As I mentioned in the first post, the project didn’t actually start with the fuselage. That came later; when Jason got the definitive castings for reference. Initially, the scope of the project was to model the rear donor plate and the top droid strip. Maybe some of the wing parts. Jason was going to sculpt the 1/12 body by hand or something, but he wanted a legitimate representation of the donor collages for the big model.
There are only about 50 donors needed for an X-Wing, and many of them I already had in the Falcon digital library. Then again, there are some real tricky parts – and we wanted to pay extra attention to them since they were going to be scaled up by double eventually. Anything that was modeled needed to A) look like the original part, and B) look great at a larger scale.
Process-wise, it’s a lot of careful measuring with digital calipers and digital protractors. I have a height gauge I use as well. Sometimes printing things on paper and overlaying a part to verify angles-on-top-of-angles is the best approach. 3D printing parts is also helpful – but paper prototyping is remarkably effective.
There were a few parts that were trickier than most. The Hasegawa Sherman upper hull is featured both on the X-Wing and the Falcon. So, I wanted to model both the front half for this project, and the back half for the other. The nose of the hull has some very distinctive sculpting unique to the Hasegawa version which would become even more prominent at 2x scale.
While the Sherman is a tricky sculpt, the original part is crisp and has clear intent which makes mimicking it relatively easy. Then there are parts like the Monogram 1/32 Panzerspähwagen 232 8-Rad Transaxle. I probably spent more time on this single donor part than all the others combined (not really – but it felt like it). The original tooling is mushy, ill-defined and uses a multitude of different draft tapers (!?!), but within that lies the character of the part. I probably had a half-dozen false starts on this part before it started taking shape and feeling like the original. It was one of those where every time I measured something, I got a different result and no amount of standard deviation tracking seemed to fix it. It just never looked right.
In the end, I used a first generation Matter and Form laser scanner to capture the part and model it from there. Hobby-grade scanners aren’t great – but it did give me a consistent set of reference points in 3D space to keep track of what I was measuring, and from where. Consistency is key. It’s a deceptively organic part with a lot of surface interdependencies that if aren’t right, make the part lose its character.
I feel like it got pretty close in the end. There are still some bits that don’t quite resolve the same as the original. Hopefully they aren’t too noticeable.
When working digitally, we can chop and crop all the donors to size and assemble to ensure things fit. Often this is our first line of defense on error correction. I mentioned this on the Ferrari 512b engine post – the digital model assembles in the same wonky way as the original kit – which lets me know I did it right. Eventually these got printed as single part assemblies.
And of course, all the while, Jason was test printing and providing feedback as we went.
And yes, we have rear plates for Red Two, Red Three, and Red Five in CAD – which are all different.
Haynes Rebel Starfighters?
Around this time, Chris Reiff caught wind of our project. We started working with him, and a our digital donors were used in the illustrations. Jason and I even got a credit at the end of the book! If you don’t have it yet, get it – it’s a lovely edition to add to your collection!