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Forced Perspective, using scales to make things appear further away.

At Sea

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In the spirit of the Father Ted "small, far away" joke I have long thought about a diorama featuring 3 aircraft in a classic Cold War North Sea QRA Intercept pose.

I like the idea of Black Mike, Phantom XV582 of 111 squadron in use as a QRA aircraft but she wasn't ever used for this.


Plan is to have a 1:48 Phantom FG.1 in the foreground, normal low-viz grey scheme 111 squadron colours.

Then a 1:72 scale Phantom FG.1 in the Black Mike scheme.  

Then rear most a 1:200 scale Tupolev Bear being shadowed.


I found a good formula here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forced_perspective and using the Tan theta formula think I may be able to start the rough work on this.


Any advice regarding light and back ground greatly appreciated.  I plan to build in a box to force the viewer to look 'down field'.



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  • 2 months later...

Finished the first bit, A 1:200 Tupolev Bear by Dragon.

Obviously I'm not posing it on a half pint tumbler in the Dio.  However I do like the banking away pose, may try and recreate that.





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Hello there,


having just joined the site, I was interested to see this subject crop up.  When I got back into modelling 7 years ago, the first thing I produced was a rather clumsy mixed scale "Battle of Britain" type scene using a couple of kits I just happened to have - 1/144 scale Spitfire and a 1/72 scale Bf 109.  When viewed from above, it's meant to give the idea of distance but without being too large in size.  Of course it upset the myriad of Spitfire fans in our club as the 109 was the victor in this particular battle!


hard to see in these pictures but the white glycol stream is cotton flocking stuck to white painted garden wire inserted into the white cliffs at the bottom with the Spitfire stuck on.  The top end is jammed into one of the 109's underwing radiators so it's balanced on the end.


As a brand new user of this site AND photobucket, I shall now attempt to attach a picture of the finished job - it all looks very "cartoony" with the vivid paintwork but I have since been working on toning the colours down a little so it would be interesting to maybe build this again and use my experience to make look more realistic.Spit4.jpgSpit3.jpg

Edited by Wizzel
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Hi, At Sea,

An interesting idea, and although not an original one it's always good to see someone try it!


The problem, and there's more than one problem is, as you say, forcing the viewer to look at the completed diorama from a fixed point. And so putting it in a box is the only way. You don't actually want the diorama visible from any other angle.


When I was a kid, there used to be these 'magic 3D kits' you could buy....basically a long cardboard box with a viewing panel at one end and a 'sky light' on the top. Inside would be various scenes, depicted by 'pop-up' pictures that you'd have to raise from a pre-cut sheet, the ones further from the viewing panel being incrementally smaller as the distance increased. And there'd be perspective scenes depicted around the sides and rear of the box. You'd get kits like the Battle of Hastings, (A kit I definitely remember)  or battles between knights on horseback, or safari scenes with lions, giraffes, or dinosaur scenes etc. They were really good fun to make and fun to view.


So, point One.

You'll definitely need a 'sky light'. Personally, I'd have a light source above the box, shining down, and maybe use a mesh or a tinted sheet of semi-transparent plastic to diffuse the light and/or create a coloured tint.


Point Two.

You'll have to depict the sky all the way around the insides of the box.... and the best way to do that is to bend and curve a print all the way around the interior. Just sticking prints flat on each of the inner sides isn't good enough as the 90 degree corners at the back WILL look silly. pAnd if you are going to depict the ground on the bottom of the box, you're going to have to consider using a print with land, horizon and sky, and again bend and curve the horizon up the sides of the box to meet the sky. Getting that to look right though, will be very difficult.


Finally, point Three and probably the most problematic,

The hues, shades and contrasts between colours decrease with distance, so strictly speaking, your 3 aircraft should be painted with that in mind, the colours and contrasts toned down the further away they are. Of course, you probably don't want to paint your 2nd Phantom and your Bear in toned down colours/contrasts. I would imagine it would be very difficult anyway, unless one had some very good reference photos!

So, assuming that the aircraft are painted in their 'true' colours, there's always going to be that little discrepancy between model and real-life and difficulty in getting that REALISTIC look.

However, cameras can solve that problem by adjusting their  focus and depth of field settings etc.


In conclusion then, I think your idea is fantastic, and whilst you'll never be able to get everything spot on for absolute realism, a camera will!  

I hope this helps>

Good luck!







Edited by Badder
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On 09/05/2017 at 5:39 PM, Badder said:

When I was a kid, there used to be these 'magic 3D kits' you could buy....basically a long cardboard box with a viewing panel at one end and a 'sky light' on the top.





Blimey Badder you're showing your age,weren't they Victorian! :tomato:...A great idea At Sea,the Bear's a beauty and i love the dio Wizzel....

Edited by Vince1159
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38 minutes ago, Vince1159 said:

Blimey Badder you're showing your age,weren't they Victorian! :tomato:...

Maybe the originals were, but I remember these ones coming out in about 1972.


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1 hour ago, Vince1159 said:

You sure you haven't got your dates mixed up,shouldn't it be 1872 :whistle:...Sorry for going off topic At Sea...

Stop goin' off topic you naughty member! :winkgrin:

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No problem at all going off topic.  It's be a dry & dusty place with out the usual friendly banter, inter service rivalry and general irrelevance that inhabits these parts.


To put it in perspective (pun intended); I'm talking about creating a moment in time which could have but didn't happen in 1990 at 36000 feet somewhere North East of Scotland using plastic model aeroplanes.

If that isn't a bit, odd, I don't know what is! ;)

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  • 3 weeks later...

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