Lawrence of Arabia – “The Road to Damascus” – 28mm Diorama

A couple of months ago Martin, an email follower of my blog, asked me if I’d ever considered doing a model of Lawrence of Arabia. I replied saying that I had thought about it some years ago but hadn’t been able to find a suitable figure.

My original inspiration came many years ago after seeing the film Lawrence of Arabia by David Lean. If you have never seen it then I would strongly recommend that you do.  A big budget film where the people you see are all real people not half a dozen replicated by computer imagery.  The sweeping landscapes filmed in Jordan are stunning and on top of that it’s a true story, how accurate though I cannot comment.  Peter O’Toole’s acting debut if I recall correctly as well. Sadly nothing came of it in modelling terms.

However, Martin’s email prompted me to look again and was I rewarded by finding figures by Artizan Miniatures. It’s quite possible the figures have been around for sometime and simply passed me by because I would have been looking at 54mm scale in those days and not the 28mm scale that I am much more into now.  Needless to say I purchased the figures.

The actual Lawrence figure comes as part of a pair and was nicely cast which is something I have come to expect from Artizan’s models and originally the figure held a pistol.  For the little diorama I had in mind I thought this was inappropriate so I removed it and added a stick/crop instead.  That’s about the extent of my figure conversion ability!

It’s been a while since I painted a figure that was essentially all one colour and I’d forgotten the challenge that comes with highlighting and shading.  As for painting camels these are my first! Overall they didn’t come out too badly.  Oddly the second figure didn’t come with anything to hold so I chose to resolve that by making a flag.

The base work was a simple affair but if I’m being honest it’s also my biggest disappointment with this little diorama.  In an ideal world I would have put the two completed figures on a base 20 feet wide to provide a sense of scale.  Alternatively I could have taken it to a beach in Cornwall and photographed it there!  If you are familiar with the film then you’ll probably understand where I’m coming from with this, it’s all about the shear scale of the landscape.  Still things are what they are and I’m pleased to have completed a model of an iconic figure.

TIM

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24 thoughts on “Lawrence of Arabia – “The Road to Damascus” – 28mm Diorama

  1. I really like the simplicity of the piece mate. You’ve done really well with the plain clothes. Just the right amount of shading and highlights. I like the pops of blue too to break up the more muted tones. Will you do more? As you can guess I’d love to see some battle dioramas from the charge of Aqaba hehe. It is a great movie but one I haven’t seen since my teens so I’ll have to revisit it. Peter O’toole was a fine old school actor but apparently a bit of an arse to work with.

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    1. I wouldn’t mind doing something else along this theme but it was a job just locating figures for this one. Not a period that seems to have much coverage. Heard the same about O’toole. Played the role as a bit of an arse too but that could have been the real character for all I know. Hard to see anyone else in the role though.

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      1. Yeah true. Did you know Lance Henrichson was earmarked to play the Terminator before Arnie? Some conceptual drawings were even drawn up. Nothing against Lance, he was great as Bishop in Aliens but no way could he be the Terminator. Arnie is almost like a robot already haha

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  2. No I didn’t know that, loved Alien and Aliens though, not so sure about the other follow ups. Same goes for Terminator and Terminator 2, loved them but not so sure about the rest. Terminator was so dark. When they get the casting right it’s very difficult to ever see anyone else in the role.

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  3. Excellent job. I didn’t realize you would do this so quickly. The scale of the landscape in particular the mountains/Wadis is truly vast, but having said that your diorama has managed to capture that . The camels and his guide/or Auda Abu Tayi are very well done and a terrific paint job. TEL in his white flowing royal robes makes him instantly recognizable. You were right not to include the gun because even excluding the murky scenes in the film, the reality was that he did become caught up in the blood lust in his fight to help the Arabs win their freedom from the Turks, and their ultimate independence. Unfortunately The Sykes Picot Agreement signed during WW1 would see to it that Arabia run by Arabs was not going to happen. The truly sad part of this part of history was that TEL discovered the lie and was put in the position of having to be a party to the lie. I think that this was one thing that he hated about himself but still thought he could do something for Feisal at the Paris Peace Conference. His presence and Feisal’s did little to advance Arab independence and ultimately only one part of a divided Arabia was allow an Arab King to rule….Trans Jordan.
    Fabulous job and many thanks for undertaking this build.

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  4. Thank you Martin, glad you liked it. It’s always nice to do something a little different and as I mentioned it was a model I was keen to do but had never found suitable figures. As for the real TEL, makes you wonder what the outcome might have been if politics hadn’t gotten in the way. Hope your Beatles projects are going well.

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    1. Hi David, Still working on The Cavern. This is quite a large one to keep the scale reasonably accurate . Someone suggested TEL and the charge at Aqaba. The movie charge as such didn’t happen they simply rode into the seaside port and surprised the Turks without firing a shot. It wasn’t necessary for Lean to do this as an action scene, but I guess Hollywood is Hollywood …. a little artistic licence. Never let the truth get in the way of a good story LOL. David I’m enjoying your blog and photos, where do you keep all of these dioramas? All the best Martin.

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      1. Glad you enjoy the blog Martin, I must say from my point of view it’s great fun. Something to consider yourself perhaps? Interesting what you have to say about the battle, or lack of one, but as you say it wouldn’t be Holywood if history wasn’t rewritten from time to time. Where I keep my models is starting to become a bone of contention. Having more time than ever to do things means I’m also producing more. Fortunately I have a double garage so before too long I’m going to have to fit it out before I get more complaints about having them all over the house! Visited Alan last week and got an update on what you and he have been up to regarding your Beatles stuff, all very good I must say. He also mention you are coming to the UK and off to Liverpool. Be sure to have a great time, I have a feeling you will!

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  5. Wonderful diorama! I remember seeing camels in the Sahara when I had a project to rebuild an airfield back in the 80s. Yours capture that exactly!

    Perhaps as aa adjunct You could find a motorcyclist figure that would be writing a 1920s motorcycle to represent Lawrence before he crashed and died

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  6. Excellent work there! I always think it will be super simple to do a single color on a model. Then it doesn’t turn out right, and I wonder how I botched it, haha! Great job with the paints and adding that flag is a nice touch. I saw the movie some 20+ years ago, and sadly don’t remember much. One I should try to revisit again. The nice thing about losing one’s memory, everything is new again!

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  7. Haha very good. If you get the chance try and see the film again, it’s a classic in my humble opinion. In the meanwhile I’ve yet to work out if my memory is truly beginning to fail or if my wife is simply manipulating me for he own ends.

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  8. Lovely work here. Both figures definitely look the part, and Lawrence’s white robes and the flag both provide effective focal points (especially Lawrence in white on the black background).
    Next time you’re down at the beach you should consider taking this with you to get that epic shot of the two figures against the huge landscape as well!

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    1. Thanks Azazel. You’re right about the beach shot. The more I think about the more I’m going to have to do it at some point. Overall I’m pleased with the figures but I’d love to capture the grand landscape image I had in my head when I was putting this one together.

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  9. Great job ,I do like the flag ,I only got to appreciate them when I needed them for the American civil war job . One question I have been wanting to ask is in regards to your bases ,one of my many jobs was as a picture framer many years ago ,so I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me sooner , that instead of me struggling around in the shed trying to make a frame ,get a professional to do it .Seeing you bases got me thinking yesterday morning as I had finished the dio but had no base ,and as I wanted to post it ASAP I popped around the corner to a young lad who runs a framing business out of his garage . He has framed a lot of my fantasy art decoupage pictures for me and is very creative ,he was able knock the base frame up for me in a few hours ,which after all that rambling leads me to ask about who does yours , a professional or do you do it yourself ? ,they are quite good . And Azazels comment about a beach shot is a great idea !.

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  10. For the dioramas that I’ve done where I have a building in them I’ve bought bases which have an acrylic cover just to keep the dust off. I bought them from a guy called Paul at Just Bases for £18.00 each, a bargain really. Only trouble is they restrict the size of the diorama but that sometimes is a good thing. When I just want a base I usually buy them off of eBay. Plenty to be found and reasonably priced. Some people do a great piece but then put it on a crap base which is such a shame. One thing I have seen which is clever was at a show I went to. Some of the modellers there were using old picture frames to edge their bases. Obviously they made their bases fit the frame they bought. I suspect old picture frames are pretty cheap to buy and looked very good. Sounds like you have just done the same thing only had a bespoke frame made which was a great idea. This is something I shall look at too I think.

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    1. Thanks again mate ! you are so right about the crap bases ruining a great job, especially on the small ones like you do , they are really neat and ,that’s what brought my attention to this subject . I have been guilty in the past , thinking people will be so busy looking at the actual scene they won’t notice my sloppy job on a base surround ,then I realized ,people are very observant ,especially those that share the same interests . Keep on side of your friend Paul ,that’s a fair price in my book ,and I will think about the old picture frame idea , cheers mate and have a great week .

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      1. I’m not sure people always notice a good base but they do seem to notice a bad one. I think it’s something we come to realise eventually when you make comparisons to other people’s work. The detail isn’t just the figure but the base and everything that entails too. Be sure to have a good week too.

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  11. Tim
    There was a superb Lawrence of Arabia and Trains diorama made for a museum display by one of the Do You Have a Flag? Blog Team that inspired for me a couple of Desert gaming scenarios. Knowing that you have featured Trains in your ACW dioramas, you might enjoy this, the link is featured here via the NQM website

    https://sidetracked2017blog.wordpress.com/2017/07/31/charlotte-bronte-and-lawrence-of-arabia-blow-up-trains/

    Liked by 1 person

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