I needed to display my Capt Cardboard 2001 Dave Bowman astronaut, so I decided to build a simple diorama. I started with the diorama first, because I thought the figure was so good it would just need painting.
I settled on a section of the room outside the brainroom. It’s almost a corridor, and the section I chose has simple walls. If I included more I would have had to build hundreds of box-like “greeblies”, so I made it a 3-walled short piece. Research was the key. The 2001 DVD and some screen captures were perfect. I used a drawing program to trace proportions and relative positions. Kubrick shot all the good stuff with high-distortion wide angle lenses from the ankles looking up. This meant a lot of adjusting and tweaking to get the finished plans to resemble the proportions on screen. The actual set had a removable floor, and was actually 2 sets, so getting it right was difficult. I settled for a “feel”.
I used sheet styrene, quarter and eighth inch (6 and 3mm). I bought a square yard/meter from a plastics company, but you could get by with the small packs sold in hobby shops. Cadillac plastics sell sheet styrene and are in many countries. I used my now standard method of gluing: dots of styrene solvent interspersed with superglue (cyanoacrolyte). I never trust glue or batteries, so the combo solvent and superglue is double protection. I drew up plans but halfway through decided to beef up the base and the front facade freehand, and this was trouble. I should have redrawn the plans and thought things out.
I used water-based airbrush paints, and while they can be good, white is not the color to use for acrylic paint. It’s thin and watery and coverage is poor. If I was doing it again I would use oil/enamel. A note for water-based fans: definitely use the special thinner instead of water. The thinner is very expensive, but smells and feels like methylated spirits (alcohol). I have had great success with cheap methylated spirits from the hardware store. (A few bucks a quart/liter compared to $10 a pint/500 ml for the special thinner). Water is recommended on the label, but just makes a beady mess.
I used sheet metal for the brainroom hatch, available at hobby shops with sheet plastic. Doing it over I would rethink the door and have it slightly open for a sense of depth. The HAL eye is an indicator light from an electronics store. The outside ring is a little big but the feeling seems to work. The vinyl pads are thick styrene shaped in a few stages: (1) angle the edges with a rough file, (2) add extra angle to center, (3) round off and cut.
I used mini fluorescent lights for the overhead light. Expensive but worth it.I had the air vents laser cut, which was pretty cheap and worked out well. The carpet is self-adhesive felt form a craft shop, and is OK, but difficult to apply (stretching).
I’m working on the figure now. It’s very well cast, but I decided to remove the straps (“webbing”) with a Dremel and use plastic ribbon. My wife, also a modeler, said plastic ribbon from a fabric shop would do the trick. I found some that looks like miniature seatbelt material, and is the perfect width. The only bad part of the figure is the glove/boot connections rings: not just inaccurate, but really nonexistent. I had dreams of making new ones, but my wife was sure the metal rings on pens would do. I foolishly doubted her, but she found two that are within .020″ of the right size. No one will notice, so we’ve cannibalized two executive pens. I will cut off the hands and add the rings, change the oval shape of the spacesuit sleeves to round with epoxy, and then dowel-back the hands. Same for boots but haven’t found good rings yet.
It’s been a fun but difficult project.