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Adding Scale Details to a Pilot Figure

Adding Scale Details to a Pilot Figure

When we build large scale models, the small details really make the subject come to life. This is especially true with scale pilot figures and busts. For my 33% scale Fokker Triplane project, I needed a properly dressed aviator to fill out the cockpit. This is how I turned my Pilot Portraits (Mike Brent) www.mikebrentart.com Mini-Me pilot figure into a fairly good representative of a WW1 aviator.

Adding Scale Details to a Pilot Figure

Original Pilot figure is made with a molded full-length body from “Officers and Gentlemen” with a custom carved Balsa head carved and painted by Mike Brent of Pilot Portraits. Great civilian figure but not good for WW1 Fokker Triplane.

Adding Scale Details to a Pilot Figure

First Step, give the little guy a crew cut!

Adding Scale Details to a Pilot Figure

Next off with his ears too! A sanding bar makes quick work of this wooden block head!

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Next I used Sculpey Polymer clay to add the leather helmet details. You roll it out to about 1/16 inch thickness and add the clay one panel at a time to form the seams.

Adding Scale Details to a Pilot Figure

I used a hack saw blade to push the stitching imprints next to the seam lines. To texture the clay to look like leather, place some clear food wrap over the clay and roll a crinkled up ball of aluminum foil over the plastic wrap.

Adding Scale Details to a Pilot Figure

Clean up all the edges and then place the bust in a 275 degree oven for 15 minutes to cure the clay. Remove from the oven and let cool. Don’t try this technique with molded plastic pilot busts as the plastic will soften and deform. Works great with wood and resin cast pilot busts.

Adding Scale Details to a Pilot Figure

You can add more details on top of the cooled clay surface. Here the goggle strap and retainer straps have been added and detailed.

Adding Scale Details to a Pilot Figure

For the goggle skirt, I also made the details from clay. Originally I was going to use thin foam tape but this did not look scale.

Adding Scale Details to a Pilot Figure

Here the goggle skirt has been applied and baked on in the oven. The small indents looking like stitching was done with a small screw driver.

Adding Scale Details to a Pilot Figure

Here’s the other side of the bust.

Goggles

To make the goggles I first scanned a pair of vintage goggles and imported the image into my CAD program. I then traced the image to produce a working drawing I reduced to 1/3-scale.

Adding Scale Details to a Pilot Figure

Using the drawing as a reference, I made a plug from bass wood so I could vacuum form the lenses.

Adding Scale Details to a Pilot Figure

My Vac box is nothing  fancy as you can see. It works great hooked up to a regular vacuum cleaner.

Adding Scale Details to a Pilot Figure

I placed the plug on top of a small piece of window screen and sealed the box around it with tape. Place the box ready to go next to the oven.

Adding Scale Details to a Pilot Figure

I then taped some thin clear plastic to a carrier sheet made from 1/8 inch plywood.

Adding Scale Details to a Pilot Figure

Place the plastic and plywood in an over as shown and heat in a 350 Degree oven until the plastic starts to sag through the opening in the plywood.

Adding Scale Details to a Pilot Figure

When the plastic is ready, switch on the vacuum and quickly move the plastic and plywood sheet on top of the plug and press down. The vacuum will suck the plastic into place and the plastic will start to cool off.

Adding Scale Details to a Pilot Figure

Don’t force the plug out of the formed plastic. When the plastic has cooled enough, the plug will fall out on its own

Adding Scale Details to a Pilot Figure

Here’s the formed lenses

Adding Scale Details to a Pilot Figure

To make painting masks simply trace the plug with a soft pencil on some tape.

Adding Scale Details to a Pilot Figure

Here is the mask on the plug with the waste tape removed

Adding Scale Details to a Pilot Figure

Add the masks to the formed lenses and spray with a mist coat of primer and then a light coat or two of silver paint. Be sure to add a protective coat of tape inside the lenses to guard against over-spray.

Adding Scale Details to a Pilot Figure

Here are the finished goggle lenses. I was going to use this stick on foam tape as a skirt, but the clay looked much better.

Adding Scale Details to a Pilot Figure

I used Model Master paints to finish the pilot bust. Flat black base coat with a dry brush of “Leather” on top. The strap is Light Sand that will be darkened with some pencil carbon dust to bring out details.

Adding Scale Details to a Pilot Figure

Here the finished pilot bust a waits a new full-length body! To make the goggles lay flat against the rounded helmet skirt, I used a heat gun to soften the center of the goggles while protecting the lenses and pressing the goggles in place with my fingers.

Lightweight Torso

Since the pilot is a fair distance aft of the model’s CG, I could not use the molded plastic body. So, I made one from lightweight sponge foam.

Adding Scale Details to a Pilot Figure

Simply cut the foam to shape and size to stuff the clothing.

Adding Scale Details to a Pilot Figure

I ordered a beautifully hand crafted leather jacket, gloves and pants from Wendy at www.perfect-pilots.co.uk

These look great and of very high quality.

Adding Scale Details to a Pilot Figure

Nice attention to detail and the leather is as smooth as butter.

Adding Scale Details to a Pilot Figure

The pants are over long so when the pilot is in a seated position, you gather up the top and form his butt section.

Adding Scale Details to a Pilot Figure

Like Dr. Frankenstien I made the body with cut and fit trial and error until the cloths looked right. To close up the jacket, I used a little spray adhesive to stick it in place over the foam stuffing.

Adding Scale Details to a Pilot Figure

Placed in his seat with boots and gloves in place, our intrepid aviation is ready for action! To help the arms and legs hold their shape, I cut and inserted lengths of coat hanger wire in the knee and elbow areas.

Adding Scale Details to a Pilot Figure

With a pair of Spandau machine guns added to the Triplane, Baron von Mini-Me is ready for duty!Adding Scale Details to a Pilot Figure

Don’t forget the neck scarf! “Contact”!

 

 

Updated: January 14, 2016 — 10:54 AM
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13 Comments

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  1. Awesome work, Gerry!

    1. Thanks Alex. you never finish a scale airplane, you just stop working on it!

  2. hehe looks suspiciously like Her Yarrish,,, hmmmm

  3. WHO WOULD DO ALLLLLLLL THAT!!! WHO HAS TIME FOR THAT! OVERKILL MUCH?

    1. im glad God didnt use the same logic…I really like my legs etc 😀

  4. t hanks for your information on how to make a ww1 pilot ,I have trouble with RAF pilots goggels

  5. Very nice work, I’m odc on details too… lol. I spent a few hours on a Flyzone micro Albatross, weathered the plane, painted the Pilot, cockpit details… yeah… again, super work, cheers.

  6. Your devotion to the scale side of the hobby shows.

  7. Excellent, I was afraid I was the only one with this level of obsessive compulsiveness, otherwise diagnosed as ATD (“Attention to Detail”). Here’e my custom pilot bust and goggles, made for a much smaller plane (28.5″ wingspan) –

    http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=177671&page=7

  8. Excellent job and it looks like it was a lot of fun

  9. masterful job. I especially like the goggles

  10. Gerry, you Sir, have toooooooooooo much time on your hands!!! This ‘pilot’ is outstanding – great work!

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