Assembling the different bits together –the waterSo now everything was painted, I had to start thinking of building the base that would eventually be drowned in the water.
I fixed the underwater part of the Sokol on a glass sheet cut to the diorama’s dimension. I made a mix of plaster, twigs and moss that I applied on the right corners of the diorama according to the best top view. I embedded some more twigs and moss at this stage, and also glued the water lily roots that started to pop out above the underwater part for a special effect I wanted to create. (pic 37)
I built some glass walls to be sure that I would be able to control the level of the transparent mix while making sure those walls would be completely waterproof. I started to pour an opaque dark blue green mix on the bottom of the diorama. As every surface of the bottom would be far from being covered with groundwork, this first coat was used as some kind of colour sealer.
Then I poured several other coats of slightly tinted resin, including a few of them which were more opaque and very blue on the left edges of the diorama, far from the groundcover which would add to a feeling of depth to the water as you get more far from the river banks. (pic 38 -39)
Okay I only had a few millimetres left to finish up the water, and this was nowhere close to getting any kind of flat surface. So I removed my glass walls and fixed some light wooden ones which would be stronger and easier to fix with some industrial strength clamps. I set them up to the level of the top of the submerged part of the Sokol. I then poured one last coat of untainted resin and pressed on the top of the resin covered Sokol a greased piece of glass. As I had poured a very generous coat of resin, it started to overflow everywhere on the wooden walls. Well, no problem at least the resin wouldn’t be able to retract as I managed to fix the glass top with some other clamps. (pic 40)
Of course all those operations led me to keep my nose very close to the fumes, thankfully I had invested in an effective gas mask.
I un-moulded the whole thing after two days of drying and here I had that perfect square of resin with all the underwater parts of the wreck perfectly embedded. (pic 41)
Assembling the different bits together –what’s above the water.As I sensed earlier; I made a few mistakes. Indeed, to level the underwater parts didn’t match the top of the future water. I had to thoroughly sand some pieces like the 37mm base, or the lower part of the funnel which stood too high. And then I was stupid enough not to paint the exposed plastic parts black and there I had some white plastic embedded in my resin, often too deep to be efficiently painted back.
When I dry fit the top elements, I noticed those white bits popping out of the diorama, as well as some big air bubbles that were trapped when I covered the resin with the glass sheet.
So I had to take my small drill and cut out some resin parts, paint the white plastic and covering the scar with some Clear Quote or with this Valejo’s Still Water.
It’s been now a few years/months that some companies have come out with some acrylic mixes of binder and stuff like sand, fine sand etc to help people build their bases –this stuff is currently being seen as the new Holy Grail for building bases. All very well, but for more than 15 years you have been able to buy exactly the same kind of stuff from art shops and all my early dioramas are done using it. The only difference is the name of the brand, and sometimes the price.
Anyway, I would say that the best stuff is the one whose grain is the finest for details. But it doesn’t hold its shape very well. So I have an older pot of sand mix that is almost dried out. I added a bit of water in it and pulled out some half dry lump. I then poured some black brown and red paint according to the dark coloured earth I wanted to get and proceeded to, half mix-half crush the stuff. (pic 42)
I then applied the very heavy mix on some plastic sheet that I had previously cut to the right dimensions for the sole reason that I didn’t want to put paint and dirt on the previously poured water.
I then proceeded to put all the hyacinths very close to each other, trying to get the leaves to intertwine with each other. I also fixed the wood lump that serves as an access to the gun cradle and that I had built and painted earlier. (pic 43)
The stuff took a night to set and I then proceeded to glue the earth covered plastic lumps at the right places. I fixed the small bit of dead willow and made another batch of my earth mix to cover all the joints and to hide the small bits of white plastic that were still visible. Then I tried the best I could to drill some holes in the ground behind the boat so that I could fix the reeds one by one.
Finally I used some solvent free superglue (it’s not supposed to fog) to glue the top elements of the Sokol and suddenly, this diorama’s future looked quite bright. The question of light direction applied to the groundwork remained.
I created some darker mixes of green using more my inks, and proceeded to overpaint the rear and side places where the sun was not supposed to shine. I also added a fesh high highlight using some yellow green mixes on the most exposed areas of the leaves, which were near the 37mm gun.
I diluted some Future and painted each leaf so that the groundcover could take a satin appearance. Finally, I cut a good 40 extra leaves out of superglue covered paper that I painted in a mix of Chestnut Citadel ink and leather Vallejo paint. I glued those as dead leaves here and there (including some on the gun cradle) which added both colour and variation –even more because those dead leaves were painted in matt colours compared to the satin shades of the green leaves.
When all was ready, I put a very generous coat of Humbrol Clear Quote on the water (to get rid of finger prints, and even small bubbles) and placed my water lilies. What was pretty cool is that those fixed this way seem to be slightly touching the water, producing an effect which I think is very realistic. (pic 44)
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