How did you make...???Modelmaking masterpost
I get a lot of questions about how I’ve made specific parts of the model and even though I like helping people I don’t have the time and possibility to help everyone with specifics. I made most of the model 10-15 years ago so for most parts I don’t even remember specifics and I don’t have any pictures to use for “making of” montages. When I started making miniatures I loved figuring out what materials to use for specific things and I don’t want to take away that joy from people but here below I’ve listed the basic materials I use in all my models.
Over the years I’ve gotten more knowledge about building and I’ve started using fancier materials but when I started out I used mostly pizza boxes. Sometimes I still do. You can do wonderful things with just the most basic materials. This is the case with the Phantom model as well.
If you are going to build a theatre set model I suggest to build it with a wooden frame. Even though the individual set pieces don’t weigh much on their own, everything put together will be a heavy load. You don’t want the model box to start collapsing.
For everyone asking: how did you make/ what is ___ made of?
If it is a rigid structure it’s made of wooden sticks, balsa wood, cardboard, Kapa board and/or flower wire. I nowadays use mostly white cardboard that I have in different strengths (1mm, 1,5mm, 2mm…) I cut it with knives to get exact results but scissors work fine too. Kapa board is a wonderful material but a bit expensive. It’s a foam board coated with cardboard and it’s good for light and strong structures. If you strip away the cardboard from one side you can sculpt the foam to make nice surfaces like for example stone walls. If you are starting out with building models cardboard will do just as well for basic structures. Balsa wood and wooden sticks that you get from hobby stores are a bit expensive as well but they are vital for tiny structures to turn out good. Balsa wood is a really soft wood that is easy to cut and sculpt and is great for everything that needs to look like wood.
If it looks sculpted it’s probably made of super sculpey or hot glue. Super sculpey is a wonderful polymer clay that hardens in the oven. I’m sure other polymer clays work just as well. I don’t just sculpt hard objects like statues and decorations. I sometimes make things that are actually soft objects out of clay as well because they are easier to mold into believable replicas in the scale stage models are made (1:25). For sculpting with hot glue check this out: hotglue sculpting
If it looks like canvas it probably is but there are exceptions. Making drapes in miniature form is tricky since canvas doesn’t crease so well in small scale. I make drapes from everything: canvas, paper, napkins, hot glue, Kapa board, sculpey…. My best advice is to just experiment and see what works best for you. For my printed drapes check this out: paisley drapes
If it has a painted surface or picture it is painted. I use acrylic paints because they don’t smell and they dry quickly. They are easy to thin out and blend together. I sometimes print out stuff but the prints are usually of my own artwork. Sometimes I use watercolors but only for painted backdrops that I then finish with details with acrylics. If you are mimicking a real surface always use plenty of picture reference to get the colors right. And be sure to check if the surface you are trying to recreate has a glossy or matte finish!
If the surface is rich with decorations I’ve glued some on :) You can do wonderful surfaces with ready made decorations, for example cake papers, trimmings, beads and similar stuff. I make a lot of my own decorations with molds and super sculpey but you don’t need to go so hardcore for good results.
Glueing: I’ve never really used any fancy glues. Hot glue is wonderful for quick building and I use it a lot. Nowadays I also use white glue which is good for paper and wood. It is brilliant when you get to know it. I used to hate it because when going to school it was used for everything and I felt it never dried and only made a mess but I’ve really changed my mind about that.
Layers layers layers…
Maria Björnson’s designs are all about layers, decorations upon decorations especially in the costumes. But this is something to remember when making set models as well (and this is not Phantom specific in any way) The more detail and layers you put in structural detail and paintwork the more it’s going to look like the original because the real sets are heavily detailed and richly painted. The tough part is to make the details small enough. When I started out I was satisfied with the sets looking good from a distance, as if someone was sitting in the dress circle and seeing the whole stage. As I’ve progressed I’ve wanted more and more detail and now I wan’t to be able to cram the camera onto the stage for closeups.
These pictures show a piece of the proscenium arch made out of a pizza box, some balsa wood, white cardboard and polymer clay glued together with white glue and painted with layers of black and gold acrylics. As you can see it’s an easy build, no magic going on. It’s the attention to detail that makes the end result work..
So it’s not so much what materials you use, more how you use them. And most definitely how you paint them. I’m always amazed how different materials can blend together after a good paint job.