I Photoshopped the primered ship onto my original cover image, so it's a false/not-false representation of the current status of the Atropos.
Supposedly accurate paper templates.
In Part 1 I mentioned watching a video of a cobbler making a template for a shoe using crumpled paper, and I tried that technique to make a template for my hull panels. I made several templates, each time adding or subtracting small bits of paper to make them as accurate as possible. The forward raised area in the middle and the rear engine assembly are slightly off-centre, so each template had to be custom-built, meaning I couldn't just make one and use the mirror image (i.e. flip it over) to make the other. I'll be way more careful centering parts next time I'm kitbashing.
Result of template exercise.
I traced my paper templates onto some sheet styrene and cut out four pieces, two for each side, to achieve the level of thickness I wanted for the top (to sit just below the kit's middle horseshoe section). I roughed up the surface of the ship and the undersides of all four panels with sandpaper for better adhesion, then used glue (CA glue on the flat parts and Tamiya Extra Thin around the edges) and clamps to put everything together (the ship's surface slopes very gently from the middle section to the outside edges, so clamping is needed rather than weights).
The top layer is supposed to curve back from the bottom on the leading edge like that...
More symmetry problems.
...I misjudged my curve and ended up with more symmetry problems (the right curves back too much; the left is okay). I added a very thin slice of sheet styrene to the right to bring it back up "to code," but if I had Romulan contractors, I'd be in big trouble.
I used Tamiya White putty to fill in the gaps between the raised hull parts and my new panels. Lots of filling and sanding and filling and sanding at this stage...
Bracing for elevation.
That long dragster "keel" I added to the bottom of the ship is pretty deep, so my bottom panels would have to be "thicker" than the top ones (not to blend in with the keel, but come just under its edge). Instead of adding four or five layers of sheet styrene to build that thickness, my plan was to add a few pieces of rod styrene (left over from building the trailer for the Puppet Wagon) to give me a high point to attach to and the outer edges of the panels would attach to the ship, sloping downwards from the keel.
Starboard side and putty.
Filling the rear gaps.
Of course, my sloping method means there's a hollow area between the panels and the original hull, so this resulted in triangular gaps at the rear. I cut some small strips to fit and glued them in place. They needed some trimming and puttying, and it worked out, eventually. All this body work is giving me good practice for my Jetta builds down the road...
First coat of primer.
...but all the puttying and sanding was starting to wear me down a bit and I had to know just how much more work was needed to finalize the top and bottom hulls. The best way to do that is to shoot some primer on the model and the uniform colour will reveal any shortcomings –and there are lots, but I now know what to fix and work on.
I'm happy that things are definitely coming along with the hulls 'cause I need a break. My next step is going to be figuring out exactly how my lighting rig fits into the ship...