling glue to attach the numbs to the styrene.

Basic Steps

Measure and test fit a sheet of styrene by wrapping it around the bottle so it ends where you began. Mark and use a framing square or other right angle (90 degree) tool, to accurately cut the sheet.

I use Super Glue on the edge of the first wrap sheet to anchor it to the bottle. NOTE: It must be absolutely perfectly straight before glue applied, or the sheet will be crooked when applied.

To pull the sheet tight around the bottle and hold it while the epoxy glue sets, use a Masking Tape Clamp. Attach a piece of masking tape to the trailing edge, pull it tight without breaking the tape, and tape it to the leading edge of the sheet. Wait for glue to cure before handling the bottle(s).

Assembly: Shown below are photos of bottles (basic form parts) with styrene wrap ready to be assembled and detailed. You can change your mind about the design positioning of shapes, when satisfied, assemble and glue them in place to the center tube, and each other as shown in the photo at the beginning of this Part II Tutorial. 


Tutorial PART III


Adding lots of detail and texture to your Starship will give Interest and ‘Guts On The Outside’. We can’t add gas cans, tarps, sleeping bags, tools and equipment crates to the outside of a Starship, like you can to a tank model. We can add texture to our ship using Nurnies. Nurnies are the small details on a model that add to its texture and interest – some serve a purpose, others are just design texture.

To create cool details, I use a combination of small rectangles of styrene sheet, chunks of styrene strip, recycled household parts, and parts from old model kits.

For a large Starship with hundreds of small cut-out parts – buy a chopper. The Chopper is hands down, my #1 tool for creating surface detail. It is like a paper cutter with measuring ruler for styrene. Your blade must be sharp for accuracy!

Photos below show surface detail created with lots of little Chopper-cut rectangles.


Please see the next blog which contains “Scratchbuilding and Kitbashing” Tutorial Parts IV by John Selvia.

]]> 3
PART I: SCRATCHBUILDING & KITBASHING Fri, 04 Jan 2013 21:16:00 +0000

NOTES #1: Comments on the following Tutorial “Scratchbuilding & Kitbashing” PART I to VII, compiled by Murray Elliot Breen aka surf-the-arts -artist, designer, scale model and diorama builder.

A few years ago, around 2007, I came across a online website with excellent information on Scratch and Kit Building. 
The link was and also noted was the following “Written by Vanya”. While recently searching I sadly found out that this site and the information tutorial has disappeared on the internet.

Luckily I previously printed out each page of the Tutorial in Black & White and Color from the site (but some pages were not fully captured). Now in January of 2013, I have re-written that online tutorial below, with scans of the original photos, and with some scans of intact pages that I originally printed.

Why did I bother to do this? Because I felt personally that this article should be shared with every scale modeler. That they would find the following tutorial extremely helpful; no matter what kind of modeling they create.  So, I decided to publish this tutorial on my blog, even though I do not have any permission from the original artist/modeler/author. 

I have extensively searched to find the tutorial information and the original person/author Vanya – with no luck at the end of 2012.

Vanya’s original quote on the purpose of this tutorial: “This tutorial seeks to pass on some of the knowledge, tips, tricks and techniques that I’ve learned over the years in hopes that others might get the scratchbuilding/kitbashing bug as I did.”

NOTES #2: On January 3rd, 2013 I found this post by ‘dicnar’ at in which the person was looking for John Selvia, aka Ivanis, and he was looking for the “Scratchbuilding/Kitbashing Tutorials”. He noted he had no luck as he found out that John Selvia had passed away. Online dicnar’s links did not work either.

Finding Selvia’s name information led me to finding the following: 

John A. Selvia, 45, of Kettering, Ohio; died on March 18, 2008 from a heart attack, at Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton, Ohio. 
He was preceded in death by his mother, Ruth, and his brothers Roger and David. As the Art Director for Channel 2 News in Dayton, Ohio, he had a unique talent for which he received four Emmy awards during the ’90s. In the late ’80s he had defeated cancer.
John Selvia, aka Ivanis. aka Vanya also I presume.
John apparently was an excellent artist, modeler, Photoshop guru, and maintained and He also loved video games, and was learning Russian.

John Selvia’s post on Modelmaking:

Modelmaking – The Next Best Thing to Sculpting by John Selvia

I Have Been Modeling Since 7 Years Old

Like many modelers at a young age, I started off with your basic car models, especially dragsters and funny cars, then started doing semis and tanker trucks.
Later, I got interested in super detailing those models by adding spark plug wires to the engines made from black thread dipped in wax, radiator hoses made from the flexible part of flexible straws, cutting doors out with a jewelers saw and hinging them to open and close, and constantly trying to find ways to make the models more realistic. But it wasn’t enough…

Tanks For the Memories

I went through a major airplane phase after that, primarily World War II P-51Ds and B-29s among others. After burning out on cars and planes, I fell in love with armor modeling, especially German armor, but nearly anything with treads (never appreciated Allied armor-I felt their design was weak from a visual standpoint and I hated the Sherman tank’s design).
Again, my attention turned to details, and I started weathering the models heavily, and adding jerry cans, tent rolls, tools, tank tracks, crates and boxes and anything else I could think of to make them more realistic. Then I started reading Shepherd Paine’s diorama tutorials (included in many tank model kits).
Dioramas are like small scenes where a story takes place in a moment in time-A burned out shelled tank runs off the road into a farmhouse, or a tank that’s wrecked on a bridge has to be moved so the other vehicles can get by. I’d spend days with plywood and a jigsaw and a can of spackle making blown-up buildings, roads, bridges, etc., to get that spark of realism and to exercise my creativity. I loved carving and pitting the spackle to give it that “wartime” look and feel.
I began to realize that the creative part was what did it for me…Then that little movie by George Lucas came out in 1977 and everything changed. My art, drawings, model building, everything…�

Science Fiction Invades My Brain!

I still love a good tank model from time to time, but my passion for the past decade or two has been science fiction ship/vehicle/figure modeling, thanks in a big way to Star Wars and the model work of Industrial Light and Magic.

At first, I only built purchased kits (otherwise known in the modeling universe as “off the shelf” kits) from my favorite TV shows like Lost in Space, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Battlestar Galactica and especially Star Trek. I was also a huge fan of anything with Gerry Anderson’s name on it, like Space 1999 and UFO, but couldn’t find a lot of models from those shows.
At that time, I also did a lot of Aurora models like Planet of the Apes, Forgotten Prisoner of Castle Mare, all the Universal monster model kits, dinosaur models, etc. Then when Star Wars came out, that was it. I purchased every Star Wars ship model known at the time, and was in modeling heaven. My favorites were the X-Wing, the Millenium Flacon, The TIE Fighters, Darth Vader’s TIE Fighter and a few others.
But the creativity wasn’t there that I had enjoyed in armor modeling. You couldn’t exactly build a diorama of a burned out building like you could with tank models, or put mud and grass on a starship like you could with tanks and cars. No architectural destruction, bomb craters in roads.
Yeah, something was missing… 

Enter Scratchbuilding and Kitbashing

When Star Wars first came out, I was amazed with all the detail the ships had. It was as if someone turned the ships inside out and all the functional stuff was on the outside. I had never seen ship designs like that before-ships in the Star Trek universe were smooth with no visible signs of working parts. But Star Wars ships had incredible detail and lots of parts that looked like they could DO something (known as nurnies in the effects industry). That triggered my passion for the detail work and creativity that TV ships lacked.
I started watching anything and everything on the making of Star Wars, even stuff non-model related (I think I’m the only person alive who knew who Ben Burtt was in 1977, only because I saw this great PBS special on the “Making of Star Wars’ Sound Effects” about him).
Through this research, I discovered that they made their ships out of basic materials (wood, metal and plastic for the superstructure) and then used model kit parts to super detail the main structure of the ship. Wow! Who thought of that!? The technique of using model kit parts on your own model is called kitbashing. Making your own ships from scratch and not from a store bought kit is called scratchbuilding.
That did it. I was hooked, and ever since then, I’ve been making scratchbuilt/kitbashed models.

Tutorial by John Selvia:


Tutorial PART I

This tutorial passes on knowledge, tips, tricks and techniques for Scratchbuilding/Kitbashing. Techniques can also be applied to 3D Modeling, as the thought processes are quite similar.

Concentration here is on Found Objects as the basis of a form. I look to manufactured product containers for the basic shapes I need, then build on those with styrene sheet, tube, other found objects and steal detail parts from other kits (called Kitbashing) to make the Starship of my dreams.

These methods are not true Scratchbuilding, but a combination of Scratchbuilding and Kitbashing.

To Scratchbuild Means to See the World in a Different Way

When you go into a hardware store, or even a grocery store, force yourself to start looking for product containers that have interesting shapes. Look at it and think “Wow – There sits my next starship engine, or that deodorant stick case would make a great hand phaser with added parts. Many normal retail store and building items, plus recycled home items can be used, or applied to, in a hobby Scratchbuilding way. Example: perforated metal patterns, small tiles, plumbing PVC parts, thousands of craft store items, artificial plants, watch parts, beads, jewelry, thrift and dollar store treasures, etc., etc.

In art school and drawing classes I learned that the most important part of learning to draw isn’t what technique you develop or how cool it looks, but it’s more important to see.

By learning to see, they mean to look at something, break it down into recognizable shapes and negative space, be able to recognize what angle an arm comes out from the body that’s resting on that knee, what is the true shape of the contour of that wine bottle, what is that person’s nose really shaped like and how high is it in relation to the face etc.

Learn to do that, and you will start to draw successfully. Learning to see as it relates to scratchbuilding models is a little different, but the desired outcome is the same – you will be more successful at it, if you can learn to see objects not as bottles or containers, but as parts of a model ship or prop.

Ergonomic Design

Computer Aided Design, Drafting and something called Nurbs changed the way products are made and designed. Bathroom products have ergonomic, fantastic shapes that can look futuristic with the right amount of detail (called Nurnies) and a good paint detailing. Deodorant cases and shampoo bottles make great phasers or starship engine nacelles or futuristic weapons. Water bottles, and fancy flashlight casings, etc. can be your best friend when you are scratchbuilding.

A Weapon Design made out of Household Items

Did you recognize any of these items? You may have several of them in your bathroom right now! Below is a detail photo of the weapon’s center. Recognize the big object in the middle?

Figure it out yet? This view shows two of the same object types connected together.
If it’s not immediately obvious, don’t feel bad. That’s the idea – take ordinary objects, add some detail parts and viola! instant sci-fi weapon!

The two objects connected together are Aspirin Bottles.

The next image is the weapon’s front. Recognize the household items?

I’ve used two Nestle Quick Chocolate Drink Caps + a plastic Toilet Paper Roll Holder.

The Weapon Parts

In the first photo below, the dark object center front is the 2 chocolate drink caps glued together. The long white tube is the spine of the whole weapon – which is mostly covered in the final design. The half-tube “cage” is half of the toilet paper roll holder. The small cap object on front left is a new floor bolt cover from a commode. The smaller tubes and styrene strips make up a lot of the detail surrounding the Aspirin bottles, drink caps, etc. The second photo below shows some details made from the tubes and strips.

Part I Conclusion

Here are 3 ship or tank type guns made out of styrene tubes and strip. On the first one, I used a gun from a tank model to give it extra detail – this is the Kitbashing part. The Styrene raw material

Below is the first gun, a cannon, ready to be sanded and painted. Weapon was made to rotate 360 degrees.

The second gun is made from styrene tubes, sheet stock, and a long version of the commode bolt cover.
The third gun, is a projectile tube launcher. Lots of small parts, but most of the work is in the 360 degree rotation and tilt capability.

Please see the next blog which contains “Scratchbuilding and Kitbashing” Tutorial Parts II & III by John Selvia.

]]> 4
Length: 250.0m Width:108.0m Height 97.0m Weight: 68,000t Output: 550,000hp 
Armaments: 580mm Doublebarreled Cannon, Doublebarreled Mega Particle Cannon x2, Stem Missile Launcher x24, Stern Missile Launcher x6, etc., Loading:MS x3.


I introduced this model in my previous blog: I finally got around to assembling and detailing them this past Summer of 2011.

The White Base model is 1/400 scale, and measures 25 inches long x 17 inches wide x 11 inches tall when completed. I have completed two matching White Base ships.

After all the model part were cleaned up, sanded, and then primed and finished in White Satin Acrylic, I organized the same/similar parts on 3 large plastic foldable tables that I use when needed. I decided to complete the models in colors shown on the huge model’s box, following the instruction pamphlets interior color illustrations, found internet materials and photos of this Gundam craft. I thoroughly studied the Japanese illustrated instructions which were excellent as usual, even though I couldn’t read the Japanese type content. This helped in deciding which model components I could put together before color spray painting. And which parts required interior and other fine details before assembling as a whole.

Basic Colors are White, Bright Red, Bright Navy Blue, Bright Medium Yellow and Black.
I added a Deeper Wine Red, a Deeper Navy/Prussian Blue and a Medium Cool Grey to some exterior parts (soften some of the harsh solid colors). The ship’s body panel lines were infilled/detailed with a fine Black Sharpie Pen after painting the basic colors. I purchased some brand new Gundam fine point markers, but they didn’t work – dry or garbage!
The interior wall panels and floors were sprayed with an Acrylic Plastic Paint in a Bronze/Steel finish. Interior fine details were added using Silver and Gunmetal Steel Colors along with Red, Green, Yellow and Aluminum Control Panel details.
I also added a Bright Green for lights, and Liquitex Acrylic Fluorescent Orange for warning/hazard lights – example on wing tips.
The model comes with interior wall seats for mini Gundam figures. Three figures are supplied – each comes with a little stand. Front, Rear and Side Access Doors are hinged and open for role playing. Also, a large top section lifts off – access to a storage area. Top cannon guns are also accessible and raise up. As I had two ships, I displayed one with Cannons visible top and sides, and the other in the closed position.
After completing the painting and details and panel lines, I mixed a little Medium Gray with Acrylic Matte Varnish and brushed it over the ship’s White. This made it not so stark, or too clean/fresh looking. A few supplied WB Logos were added, and I cut out of red vinyl a number 3 and 4 for the wings of each ship.

The Model’s Stand was finished in Acrylic Plastic Paint in a Bronze/Steel finish with the supplied Name Identification Brass Colored Sticker.

These were a challenge, and certainly the largest models I have created. I do have one more in a box – I’ll save it for the future! I’d love to finish it in a ‘BAPE’ Camo Finish!
]]> 1
ALIEN CREATURE MODELS Mon, 02 Jan 2012 01:42:00 +0000 Halycon ALIENS – ALIEN WARRIOR with BASE and EGG




I looked online for finished models of these creature kits, finding only one or two that were done well. I also viewed a couple of videos from the Alien’s Movies, making some notations.

I started by putting together the figures, which was very simple. Once the glue had set and dried overnight, I sanded and filled the model seams and gaps with Golden Gel Mediums ‘Molding Paste’, which is a 100% Acrylic Polymer Dispersion. This can be applied with a palette knife or similar tool. Right away, I just wipe off the excess paste using Q-Tip Swabs, and then lightly sand again when dry. 

Secondly I covered the complete creature models by brushing on a coat of Acrylic Matte Black mixed with a little Matte Medium Varnish, making sure all the crevices were filled.

At this point I decided what color direction I was going to use, based on reference found and the colored model box illustrations.. I would complete both figures, although different models, using the same color theme. I decided to follow the basic painting directions given in the above illustration and notes. I did not want to use blacks! Both figures shown below were fully detailed and completed before I decided how to finish the supplied plastic bases, and the one alien’s egg.

Note, that I also usually fasten the supplied, light in weight, plastic base of a figure/creature, to a more solid/sturdy wood base. I will discuss this later.


With a flat brush I lightly brushed coats of paints over the Matte Black coated figures. When mixing the Acrylic Color I also add few drops of Matte or Gloss Acrylic Medium/Varnish to the paint. This makes the lightly applied paint a little translucent – allowing the under color(s) to show through. As I wanted the Alien Creatures to be a little slimy/yucky, I used Gloss Medium Varnish.

Acrylic Colors used were Sepia Brown, Burnt Umber, Raw Sienna, Taupe & White.

Note, the supplied clear head dome was actually fused on after the model was totally completed.

Gunmetal Silver was used for the teeth, with a pale Yellow/Green Slime coating.
Lots of Acrylic Gloss Medium was added to a Sepia/White paint mixture to make the tail very slimy looking.
I also melted a bit of Green Plastic Sprue and fused it to the Alien’s teeth/mouth, creating the Green Acid Slime drool that burns the floor below in the movie!
The figure was not fastened to the base until the base was completed. Pegs on the creatures feet bottoms were temporarily inserted into drilled holes for this photo.
After removing the creature, the molded alien green plastic base was secured to a purchased wooden artist’s paint box frame (discussed in my blog ““). 

The Alien Egg was positioned and glued. I also drilled and inserted a small screw from below. A bit of Acrylic Molding Paste was used to fill around the bottom of the egg to make it more realistic. The top of the Wooden Base, The Egg and Plastic Base was painted with a coat of Matte Black, like the figures were previously. You will see in the above photo, that I added some fine hobby Sand into the acrylic black wet paint to extend the rough effect onto the flat wood base, and to the lower portion of the egg.
After viewing a lot of Alien Egg reference I hand painted the egg and surrounding  base using Pale Yucky White-Yellows and Sick Greens. A little Red and Dirty Violet Purple was added to the Greens. Several coats of Clear Acrylic Gloss was added to the Egg’s top entrance/exit for more Slime! When totally dry the figure was mounted to the base.
I’ve mentioned before that I keep a bin of plastic household parts, that may be handy in my model creations. Well, this linear plastic strip that was left in a garbage box by my telephone installer, was the exact same height as the wooden base box, and had the design that I was looking for in an Alien ship type  metal. I cut it to size with a knife and fused it to the sides with a caulking gun of Panel Adhesive. With a  little touch up on the corners, I painted it in a Gunmetal Silver.
Above my completed ALIENS – ALIEN WARRIOR with EGG
I chose a purchased wooden plaque from a craft store. Painted it Matte Black with a flat brush letting the strokes show. The edge of the wood was stained with a coat of clear varnish.
The supplied plastic base floor tile was sprayed with a Metallic Bronze-Silver color, and then drilled and secured with a couple of flat head small nails. A small chisel was used to gouge the floor tile, representing the creature’s slime acid burning through the metal floor. Felt pads were added to both base bottoms.
Above my completed ALIEN 3 – CREATURE with BASE

The above models were created by Murray Elliot Breen during the late summer of 2011.
]]> 2
A Firm Foundation Makes A Huge Difference Wed, 11 May 2011 23:56:00 +0000 A Little Robot Guy:

Two years ago I completed a little Japanese ‘Robot Guy’ (picture above). He is about 2.375 inches high. I’m not even sure what he’s called (his official name), or what he belongs to (Anime, Gundam or ?), because the box and instructions are all in Japanese. Anyhow, I had put him up on a shelf for a while, and then moved him into a corner in a display cabinet where he was hidden by other little fellows, and sci-fi monsters. What should I do with him? I’ll explain next with a recent trip I made!


Recyled Building Materials Trip:

Last week I picked up at a local Recycle Building Material Store several square wooden cube racks just under 2 foot square (shown above). I have no idea what they were originally used for, the shop didn’t know either. I plan to make a couple of large display cases for displaying by Japanese Bottle Cap Figures. I will share this later …back to this blog’s purpose.

While strolling through all the neat recycled building supplies, I found several tables cluttered with smaller wood, and hardware items, for a dollar or less. There among the conglomeration of old and new items were several wooden plaques, old and new (shown above). I bought a few of these as they make cheap model bases. I have used some of these before – the trick is being creative with them!

A Firm Foundation for my Little Robot Guy:

Placing The Figure:

I used one of the smaller wood pieces for this figure. It measures 5 inches long x 3 inches wide. I masked the lower frame all around with masking tape, to temporarily protect it while working on the upper flat base. Because the Little Robot Guy had a work/construction equipment look, especially with those big claw hands, I decided to use a stone/rock looking base. I placed the figure by gluing his feet with construction adhesive. I use No-More-Nails adhesive in a caulking gun. I squeeze a bit on a piece of scrap plastic, and apply it to an object using an artist’s Palette Knife.

The Surface Materials:

I keep a selection of Railroad Modeler’s stones in various sizes (available at Plus I use real stones that I have collected from craft stores, landscape gardening stores, or from looking down! The largest of the stones shown above were glued with the construction adhesive mentioned. For smaller granular size stone/gravel, I apply White Glue, or Acrylic White Modeling Paste to the surface, and then sprinkle the stone over. I lightly tap the top of the applied stones with my finger, and then tip the surface, so that the unglued stones fall away. If you miss a spot – just repeat.

Color Design:

The larger stone had natural sand yellow/beige colors which went well with the figure and the natural light color of the wood base. I found one size of granular stone, that was also in this color range, so I used it. A very fine stone was a charcoal grey color, so after I applied it and let it dry, I mixed a little Acrylic Bronze Yellow with 40% White, and lightly brushed it over the Charcoal Grey stone and elsewhere to highlight and blend the overall color. Lastly, the masking tape was removed from the lower frame area, when the top surface was dry, and a Clear Matte Acrylic Varnish was applied.


Other Wood Bases I Have Customized:

Above a Spray Painted Base, with Painted Rocks (Formed from Plaster), and applied Woodland Scenics Shrubbery. (the Blue on the figure is Glitter Nail Polish)

Above a Spray Painted Base, with a Base Size Plaster Rock Spray Painted and Hand Painted with Metallic Paints.

Above a Hand Painted Base, with a Textured Thin Acrylic Sheet Back Painted and Fused to Surface.

Above a Hand Painted Base, with a Base Size Plaster Rock Hand Painted with Acrylic and Metallic Nail Polish.

Above a Spray Painted Base, with Tape Masked and Sprayed Metallic Bronze Squares.
As you can see, What these cheap little wood bases become, is governed by your imagination!
Two Stone Castles – Part 2. Mon, 09 May 2011 01:43:00 +0000 This is a continuation of my previous blog ‘Two Stone Castles – Part 1‘.

MiniArt’s Medieval Castle Kit No. 72005, Scale 1:72 is similar in fabrication and assembly as to Kit No. 72004 (Kit No. 72005 is shown above).

Architectural Plan Change!

I mentioned in Part 1. that I did not assemble the castle sections and towers in the layouts suggested by MiniArt (top photo above), but that I exchanged the castle components using both kits to create my own two castles (photo shown directly above of Kit No. 72005 with changes).

Castle Finishing Is The Same As The Previous Castle Kit No. 72004:

The front view above, shows that I detailed and painted the castle using the same techniques and colors as Kit No. 72004.

A sheet of Styrofoam 16 inches wide x 14 inches deep, and 1 inch thick was glued into an identical painted wood frame box as used for Kit No. 72004. Each section of the castle walls and towers were glued to the Styrofoam in position.

The Hint of a Moat:

At the front center edge of the castle model diorama, the Styrofoam was cut away creating the Moat. Acrylic Molding Paste was applied to the slope of the cut away, and when dried Greys and Black Acrylic Paint was applied to give the effect of a rough stone slope (shown above and below).

I also added some ‘don’t get too close’ stakes into the moat slope (shown above).


The interior ground/floor of the castle was painted in dirt colors. The exterior was landscaped using Acrylic paint for ground and grass. Bushes and trees were added along with a couple of large barrier rocks at the front wall on each side of the drawbridge entrance. These were painted a stone color to match the stone type used for the castle walls.

Fresh Foods For All:

At the rear of the castle I created a painted and landscaped little garden, with a wood rail fence, created from Balsa Wood, and then dry brush painted with Burnt Umber and Black Acrylic paint.

Courtyard and Lodging:

For the interior courtyard I added a stone walkway from the front tower to the back quarters, along with doors, ladders and a tree (shown above). Using Balsa Wood I created, glued, and painted the wood buildings butting it up against the interior stone walls. Doors and Window Shutters were also made from Balsa Wood.

Notes: Like my previous castle, I will be adding drawbridge chains, a flag pole, and painting some figures to finish.

I have enjoyed sharing these two castles with you – thanks for viewing!

]]> 3
Two Stone Castles – Part 1. Sun, 08 May 2011 05:00:00 +0000 Except for a few minor details, I have just completed two Medieval Fortress/Castles produced by MiniArt – Kit No. 72004 and 72005. The models are marked as 1:72 scale, and come as unassembled plastic parts on thick, large sprues. Instructions are through numbered illustrated parts with arrows and symbols.

Instructions are marked: Copyright 2004. MiniArt Ltd P.Box 1432, Simferopol, 95000, Ukraine
Email: Printed in Ukraine

On the cover sheet of the instructions it tells about the kit:

Medieval Castle XII – XV c.

The first castles were founded in the IX (9th) century at the territory of France, Germany and Northern Italy. The X (10th) century was the beginning of stone castles with high towers. The towers were the inhabited places for the nobility, and the defense line. The small castles and towers defended strategically important objects like bridges, and the approaches to their town. A fortified castle became a symbol of the Middle Ages, like its owner knight. This kit gives the opportunity to make a Medieval Castle which was typical to Western Europe in the XII (12th) – XV (15th) century.

Instruction cover sheets for MiniArt Kit No. 72004 and 72005
(click on any photo to enlarge)

A Major Design Change:

Kit No. 72004 is the smaller of the two castles. After assembling all of the basic wall and tower parts, and laying them out in the assembly of each castle, as per the supplied renderings, I noted that I personally did not like the look/design of either castle.

The illustration for 72004 showed two slim rectangular towers. The illustration for 72005 showed two heavy looking square towers (both assembled castles shown above). The two rectangular towers seem to compete against each other in the model 72004 – looking too similar in shape. And the two square towers of 72005 also compete and make the castle layout look extremely heavy. Of course, these observations are my opinions. So, as the dotted directional arrows show, in the above top cover illustrations, I moved a few parts around in building my castles (also shown in the photo below).

Creating my castle – Kit No. 72004:

I began by following the instruction sheet directions and gluing the various castle components together with modeling glue (Testor’s Cement – Red Tube). Wall joints and the castles parapet walls required ‘some body work/filling. I use Acrylic Heavy Body/Hard Molding Paste. I apply it using a metal artist’s Palette Knife and clean up any excess with Q-Tip swabs (I go through a lot of Q-Tips). When dry the paste hardens making the part much stronger. It is also easy to paint over. I also add the paste to the inside of castle seams/joints. The castle tower and wall parts do not come with any bottom pieces, so I cut pieces to fit using Balsa Wood. This gives me a firm surface for gluing to the base.

Painting & Detailing the Castle Parts:

Using acrylics I painted all the stone castle parts using a medium dark grey (60-70% grey). When dry, using a 3/4 inch flat soft brush, I lightly brushed over the medium dark grey with a lighter ‘medium grey (40% grey). This leaves the darker grey showing in the castle stone joints. I also mixed a little Flat Black with Acrylic Medium for darkening the underside of certain castle stonework (this makes the color translucent -like watercolor, letting the bottom/underneath color show through). Separately, various small parts such as doors, hatches, front gate, ladders, flagpole etc. were painted using an Acrylic Burnt Umber. Black, or Grey, with Acrylic Medium to show an older, weathered, or dirty look. Parts were glued when dried. Using some recycled credit card plastic, I also added a stone ground area/patio in front of the back tower (see photo above).

A Base For My Castle:

After temporarily butting all the castle parts together, (shown in the above castle photo) I cut a piece of Styrofoam 9 3/4 inches x 12 inches. I put the castle pieces on the Styrofoam and marked with a pencil lightly the total castle outline. I painted the ground soil, trodden areas, and grass areas. I glued a few stones (using No-More-Nails construction adhesive), and applied a little landscaping using trees, bushes and firs to the surface. The jagged Strofoam edge was cleaned up a little using Acrylic Molding Paste, and when dried painted Flat Black.

Securing the Castle Components to the Base:

Starting with main square castle tower at the front, each castle piece was positioned and glued (using No-More-Nails construction adhesive) onto the Styrofoam base. When dried, Acrylic Molding Paste was palette knifed carefully into the joint corners, and to the bottom edge of the castle where it meets the styrofoam base all around. Each area was cleaned up right away with Q-Tips. When totally dried, the joints were touched up with the stone castle Greys I used previously.

Landscape Details

A Box Frame for the Castle’s Styrofoam Base:

I made a box frame with bottom, using Hardboard, and a wood frame/trim moulding measuring 1 1/2″ x 1/4″ (Found it available in 4 foot lengths at Home Depot). Construction grade Carpenter’s Glue was used to put the pieces together.

For this castle model (shown in photos below) I painted the frame using the Dark Grey that was used for the stone castle (The moulding frame could be finished by painting, staining , or ? …up to you and the design look you want for your particular model).

Notes: I have ordered some figures/people to add later. I also will add the drawbridge chains at the entrance.

For my next blog I will show and share details on the other castle I have built, and mentioned at the beginning of this post, ‘MiniArt’s Medieval Castle Kit No. 72005’.

]]> 1