Mass Effect

I have been playing an inordinate amount of Mass Effect lately.  I love that game.  It’s part RPG, part FPS and all awesome.

In other news, I finished writing the fifth part of Star Trek: The Quarterdeck Breed yesterday.  Geez, it only took me like five years or so, eh?  Five years for just shy of eight thousand words.  I think that’s a new record.  No, wait!  KC took way longer.  Anyway, go read it if you want to.  It’s supposed to be a flashback story that has a happy ending.  Spoilers for those who haven’t seen the end of the Deep Space Nine, yet.

And the reason I haven’t been posting as frequently is that November and December burned me out on posting every damn day.  I needed a break to recharge my batteries.

Excelsior is Completed

I forgot to post the pictures, but Excelsior was completed! I want to share some of the photos with you, and then point you to the gallery where all the finals are stored. I usually do model building as a means to relax, but under these circumstances of spending most of my nights over at Robert’s garage in the freezing cold. And the freezing cold had a weird effect on the painting sessions. It took much longer to dry, which I explained in an earlier post. This prolonged my plans. All told, the entire project took 31.75 total hours.

Final Impulse housing (12-21)Let’s begin with the impulse housing. This was kind of a pain, because the small red strips embedded within the rear housing were a bitch to paint and even harder to cement in. If you look closely at the detail, you might see some of the red streaks that the CA glue dissolved as I was forcing it into place. There’s also a small trapezoid piece that fits in between the twin slats, though I’m unsure as to what that’s supposed to be simulating, since the small strips were pretty much the engine nozzles. While I was trying to fit them in… I dropped one of them and lost it amongst one of the toolboxes. I was cussing up a storm when I did that, because that meant I would have no piece anywhere in there. And the model would have been incomplete.

Final Ventral Engineer Hull (12-21)One of the problems I noticed while working with oil enamel was that some of the paints were a little too thin when applying a coat. Unfortunately, this meant additional touch-ups were noticable. On the underside of the engineering hull, the Pacific Blue strip needed one more coat because it looked really patchy. The Dark Grey panels to the rear of the strip were quite the bitch. I mean, holy hell… no matter how much I painted, I couldn’t quite get it to fill in the panel completely and the way I was handling the brush… I didn’t trust myself to do it freehand. Near the aft section, there was this little piece that had the two tractor emitters and a vent. I had fun just touching Dark Grey to the vent, and Chrome Silver to the emitters. I used a light hand and managed to keep the paint within the bounds of the emitters, but the vent overlapped a little bit.

Final Close-in Port Side (12-21)This is a tight shot of the port side engineering hull. The Pacific Blue strip was the more difficult part to paint. I used a long strip of low-adhesive masking tape to act as a guide. It eventually bled over, but we were able to save it by scraping off the excess with an Xacto knife. Really light scraping, so I didn’t lose the primer at all. The Dark Grey on the neck of the ship was the easiest. For some reason, the coats I applied were really smooth. This was probably because it was curved nicely, and at an angle that allowed me to use gravity a bit more than on other pieces. I used Flat Black for the torpedo tubes. Cobalt and Grabber Blue for the navigational deflector.

Final Lower Forward (12-21)This is a better view of the neck and forward section of the engineering hull, not to mention the underside of the saucer section. The original decal set required pinstriping, but Excelsior did not have the pinstripes that Enterprise-B had, so I decided to skip using those parts of the set. When I build Enterprise-B, I’ll use them. The block stripe on the underside of the saucer looks a lot better with an additional coat of Pacific Blue.

Final Port Dorsal (12-21)Here’s a beauty shot. Overall, I think I did pretty good, considering this is the first model I’ve done since… 1999. I’m looking forward to moving onto something a little more complex, like the Reliant model I got in the mail. I just hope Todd likes it.

View the complete gallery at Flickr.

Excelsior Update II

I went back to work on the model again. This time, I brought Julia’s digital camera with me! So, the pictures look ten times better, now. It was seriously chilly in the garage this evening, so I wore sweats and a thicker sweater this time, since the draftiness coupled with the fact that I could see my breath made wearing shorts and t-shirt absolutely unbearable. Anyway, let me get on with it.

Bottom Saucer 12-12The bottom part of the saucer section, notably the Pacific Blue band that runs along the inside of the edge was finished. I had to remove the tape that I was using to guide it, because it was actually not getting the job done. So we had to finish the band freehand. Unfortunately, that also meant that the lines weren’t as tight as I wanted them to be. I considered buying an airbrush, but a gravity-loading airbrush costs in the neighborhood of 150 bucks. Well outside my price range, but then owning one would mean I don’t really need to buy another one. Just plastic loading bottles and needles, which aren’t as expensive as the brush itself. Top Saucer 12-12The top half of the saucer remained untouched, but I was able to peel back the tape on the impulse engine housing for the two small Pacific Blue stripes I painted there. The paint was actually kind of tacky, as drying in the cold made it a bit more difficult. The masking tape allowed the paint to bleed through again, making the lines uneven, so I might have to go back and repaint the housing again lightly and see if I can’t straighten them up a bit.

Engineering 12-12The engineering hull saw some progress. The top portion had the panels painted flat gull grey, as I said yesterday. Today, the panels looked like they were in need of some matte finish, because the paint was uneven when it was (finally) dry. Like I said, the cold weather is not making the paint dry quickly, leaving it mostly tacky, even when waiting overnight! That kind of sucked because when I went to paint the next section, I had to be extra careful not to make contact with my fingers unless I wanted a big fingerprint in the middle of the panels and then a gull grey fingerprint on the flat white primer. Complete Engineering 12-12To the left is a shot of it if it were pieced together loosely. I’m nowhere near ready to glue them together. The stripe on the bottom half of the engineering section was uneven, due to the tape letting it bleed over, and from when I pulled the tape off, the tacky paint stuck onto it smeared! I was really disappointed by that and had to scrape off the semi-dry overage with an Xacto knife really lightly. Eventually, it looked a lot better after the light scraping.

Anyway, it’s slow going, I know, but I’m working within time constraints… just a couple of hours each day. More detail work ahead!

Excelsior Update

I went back over to Robert’s house to work more on the model. I decided to take some before and after shots and post them here for you guys to take a look at. I apologize for the grainy nature of the photos, but for some reason, whenever I pointed the camera at the parts, some wavy lines appeared. I could not get rid of them, as they’re in the source, now. I’ll have to figure out a way to shoot them differently. Anyway, on with the photos!

Engineering Hull 12-09This is a shot of the two pieces of the engineering hull. The blue stuff on the left part is low-adhesive masking tape that I use to act like a shield against the brush moving off the part I want to paint. I’m painting the panels on that part with flat gull grey oil enamel. On the right is the lower half of that hull section. You can’t really see, but the top of it (which is facing away from the camera) has a Pacific Blue trim. The hole toward the bottom of the part is where the navigational deflector would go, and I have to figure out a way to put two stripes on either side. There are no guides for it on the detail of the hull at all. So I guess this means I’ll have to figure out a way to run the tape along the hull’s surface just so. Today’s detail work required Pacific Blue panels on the top part, and a Pacific Blue stripe on the bottom part.

Bottom Saucer 12-09This is the bottom half of the saucer section. You’ll notice more tape around the inset edge is painted Pacific Blue half way through. The problem with the tape, at this point, is that it will not let me guide it along the edge without presenting ridges. Ridges will allow the paint to bleed through to parts of the hull where it should remain white. Top Saucer 12-09The top half of the saucer, on the other hand, is going to be a challenge. You can’t see it, but there are all these little hull details that are two-tone: gull grey and pacific blue. Right now, the impulse drive cover has tape where I’ve painted some of the detail already. All of the phaser banks, the bridge dome, the impulse domes, the windows, and the running lights all require detail work. This will be the most difficult part of the model, as it will require a steady hand. I cannot see airbrushing my way out of this trouble.

Tomorrow, I will continue with updated photos of the parts! Wish me luck!

Writing: Need Opinions, please

I’ve been tinkering around with following up a short story I wrote three years ago. In order to really provide a proper frame of reference, that short story is located here:

Agamemnon: http://fiction.hopestation.net/viewstory.php?sid=1&chapter=1

The novella I’m working on has the first chapter done, and it is located here:

The Sacrifice of Agamemnon: http://fiction.hopestation.net/viewstory.php?sid=7

I know a lot of you aren’t Trek fans, but I could use some insight on whether or not I’m proceeding in the right direction.

Thanks.