A L I E N Narcissus


New Member
Very impressive!! Since you will have it all modeled in CAD, you could also create an extremely accurate scaled replica just with 3D printing. Any plans for something like this?


Well-Known Member
Thanks EE89.
A 1/2 studio scale version via Shapeways would be pretty cool.
Not sure if it would be cost effective though, and unfortunately offering it for free inevitably ends up with it being stolen/recast.


Active Member
Thanks EE89.
A 1/2 studio scale version via Shapeways would be pretty cool.
I think people would even be interested in a tiny version, just a few inches long -- at least I would. It'd certainly be more cost effective than 1/2 studio scale. And even if this would run the risk of recasting, your personal studio scale version would still be protected. Not to tell you what to do or anything, just dreaming ;)


Well-Known Member
I think people would even be interested in a tiny version, just a few inches long -- at least I would. It'd certainly be more cost effective than 1/2 studio scale.
I guess thats true Joe.
I'll look at uploading it to Shapeways once the model is done :thumbsup

I did see those, but thought I'd go for something a bit bigger.
I used left over PVC reticulation pipe and tracing paper I had lying around in my shed with some cheap IKEA lights.
Cost was minimal and ended up being around 24"x24"x30". Seems to work pretty well too :)


Well-Known Member
For the past few days I have been working on the underside engines.
As it turns out, this has been no simple task...

The original engines were hand carved by Martin Bower in Jelutong wood, and then molded and cast in fibreglass.
Trying to match all the different angles of this hand carved element has taken considerable work (and many iterations).

I'm at a point now though, where I believe that they are a good representation of the originals as they fit nicely over the reference images :





The detailing on the engines is still to be finalised.


Well-Known Member
It looks like a really good match. It seems to be a really difficult shape. May I ask, which program do you use for this work?


Well-Known Member
Thank guys! :)

Any organic shape is a challenge (for me anyway!).
The only way I could see to do it was to produce "profiles" at strategic locations where I could determine the shape (eg panel lines).
I then blend through those with guide curves to finesse the shape.

Here is a screenshot, one engine solid, the other showing the profiles and guides:


I use Spaceclaim for the modelling - not really mainstream for this kind of work, but its what I'm familiar with.
I use Sketchup for matching to the reference photos.


Well-Known Member
Yeah, I've looked at Rhino too, but I just don't have the time/patience to try and learn *another* software!


Well-Known Member
With most of the work done on the underside, my attention has been focused on the top of the ship (and also obtaining copies of the vintage model kits that were used).

I have continued to add kit parts as well as locating the holes that were added to numerous places about the ship.
I will also be adding all the scored lines that appear on some of the panels too.
These have all been matched to the reference photos by going back and forth between the model and Sketchup in order to get it as exact as I can.

The technique works well and has allowed me to discover a few things that were not immediately obvious.
An example:

The part circled comes from the Tamiya 1/35 M16 and comes as a single piece, so I assumed it was simply glued in place as is.


When I inserted it into the 3D model, it just didn't seem to match.
When I looked further into it, I noticed that the Tamiya 1/35 8rad part that it fits into, has a small raised bar on the base where this part sits:


If I cut the M16 piece into two parts (which is also done elsewhere on the ship), and then place one at the lower level (a difference of just 1.5mm), then it matches perfectly to the photos :)


I know its only a small thing, but it's rewarding to be able to "reverse engineer" what a modeller did some thirty odd years ago.
There have been quite a few "Eureka" moments like that too!

As for progress, here are some overlays of where the model currently sits:


and a couple of quick renders:



Well-Known Member
Work continued this week on adding kit parts to the top front half of the ship.
It's been tedius work at times, adding each individual part and then moving/rotating it to match all the reference images that it appears on.
Lots of back and forth, and incremential movements of fractions of a mm...

Getting close to being done though, with just the cluster of parts below the windows on each side to do.
I'm pretty happy with how everything is fitting together.

Here are the overlays showing the current progress:




And a render:


On a side note, I happened to learn about a great little (free/donationware) program this week for anyone who regularly uses reference images.
It's called PureRef

Very cool and worth checking out if your into building replicas.
I wish I'd known about it when I started this project...


Active Member
I would love to know more about your underlay/overlay technique for matching the mesh to the reference images. Is there a tutorial somewhere?


Well-Known Member
No tutorial I'm afraid as I'm making this up as I go along! :lol

The simplest way to do it would be to model directly in Sketchup.
See SteveStarkillers thread on his Falcon interior build for a great example:


Working directly in sketchup would probably be more efficient, but I'm familiar with the CAD package that I use and I wanted the highest quality model to allow me to create both a 3D printable version and one that I could derive templates from for a physical build at a later date.

Here is a quick rundown of my process:

I created a basic model in CAD as accurately as I could, using the traditional method of scaling from images and using the known kit parts to get close to the overall scale.
Once I had that done (which too a lot of work in itself), I exported the model to sketchup and then used its "photo match" feature.
You can find a few tutorials on how to use it. Basically you use perspective lines on your model to set the vanishing points and establish the correct focal length and view for each reference image.
It is not an exact science - especially when you are using analog based images (as in my case) that may or may not have been cropped and scaled.
It is also not really designed for images that don't have much in the way of perspective either (eg plan and underside views), but with a lot of fiddling you can get it to work on most images.
I found that I was continually tweaking the photo matches as the model progressed up until the main structure was matched. I haven't really messed with them much since.
Obviously, the more reference images used the better and in SU they are tabbed so you can flick between them.
Once that is done, you can compare your CAD model to the reference (as per the screenshot I've posted throughout the thread).
It's then just a matter of looking at how the part you're working on needs to be moved/rotated, changing it in the CAD software and then resending it back to Sketchup to check.
Rinse and repeat until the placement and rotation looks correct!


Well-Known Member
Progress continues...
I'll refrain from posting anymore overlays though, as I think folks have probably seen enough! :lol

The top front half of the ship is now done bar a few missing kit parts still to ID.

A couple of renders, along side comparison reference images:



Work has now started on the back half with plenty still to do.
The engines will no doubt be a challenge, and lots of kit parts on either side too.

The centre "opening/hatch" section is the first to be tackled.
Progress so far:


Purchasing of the required vintage kits also continues in the background...
I now have about 70% in hand (and a much lighter wallet to prove it! :eek).

More updates soon...


Master Member
Yep, it's coming along fine; as you said, with a few pieces missing here and there. But, I have to say that you're build is very exciting to follow:cool