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.
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.
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.
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 make – 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.
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.
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.
A few weeks ago I reached another milestone with my making skills with the ability to make the model miniatures move. Today I have reached another one, I can now construct complex rooftops. Previously I have found this part of any piece I’ve made difficult to get over, going through lots of cardboard before I able to achieve to cover the roof (making it water tight). Today after going through a few ideas for a train station I decided to again as I expanded my cardboard train-set. I found it easier working on a smaller scale, less cardboard was wasted so I wasn’t so worried about things in that respect. I was able to measure out the dimensions and chip away where necessary on each piece of cardboard before fixing in place. I also made sure that they were fixed to a structure that was more secure. I had boxed out the main piece and added triangles for the pieces to fix onto. The side sections were held back until I made a start on the rear as they all interact. I learned that all the pieces affect one another, so equally important. I’m really pleased with it. I could have reduced the height in places but for now and this piece it really works, I may extended outwards at a 180 degrees angle, I’m not sure yet.
I then moved on briefly to look at adding a ramp to the open wagon for goods/horses etc to be un/loaded from it. At the moment I’ve been working with the balsa wood to raise it into position. Next time I’ll start to add a rail on either side.
I them moved onto make a start at adding more track, which is in desperate need now that the set has more than doubled in the last month at the studio. So far I’ve made 3 pieces, 1 very small, I’ll be making 3 more straight pieces before I attempt a few curved pieces, which again are harder to achieve. I do I have a plan which I’ll be putting into action though.
As I look at the train set I can see that I have a long way to go still. I’m really enjoying the making process. I’ve returned to balsa, the perfect companion to cardboard. Once the additional pieces have been made I may make a start on the town or take a break and look at the Army fort, which I want to be more substantial and possibly smaller, something I need to take a look at further.
After a lovely day catching up with friends I came back to the studio ready to get on with the boxcars from the start of the week. I now had a proven and working method for more. Again allowing me to speed through the making process. Much reduced in scale, so less detail can be given to the pieces, however I was able to add a sliding door to one side of each piece.
Before adding the bogies to the two pieces I moved onto another coach, The production on these starts to slow down when the roofs added. Simply due to the cardboard being wrapped round and hopefully now that I’ve held it down with masking tape at both ends that it should reduce the chance of breaking away.
Lastly I returned to the open wagon, breaking out some balsa wood, a material I’ve not used in a long time to add rails to the sides.
This should complete the piece now, I’ll be moving on to work on a train station next time. Before then I’ll be sketching some ideas of what to make in the studio. I’m really pleased that I’ve completed all I wanted to in the studio. I keep thinking about other elements on my long making list, which today is slightly shorter.
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.