Design Skills - Resources and Training for Designers

Model Making
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Models complement drawings as a communication tool. They enable designers to work out and visualise their ideas in 3D before committing to a design. They also enable clients to gain an instant 3D overview of a building/space and understand the design intent. It is also possible to add lighting and take pictures of models to create realistic snapshots of areas within a space.

| About models | Equipment and Materials | How to cut boards | How to dispose of blades |

About models

Models are divided into two main categories : the sketch/concept (sometimes also called study) model and the presentation model.
Sketch model - view 01 - Click on the thumbnail to open a larger image
Sketch model - view 02 - Click on the thumbnail to open a larger image
Presentation model - view 01 - Click on the thumbnail to open a larger image
Presentation model - view 01 - Click on the thumbnail to open a larger image

The sketch/study model enables you to study, visualise and understand the space in 3D because it looks more real than pen and paper sketches. These models are made of cheap materials and help you work out your design ideas. They are only used during the initial phase of study.

Sketch model with removable roof - Click on the thumbnail to open a larger image
Sketch model with roof removed - Click on the thumbnail to open a larger image
Concept study model - Click on the thumbnail to open a larger image

Presentation models can be made of a variety of materials which you choose for their suitability to represent the objects, materials, colours and textures of your design. Although some materials such as balsa wood or foam board are widely used, it is always possible to experiment with new ones.

Presentation Model -House - Click on the thumbnail to open a larger image
Presentation Model -House - Click on the thumbnail to open a larger image
Presentation Model - Prop - Click on the thumbnail to open a larger image

As a general rule, think of your models as symbols of real buildings, spaces or objects and the manner in which the model is crafted should not detract from the design.

All models are built to a predetermined scale. As with measured drawings, the level of realism depends on the scale. For example, a model at scale 1:5 should display a lot more details that a model at scale 1:50.

It is also best practice to include a support for the model, either in the form of a single piece of board or a box. It will keep it sturdy and makes it easier to carry and view at different angles.

Finally, it is important to remember to view and rotate the model at an eye level similar to the one the space would be viewed in reality. Only looking at a model from the top is unrealistic because you would not see the space that way in real life.

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Models should be Clean, Precise and Accurate.

Equipment: this is a list of the most commonly used equipment. You may find other items useful.


Materials:
there is a variety of boards with different thicknesses available. You may also find specialist papers useful.
Drafting tools: scale ruler, square set, protractor, compass, templates, curves, etc.

Foam board
Stainless steel ruler with cork backing (used in conjunction with the scalpel to cut board).

Balsa Wood
Cork
Stanley knife

Thin white card
White and coloured cards
Scissors

Acetate
A small plastic triangle can be useful to level straight angles accurately

Corrugated cardboard
White glue for paper. Stronger glue for other materials

Canson paper
Masking tape

Specialist papers
Spray mount

 
Double sided tape

 
Straight pins and small clips can be useful to attach parts when glue is setting

 
Small pliers (jewellery pliers are quite good)

 
Modelling saw, Sandpaper

 
Paint, spray paint

 
Tweezers, thread, cloth, plasticine, scaled figures, clear and coloured acrylic, mirrors, wire, wire mesh, cotton wool, etc

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How to cut boards

Always use clean and sharp blades and a metal ruler otherwise the cuts will be messy and uneven. It is also best to use a self healing mat. Not only it will protect the surface underneath but also your blades will last longer.

Use a Stanley knife for medium to heavy duty materials and straight lines and a scalpel for lighter materials, lines and curves. There are different opinions on how much pressure to apply. Some prefer to apply strong pressure and cut the board in one pass. Others prefer to apply light to medium pressure and use more than one pass to cut the board.

The danger when cutting is to deviate and damage the board or worst, cut your finger. I recommend that you carefully experiment with either method and find which one is best for you and the material you are using.

Use the back of a scalpel or scissor blades to score boards or cards. Scoring is making a mark on the board, card or paper or partially cutting through in order to fold it. Do not apply too firm pressure or you will cut all the way through.

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How to dispose of blades

Carefully and safely! Take great care not to cut yourself when changing a blade and either wrapt the old one back into its original packaging or in masking tape.

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Skills Communication

> Mood and Sample boards > Sketching > Isometric and Axonometric Projections > Perspective Drawing > Model Making > Figure Drawing > Colour Rendering


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