I couldn't really call myself a maritime modeler, as this is the first model boat I've ever made. I am however, a professional miniaturist working mainly as a figure sculptor for various retailers and model manufacturers, as well as producing the occasional diorama for private clients, most of whom are railway modelers or doll's house collectors. Nevertheless I do have one client who does manufacture maritime models in 1/1200th scale. It is through dealings with him I became tempted by the comparatively tiny scales most maritime modelers work in. Tiny at least when compared to my normal clients who think it's excessive of me to work below 1/72nd scale, and sheer folly to hand sculpt figures in scales smaller than 1/400th. As an experimental "dipping of the proverbial toe" I thought I'd have a try at putting together a quick diorama based on one of Mirage's coastal water u-boats in 1/400th scale (A tiny model kit about four inches long, modified from full hull to waterline). I doubt there's anything I could teach an experienced maritime modeler about making model ships, nor would I claim to know anything about this particular class of u-boat, or even submarines in general. I just worked on the same principles I do with any model; Start with a reference picture or drawing and build what you see rather than what the kit manufacturer has put in the box. 

Mirage's own photo-etch set helped improve their basic plastic model and there were a few tiny scratch built details that I added too. This was then painted with scaled down and slightly blurred colours, and a bit of dry-brushed weathering applied in the hope I could stop it looking too much like a small model with delicate details viewed from up close, and more like something solid and robust viewed from a considerable distance. Living by the sea I know much more about this than I do submarines, as such I was anxious that the seascape looked as much like the sea as I could make it. Consequently this was sculpted from epoxy putty, shaping each wave individually, and as the putty hardened flicking at the drying edges with a pin to crack the crust and form little "breakers". Similarly the partially cured putty was stippled and picked at with brass wire brushes and pins to create the texture of the frothy wake behind the sub. This was then painted with several washes of blues, greens and grays, allowing this to pool in the trough of each wave, before applying several more thin washes of satin varnish, dry-brushing white over the crest of each wave between coats. It took longer to do than the sub and it's still not perfect, but I hope you can tell it's supposed to be the sea. As an introduction to maritime modeling it was an enjoyable way to spend a day or two, so I hope you like it. Although the more I look at it the more I feel this sub's sitting just a little too high in the water, and could perhaps have been about 1mm lower.

MirageAC3.jpg (16475 bytes) MirageAC1.jpg (10843 bytes)

For those interested in more of my work, including access to my many free model making guides with tips and techniques on a variety of subjects, take a look at my website www.aidan-campbell.co.uk.

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