The long road of evolving my Pit of Carkoon diorama (WIP 5/23/19)

Daigo_Bah

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Whew- time to get back into enhancing an older diorama! This one has been long in the works, as some of these pics show. The timing of coming back to this was not due to the upcoming Haslab barge (as I was one of the few longtime collectors that did NOT purchase one); just coincidental because it was showing its age. The very first iteration was circa 2003, with a less accurate barge built into the wall and a terribly boring Pit of Carkoon made from a bedsheet draped across a couple platforms and a simplistic Sarlacc between them:

First Version:



I later enhanced the barge with more accurate railings, shorter sails, and a richer (but inaccurate) greenish paintjob.


Next version:



After a flooding and ruining of the sheet (thankfully), I molded a landscape from a chicken wire frame to at least somewhat look like a diorama base, and covered it in another sheet and a little plaster and sand. The problem is that it was still too gritty and still obviously a sheet.


Next version:



I was very happy with the Sarlacc itself, but it had since crumbled so I'll have to make it once again:



And the last 2 problems I had included that the base curved down in the front (I really wanted to emphasize the "Pit" if I could), and the fact that the support rods for the 2 skiffs were vertical and very obvious to the viewer (despite trying to cover them with a fabric piece):



So, I revisited this one by removing the damaged Sarlacc and the skiffs, and cutting a semicircle on the sheet so that I would be able to angle it upwards to form an eventual bowl-shaped base. Note the newly-angled support strut for the hero skiff:





I then started to bend the wireframe to form the bowl shape. Thought the angle of the pic is not ideal, note the better-hidden support strut compared to before.



I brushed away all the sand and coated the whole surface with plaster; I'll do a second coat and get it really smooth before painting it and putting some sand back.







Later work will involve a repaint of the barge to its more brown/less green base color. More to come!


 
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Utinniii

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Looks great so far. The base for this is difficult since it is so uneven.
If it isn't too late, the hole wasn't round as it had a ravine one the left side.
Also, did you consider using clear rods for the skiffs?
 

Daigo_Bah

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You're right about that ravine; I thought about trying to emphasize it it the "rocky" part that I'm going to resculpt, but it may not be too late to sort of mash in and re-plaster the one side! For the clear rods issue, I thought those might be too costly compared to the wooden dowels, but the new angled approach is making a difference that I hope will show in the pics!
 

Utinniii

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Since it is Xmas, you might find a large clear plastic candy cane (filled with candy). It might make a good rod. I've also seen clear rods for venetian blinds but IDK how expensive they would be. Clear plastic stirring sticks might be strong (and tall) enough, as might plastic wine glass stems. Cut glass or acrylic are also possibilities.
 

Daigo_Bah

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Well, I decided to try to camouflage the rods with a better "hill" of plaster, that I'm confident will do the job after I paint it all up and can make a more shadowy color for the support structure compared to the rest of the environment. What else is new includes that I pulled the skirt sheet up and directly hot-glued it to the rim of the bowl's edge, then coated it in plaster to blend. These pics don't go in very close, but I sanded down the plaster and got it fairly smooth. In a couple days, I'll sand once more then paint the whole thing a nice tan-orange before putting some actual sand back in.





 

Utinniii

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That's looking great! I can't wait to see it with sand and the Saarlacc.


I also didn't buy the Barge as it is something I have always wanted to make.
 
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Great job!

If you are looking to make it more "rocky" an old Model railroad trick: would be to place the sand/rocks/dirt where you want them Then using a mix of white glue & water in a spray bottle, spray the rocks, let dry & you will have a nice hard landscape.

also you need a puppet like this....

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nZbp7jmxsn4
 

Daigo_Bah

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Thanks guys- and Utinniii: I can't NOT see the crevice now when I watch the scene, so I'm going to re-work the opening to get that more "eye" shape before I put in the rocky innards. The overall look of the dio will still be more bowl-shaped than the actual location (which was more ravine-like), but I can at least get the opening closer to the actual!

Edit: here are a couple pics with the opening cut into the proper shape, and a couple styrofoam layers to create the rocky recess. I've since coated them in plaster and will lightly sand and paint soon.



 
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You know your dios always inspire and sort of destroy me, don't you? They're so good that they make me get back at it...yet they're so good I realize my skills are so pitiful. Hey, one thing I tried recently was to coat plaster/wood putty with a layer of shellack (like for wood furniture). My hope was that it would prevent flaking/crumbling and it worked pretty well.
 

Daigo_Bah

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Thanks, Shiz! Your dios are fantastic, what would you ever consider pitiful?!

Here is a pic with the "tongues" of the Sarlacc sculpted in sculpy clay and baked to harden. You can see the 2 strips of posterboard I used as templates for the sculpy shape and size.



Ok, here are a few pics with the rocky portions plastered and painted, and sculpy tentacles added back in. I took them with the enhancer mode on the iphone camera, so they are a little brighter (and greater contrast) than in person.





 

Utinniii

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Looks fantastic so far. The new chasm shape looks much better.
 

Daigo_Bah

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Thanks, pal- I have some better lighting pics today after a bit more work on the chasm,which is finally done in preparation for the lips/teeth/mouth of the Sarlacc. I made one more tentacle and a piece of another one out of hardened sculpy.



I then added them in, and drybrushed on some darker pink over the flesh tone I originally had painted on. I also want to add about 25% more sand to the whole base; there were sections that were darker like I have under the sand, but too many of them are showing through.









And a close-up of the hero skiff, which I repainted with some drybrushed rust brown (I have 2 of the green versions, which Hasbro had released with a variant brownish color that I missed). Though several different shots of the skiff on screen are varied in color, the most predominant seems to be an olive drab base color with rust brown weathering in the cracks. I also have to extend Luke's plank about 2.5 times its existing length.



I have a LOT of work to do on the barge, too: 1) the whole thing needs a base coat of a brown/black/rust hybrid color and a lot of weathering, 2) raised panels on the existing panels, 3) cut openings under each of the rear windows for the spectators, angle the windows up, and put a template of window slits over each of the panels, and 4) add a few details on the deck and hull that I missed the first time around.
 
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Daigo_Bah

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Today I just repainted the other skiff and touched up the one I had already done. For comparison, here is an RS archive pic of the original color I had of both:



And here are several views of both the hero and second skiffs repainted; all figures are hot-glued in place:









 

Daigo_Bah

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Now past the holidays, back to work! Today I sculpted and baked the first layer of mouth/lips of the Sarlacc; I had already had the teeth from the earlier version (though I may have to sculpt more). I super-glued the teeth in, and super-glued strips of foamie so that I'll be able to attach it under the rocks of the pit. I'll likely sculpt and attach the other 2 layers to this one first.

 

Daigo_Bah

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...And here is the second layer! I have to buy more sculpy to make the third :grin:



 
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Very nice work! I am impressed with the sculpting on the tentacles. The overall display looks amazing. Can't wait to see what's next.
 

Daigo_Bah

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Thanks! Here's a couple pics of the finished lips/mouth; the 3 layers are of course sculpted/hardened clay, but the inner mouth is a painted paper towel LOL. Pics once I attach it in the Pit will follow!



 
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Holy ****! That is perfect! You should produce these for us!!!
 

Utinniii

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Stang! That looks fantastic.

Of course, I hate you now because I feel compelled to upgrade my own version now since it pales in comparison.:p
 
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Outstanding job on the sculpting, and the paper towel is genius! I never would have thought that cool of a texture was possible with such a simple product.
 
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Wow great work Greg amazing stuff. The sculpting on the tentacles is perfect. You have captured the crawling of the tentacles along the side of the pit. It is subtle but take something from beautiful to brilliant. The pit walls with tentacles again brilliant perfect amount of detail. Those that don’t sculpt don’t realize it is so easy to over-sculpt something. You have to have the right amount of detail but not to much. The error I always make is over sculpt and in the process it doesn’t look right. I am curious did you order the sail barge? I have to get my pit fixed up. Some of my tentacles have broken, now that I have seen your tentacles I might re-do mine and copy your pattern if that is cool with you. The repaint on the sciffs is perfect. I am trying to figure out how did it. Great work!
 

Daigo_Bah

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Thanks so much, guys- JJep, your Carkoon is the standard in diorama-making, so I'm honored by the kind words! I didn't actually back the Barge (so I'm thrilled that it oversold at the end) because I really was just intent on having mine as a background piece of set more than a toy. I'm confident the improvements I'm making will be able to better justify skipping the purchase!

Edit: here's a pic starting the process on the barge; I cut out openings for the windows that I'll soon replace with opened panels cut with slits. I've also since put some foamcore frame pieces inside to fill out the body a bit, not shown in this pic.

 
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Daigo_Bah

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And here is a pic of the window slats cut out of posterboard and super-glued onto the foamies that were there before. I haven't decided whether to cut out the slits in the foamie too, or just leave it embossed like it is now (I'll have to test it).

 

Utinniii

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Looking good so far.

I have a question: Do you think if you had used a textured J-cloth instead of paper towels that you could have playability with the scarlacc mouth?
 

Daigo_Bah

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Huh, could be, and I wonder if a little air pump underneath could be squeezed from a handheld bladder to simulate the quiver of the mouth after a foe is swallowed! It would be a cool effect, but I'd probably use it once and forget about it :\. I finished the window slats (that was some monotonous precision cutting!) and placed them in the open window holes. I'll have to do a little altering here and there but this is essentially how it will remain. It's funny because the upper deck windows are open in a couple shots, but closed in others. I have also since cut a new steering vane (not pictured, that'll be the next update), because my old one was about an inch too small in height and length, and was placed too far toward the rear by about an inch as well. I removed my old propulsion engine from the rear too, to be remade and detailed. Probably can't tell in these pics, but I added several support struts inside the body of the barge to bulk it outward a bit.



 
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Daigo_Bah

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I love comparison shots; Sarlacc old and new:

 
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Daigo_Bah

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Thanks, I hope so! Here is a pic of the start of the extra detail panels on the larger panels; I'll have to do this for all of them including the house-shaped lower large panels too.



And I am close to finishing the new steering vane- just needs a few details, but see the accuracy and size comparison to the older one:



A test fit of the new vane:

 
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This diorama is amazing! The update to the barge looks fantastic and I love the new steering vane. The sarlac details are insane, beautiful job.
 

Daigo_Bah

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Thank you! I went back to the windows the last couple days, and re-cut some of the openings (to get them wider), cut and glued posterboard to the backs of the window flaps, and attached them back to the openings. The flaps are thicker and more solid-looking, and hang properly from their "hinges". I still have to permanently affix each (they move easily) to a certain position to mimic the scene.





I made several more posterboard panels for the row of upper panels, all the way to the front. I have yet to make the lower row. Note the missing paint on the bottom-most row; turns out I had made foamie panels for that area, when it should have been flat hull, so I ripped those off. When repainted, I think it will look better because posterboard holds paint better than foamie and looks less textured.



 

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Whew- finished all of the posterboard panels onto the existing foamie panels of the lower row. The exposed paint along the bottom and in a few places is due to removing and re-placing the panels (and in the case of the bottom row, cutting them shorter) to straighten them out from the somewhat crooked placement. I cut a new trim out of foamie and glued it all the way along the bottom from front to back. Also, I placed black construction paper behind the open windows to emphasize the dark interior. Next up is to add a few details here and there, remake the thrusters on the back undercarriage, and then the repaint!







 
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Daigo_Bah

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Ok, I had held off making the skiff's gangplank, not entirely sure how I would do it. I found it worked just fine to cut a foamie shape, then superglued a posterboard shape outline on both the top and bottom of it, as seamless as I could get it (this was about the same way I made the new windows). It actually also has a thin plastic insert for stability. I then painted it the hybrid green and copper, and drybrushed on more copper. It is very long so that I could insert half of it into the skiff where the old one was housed.



Here it is in place with Luke glued to the edge.



Note in this pic that I removed the undercarriage from between the 2 vents (it was just construction paper that I will replace with foamcore).





And a pic of the rear with the panels I had attached last time removed and replaced with more accurate ones.

 

Daigo_Bah

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Appreciate the kind words, guys! Here are a couple pics showing 3P0 inside (that's the GG micro bust version, because the Hasbro looked too big!) and a shot with the undercarriage made out of foamcore, vents cut into it, and attached in place. I have since started on the remake of the "tailpipe" engines, and I'm going to have to reinforce some of the warping before I repaint it.



 
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Man this is looking good! You always demonstrate amazing levels of patience, dedication, and skill. Looks like Hasbro has some ROTJ/Jabba releases coming up this year too that can add a few more characters (Vedain, Yak Face, etc.) to your impressive barge effort!
 

Daigo_Bah

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Thanks, Shiz- I'm excited to add those upcoming releases to this! So,I got to work on the engine exhaust these last couple days. Here it is with all the greeblies super-glued on to the foamcore base.





And here is a pic with the old one atop the new one; can you spot any differences? LOL



And a couple pics with it in place: EDIT: here are a couple new pics taking the place of the old ones, with the tailpipe engines re-positioned properly.



 
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