A L I E N Narcissus


Sr Member
Please, more overlays! I'm trying to figure out how to apply this technique to one of my projects. I love Alien, but have never been interested in the Narcissus. I'm really here because of the attention to detail and results of your labor. Really cool!


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Well-Known Member
Thank you very much Joe :thumbsup
I would love to see more people use the technique. If you do, please post a thread!

I don't think you could find any other way to achieve this level of accuaracy unless you had access to the original model.
That being the case, then photogrammetry would probably be the way to go, but not everyone has access to photograpgh a model in person (with photogrammetry in mind), even if it does still exist.

The key to success, is having reference photos that are shot from different angles. A single photo of an area can work, but having multiple angles really increases the accuracy.

It's been really exciting to discover all the minute "secrets" of this particular model (and frustrating, because as you say, it only has a small niche following, which means I don't really have anyone to share it with - apart from this thread!).

As an example, I can tell you that this bent wire is approx 1.3mm dia and bent up slightly (11 degrees) from horizontal.
This is something that is not easily "eyeballed"...


I have found that the "clamps" on the outside of the ship were modified a couple of times during the build.
Initially when they were added they were longer, but were later shortened.
The top of the clamp was also cut off - presumably to allow it to fit/work properly in the release arm:

Capture59.jpg Capture60.jpg

I initially didn't notice it, but with the model overlayed, it was clear to see.

These metal fittings were either a found item or hand fabricated.
I was able to match the size and profile of both exactly by modelling over the top of the photos:

Capture58.jpg Capture61.jpg

And lastly, some overlays of current progress :)




Master Member
Yep, as you have discovered, some greeblies were done "on site" and didn't come from a model box being used and abused;)


Sr Member
You're very welcome! I'm definitely studying this thread and seeing if I can make something work with Sketchup and Rhino. I'm still in early research so I'll refrain from posting anything now, but yeah, I'll definitely post once I make good progress.

Those metal parts reminded me of parts from a metal drafting pen/pencil, like a Rotring.


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Well-Known Member
No worries Joe. If I can help at all, please feel free to ask.

Good idea on the metal parts.
I actually have a few Rotring pens and while the shape is similar, the parts on the ship are considerably larger.

TBH, I think that they were probably custom fabricated, as they needed to match the fullsize set that had been built first.



Sr Member
Doh! I'm not as familiar with the model but familiar enough to have realized the size. Thanks as well....I might have questions for you know the near future.


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Well-Known Member
Most of the kit parts have now been modelled and placed on the bow of the ship.

I'm really happy with the match against the reference images.
The overlay shows that it is very close to perfect.



Starboard :


Bow render:


This leaves the EMA tubing on both sides (and the few kit parts that sit on top of it) to do, and of course the main engines...

On the kit buying front, I've now managed to purchase 90% of the required parts, with just a couple of kits still eluding me...


Active Member
Man, that is close enough for me!! Allowing for perspective distortion, I'd say its just about perfect. And I pride myself on perfection.
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Had a small break from working on the ship.
Got pretty busy with "real" work, but it's good to have a breather and recharge the batteries, so to speak!

I have all but 4 of the kits I need to complete the ship now.
I spent three days going through all 26 of the ones I do have, and scanning them at 600 DPI.
It was also a good opportunity to scrutinize them closely and see if I could pick out any kit part ID's that I may have missed (and I did manage to find a couple too).
I also noticed that I'd bought a couple of the wrong variants of a couple of the kits, so will need to repurchase those :(

As for the model, I have manged to finish off the EMA tubing on the rear and the last few kit part there too.


My focus over these past three days has been the top main engines.
As with the underside ones, they were hand carved (by Martin Bower out of Jelutong wood), then molded and cast in fibreglass.
The organic nature of these shapes has made it a real challenge to accurately digitally replicate them.
I wanted more than to get it just "close" and I think persistence has paid off.
After many hours work, I'm now confident that these are a very close match to the originals.





So what's left to do...
I need to await the arrival of those final few kits I'm missing to allow me to accurately model those parts.
I also have a handful of unkown ID's to see if I can identify.
I will need to model the Tyrrell shrouds that goes around the underside engines (and that will be a challenge in itself!)
BUT, the end is in sight! :)


Master Member
You've come back refreshed and it shows! Great update (yes, those engines are not easy to reproduce). Keep up the great work:cool
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Well-Known Member
The final hurdle I needed to overcome was to create an accurate digital copy of the Tyrrell cockpit shrouds.
These come from the 1:12 model of the 6 wheel F1 racing car and are the parts that surround the driver.


As you can see, they are very organic in shape, and there is just no way for me to be able to accurately create them in CAD.
My solution was to use photogrammetry.
This would also be a good test of my original idea to 3D "scan" all the needed donors.

I built myself an inexpensive light tent using PVC reticulation pipe and a roll of tracing paper I had lying around (to diffuse the light).
I grabbed 3 cheap desk lights from Ikea and some 100W LED "daylight" globes.
I used some black cloth as a base and backdrop - this allowed my to have a featureless background so that I could rotate the subject on a turntable rather than have to move around it to take the required photos.

You need lots of photos...
For these two parts (photgraphed in one go) I took 70 shots.
For my equipment, I'm using an old Nikon D300 with a 24-70 2.8 lens.

Photogrammetry has some limitations on what you can capture. Two of the "no-no's" are shiny objects, and those that have no detail.
Shiny, plain plastic model parts are generally not a good candidate!.
To get around this, you need to coat the subject to stop both refelections and add some "features" that the software can match to.
You can buy purpose made sprays for the job, but they are expensive. I went with a homebrew option which I'd read about - talc/baby powder mixed into Isopropyl alcohol.
It worked surprisingly well. The IPA evaporates quickly leaving a thin coat of talc and the IPA doesn't harm the plastic. The talc just washes off in water afterwards.

Here are the parts in my light tent, sitting ready on a turntable after being sprayed with the talc solution:


Here is the result after importing the photos into the software and creating a 3D model.


and cleaned up and converted to a solid body model.


I have to say, I'm really impressed with the results, which are confirmed by how well it matched to the reference photos once I added it to the model.

The Tyrell pieces were then trimmed to match the origianal model with styrene and kit parts also added.
Here is the match to the refeence after it was done


This gives me a lot of confidence going forward for scanning the rest of the donors at a later stage.


Well-Known Member
......and with that, the model is done.

Here is a final set of overlays of the completed model:


There are 625 individual kit parts from 30 different kits.
Of the 625, 617 have been ID'd.

I may not know the origin of the unknown parts yet, but being able to model "over" the reference photos means that I have very accurate "substitutes" for those 8 parts in the meantime.

99% kit part accuracy. I think I am OK with that :)


Well-Known Member
Wow that's expensive, well not in terms of business use, but a lot for occasional usage. I have played around with a free one that was ok, but was not too good for detail accuracy, guess you get what you pay for.


Well-Known Member
You can get a free trial version to try out (you just can't export the results) and you can get a 3 month full licence for $99 - I thought that was pretty reasonable...


Well-Known Member
Ah ok, I misread it, I thought the $99 option was still limited, actually pretty fair as it does seem to work very well. One question relating to the photomatch in Sketchup, have you ever have it do something weird if you are moving something while it does an autosave. Twice now it has changed the origin point in a weird way such that I have had to resort to a previous save.