Lighting the interior of the ship and preventing that light from leaking through the plastic - unless I want it to, of course. Model making can be complex.

Since I’m using LEDs to light the model, the inside of each major component such as the saucer and secondary hull is going to be doused in light – light that I don’t want bleeding through the plastic and ruining the look of the model. This means I need to paint the inside of the ship to add an extra layer for those photons to struggle through. I found a really nice matt black that I had left over from my last model. It’s GORGEOUS.

It's like charcoal, it's fantastic.
It’s like charcoal, it’s fantastic.

So I painted the inside of the two saucer sections with it. After waiting for it to dry I held it up to a lamp and was very happy to see it completely blocked the light.

However, I also don’t want to look through the windows and see black. I want the windows to glow as much as possible by painting the inside of the ship white, encouraging the light to bounce around and through the transparent window pieces. I thought I had gloss, which would be nice and reflective, but instead I had satin, which for some reason was spraying out more like snow more than paint.

I love model making! But the white coat looks rather speckled, but it'll do.
The white looks rather speckled, but it’ll do.

Regardless, I’m going to give it a thumbs up and say it’ll do. I might patch up some areas with a brush later if I need to.

Next-step lighting

I’m pretty happy with the painting and lighting I did on my NX-01 Refit, but I want to step it up to the next level with Raytheon lighting (thanks to Captain Foley for that video overview). This technique emulates the floodlight effect you can see on the exterior of starships from The Motion Picture onwards. It looks great when the refit 1701 is booting up:

Skip to 0:37 if the video doesn’t start there.

Ships in the Original Series don’t have this effect, but I like it so much I want to add it anyway. So, I’ve looked at where my model is going to have ship registry details and masked off those areas on the inside. By painting the blocking layers and then peeling off the masking tape, I’ve created zones for the light to shine through.

The is the top of the saucer, and the arc-shaped area will illuminate the “U.S.S. Enterprise” and registry number when I apply them later.

The Result!

As you can see, it works! However, until I use my real LEDs I won’t know how effective this is. This plastic seems much thicker than my last kit, and therefore blocks much more light by itself. Add to the fact that I only have a maximum of 3.7V to pump into the LEDs due to the LiPo battery I’ve selected; I might have an issue where the lights simply aren’t strong enough to illuminate this area properly.

I may also want to “feather” the edges later. I’ll take some paint, probably just the white, and go around the internal edge of each section to give the idea of light getting weaker at the edges of the beam.

The other result: my girlfriend HATES the smell of the turpentine I’m using to clean the spray painter and to get the excess off my hands. Maybe I can find a solvent with a less persistent stench.

Next Step

The next step is to finish the Enterprise’s Arduino computer. My current challenge is getting it to play one sound, like a torpedo launch; on top of another, like the bridge ambient sound playing on a loop.

In other news I might also get that charcoal black paint for some other things, it’s very cool.