Another really productive day in the studio as I have made real progress with the low-fi special effect I started yesterday.
I began by adding more detail to the model miniature that will sit in front of the brown paper belt. Focusing on the bare sides which were left from last time. I have also closed in and made the frames on the other sides flush. Before moving on I added the framework for the rope/string to be tied to. I just need to wait for these additions to fix before I go any further.
Freeing the rest of the day to focus on the brown paper belt which I had achieved yesterday. Now I have a working piece I had to build on it so it was substantial and produce a more effecting visual. First raising it up onto a stand to match that used for the lift itself. I then went onto work in-front of it to construct a shaft with a frame for the belt. I wrapped up the interior. Now I’m getting really close to having a completed visual effect that I control and capture, with only the need to minimally edit the raw-footage. In terms of making I need to add a bar to loosely tie the string/rope to.
Again I must say how pleased I am to have achieved this much in a short space of time. I do know that I will have to consider building a new shaft (or sections of) for the lift to work with (due to the extra detail I’m adding). I’m starting to build up a better understanding of set construction, how portions of a larger piece are broken up and move around to build up a larger image. With the entrance that I will have to eventually make I’ll make it so deep to hold up the lift and the shaft so wide to hold it. All these considerations that come with pre-production that I now need to re-evaluate my making list.
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.
It’s been a steady day in the studio as I completed the 3 new refrigerated wagons before making a solid start on the box cars that I wanted to add to the cardboard train set. It’s been a pretty straightforward day, using the original test piece as a model again to work from, also the addition of bogies which I’m getting pretty good at now.
I then moved onto the boxcar wagon which I would like to add 2 to my collection. I am working from photos this time as I’ve had a clear out of the studio of old work. So far I’ve made a good start, with the main body in place now. Trying my best to replicate the original green ones from a few years ago. I’ve kept the detail pretty lose. The strips of cardboard are minimal as I didn’t want to get too complicated with it. For this one to be complete I need to add a raised door that has the potential to slide open, before adding the wheels (complete with bogies) to the base. Then I can simply replicate it and move onto a new coach.
So far my long list of additional pieces is going along nicely, taking my time as I go. Some will take some experimentation to get right, whilst others will be far easier to achieve.
It’s been a day on the production line really. After completing the previous piece, picking up where I left off with the pieces that would eventually complete the bogies for the open wagon.
I moved onto the make a solid start on 3 more refrigerated wagons, taking what I learned last time using the new batch of paper cups, they were sanded down in places before I began. I really enjoy the repetition of making objects, working from a template and just getting to work with plans multiple times. It also speeds things up when your just replicating. Also the scale allows me to make more with less material. The 3 pieces are almost there, I have to add the extra detail before the wheels – on bogies are added. I’ll then move onto looking at another coach before work begins on two more box cars, both pieces should be straight forward to make.
This Bank Holiday I set out to do what I thought would take far longer than a day. That was to see how the two test-pieces look. OK that’s the easier part, before moving onto the trains that I wanted to modify or adapt. So far I’ve been excelling in the studio.
I began by getting out all the pieces for the first test-piece with all the additional pieces that I’ve been making to accompany them both – the track and train pieces. Also I introduced new fence pieces that I’ve bought recently which held some toy cows. It’s an impressive piece to look at, with a sense of organisation about it, with the track at the back and the fueling station at the side with a flying saucer ready to go. It feels like a factory with purpose.
Whilst the second one feels like an sub-station that serves the same function but on a less demanding scale. I want to show that the aliens mean business not just their presence on the ground. Maybe I’m nearing a decision. I like the extra detail on this second piece. However I found that this one could be hard to animate at the side as the refrigerated wagons pass through, making it a very cumbersome and longer process than stop-frame already is.
Moving on I had decided to adapted the bases of all the train stock so they could move on any curved track that I’ll be building in the future. I only learned of the bogie – basically the axle unit below train carriages a few months ago. Knowing this it would make for better model miniatures that could be more effectively be animated on the track, instead of looking awkward as they pass over some sections. So the plan was to create my own bogies . Carefully removing the wheels that were fixed to the base on the carriages. I then cut out pieces of cardboard and worked out a method so they could rotate tightly around a small piece of cardboard tubing. Measuring up was pretty straight forward before cutting everything out and beginning to fit into place. The rotating worked, it sat nicely when straight too. All I had to do was re-attach the wheels which was pretty straight forward.
The process was smooth sailing really. Having previously thought about how best to achieve this effect I now have made a few pieces functional, something I’ve not done before. A few simple changes that allow it to better mimic a full scale train I have reached another level in my making skills if only by accident. I wonder where I’ll go next.
I thought that these two test pieces would take longer to construct than I first imagined. In fact they have literally jumped off the page the last two weekends in the studio. Focusing today on the second piece I have been really fleshing it out using from the rooftop down. It was a pretty straight-forward process in terms of the dimensions. Taking what I’ve learned from the previous piece and applying that to the current one. The only real challenge, hurdle even to overcome was the surface of the fresh batch of paper cups, which have a smooth coating on the outside. This initially prevented them fixing when using my glue-gun. I knew that I had to sand down the surface to allow for a better grip, or any grip. I had to do this to practically all the pieces. I feel I’m reaching a point in my making where everything in terms of making, tools and materials is really coming together. This piece has come at the right point to push my practice further.
I moved on to look at the overall dimensions of the slaughter-house, making everything the same height before beginning to cut away and really shape in the image – as close as to the sketch I began with. It’s a lot narrower than I first thought it would be but has everything in the sketches, even the detailing at the side (no cross hatching sadly) allowing me to have a pretty good version to be proud of.
I think the next stage is to finish this piece off and spend some time playing with the toys to see which works best. Before I left the studio I could see one had more presence, whilst the other was just one of many. Yet it felt part of a bigger part of a larger production line, a working machine that just got on with its function. The chosen piece will then be completed with the addition of gum tape to smooth out any edges
Moving away from these pieces I’ve decided to expand the train capacity, another carriage, 3 more refrigerated wagons. Whilst also adapting the existing pieces to have bogies – wheels on beds that move with the track under the carriages. I have a rough idea of how to achieve this. The adaptation would only increase the height of pieces by only a few millimetres at most. Then I feel I could tackle either remaking the fort or even the whole town.
Today my work on the current test pieces continued. With the current slaughter-house undergoing some massive changes at the sides. Shaving a good chunk from the base to allow for paper cups to be placed underneath to make up the difference. I also added a rail to the entrance instead of the arches that would be traditionally found on this piece. I’m thinking that the ramp has a conveyerbelt, with a rail either side. At the rear I smoothed things off with an additional trim.
I then moved onto make a good start on the second test piece. This came with the knowledge that this piece could be easier based on the experience of making this first one. They both share some of the same elements, I’ll be tackling the construction differently as now know what to do. With the first piece I was somewhat in the dark, never having made a piece with an elevation. I can now think about how the structure works from different angles. It could be the start of more complicated pieces in the future. Knowing me I could have done a huge chunk of the work when I return to the studio.
Today I’ve made some real progress in the studio. Coming back after not really making anything I was happy with. A few sketches later and I came back to make a further two versions of a conceal oil drill.
The first was pretty much a compact car with a huge black wheel, which really wasn’t what I was going for. I needed to try something different. I wanted something more streamlined that was interesting to look at and otherworldly. I believe that this final model is the one. They say the best is saved to last, well it’s true. I began the piece by returning to a smoother shape that I then wrapped a piece over the top that I began to bring into shape before it was fixed over the middle of the first piece. I then worked with two more pieces that were drawn to the right shape and fixed on either side. It was pretty easy after making a few pieces with some variation I achieved something I am happy to make multiple times.
I moved onto another piece that I know I want to make. This is before I make up my shopping list of new pieces that I have to make. Next up is a slaughter house complete with train stop. It’s going to be one of the bigger pieces I need to make. I spent the rest of the day sketching a few ideas, I have two that I want to make. These two pieces will both take a few weeks to make before I decide which one I’ll take forward. Finally I’ll paint them all silver, then I will see how these new pieces from the alien world. I know it’s simplistic and cheap but aesthetically I need to have them the same and have that retro feel to them.
Today I’ve been focusing on the concealed oil drill piece. The first piece I knew needed some revisions to be getting close to something I could work with. I’ve made two today. The first saw the general shape change to allow the potential drilling pump move more freely. I can’t really consider another method of bringing up oil, so I have to work with what technology exists or has been revised. So the area above the paper plates has been leveled before dropping down towards the paper cups.
I made a slight mistake with this one when I joined both sides together – the measurements, which I looked at in the next piece I made. Producing one where the paper cup section was far narrower and I paid closer attention to the measurements. It was an easy make that I’m still not happy with, It needs to be refined so it doesn’t look like a toaster to become something other-worldly. I have to remember that the cowboy in the scene doesn’t know what he’s looking at. He wont know what oil is. So next time I’ve decided to now to make two more piece, one where the two elements are looking more like a 1950’s caravan and a tow. Whilst I had an idea for a more streamlined piece, that will take sometime to achieve as it means working with more curvature.
What I have found is that the basic making process has become easier. I could potentially make a good number of these – materials permitting in a few days. The next piece on my list to consider is the stock yard, which will be really exciting as it’s a far bigger model and I can get some good sketches of how it will look. A real combination of 19th century Wild West with fun retro sci-fi.
The writing process is going rather well. I took a day off from all that as I ‘m now into the second draft, starting to see whats working and even rearranging elements and dropping others. In places they’ve been some small additions which make more sense. The first draft of any writing is always going for it without thinking sometimes, every idea you have goes in there. It’s very immediate until you have to look back and think what have I got here. I’ll be picking that up next time though when I can complete the 2nd draft and start to work out what’s needed.
I decided to get back to what I wanted to do – make and make I have. I came into the studio thinking about how to make larger rocks. Now for a few years I’ve been trying to make the egg-box cardboard packaging work. I recently received a car-load of boxes that came with them for me to use. Now I’ve the chance to see if they work. Well I think I can safely say I can get them to work. After cutting up a few into different pieces I began to play about with them before fixing in place. One piece i have left bare, whilst a smaller piece has been covered in brown paper which I found to be a very cumbersome to achieve. I might try another idea next time but I need to by a thimble to stop myself getting too many more burns which are starting to get annoying.
Moving on to more fun making, I decided to look at the ranch, more so the processing structure that sees the Aliens take over a ranch for reasons I won’t disclose just yet. There’s going to be a fueling point for the flying saucers so I decided to see how that might look. With two test-pieces produced. both using paper cups again and the good old trimming, combined with cardboard tubes which I’ve been cutting at 45 degree angles to create a funnel network for the flying saucers to meet. One piece had two of these cup pieces, whilst another has one, which I found to be top heavy. I need to balance this out so I added another tube, wider this time directly into one of the cups. In the first instance it resets the balance and secondly starts me thinking about the rest of the structure that I’ll have to potentially make.
I want this piece to be fun, using some recognisable elements, I don’t want to get bogged down in design too much, allowing the concept come through. Just making today with bits from around my studio, seeing what works. I know I need to ultimately have to rough designs/sketches to work from. I could have a long list of pieces to make. I certainly have the cardboard to achieve this. That’s along with practicing animation and special effects and any kit that I need. It’s a big piece for sure.