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Decision of the Admiralty Board

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"MSW crew-mate Raul Guzman Jr. treats us to something decidedly different, although definitely related, to our ship-building genre, with this magnificent diorama in this MSW Photo Feature!"

The story line...
Back in the time when ships were made of wood and sail and when the British ruled the seas, the admiralty board was very influential in determining which ships entered the Royal navy.

A ship builder was required to submit his plans for a proposed ship along with a ship model. The admiralty board would then study the plans and ship model to determine if they were going to fund the building of the new vessel. In my diorama I am trying to show that process.

The build...
In my version there are 2 ship models in the board room, one being examined and discussed on the large table by the admiralty board, the other being examined by a manservant, taking a break from his duties. The other manservant is on duty offering wine to a board member. In addition to the board studying the ship model, they are looking at the plans for the ship.

If one looks closely at my diorama, you can see that there are two dogs in the board room and looking out the windows, one can see the adjacent building next door. The clock like device in the back is an instrument that showed the direction of the wind. It was connected to a wind vane on the roof and knowing which way the wind was coming from, would aid the board in knowing when to launch their fleet.

This diorama was completed in 153 hours and 18 minutes. The board room was scratch built. That includes the windows, books, book cases, globes, door, fireplace, pillars, capitals, floor planks, all 3 table tops, one of the dogs and the shadow box.

The 1/32 scale figures I ordered from John Eden Studios in England and I painted them in 7 days. I strategically placed 6 mini light bulbs to light up the scene in the shadow box. Photos #2, 3 and 4 are taken with just the light from the scene, others were taken with additional lighting.
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About the Author

About Raul Guzman Jr. (raulguzmanjr)

I am a 55 year old retired Texas History teacher (28 years) and an avid cyclist (28 years) who lives in McAllen, Texas. Living in south Texas enables me to ride my bike almost any day of the year. I spend my retirement days doing as little or as much as I want in building wooden ship models or shi...


Raul, Beautiful presentation. Thanks for sharing!
MAY 02, 2008 - 06:48 AM
hello Raul, great shadow box,alittle bit for everyone who looks at it.the Lord sitting with his foot up because of gout,reminds me of the Hornblower books. thanks for sharing. cheers, Bruce
MAY 02, 2008 - 09:26 AM
Didn't I see this same diorama/shadow box in one of Shep Paine's books?
MAY 02, 2008 - 12:49 PM
Wow! Stunned again, Raul...great idea, beautifully executed.
MAY 02, 2008 - 04:24 PM
Jesse: My "Decision of the Admiralty Board" is very similiar to Sheperd Paine's one, yet a little different. In Paine's book, "How to Build Dioramas" one can see photos of his shadowbox. I have a 2 more figures, have two dogs, and an extra ship model than his. I also have my 3 tables with wood tops. My board room is oriented different to look more like a drawing I found on the internet. Overall it was a fun project. I'm sure another shadowbox diorama looms in my future. To those who commented on my work, thanks for your kind remarks. Raul
MAY 03, 2008 - 12:27 AM
Excellent work, beautifully executed. Great composition, gorgeous finish. Thanks again for posting! Cheers
MAY 03, 2008 - 02:44 AM
Ah,those well remembered PHOENIX figures...Still have the highwayman diorama I made with their Brougham coach and highwayman,made when I lived in a favourite haunt of these gentlemen,Epping Forest. Also still have 12 of the ever so slightly cheeky girls they marketed as well... I often planned a big dio of brighton sea-front using all their Victorian figures and vehicles..The donkey rides/ice-cream trolley,etc.... I believe SOLDIERPAC of the UK has these and other Phoenix figs in stock...
MAY 08, 2008 - 01:14 AM
In regards to Jesses comment above: A copy almost down to the "T" brace. I suppose that copying is the highest form of flattery. However, in my humble opinion, if you are going to copy someones art, Xerox it if you will, perhaps a nod to the original artist is in order? And that nod is very much absent in this case.....just my two cents.
MAY 19, 2008 - 06:43 AM
For those who are wondering, here is Sheperd Paine's original version of this diorama as seen in his 1980 release of "How To Build Dioramas". Amazing to think it's been almost 30 years already since the release of this great book. Wow! Credit should most assuredly be given to Shep Paine for this concept. As the great Yogi Berra said, "It's like déjà vu all over again!"
MAY 20, 2008 - 06:01 AM
Lincoln and Dade: Your comments about me not giving credit to Sheperd Paine is justified. I used his book on building dioramas as a guide, but I also included many differences in my model. I found on the internet a drawing of the admiralty board room and saw that he had flipped his room around. I made my board room look more like the drawing. It showed a ship model on a small table by the windows with sunlight filtering through. I incorporated that into my diorama. I choose to have two ship models and to add more figures than Paine's. Having more figures made it necessary to have a larger table top which I made of wood. All of my tables have wooden table tops, whereas Paine used the Phoenix furniture. I added a wall map that was down like in the internet drawing. I added two dogs to my diorama. My room has a considerable more wood apperance than Paine's and the ceiling is elevated like in the drawing. My pilasters are different. Paine's bookcases, globes and wind direction device (all located on the back wall) are like the internet drawing, so it was necessary for me to do likewise. What I am trying to say is that I made my version somewhat similiar and yet different to the internet drawing and Sheperd Paine's. In the building log I made on this model on Model Ship World I showed at the begining a photo of Paine's fabulous diorama, the internet drawing and of Seymour Lucas' painting of the "New Design." I guess I should have done so here too. Raul
MAY 27, 2008 - 11:47 PM