I’ve already made a Blake and Mortimer diorama, the reproduction of the Yellow M cover. It seems to have been popular because in no time at all, a private collector ordered me a copy. And he asked me too to make this second diorama of the third volume cover of the Secret of the Swordfish. This sentence won the international contest of the “of the” sentences last year.
The structure of the Secret of the Swordfish diorama
Designing such a huge diorama require an overall plan before focussing on the models, textures and decoration. You must see it like a painting.
On this one, the structure is simply wooden-made : battens and plywood. Salvage for the most.
The “ground” of the diorama -which will support the see- is made with cardboard-foam. This will allow to sculpt the relief of the see.
The leading role is played by a Sworfish edtied years ago by Hachette (in France). It come from a range of models called “Blake and Mortimer cars and vehicules”. The model is quite good-looking -except for the inner cockpit, as is often the case.
The “yellows destroyers
The destroyers drawn by E. P. Jacobs in 1947 looked very much like the WW2 battleships. In particular the japanese ones. I started my work from a 1:350 Yamato and her escort ship.
The ground texture
In order to create a convincing sea, I started by gluing a cardboard-foam plaque onj the bottom of the diorama. Then I worked directly with acetone. The acetone, a very strong solvent, dissolves the foam at the surface inhomogeneously : then you get hollows and bumps. Waves in a word.
However, the texture is not yet convincing. I wanted something smooth enough to figure the water at this scale. I covered the cardoard-foam with thin paper. It was hard to find the right thickness : too thick and the relief details are concealed, too thin and the flaws of the surface are too visible.
Painting the sea
I painted the sea with an airbrush in green shading (like in the comic book), lighter of the top of the waves.
The surface texture
The painting rendering is not good enough to figure the sea. We need reflexions, a bright finish reminding water.
No imporbable tricks for this part… Hre comes the time to admit that expensive products bought on specialists website are the best. I applied many layers of “water gel” from AK. That’s oit, no more to say, this product is amazing.
The foam is made with very light grey painting. In order to thicken the foam, I melted it with some water gel.
The book cover shows many explosions. I couldn’t fail in making them. It took a long time to come up with the process. Here is what work best :
- Transparent sanded rods to diffuse the light
- The volume is made with make-up remover (cotton)
- White glue for the blinder
- Red LEDs for the light, glued at the base of the rods.
Here is the secret of the SwordFish : it blows evrything with nukes missiles !
The result :
Avouez que ça en jette. Si, avouez, je sais que vous le pensez, n’essayez pas de le nier.
You have to admit, it’s quite somthing. Yes, admit it, I know you think that, no need to deny.
The secret of the SwordFish : a multiscaled diorama.
I’ve already made a multi-scale diorama, the Star Wars rebel fleet over Sullust. The idea consists in making small scaled models on the background and large ones on the front. In thsi diorama, there are 3 approximatives scales :
- The background : sky et secret-base-rock
- The ships (almost 1:350)
- The swordfish (almost 1:72)
Therefore, there is an interesting depth effect allowing to show simultaneousely capital vehicules (ships, huge spaceships) and smaller ones (fighters, monoplace spaceships).
An interesting and unusual project for me, as I am a usually a Star Wars man. Unfortunately, I couldn’t expose this diorama since it was delivered to its owner immediately after it was achieved, in Spain.