Introduction: 1:10 Stop Motion Ice Cream Van

About: I'm a recent graduate of the Arts University Bournemouth with an Honors degree in Modelmaking! I currently work freelance and make things whatever spare time I have!

Are you making a very specific stop motion film that revolves around an ice cream van? Well good news! Here's how to make one! I made this at university for a project which meant I had access to a great deal of machines and facilities making for a particularly interesting and varied build.


  • Laser cutter
  • 3D printer
  • Hand tools (drill, files, knife ect.)
  • Lathe
  • Saw (Hand, table or band will do!)
  • CNC mill


  • Acrylic, 1mm, 2mm, 3mm
  • 2 part polyurethane resin (Fast-cast)
  • RTV 25 silicone
  • Car body filler (Bondo I believe; if you're American)
  • Various Glues depending on how many corners you cut, I use copious amounts myself.
  • Electrical stuff..wires, Micro LEDs, and batteries


  • Rhinoceros 5
  • Adobe illustrator
  • Some splicing software for your 3D printer such as Cura

Step 1: CAD Designing

  • You'll be needing some CAD files to work from, so after some quite frankly embarrassing sketches I modeled the van on 'Rhinoceros 5'.
  • From these files you can take your measurements further along the building process which should keep things consistent and to scale.
  • More importantly these files can be used to 3D print and CNC.

Step 2: CNC Machining

  • The wonders of modern technology eh? Watch as the machines do all the hard work for you!
  • As you can see here, the machine is routing a flattened version of my van out of 'Chemiwood'.
  • Essentially I created a flat pack model of the van.

Step 3: CNC Assembly

  • The fun part: taking you're pieces off the CNC bed and doing a quick mock-up of them put together!
  • The not so fun part: Sticking them together and filling and sanding to get seamless joins.
  • Don't forget not to stick your roof down! You'll need access to animate the character inside.

Step 4: 3D Printing

  • Some things need to be perfect in order to fit into the overall model hence why these parts were printed.
  • The ice cream cones are so small i would never have been able to sculpt them and the wheels not only need to be perfect but also have a tread on them, a task I wasn't willing to perform on conventional machines.

Step 5: Moulding and Casting

  • Unfortunately, being the messy process it is, i've no pictures of the moulding and casting.
  • Essentially the original 3D printed wheel rims were moulded in RTV 25 Silicone and then cast in polyurethane 2 part resin.
  • The tyres were moulded in silicone as well but they were cast in a hard rubber for authenticity, as you can see I wasn't quick enough of the first filling of the mould resulting in only half a tyre.

Step 6: More CAD

  • Now you've got the basics of the model, you'll have a better Idea of what will need laser cutting.
  • The first image shows the 'Rhino' files for all of the windows and a few of the exterior details ready to be sent to the laser cutter in be cut in 2mm acrylic sheet.
  • The following images are for the interior details such as the ice cream freezers, Mr Whippy machine and stainless steel tables.

Step 7: Graphics

  • Before you go any further you'll want to prepare some graphics!
  • The main graphics on the model are exterior stickers such as the ones in the second image.
  • You'll want some long stickers to wrap around your freezers like in the first picture but be careful to avoid copyright! Jen and Barry's lawyer is vicious.
  • The final and quite quaint detail is the window sticker where one can pick from the selection of ice creams available, these were hand drawn by myself and honestly, make them as crude as you like because they're so tiny no one will ever see, but be sure to price you're 99p flake at 99p! Those were the days!

Step 8: Interior Detailing

  • The fun stuff, assembling the laser cut parts and painting.
  • The first image is of the Ice cream freezer of which there are two, these are simply laser cut boxes.
  • The second image is of one of the two stainless steel tables, adorned with cardboard boxes. You'll need source some card board that's the right scale, the card here is from a LEGO box. The legs of the table are some 'EMA' square tube and the surfaces are 2mm acrylic.
  • The third image is of my personal favorite, the Mr Whippy machine. Although its a simple acrylic box, a good brushed steel finish can make it the part. (the finish is a simple chrome spray paint which is then brushed in one direction with a very fine sandpaper.)
  • The car mat in the 4th image has etched detail on it from the laser cutter.
  • The dashboard was another laser cut piece with printed details as well as plant on details in the form of 3 switches which are for theoretically controlling the lights and siren. If you look closely you'll see finely etched air vents which after the initial cream coat of paint on the dashboard, were highlighted with black paint rubbed into the marks.
  • With a majority of the inside dressing complete you can do a test fit and arrange it how you please.

Step 9: Painting

  • While frantically drawing and re-drawing laser cutting files you should have been having a thing of your colour scheme.
  • Personally I went for the classic cream and pink with burgundy interior.
  • You'll want to prime the van first once you've filled the join marks as best as you can. The primer will highlight any imperfections that still need filing.
  • Once you've got the surface perfect you'll want to start spraying, I used a cellulose gloss paint sprayed with a gun, but cans would suffice.

Step 10: Finishing Touches

  • The end is in sight! Now you've painted it you can really go to town on the finishing touches.
  • You can now apply your graphics now on the back and on the sides as well at the window. Top tip- Spray your surface with a fine mist of water as well as the back of the sticker before you stick it on, this will allow you to maneuver it into position before it sticks fully, once in place squeegee out the excess water and bubbles.
  • You can now stick your door panels onto the inside of the door, don't forget to slip a newspaper into the door pocket, its the small details that make it. After that you can now hang the door on it's hinges which are so tiny they needed to be 3D printed to be functional.
  • You can now stick in the floor mats and pedals as well as the chair, which was sculpted from 'Super Sculpey' an over bake clay.
  • At this point you can also arrange the furniture in the back and stick it down so it doesn't move during animating.

Step 11: Lighting

  • The final step is to really bring your model to life by adding the lights.
  • As you can see I have five switches to control the head/ rear lights, reverse lights, indicators and sign lights ( which I unfortunately ran out of time to wire).
  • Don't forget your indicators don't need to blink, they just need to switch on and off in order to be animated.

Step 12: You're Ready to Animate!

  • Whether you've chosen a vintage van like myself or am modern van, red and white colours or pink and cream, your van should be ready to animate.
  • Here's a few things extra you can do or other things to check:
  • The switched for my lights were hidden beneath the bonnet which was removable.
  • Behind the front grill was a printed image of an engine which can hardly be seen but it just helps to add some detail.
  • I intended to dirty down my van before I ran out of time, the one thing that makes it less believable is the fact it looks brand new and not worn.
  • Add certain things that can move so that the animated character can interact with them, such as the steering wheel, whippy machine handle, sliding freezer doors, working handbrake and turning wheels.
  • Most importantly enjoy the process! The most rewarding thing about this project that set it apart from the others i've done is how beautifully it all came together from a pile of laser cut and CNC'd pieces.
Full Spectrum Laser Contest 2016

Participated in the
Full Spectrum Laser Contest 2016