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Vietnam 1959 - 1975 - America’s Longest and Bloodiest War
vietnamdioramas.com
The photographs and text on the pages of this website are the property of Sentinel Miniatures and it’s owner, who is also the author.  This content cannot be copied, reproduced or distributed by any means in any form without the express written consent of the author.  This information is intended for use by the individual modeler as an aid and guide in his or her creative modelling projects. Contact information is available on the page  labeled “Information”.  This extends to and includes publishing this content on any social or informational media networks.
Very Fortunate Son
The Base
The base frame is made from walnut with a 1/8th inch hardwood center board. the sides of the frame are grooved to hold the center board.  Carpenters glue is used to hold it together.  It is finished with a one step stain, and when dry polished with 00000 steel wool, then given a coat of simi-gloss clear acrylic.  The name plate is fixed, then holes are drilled to hold the pins.  The 2 inch florist foam is cut into sections and test fitted to the base, leaving about ¼ inch gap on all sides. Durhams Water Putty is applied to the foam sections off the base.  Once these sections are covered and dry, they are glued to the base with Elmers Pro Bond. The pit is too deep to be realistic, so it is filled with some florist foam and Durhams poured on top.  When it is just about to turn hard, a nail is pushed into the Durhams and foam at random locations to hold the punji sticks.  This is done so no drilling is necessary.  Now the section gaps are filled and all visible spots that were missed are filled.  The punji stakes are made from real bamboo which is made by Reality In Scale.  They are cut into pieces 1.75 inches long, some longer some shorter.  The basic shaping and cutting down is done with an X-Acto, then a medium emery bit is used in a Enkay motor tool for final shaping. They can be left their natural color.  A drop of Pro Bond is put on the end of each and they are pressed into the random holes.  Use a tweezer to hold them firm and press them in, since they tend to break.  Fill the ¼ inch gap around the base perimeter with Durhams.  Keep a wet paper towel to wipe off the excess that will get on the display base.  Don’t let it dry on the finished base.  Some residue will remain, so put on a light coat of clear semi-gloss.  After everything has dried for several days, paint the foam base completely (a few coats).  Once the painted base has dried for a few days, the detailing and scenicing can begin.
VFS Base #6 VFS Base #1 VFS Base #2 VFS Base #3 VFS Base #4 VFS Base #7 VFS Base #5 VFS Base #8 VFS Base #9
The Trees
The trees are from Verlinden and assorted plastic palm trees for railroads or architectual use. There are different types of plastic trees available with all different types of trunks. The different types should be mixed for a realistic appearance. They have to be detailed, trimmed and painted. The more trees you can use the more realistic the diorama will look. There is a PDF link on the right which will explain  the necessary steps to finishing these palm trees. Please read below for terms of use on web  and PDF content.
Groundwork
Converting the Figures
The groundwork is about 90% finished.  It will be completed after the figures are finished.  More jungle plants, vines, leaves, etc. will be added.  The trap is almost finished, but will have to be broken as one figure will be posed starting to go down.  The forefront of the trap will be blended in so it will be unnoticable but will still be able to be removed. The PDF that acconpanies this explains just about everything including some of the products used. Please read below for terms of use on web  and PDF content.
The conversions for the four figures is just about complete.  There is a link to a 13 page PDF detailing the conversion process for these four figures. Please note it is written assuming that the reader has some modelling  experience. Please read the terms of use on web  and PDF content at the bottom of this page.
PDF for Converting Figures
Painting Figures - Acrylic Undercoat
The PDF covers what you will need to know about undercoating in acrylics.  The paints that are shown are the ones used. You can use any brand of acrylic you like.  Make sure that they are a pure polymer. Brands like Gunze or Tamiya may have additives that will interact with the oil paints. Vallejo, Scale 75, Jo Sonya are also very good.  The undercoating doesn’t have to be perfect, but the closer it is, the better and easier the oil painting will be.  Try to come as close to the final color as possible.  Craftmart sold through Michaels makes an Olive Green that is very close to what you will want.  To lighten or change the tone of the olive green use Kings Gold, not bright yellow and their Titanium White Acrylic.  If it gets too light, darken it with a pin head size drop of their Flat Black.  Remember, adding white, besides lightening the mix, will also wash it out.  Look at the pallet above and you will see that it is better to make everything a bit darker.  The equipment, belts and accessories can be undercoated in Andrea Russian Khaki.  Vary the tones of the packs, ammo pouches, belts, etc.  All of these things, including the uniforms are made by different contractors.  Nothing stays constant.  Helmet covers can be a lighter tone of the base color with varying camo colors from burnt siena to roof brown, army green, etc.  Look at pictures of real used uniforms, not books with artists renditions.  These are seldom very accurate.  Know the area you are modelling.  This is very important, especially in the final oil painting.  If you were there, you need no guidance.
Undercoating the figures in acrylics is covered in a 3 page PDF with a link on the right.
Painting Figures - Oils
Finished Diorama
The link on the right is to a 7 page PDF of pictures of the finished diorama.
The completed diorama is on an eight by eight walnut base using a wide variety of groundwork and trees. Most of it was supplied Greenline, Scenic Factory, Fields of Glory Models, Historex Agents, Slot Car Classics, Peddinghaus, Reality in Scale and natural plants from Vietnam. The figures are all converted from Bravo 6.  The hands are from Hornet, the heads are from Sovereign, Legend, Hornet and Bayardi.  The base is made from florists foam covered with DurhamsWater Putty.  The pit has stakes made from real bamboo.  The PDF files outline how it was made in each stage, again assuming that you have moderate modeling experience.  It was based on a real incident that was seen through field glasses.  The time span of this scene is about three seconds.  A very smart RTO saw an irregularity in the grass.  At the same time as the lead man started to fall he threwhimself on the ground grabbing is belt and or straps.  The man on the forward side grabbed his arm and the man in the rear held on to the RTO’s pack frame.  This seemed to support everything and they were able to pull the falling man back enough to stop the fall.  A one in a million save.
Oil Painting the figures  5 page PDF  link
The painting process is explained in the PDF that is supplied.  Keep in mind this is just one method.  It goes fairly fast and is important if you have alot of figures to convert and paint as in the diorama “Run”, that has 50 figures on it.  The pictures shown are representitive of painting with this method.  Before the figures are actually placed on the diorama, they will be gone over again and all the rough or uneven edges of the painting will be corrected.  Once they are in place, they will all be weathered afain with earth colored pastels.  This blends everthing together and makes them look as if they are part of the suroundings they are in.  This is essential.  The pastels adhere well, stay and will not rub off.  A side benefit of coating them with Dorlands Wax. The flesh areas are painted with Gamblin Flesh and shaded with Burnt Sienna from Lukas 1862. The eyes if present are painted with a full iris. The color, usually brown is put in with a needle with a tiny trace of white on the side. If there is no full eys socket, just shade it with Burnt Sienna. The cheekbones, jaw, sides of the nose, etc. are highlighted with a flesh mixture of the base color plus Titanium White. Lips are done with Alzarin Crimson. Do not use red.
Very Fortunate Son