Liberation, Italy 1944

rtfoe

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#41
Hi Tim,

You haven't missed the post to the dio as it was in the old MM site called David & Goliath. I haven't started a thread here to continue it as it's been sidelined while I concentrate on Peleliu the Pacific themed dio for this coming Penang show competition.
Will likely start it after the show. Dios like yours ignite enthusiasm for big dio making and my D&G is comparatively large compared to the smaller ones I've done lately.

Cheers,
Richard
 

John Race

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#42
Tim.
Just checking in, .....… great work. Your interpretation of those chimney stacks is spot on , Italian builders it seems don't bother much on finesse do they.:smiling2:
Having said that anyone who has laid, or attempted to lay
tiles made that way will attest to the fact that they are not constant in shape. Resulting in varying amounts of mortar. .Pantiles laid on a frame of unregularised timbers have same appearance..
Carry-on Tim, perhaps we should just have a forum of buildings, now that would be something!
John.
 
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#43
I'm going to leave the buildings for a while (they are almost finished, apart from a few details like fitting the windows and shutters, which I will return to later) and move on to the groundwork.

The ravine and bridge

Landscaping is, for me, one of the most relaxing parts of the build. This is because there are far fewer 'rules' in nature than there are in architecture. OK, so it's important to make everything look geographically 'appropriate', but even here there are usually exceptions. For example, you might associate a palm tree with the desert and other hot climates - but I have seen them growing happily in the Western coast of Scotland. And, of course, wherever man imposes himself on the landscape in the form of roads and bridges, there are certain things that look right - and certain things that don't.

Above all, I was looking to impart a sense of drama to my diorama - beyond the buildings, vehicles and figures - and the groundwork was simply another way to achieve this. The most obvious way was to make a ravine which cuts across the landscape and a bridge to carry to road into the town. This not only provides visual interest - the drop in height and the chance to add rocks and foliage within - but also helps to break up the scene into different segments of interest. So the area to the left of the bridge, which is actually quite a small part of the total area, becomes the 'outskirts' of the town, the bridge the way into it and the larger area to the right the town itself.

By now I had also settled on the following vehicles: a Fiat Topolino (in German service) crashed into the field on the left, a Universal Carrier stopped on the bridge and a knocked-out Stug in front of the church.

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I should say at once that all of this was new to me - I have never modelled either a bridge or a ravine before.

As far as the bridge itself is is concerned, I had a look on-line and it's fair to say that there is quite a good selection available in 1/35. However, most were either too big, too formal - or too flimsy (e.g. made of wood). In my part of Italy bridges are generally built solidly of stone and usually arched. Above all, I wanted my bridge to fit the scene. This meant that it certainly had to look big enough to take the Carrier (not so much of a problem) but also, potentially, the Stug, which had been moving towards it when it shed a track. And yet it also had to be quite small...

The sides for the bridge were made in much the same way as my church. Each side was cut to shape from two layers of foam board (in the end I made the parapet only one layer thick) and then covered with Das before some relief was carved in. The walls were kept removable from the base so that I could work on them more easily.

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The smaller one is on the 'upstream' side (i.e. the one facing the back of the diorama) so it is smaller to take account of the narrower ravine at that point.

As discussed at the beginning of this blog, the advantage of the insulation board was that I was able to roughly cut away the ravine very quickly and even leave in place the basic shape of the bridge. This also meant that, as I developed the bridge sides, I could simply carve away the landscape to allow them to slot into place.

Eventually, when I had reached the stage of adding the ground texture to the diorama (which I will cover later), I created the effect of the stone surface of the bridge 'floor' showing through in places. This was achieved by pushing square cobbles (from M.A.N. Models) into the Das surface and adding a thin slurry of diluted plaster so that only a few could be seen.

Bridge cobbles 1.jpg Bridge cobbles 2.jpg Bridge cobbles 3.jpg

As my ideas evolved I decided to place a small building on the left side of the bridge. The little square building is a delightful plaster casting from the French firm Mark 35. It's supposed to be a covered well. The original casting had stone texture all round, but I partially covered it with Das clay to make it look like a typically Italian building with chipped render.

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I then had the idea that it might serve as a guard house and remembered that I had an old Italeri Checkpoint kit with a lifting barrier. As you will see, I ultimately decided to replace the barrier with a superior one from Plus Models and took the idea one stage further by having the barrier broken in two as if to represent the moment of 'liberation' (my title and theme).

Checkpoint and broken barrier 1.jpg
Checkpoint and broken barrier 2.jpg
In my next posting I will deal with the ravine itself...
 
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John Race

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#44
Tim .
I love to see something envolve like this, the way ideas are formed in how the diorama is going to proceed . You start off with an idea and it just runs , great work on the buildings and the road way
John .
 
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#45
Tim .
I love to see something envolve like this, the way ideas are formed in how the diorama is going to proceed . You start off with an idea and it just runs , great work on the buildings and the road way
John .
Quite! And as you and I both know, John, the bigger the diorama the more 'evolution' goes on... and on...
 

rtfoe

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#47
Hi Tim, I second Johns comment and yours as well regarding large dioramas. I like that you have compartmentalised or dissected each part of the base to be scenes of interest...part and parcel of a big dio setting. They become little vignettes within the larger perspective.
Great use of the foam and Das. I have a packet of Das and am kicking myself for not using it for one of my previous dios opting to use two part putty instead. It would have made a nicer finish for stone work.

Everything is falling into place very nicely. Looking forward to see this finished for Telford...that's your targeted deadline right?

Cheers,
Richard
 
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#48
Yep, it's Telford or bust (bearing in mind that my original target was SWM 2017!)

Thanks for your kind words...
 

Mickc1440

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#49
A very enjoyable catch up with this build Tim, your attention to detail is superb, nice to see it progressing.
Mick
 
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#50
Thanks Mick.

As promised...

The Ravine

Because my church sits right above the ravine, it was important to make it look like it wasn't about to topple into it. After all, the building had been there for hundreds of years - so the ravine needed to look like it had been slowly eroded by the water flowing over solid rock.

In the old days (OK, so when I was last modelling as a teenager) I would probably have been content with a bit of textured polyfilla. But whilst this might do for a shallow culvert dug into earth (like you might have at the edge of a field), it wasn't right for the look I was after. This is where we have a lesson to learn from the model railway boys and girls - rocky outcrops being a common feature of tunnel approaches, quarries, etc. ..

Woodland Scenics make an excellent range of rubber rock mould kits intended for model railways and (of course) scale is irrelevant. These make it easy to cast rock formations in tough plaster which can then be broken and reassembled to your heart's content (even upside down or sideways) to produce realistic looking strata. They even make a mould for boulders. These also have the added benefit of keeping your diorama light - something it is easy to forget until you have to start lifting it off a shelf or humping it about to and from shows...

I started with narrower ravine on the church side of the bridge and then moved on to the front of the diorama.

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Das clay was used to bed in the rocks and to add some extra stones to the base of the tower...

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I also used some smaller (real) stones to fill in between. All were pressed into DAS clay with generous amounts of PVA glue, itself stuck to the insulation board with plenty more of the stuff. Although it's not easy to spot from the photos there is quite a drop from the back to the front of the diorama - about 6 cms.

Once the larger rock formations were dry I assembled an assortment of smaller rocks, some railway ballast and some sand, scattered it between the rocks and fixed it all in place with even more PVA, diluted with water by about 50%, mixed with a few drops of washing up liquid and then dripped on with the help of a large syringe.

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[Note: as part of my mix I used some cat litter. This was a mistake. Although it can be very useful to replicate rubble, when saturated with diluted PVA along with real stones it has an annoying tendency to 'float' above everything else..!]

Here's the front taking shape...

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Something which you can see above is also worth mentioning. Because it is mostly in shadow, it's easy to ignore what goes on under a bridge, but it's actually a lot more visible than you might think: the rocks that line the stream bed are there just the same - as are the rocky outcrops that form the sides of the ravine.

Once I had finished making the ravine, I have to be honest - I wasn't sure it had worked. But everything looked better once I had added a bit of paint (doesn't it always!)

First paint 5.jpg

Obviously it will look even better (I hope) once I have added a load of plant life and, perhaps, some water effects (although being late summer in Italy this will be minimal).
 
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#51
Fences and retaining walls

After I had added the bridge I decided to make the road appear a little higher above the landscape by bringing down the foreground and adding a retaining wall. Once again, this is the advantage of insulation board. By building up your diorama with this pliable material to begin with, you can then carve into the surface as the project evolves. It's a little like a sculptor starting with a block of stone.

The retaining wall was built up using stones - just like the real thing. I see a lot of these in Derbyshire were our family spends a lot of time when not in London (my wife's from 'oop North'). The stones were added piece by piece and fixed in place with Deluxe Materials PVA. Finally the diorama was tipped on its back and a sprinkling of ground limestone added to fill in the gaps. After the excess was brushed away an application of diluted PVA (always add a drop or two of washing up liquid to break the surface tension) was applied with a syringe.

It's not perfect - I'm not sure this wall would stand in real life - but I feel it serves its purpose. In any event, much of this part of the diorama will be hidden behind foliage and a field of sunflowers...

The next touch was to add a short fence on either side of the bridge. This comes from the excellent Mac One range and is called 'Fences and Milestones'. The concrete supports are beautifully cast in resin with realistic texture. They are also reasonably priced. Despite the blurb on the box you do have to drill out the holes to get the wooden dowels (all supplied) to fit. The latter are only temporarily installed at the moment. One of the milestones (very important in any rural setting, but especially in Italy where I believe the Romans were very keen on them) has been placed at the northern end of the bridge.

At this stage (which was before I added the surface texture to the bridge) I started to build up the groundwork to bed everything in. I used terracotta DAS because it is closer to Tuscan soil then the usual grey variety (it will all be painted in any event). Some rudimentary tyre marks were added to the verges using the usual trick - rolling a 1/35 wheel around whilst the clay was still wet.

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#55
Thanks guys.

After I had finished the main elements of the landscape, I decided to get on with the basic paint work on the buildings, bridge, etc. I also worked on the ravine at the same time.

However, here are some shots of everything before the paint hit. As you can see, although I had the roof structures complete, they had yet to have all the tiles installed. By the way, for those who are looking for the tiles, I can now reveal that they came courtesy of Peter Bowyer at M.A.N. models - who also supplied the cobblestones for the bridge. Although you cannot find the tiles on his website, he assures me that he does have them!

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The hole in the rear is for the battery pack for the interior lights..!
 
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Peter
#56
Tim

It is great to cathc up with this build from the 'old site'. Still looks good and progressing nicely.

Peter
 
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#57
Thanks Peter! I've definitely got my mojo workin'...

Painting begins!

Well, I must say, this felt very satisfying. By the time I reached this stage, the diorama had been in the works for the best part of a year - so to finally start realising it in full colour was a bit like scratching a very annoying itch.

I started with just a basic colour palette - no washes or weathering of any kind, just a succession of yellows and greys lightened with white and applied with my trusty NEO for IWATA TRN2 airbrush. All Tamiya acrylics apart from a Mr Hobby mid stone to begin with.

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Adding depth to the buildings

The first step after the basic airbrush work was to add highlights. This was done by old-fashioned brush using artist's acrylics. It's important to add variations in colour - whether it be Italian honeyed stone, grey stone or bricks. This is the first step, so it's a mix of browns and yellows. The next will be greys and then bricks.

There are no washes or low lights at this stage, so it's all looking a bit artificial. But be patient!

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Third painting stage - adding bricks, grey stone and washes

Throughout the brush painting stages I mostly used artist's acrylic paints. A £15 set gave me the basic colours and to these I added Buff Titanium (which was the one I used the most) and Raw Sienna.

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Once I finished adding the grey stone and brick colours I moved onto washes. These are Vallejo acrylic washes (so there's no risk of my foam-based building disappearing beneath solvent) and they went on very well. For the most part I used pin washes applied with a thin brush into the cracks between the stones. It helps to wet the area where you want to apply them and then let capillary action do the rest.

Anyway, although it's still looking a bit stark and 'artistic' I'm pleased with the way it's turning out. A final application of pigments (which will wait until the rest of the diorama catches up) should help to tone everything down and create a more subtle look.

The little square building at the end of the bridge, by the way, is a delightful plaster casting from the French firm Mark 35. It's supposed to be a covered well, although I'm thinking that it might serve well as a guard house. The original casting had stone texture all round, but I partially covered it with Das clay to make it look like a typically Italian building with chipped render.

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tucoe

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#58
great work, love the way every stage is explained including materials used and reasoning behind each part, well done!
 
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