Introduction: Scale Model Projection Mapping

About: Future Voices is an initiative out of Carnegie Mellon University School of Design that explores opportunities to bring design futuring to kids in a range of educational settings. We experiment with technology …

With children as our focus, we set out to develop an open-source curriculum for educators interested in bringing accessible design futuring workshops to their students. The goal of the curriculum was to help teachers empower young students with the skills and confidence to imagine futures for their own community.

The lesson plan has three parts 1) Designing Your Future 2) Designing the Future of Your Community 3) Bringing the Future to Life.

Download the lesson plan pdf below:

Step 1: Designing Your Future

The first session introduced students to futuring concepts and asked them to focus on designing their personal futures. This consisted of a drawing exercise to imagine their first day of work as an adult.

Step 2: Designing the Future of Your Community: Getting Feedback

The second session shifted the focus away from the individual and toward the community. Students were asked to visualize the future for a vacant space in their neighborhood. To keep the exercise relevant to the students, they were asked to imagine the future of a building that was set to become the future home of their afterschool program.

Making the line illustrations of the sides (elevations) of the building

  1. To make the side view illustration, we went to the actual building and take shots with our digital cameras and smartphones. You can check what it is like through Google Streetview.
  2. Then we selected the photo with the best possible view.
  3. Then with a drawing software, Adobe Illustrator, we traced the lines of the building and make these lines parallel as much as we can. This way, it is easier to make the scaled model by using these drawings.
  4. One important aspect is that when you are drawing two side views, say front and side elevations, you should try to preserve the scale between them. As you can see in our provided line drawing, we have tried to make them as similar as they can. This way it is easier to make a 3D scaled physical model by using them.
  5. Another way to construct views and scaled model is to use Google Sketchup's photo match feature, which allows users to create architectural 3D drawings by using photos as a reference. Although we haven't tried this, there are lots of tutorials how to do it. If you are familiar or not with Sketchup, this official tutorial with guide you through the process.

Step 3: Bringing the Future to Life: Building a Scale Model

The workshop culminated with a presentation of the children’s work. The students’ drawings final drawings were animated and projected onto a scaled model of the program’s new building.

Just like our Future Fridays event, the use of projection proved to be a powerful way to engage people. The students were delighted to see their drawings brought to life.

Making the 3D Physical Model of the Building

  1. To make our physical model, we have again used another software called Rhinoceros. Just like Google Sketchup, it is a software, that professionals or enthusiasts used to create three dimensional surfaces, objects or buildings.
  2. In Rhinoceros, we imported our front and side elevation illustrations that we prepared in previous step. Then aligned them like a box and started to create 3D planar surfaces. This seems complex, but it is achievable with some introduction courses on Rhino such as this house modelling tutorial from autocad curves, or this tutorial on how to model 3D objects from photos can help. Since Rhino is primarily designed for object-scale things and have extensive curve editing tools, you can also try to startup with sketchup, which is designed for building, city scale 3D creations.
  3. After modelling your building in 3D, you can create curves from surfaces to laser cut by unrollsrf or smash command in Rhino. After getting unrolled flat surfaces, you can select all flat surfaces use DupEdge command to extract curves from them.
  4. After getting the curves, you can scale them to your paper size, or scale ratio. Then either print them from Rhino's print panel into directly paper (if your scale is small enough to fit a paper), or you can export your curves as an Adobe Illustrator or Autodesk Autocad file to laser cut them from a different material. We have used 5mm / 3" 1/16 thick white foamcore. Here is a good tutorial on how to work with foamcore.
  5. As mentioned previously, it is also worth to check Sketchup to create 3D models from photos . Then you can laser cut your 3D CAD models. The idea is the same.

Step 4: Bringing the Future to Life: Making the Animations

To make our cut-out style animations, we have used Adobe After Effects (AE). As we have a professional animator on our team, we decided to put all of our scanned drawings to the AE and animate certain parts of them with some simple motions. We used AE's layer masks, and transform keyframes. If you don't have prior experience with Adobe After Effects, please refer to this tutorial , and watch what others do with their kids' drawings. If this is not possible for you, you may also let your children draw directly on an iPad or Android Apps, which allows exporting their animations as animated gifs or video files.

Step 5: Deploying Projection Technology

If you are able to reach this stage, you are in a good position! The last step is to map your illustrations to your your scaled model. Millumin has two perfect tutorials on how to do it. The idea is two warp/distorting your flat animation video in space to fit the model. If you are not familiar with what is projection mapping, this video/tutorial is a beginner friendly primer. More information on how we used Millumin in the context of futuring and projection is available in our other instructables post.