Forgotten Force
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Past Figures

Bespin Escape diorama
by
Chris McVeigh




The diorama is inspired by the scene in The Empire Strikes Back Special Edition where the three heroes run by newly-added windows showing the skyline of Cloud City. Itís not a depiction of specific scene, though; I think of it more as a unseen hallway they ran down as they escaped.

The diorama is made with white foam board, and itís covered in white bristol board. It's about 18" wide by 9" deep, and can be sat on a shelf. A 12Ē fluorescent fixture lights the skyline from the bottom. To prevent light from showing through the foam board, the inside of the box was lined with black bristol board. This also prevented light from bouncing around inside of the box and creating unwanted reflections.

Putting a light in the diorama required that I raise the floor of the hallway by at least an inch. Since I had the extra height, I chose to add stairs to the front of the diorama to give it more detail and make it look less awkward. And boy, were those rounded foam board pieces difficult to cut out!

One of the most difficult parts was creating the art-deco walls on either side of the windows, which really help sell it as Cloud City. In truth, these walls were not placed next to windows on the movie set. The mockups I made looked so convincing that I just had to add them to the diorama.

I searched all over the Internet for a suitable image of a sunset, but I couldnít find one that was quite right (and large enough to be printed). I actually found this image in my own photo library. I just removed the foreground elements, color-corrected it and printed it out. The sunset is printed on matte paper to prevent unwanted reflections. (Actually, I printed it on semi-gloss paper first, but it was so shiny I could see my own reflection when I looked through the windows.)

Ah, the interior! You'll notice that the light fixture has been layered with a transparent orange filter to tint the light a bit orange (like a sunset), removing the cold blue tint common to fluorescent tubes.

The buildings were created with precut wooden objects, including tires, buckets, old-style milk containers. I layered these on top of each other to create buildings that looked similar to those from the re-envisioned Cloud City. I painted them a warm brown to simulate the color theyíd be in a sunset, and then I wrapped thin silver wire around them to give the impression they had tiny rows of glass windows.

I regret that my digital camera isnít able to capture the ambient light quite right; itís really a nice, soft orange when seen with the naked eye. Iíve actually taken two sets of pictures. The set you see here is warm in tone and closer to what you see with the naked eye. The other set was taken with automatic white balance, giving a cooler (and I suppose more Cloud City-like) look to everything.

To see Chris' diorama under different lighting conditions, click here.

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