Works in Progress

Cowboys Invaded – Update (16/10/18)


What I thought would take a good few days has only taken two to complete. With half still to do when I came back into the studio. Of course of varying sizes, luckily having some of the first brown paper that was found at the end of yesterday I was able to carry on the language that was made out of making do became a part of the overall look of the work. Using the technique for 3 pieces before I moved onto the final piece that was completely wrapped in the grey toned paper.

Looking at the complete set it just about works. I might add some more of the grey tone across the whole piece. I also need to make up some smaller rocks that will go in front of the gaps I have. Then I can move onto something else on my making list.

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Cowboys Invaded – Update (15/10/18)


Today I’ve made some real progress with the rock formation. Beginning the day by completing the work to flesh out each of the sections and going back around them so they are flush at the bases, I don’t want any gaps.

With that out of the way I finally got the wrapping underway, breaking out some brown paper that I found in a previous jog. I was able to wrap up 3 1/2 pieces before it ran out. (I later found 2 more sheets under my workstation). I moved onto another tone of brown paper on top so that it appears more natural. After finding the extra sheets at the end of the day, I can carry on this look with the next piece.

I noticed as I pieced them all together that the act of wrapping up the sections the overall shape has changed slightly, every change that has been made to these pieces has an effect on the final form. Some sections may need extra work before they are finished. Otherwise I should be able to wrap up the rest of the sections pretty quickly now before moving onto something else on the long making list.


Cowboys Invaded – Update (12/10/18)


The focus of the day has been to put in place the framework for the rock formation that I made a good start on last time. Using strips of cardboard at two widths to create more shape and also allow animation to be carried out later on. I’ve made a solid start today, working on 7 out of 8 sections using the strips not also to create more shape, but also to fill in any gaps that are showing when the sections are positioned together.

I’m pleased with the progress, I know I’ve got a long way to go with these and I know that the wrapping process wont be easy. I’m not pushing to get this piece completed just yet as I have no idea how long it takes to wrap one of these sections. Not all sides will be covered up, however some pieces for photography and script purposes will be. I’m looking forward to see how this collection of boxes will be transformed into something more interesting.


Cowboys Invaded – Update (10/10/18)


Today I can finally tick off the upgrades of the town and move onto other aspects of this very ambitious work. I began the day by finishing off the jail/sheriffs office which needed both a jail on one side and the stairs on the other. Pretty straight forward additions that allowed me to move on pretty swiftly.

The final model was in fact a general store, not as I had thought to be a bank. I went for a reduced height whilst adding a raised sign at the front. It was another straight forward make for me. I guess part of me wanted to move onto something else. I’ll be returning to these pieces for more detail but I break’s needed from them.

Moving on to something more ambitious and large-scale – rocks. For the past few months I have been collecting boxes at work for just such a task. Not really knowing how many were really needed. I broke them all out and made a start arranging them on the floor around the tepees which I also arranged to ensure I got a decent shape. Now that was the easy part, just arranging them, keeping that arrangement is another matter. Drawing an outline around the boxes to ensure I knew where to fix them was the plan. Once removed from the arrangement – even when photographed was not always going to do it. I did my best and had to play it by ear at times. I had made 7 piles that wrapped around, I ended up with 8 which was probably better.

It looks almost like the original set-up, however I know I need to added a few pieces to ensure that when I wrap the brown paper that I have no or little gaps when they come together. I also want to add in a few places where the Native American figures can be animated, which means constructing pathways that wont be lost in the wrapping process. it’s all new to me, not so much the wrapping, I’m applying the technique to a whole new approach that has production requirements of a script.


Cowboys Invaded – Update (8/10/18)


I’m happy to report I’ve received more cardboard and word that I might have more next month too, it can’t get better than that. Armed with my new supplies I took on another day long piece – this time the hotel, which is based on the saloon. However having learned from the construction of the saloon, which was admittedly all over the place. With that piece I constructed the balcony before I even thought about the saloon swing doors, which I had now got restricted access to that area. I did however somehow achieve the doors with a false entrance too. It was a struggle.

Now with that knowledge I began by work on that element as soon as the front wall went up, the false entrance first for support before going onto add the swing doors and the door frame around them. Then I got on with the balcony which this time was done in sections for each side. Previously all of my hotels and saloons have had one piece that I hoped to fit around all built sides. I didn’t want that trouble again, a few measurement later and I was underway.

The main differences between the saloon and hotel is the front and the side that I positioned the stairway so they look different enough. Essentially they are the same model miniature with a few visual differences, it’s the process and decisions that make the hotel superior in terms of production.

With some time left in the studio I decided to make a start on another piece – the Jail/Sheriffs office, this time I wanted something different from the old brick building that I had made for the animation. After carrying out some research and looking at the jail in Lincoln County, New Mexico, which once held Billy the Kid, I went to work. Combing elements of a taller 1 floor building with the cells which will go on the side and another stairway. That’s probably a recurring feature in these pieces, which I’ve tended to avoid at large scale, again it’s more difficult and time consuming to produce, not impossible but takes a long time to make individual steps.

When I return to the studio I’ll be finishing what is the penultimate piece of the cardboard town, before turning to what I believe is the Bank. I’ll decide where I turn to next, I feel a return to the brown paper could be coming up soon.


Cowboys Invaded – Update (7/10/18)


My first studio update of the month and a long time coming too. I’ve decided to take a holiday from the day job to allow my batteries for a week. I’ll be taking it easy, part of that time will of course be spent in the studio. Starting today after easing my self into the extended break I have exhausted my current supply of cardboard for the upgraded town pieces. I should have a fresh supply tomorrow that will allow me to make the final 3 pieces and also the Army fort which I also want to upgrade.

With only one box of the old cardboard supply left I used it to make the Land Office which popped up pretty fast before lunch too, which is always a bonus. I;m not sure where any extra detail will go for this one, I may added some posts above the extruded first floor.

Moving onto make a final decision on the slaughterhouse which I have been taking my time on. Weighing up the pros and cons of them both I went for the smaller piece. It rightly suggests a network of the buildings, not just having a the main one which gives it more importance than it really needs. Being a substation or just another base works better. I had only to make a small modification, extending the side so I can get and easily animate the refrigerated wagons, that was the only con. Being smaller too I have slightly more storage which is now in short supply.

Lastly I decided to something that would be a quick makeĀ  – the small fleet of flying saucers which are used for one shot to suggest more from a distance. Playing mainly with the scale to achieve this effect I picked up some smaller paper bowls a few months ago for just the job. The making process was pretty straight-forward. All I have to make for the scene is a number of buttes and a raised piece that will act as a platform for a larger butte for a few Native Americans to sit upon for the shot.

Moving on I hope I’ll be able to carry on and complete the town upgrade, before moving onto the fort. Before leaving the studio for the day I was clearing up all my off-cuts, to find some of the packaging which I might use for exclusively for the piece. If I get more I’ll have more to work with. I’ll be using playset’s of Fort to inform this new piece which I hope will be in less pieces and might even be smaller than the huge one I had for my previous animation. I might even take a break before the fort to make some of the loser pieces such as the rock formations after amassing quite a few boxes which I’ll use to build up some rocks and buttes that will be covered in brown paper again.


Cowboys Invaded – Update (29/9/18)


I was hoping for a full weekend in the studio after what feels like I’m spending less and less time of late. I think my wish to do 2 days might not happen, due to my needing to take a mental break from things, taking it easier for a time. I’ll see how I feel tomorrow and go from there.

On a better note I’ve finally upgraded the saloon. I find that the buildings with balcony’s are always the most complicated to make. Usually at a larger scale taking a few days to complete. I knew that this upgrade would face some of the same challenges, the only difference being the scale. Once I had the dimensions – here the front is slightly shorter in length, this was compensated by the 3 sided walk-way.

I made the mistake of adding the balcony before the classic saloon doors were added, meaning I struggled to get it complete for a time. My access to the bottom half was restricted, meaning I had to draw some of the measurements from guess work or carefully aligning rulers to get the dimensions before cutting. I added a false entrance so that a figure can be placed inside.

Once the door was finally under way I returned to the balcony and the external stairway at the rear. I decided not to detail the stairs so I have a smooth incline not the steps that usually are one of the hardest pieces to achieve, even harder at this scale. Maybe a future model miniature at this scale might get more attention in terms of that level of detail, for now I want to keep the gestures lose.

Looking back on this model I’m glad I focused on it for the whole day, it really needed that time. I want to get back in the studio, ultimately it’s down to how I feel tomorrow.


Cowboys Invaded – Update (22/9/18)


Admittedly a day later than planned, I’ve found the time to share yesterdays events in the studio. The aim of the day was to make 2-3 pieces, I made 2, which I’m happy with considering the work that has gone into them. The first being the bank, which I wanted to redesign as I didn’t want the old design with a stone design. After a bit of research I decided upon a wood front with staggered sides. It was a real change for me, having to consider each side more as it came together. Finished it off with a classic detail at the top.

The next I found that my making had taken another step forward, a new blacksmith, moving away from the similar designs that the old series had. Some research later I came up with a piece that required a canopy section on the side, with walls attached, I needed a floor that connected into the main building. This required some false walls so everything connected up. The walls only run up so high as they act as an illusion too. Working from another piece as a template I reduced the roof slightly so that it has a more unique design, I don’t the pieces to look too similar now they are being upgraded.

Lastly, or should I say firstly, not long after getting into the studio I added the last rail to the ramp I’ve been working on. Hopefully this piece will now be complete, I’m think of next making a water tower, which will be an interesting process as it will be a combination of balsa for the tower at a reduced height with all the structural support, alongside the water tank itself. Again this will be a slow process when working purely with balsa wood.

I’ve now got 5 more pieces to make for the town, during which time I’ll also be adding extra detail that started yesterday, I wasn’t happy with the front for the barbers so I fixed a piece on top, and reattached the cylinders on the sides so they appear to be suspended above again. A clock-face was also added to the church, I don’t want these pieces to look to flat a basic, even though they have been fleshed out now.

As I make my way onto the final 5, I wonder where my making skills will develop further, always an achievement no matter how big or small.


Cowboys Invaded – Update (16/9/18)


The aim of the weekend was to make between 4 to 6 pieces. I’ve made 5, so I’m pretty pleased to have done so many. Each piece comes with it’s own challenges. The first of the day was pretty straight forward in that I had to decide on a flat or raised roof before getting stuck in. The main challenge of the day was the church which was originally just a very flat piece from a VHS box. I had to build it in 3 sections, the main building, the tower and the steeple. As I was working with different angles and butting I had to go slower and constantly look to see how it was going. The height was reduced before the roof was fitted. The tower has a false entrance below so figures could stand and interact with it. Also it’s a nice feature which I’ve been missing from the others recently, pace has been the main objective, I’ll add details later on.

With this two pieces completed I took a sneaky look to learn I have 7 more to go, that at least 3 visits to the studio to get them done. In between all of that I’m still looking at the cardboard train-set, with the ramp getting slowly completed, one side of posts are fixed so I’ve been adding the rail to that side. The other side was disappointing, as all the of the posts had to be re-fixed, hopefully they’ll have fixed in place this time.

Once the town has been upgraded I’ll decide to either turn to the army fort or to another version of the town in ruins, or even something else, lets see where I go next.


Cowboys Invaded – Update (15/9/18)


Today I set out to make a start on possibly 4-6 model miniatures this weekend in the studio. So far I’ve made a good start; 3 out of 6 isn’t too bad. I’m now in full swing of upgrading the original VHS box based pieces to something far more substantial. I’m not even being picky as to which one I pick to work on next, simply taking the next one I can get my hands on from the box they’re stored in. It’s a good process so I don’t know what I’m getting to work on next. Each one has it’s challenges as I consider how to take this 2 dimensional objects and flesh them out.

Today I upgraded the hardware store, clothing store and barber shop. I want to focus mainly on the barbers as I focused more on this piece. The other two were pretty straight forward once I knew what was needed. I was unsure of how to work with the red and which striped cylinders – a classic feature of any barbers. The originals were suspended over the sides of the sign above. How could I achieve that this time. At this stage I’m not getting the balsa wood out for these pieces. Wanting to stay cardboard based I decided a low-relief response was best. Taking a short length of cardboard tube, sliced down the middle and pulled back enough for a strip of cardboard to join, filling in the gap. I then carefully tore away at another piece of card to wrap around each piece before fixing in place. At the moment I’m OK with how it looks, however I might change so again it’s suspended at the sides, but low-relief still.

Looking at today’s 3 new additions I need to add a little more detail as I have with the stores, so far they are just boxed in objects, they need to be brought to life more and to the same standard.

I then moved on and back to the train set, the ramp that I started last time was now able to have the rails added. So far the posts for the rails have been added, hopefully I can make it safer next time. Working purely with balsa is never a predictable task as you have to be sure that everything is fixed, in place and ready to take on more.