Scratchbuilding Demo - Photo demo of a Y-Wing and a Cardassian Ship

- Article and Photos by Stephen L.

This article is not intended to be a fully comprehensive demo of how to scratchbuild, but rather a few pictures demonstrating some of the steps taken to have a model go from sheet styrene and a few model kit parts, to a finished scratchbuild.

I started my 1/24th scale scratchbuilt Y-Wing Fighter with the small MPC model kit and some diagrams from the West End Games Sourcebooks and the 'Art of Star Wars' books. As with any scratchbuilding project, in my opinion, half the project is reference gathering and blueprinting, and the other half is split between actual construction and painting.

After drawing the Y-Wing at the model's
full size of 1/24 scale, I started measuring and cutting plastic. The ship was built in components. The engines were largely vaccuforms from Stage 1 of a 1/144 scale Saturn V rocket. The caps were clear sphere halves from a craft store (I couldn't track down the proper L'Eggs containers) and the long struts were model railroad 'T' beams. The wing connecting was built as a one-piece hollow block of sheet styrene and the aft hull was built similarly with a hole cut into it for the wing to slide in.

All the other major components were also built up as 'boxes' of sheet styrene, some differently shaped depending on the desired outcome. The shape of the front of the Y-Wing was skinned over several formers in the shape of the outer hull; you can see at least one of the shapes with a cut into it where the Rebel Pilot sits.
 
Unfortunately, there's a large jump in the progress of construction from the previous picture to this one. (I didn't have the resources back then to take lots of in-progress photos.)

This is the finished Y-Wing as far as construction went. The key thing to keep in mind when scratchbuilding is to ignore the colors of the items you use. You can see a great deal of colorful plastic bits glued here and there on the model. When you assemble a kit, you generally are only dealing with a few colors at most before painting. If you can ignore the colors of the plastic you use and just keep the needed shapes in mind, you'll realize that any material that can be painted and glued is fair game when it comes to scratchbuilding.
 
Here is a shot of the finished and painted/weathered model at a similar angle to the one above. You can now see the difference the paint makes...the ship seems as a unified whole once all the bright little individual bits are covered up.

You can see more pictures of the completed model in my Y-Wing gallery here:

Stephen's Y-Wing Fighter
   
The Cardassian Galor Class was the first large-scale scratchbuild I ever attempted. It featured almost exclusively angled surfaces, so I felt I could do this with sheet styrene since there were no curves involved.

The only physical reference available at the time was the tiny Micro-Machine miniature. Almost all of my construction effort comes from this small toy and a handful of published photos. The length I decided on ended near the size the actual filming miniature for Star Trek. Theirs was 3 feet long, mine was closer to 2.5 feet. The size was determined as being ten times the size of the Micro-Machine. Just an arbitrary size, but one that was easy for measurement.

I made drawings of all six views at the full size I was going to make my model. The ten times size difference worked as follows: since there are ten millimeters in a centimeter, for every millimeter I measured on the toy, I measured 1 centimeter for my drawings.
   
As a complete coincidence and a nice surprise, the model worked out to be in scale with the large Monogram USS Voyager (1/670)!

The model started as a single sheet of styrene cut in the shape of the side of the Galor Class minus the ship's 'head' and tail.  The wing structure was built next as an upper and lower panel with styrene 'walls' built around the perimeter. The wing was glued in place with the vertical profile sheet and the paneling began.

All of the easy straight angles were cut and glued in first, and the angled panel shapes were determined from the hole shapes that were left. It became a kind puzzle after a while, because the shapes were falling into place after I had figured out the hard parts.
   
This shows the bottom of the ship. You can still see the inner single vertical sheet of the side-view of the ship as its shape. In the tail section, there are small pieces of plastic cut at right angles to keep the side and top pieces perpendicular to each other. Most of the paneling was done on the front and back surfaces first as that allowed the side and angled panel shapes to be determined more easily.
   
This picture represents the basic hull shapes glued together. There are no little model bits (there were actually very few used anyway) on the surface yet. This is only the large general shapes.
   
This is a bottom shot at the same level of completion. The forward disruptor/deflector piece wasn't built at this point, nor was the bridge section as the above photo shows. There's some spot putty in place to fill the seams where the panels come together.
   
Here's the completed model, before painting, with all of the small details in place. The deflector area and the shuttle bays underneath were built with ribbed Evergreen plastic.

There's no primer coat on the model yet, so you can see just how much of the detailing I did with flat sheet plastic. Only the darker pieces are actual model kit parts...not very many.

At this point, the model weighed in at about 3 pounds...quite a weight considering the size. You get spoiled by kits as they are mostly hollow, but this ship has a lot of internal bracing inside to strengthen the model.
   
Again, the completely constructed model from the top. The side details along the tail section actually come from the 'trench' areas along the sides of the MPC Star Destroyer kit. There's only a handful of model parts on this ship. Most of the small details were fashioned out of sheet styrene.

I can't show you the finished model. Sadly, I abandoned the model shortly after I had painted the basecoat and a couple of other colors.

It was around this time that the AMT Cardassian ship was released and I realized the differences in the AMT kit versus the tiny Micro-Machine I had used as the only reference at the time. The toy was good in both length and width ratios, but the height was far enough off that I didn't feel like finishing the scratchbuild. By the way, this is an example of Murphy's Law of Modeling: new and better reference material will become available when you near completion of any given project!

I have a good mind to make another Galor Class scratchbuild with the new information and photos available...but at what scale this time...
 

 

Home --- Members --- History --- Articles --- Events --- Links --- Awards