Monday, October 26, 2015

Signs of Life

Now I know I said I wouldn't post any more photos of the diorama until after the next Saturday, but that doesn't stop me showing you another small detailing piece I put together yesterday.

The railway line that this bridge forms part of was originally built across Duchal Moor to take people out to the shooting butts and was locally known as the Grouse Line. Given it's history it would seem that if I wanted to add any wildlife to the model, it should be a grouse. Unfortunately while I looked high and low for a model I could buy I couldn't find anything. The solution, as with pretty much all of the diorama, was to make one from scratch. To make it obvious what the bird is supposed to be I opted to model a black grouse with it's distinctive red wattles over the eyes.

In theory I had an easy to follow plan. Make an outline from fine wire, fill out the outline, and then paint. The first step was easy. I found a nice drawing online which I then scaled down to the right size to use as a template. I then taped a piece of 0.15 mm silver plated wire onto the drawing starting at the legs, before slowly bending it to match as close as I could the drawing. With the two ends together at the feet I twisted the wires together to give me something to use to fix it into the diorama.

Filling out the outline was harder though. My first attempt was to try and use solder to provide the body, but I couldn't get this to work well. Next up was some DAS clay, but I couldn't get it to stick to the wire very well in the small amounts I needed. My next thought was some plastic putty but on inspection my tube had dried up. I was about to give up at this point when I realised that the Woodland Scenics water effects gel is quite easy to shape and it holds the shape you put it in quite well. So a small amount was decanted onto scrap card and then a pin used to pick up small amounts to add to the body until I was happy with the shape. This was then left to dry out.

Once dry I sprayed on some grey primer to give the acrylic paints something to stick to, before painting the model with RailMatch weathered black which has a blue tint to it which matches the way feathers look quite well. The red wattle was then carefully picked on before the whole lot was sealed with a waft of satin varnish.

I'm pretty happy with the result, and in real life it looks better than the photo, mostly as it's only 7mm from beak to tail! Now I just have to decide where on the diorama to hide it to give anyone visiting ExpoNG something to look for.


  1. Mark, I understand that you only need tiny quantities but epoxy resin and micro balloons make a good putty. I used the stuff before for racing car under trays. It is brilliant sticks to everything except milk bottle stuff. Even bonds to aluminium with a quick acid etch, I used citric acid but they do sell posh etch solutions.
    I know on a much bigger scale but it is mouldable and doesn't sag. Not saying for this but if you need structural integrity then it's worth a play with.

  2. Mark, it's genius! Is there anything else you might think of...bees perhaps :-) Seriously though, the grouse is fab!