LET'S TALK RAYTHEON!!!
Ok folks, sorry for the delay in posting an update. I’ll try to do a little catch up today. The most common topics I’ve been asked about for the next post are interior lighting (coming soon) and “Raytheon” lighting. For this installment, I’ll discuss Raytheon, what it is, how it’s achieved, and where it can be used on the 1:350 refit.
Part 1: What is this “Raytheon” I hear people talking about?
I remember not long ago at all wondering the same thing. Sounded pretty technical like some kind of top secret new lighting method stashed in Area 51 by the government.
Well fear not. It’s nothing so strange or secret and most people have already done it by accident! In those cases, it’s generally referred to as “light bleed!”
Raytheon lighting is simply a process where, when you light block your model to keep light from shining through the plastic on interior lights, you intentionally DON’T light block certain areas where you want the light to actually come through and illuminate the outer part of them model using the interior lights within. This is particularly useful in creating a spotlight effect on an area of a ship where there is simply no way that a spotlight could exist there from an external light source on the ship itself. A perfect and common example of this is the registry markings on the rear of the nacelles on the Enterprise refit. There are no areas on the ship itself where one could mount lights to shine into those areas from the outside that wouldn’t be horribly out of place and look wrong. Best solution, then? Put the light INSIDE the plastic!
Part 2: Why the silly name? What’s a “Raytheon?”
Ok, so the fancy name. In my brief research into Raytheon, I wondered where it came from. It is named thus in recognition of a builder who was the first to really publish his method of using it. He used a screen name on the site he frequented. You might have guessed… his screen name was “Raytheon.” This guy, Ian Lawrence, claims to be the originator. I have no way of verifying this, but he does have a nice site with several builds of the 1:350 ships, so it’s worth checking him out! http://www.ianlawrencemodels.com/wipindex.html
Part 3: How it’s done.
Basically, once you have the area set as explained below, simply aim an LED (usually cool white) directly behind the plastic. You can tilt the light slightly in the direction you want the light to spread if not going for a centered look.
Technique 1: Masking/taping off the shape:
The basic technique is pretty simple. When you go to spray in your light blocking paint (or your tape or however you choose to light block) on the interior of your model, simple mask off or leave the tape off the area where you want light to actually pass through. Make sure you mask off in the shape you want your light to appear. If you want it perfectly round, mask a circle. If you want it to look like a flood light, trace the triangular shape from the light source out and then mask there.
Technique 2: Sanding
This is an optional technique to the first method whereby you go ahead and light block as normal, then go back and sand out the areas you want the light to show through. I stumbled onto this by accident, actually, as I had already light blocked a part when I actually discovered Raytheon. So I just went back in with the sanding drum on a Dremel and carefully removed the paint in the area I wanted Raytheon lighting. It actually worked great as not only did I get the shape I wanted exactly, it also naturally softened the edges where I sanded, giving a more realistic look to my faux spotlight. Also, it thinned out the plastic a bit in that area as the bit took a little plastic with the paint. This had the effect of allowing the light to come through even brighter.
Technique 3: Softening the edges and finishing
Simply masking off the area for the light is all well and good, but it has the effect of creating a harsh line for the light where a natural light would soften a bit as it spreads farther out from the source or focal point. So, an easy way to fix this is, once you remove your mask from light blocking, go back to your area and, along the lines where you masked, spray a light coat of your light blocking paint right along the edge. The goal is not coverage here, but light dispersal to soften the line. You can use an airbrush or rattle can for this or even a lightly saturated half-wet paintbrush like when weathering or washing with thinned paint.
Part 4: Why do so many people hate it?
So now you know why and how to do the effect. So do so many builders poo poo the idea and thumb their nose at it? Well, it’s really a matter of taste. It’s important to realize that this effect does not exactly look like true external lighting. Some builders simply don’t like the way it looks. That’s ok, but it leaves them basically forced to leave off “screen accurate” lights in certain areas or to use methods which may cause other areas of the ship to become inaccurate. It’s all a matter of personal preference
Mixing the two effectively can be a bit tricky. I’ve seen builds that use Raytheon exclusively that look terrific and I’ve seen builds where one misplaced Raytheon light looks completely out of place to my eye. I’ve seen several blend the two seamlessly.
There’s no right or wrong here. Only preference.
*A good rule of thumb for me is always use true lighting where possible!!!*
Part 5: Where do I use it on the Enterprise?
In the case of the Enterprise refit, there are really only a few areas where you MUST use Raytheon if you want to light them.
The aforementioned Nacelle Registries are the most common area Raytheon is used. Note, these are on both in inboard and outboard sides.
The Rear Fantail – This is the area where the name ENTERPRISE appears right below the hangar doors. The plastic in the area is quite thick, so be sure to mask all the way around the fantail piece when doing your initial light blocking. You’ll have to place an LED under the shuttlebay floor (if installing) shining directly onto the fantail piece, so positioning is pretty important. Test fit lots before locking down this LED!
Upper neck spots – These are the spotlights on either side of the neck in the upper vicinity. While it would appear the lower, back light holes would allow you to get light to this area, it’s nearly impossible to actually aim those lights to these precise points. So many builders choose Raytheon here.
Side secondary hull insignias – These can either be done with just the circles around the insignia delta or also adding the optional lights that outline the streak down the side as seen in some of the films.
Registry behind the Officer’s Lounge- This area is somewhat optional as the light from the Officer’s Lounge window does light the registry ok in general. However, if you want that “spotlight” look, you can add Raytheon additionally beneath the registry.
If you choose to use Raytheon exclusively for your spotlighting, basically any area where you see spots in the movie, you can just “un-light block” those and get a Raytheon light by placing an LED directly against the plastic in those areas.
The diagram below shows some other areas where Raytheon lighting has been used on the refit as explained above.
Part 6: Closing and Examples
So that’s pretty much it, folks. Not much to doing this effect. I’ll post some examples of the effect as it appears so you can see what’s capable.
Raytheon used in the neck and rear nacelles… Second example shows light coming through rear nacelle registry area. (not finished shape inside)
Raytheon used to illuminate the neck and the docking port lights. (I drilled tiny holes to either side of the docking port doors to allow light to pass through)
Here you can see the shape of the Raytheon area through the light blocking paint just behind the Officer’s Lounge window…
The effect of the Raytheon light showing through as shown in the above area from the top.
Effect with the Raytheon and the light from the window combined.
From other builds:
Here is an example of Ian Lawrence’s first 350 refit using ONLY Raytheon lighting for his spotlight work. The effect is good, overall, though I still maintain that it lacks a bit of the realism of natural lighting. But it gives you a good sense of what is possible with Raytheon lighting if you get creative.