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  • Bannière secret de l'Espadon
  • Cockpit de l'Espadon
  • The secret of the Swordfish

  • SX-1 strikes back

The comics

Couverture du secret de l'Espadon

The secret of the Swordfish

The world faces a world war III provoked by the evil Tibet imperor Basam Damdu. The two heroes, captain Francis blake from the british Intelligence Service and philip Mortimer, scientist knowing evrythins about evrythiing (including nuclear physics and aeoronautics) managed to reach a secret base in the Ormuz detroit. they brought there the secret plans of the Death Star the Swordfish, a super atomic-submarine-plane able to reverse the course of the war.

Unfortunately, the infamous Oltik managed to discover the location of the secret base by treason. After escaping from the base, he is coming back, leading an armada to wipe England out and so the all free-world.

The story was published in three tomes on the occasion of a 1984 republication, that is 35 years after the original. The tome III cover SX1 strikes back depicts a Swordfish at the foreground dealing chaos in an ennemy flotilla.  i wanted to represent this scene.

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The Yellow 'M'

The projet

Diorama Le secret de l'Espadon - vue trois quart
  • Length : : 72 cm
  • Width : : 55 cm
  • Height : : 47 cm
  • Materials : : Bois, plastique
  • Scale : : Variable

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.

Le secret de l'Espadon : structure du diorama.

The models

The swordfish

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.

L'Espadon de Blake et Mortimer par les éditions Hachette

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.

Destroyer Yamato de chez Fujimi.

The water

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.

Diorama le secret de l'Espadon : la mer

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.

Diorama le secret de l'Espadon : texture de la mer, écume.

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 :

Diorama le secret de l'Espadon : réalisation d'une explosion.

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.

by petersteven