Tuesday, February 2, 2010

How to make a model


As an artist, it's easier to explain my ideas in models. Since posting the Mandala Mobile model I received several questions on how I made it. The first attempt was frustrating and I didn't even keep that model. Here's what I learned for a more enjoyable and quicker model making session:





1. Since it's a hanging sculpture and gravity is an issue, I decided to make the model upside down, then flip the image on the computer.

I found it's tons easier to work on a corrugated cardboard lid instead of on a sheet of dense cardboard. That way I could easily shove the pins through. Plus the height of the box made it so I didnt have to look down as much, putting less strain on my neck. On other projects I've elevated the sculpture by putting it on a box of clay and another time using a 1 gallon bucket. Having it on a stand also helps when painting the sculpture, because you can turn the wet model by moving the base.


For this Mandala Mobile it's made out of bees wax clay, wire, safety pins and sewing pins.

I put a white poster board behind the miniature for a clean background, but more about photographing in a minute.




2. To help hold the pins and wire in place, I first spread earthquake putty over the cardboard. It looks very unprofessional and worry some to clients to walk into a presentation with a model that's already falling apart. It's important to make it sturdy enough to move. I used earthquake putty because that's what I had on hand, but you can use clay, foam...

I also made sure that the model wasn't all the way to the edge of the cardboard, so I wouldn't have to worry about objects bumping it when it's transported.




3. To soften the beeswax clay I laid the sheets of clay on a heating pad on my lap (so I wouldn't forget about it and have it melt everywhere). To make things faster I used sewing pins that had yellow heads, instead of making them out of yellow clay and sticking them onto wire.

To suspend the clay balls and wire spirals I used armatures made from safety pins, sewing pins and wire.

To make the wire springs I wrapped the wire around a screw driver and the smaller coils were wrapped around a thick piece of wire.



4. With the white poster board for a background I took lots of photos.




5. In Photoshop I flipped the image, so now the mandala is hanging from the ceiling.

I also used the clone tool to make the earthquake putty less obvious. (You'll see that in the last image.)

Conveniently the line between the mandala and the posterboard created a line that looks where teh ceiling and the wall meet. To illimantate the line, use the clone tool or try lighting it so there are no shadows at that point.




6. I wanted the model to be scale with this room, so I created a layer on top of this photo and drew the outlines of the furniture. Then I took that drawing and put in the photo of the mandala.




7. I saved the original file with the layers incase I want to alter things at a later date. I also saved this image as a smaller file that is easy to email, with the name of the sculpture and my last name as part of the file name.


Things to keep in mind:
1. Making a model takes way longer then you think it will, so don't wait until the last minute to start it. Besides exploring how your idea will work in 3D and confrunting the problem areas, it's supposed to be fun to build the model.

2. Avoid learning new skills when it's essential to master the skill on the spot in order to finish the project on time. (My first model was on the computer using a 3D program that I have used twice. I made myself frazzled and ended up with a visual that I didn't want to share, so I switched to what I know- sculpting.)

3. When merging two photos together, (like if I used the actual photo of the bedroom with the mandala,) keep the direction of the lighting the same and use the same dpi for the images.

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