November 27, 2012

Studio Tips: Physical Modelling

Though the Laser Cutter, 3D-Printer, and CNC Milling Machine are now becoming the hottest trend in Model Making, an architecture student should know their way around the shop and also how to use the right materials and tools, and able to make physical models out of cardboard and glue. Marrying all old and new technologies in model making will give you an advantage in showcasing your design intent.

Found this cool video on Youtube - I think this is a cool upbeat song, but it also exemplifies some points i'm elaborating on in this entry.

Suck at modelling? The only way to get better is by practicing again and again, making mistakes and learning from them to gain proficiency. Model making takes experience and practice. So don’t be afraid of the workshop or avoid using it. I regretfully only fell in love using it in my final years, and it’s a great place to work on creating stellar models. The workshop culture is also different and unique, you can learn from your peers on how to use the materials and equipment available to you. There were always times when I`d be getting help from a friend to hold this piece in place as I glue or nail a piece down, or asking help from a technician if I did not know how to use a machine.

Initial Considerations in Modeling:
  • Process or Final? Is your physical model a sketch model for design exploration or study, or is it a presentation model for your review? This is going to determine level of quality and effort if you will be presenting a crude and dirty draft or a clean final model which is more precise.

  • Your model is an abstractions of your design intent- Just like drawing, depending on the scale of your model there is only so much detail you can put depending on its size. Think about your design intent and what you are trying to convey with your model. You have to gauge as a student when you draw or model what is the appropriate level of detail to show in your time constraints and what is asked of you.
  • Give yourself AMPLE time (if possible, try a draft model ahead of time). You do not want to be in a position of building something that won’t stand up, or be left with a mistake at the last minute.  You do not want to end up with a crappy model that has dirty cuts and glue bits showing for your review.
  • Seek help from your wood shop and digital fabrication technicians as needed. Talk to them and always ask for help when you do not know how to work that equipment or create a particular piece. Nice well crafted models are given lots of time, attention, and effort.
  • Have a plan. You need to have some idea of how you would like to build your model, how it will look like, how to assemble it, and how it will stand structurally. Sketch, draw up how you will make your model.

Some tips to avoid some blunders:
  • When gluing bits and pieces, don’t apply glue directly from the bottle. Just squirt a bit onto some scrap cardboard and use a stick or thin strip of cardboard to apply glue to your pieces.
  • Have a damp cloth to wipe away any excess glue.
  • Know your materials - some materials are strong and durable for models, some are fragile and might break down easily.
  • Some pieces don’t stick well or properly – cardboard on foam.
  • Some materials don’t work well being laminated with glue.
  • Have a plan and even a scaled drawing of your model to reference from or use when cutting your pieces to size. 
  • Graphite paper is valuable in tracing down topographic lines or model pieces to size.
  • Sketch out how you plan to assemble the model. How will it structurally support.
  • Be creative! (I remember a friend using a coke can to represent metal flashing in her corner detail model)
  • Have your dimensions/measurements ahead of time before heading to the shop. Take into account nominal thicknesses of the material available to you. You might have to deviate your model from the actual drawings.
  • Be gentle with your exacto knife - Score a couple of times and don't cut through in one go. When using an Exacto knife on cardboard or foam core, score a few times to get your piece and don’t apply a full pressure to get your piece in one cut (it’s gonna look dirty)
  • use a metal edge ruler when cutting with an exacto knife and NEVER with your scales and T-square (In high school, I saw too many warped and worn down engineering scales and T-squares)
  • Always have a backing mat when you cut! With it you won’t scratch your desk. Without it, your knife can lose direction as you cut!
  • Forget the crappy glue you have been used to in Elementary in High School or Middle School. Say Hello to Weld-Bond and wood glue...and a little super glue
  • DO NOT use a glue gun, tape for your presentation models. Final Presentation Models need to be clean.
  • Use glue gun, tape if it’s for a process model...and only if you CAN really hide it from your final model. Sketch models can be sloppy. that includes cutting pieces up too.

What other tips would you suggest for Making Models? Have a model blunder story to tell? Please comment and share!

Process! Process! Process!
Failing and Being A Failure - How they're both quite different


1 comment:

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