Can't afford a filming permit or lack the funds to construct a full size set? Well good news! I'll be showing you how to make a miniature street for transitional shots in a program... or just because a miniature street looks awesome!
This is a very involved process and the effort you put in will be reflected in the end result pictures so here's a list of the 'basic' things you'l be needing.
- Laser cutter
- 3D printer
- Hand tools (drill, files, knife ect.)
- Saw (Hand, table or band will do!)
- Zen like patience for brick laying...
- Acrylic, 1mm, 2mm, 3mm, 4mm, 5mm.... you get the picture, really stock up on acrylic.
- 2 part polyurethane resin (Fast-cast)
- RTV 25 silicone
- Poly filleer
- 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, Flickering tea light LEDs and batteries
- Material, actual material for curtains ( I stole sofa samples from M&S, shhh)
- Rhinoceros 5
- Adobe illustrator
- Some splicing software for your 3D printer such as Cura
Step 1: Gather Inspiration
This is the part everybody loves... to skip!
- Seriously though, you'll get a better model if you even just glance at some google image results of a victorian street.
- Get some first hand experience, visit some real architecture and take pictures of textures.
- Look at different building styles and what would have been around back then.
- Sketch, or don't in my case.
Step 2: Designing
You could skip this step or substitute it with some sketches instead but this will pay of in the long run and i shall tell you why.
- Here you can see I constructed a wire frame model of the street in Rhino 5
- You can jig this model around to your liking before you start cutting up wood so you don't waste materials
- From this model you can extrapolate the measurements for all of your laser cutting
Step 3: Blocking Out
- So you'll be needing an MDF base board at this point and make sure to leave a gap where your roads will be so they can sit flush to the pavements
- You can see i've laser cut out my building here and stuck it together with dichloromethane (plastic weld) or superglue if I was getting impatient.
Step 4: Making Roads
- By now you should have a few buildings and you'll be needing some roads
- I bought hundreds of 5mm sqaure wooden beads from China which had THE perfect cobble texture to them (sure the paint contained lead but i din't eat many)
- Glue them onto some wood in a semi uniform way and don't forget to shape you're wood below the beads so that the road bows in the middle.
- Cover that in silicone and leave to cure before pulling off to reveal the negative.
- Fill the mould with fast cast and give it a test fit before painting it up!
Step 5: Brass Etching
- If you're feeling brave you can give this a shot and make you're own lattice for the windows and tiny details like the letter box and door numbers.
- Here's a quick break down of the process:
-Print your inverted design onto acetate.
-Apply a photo sensitive resisting paper to your brass sheet
-Rest acetate design on top and expose this to UV light
-put the brass in a 5% solution of caustic soda to remove the UV exposed parts
-add this then to a 20% mix of sodium persulphate and leave the acid to etch
- Voila, you have very finely etched lattice and if like me you breathed the fumes in, 5 years off your life.
Step 6: Windows
- My advice, don't make too many windows, it takes a long time
- As you can see I drew them up on Rhino to be laser cut out
- You can achieve some nice detailing by inverting the etch so that you have writing on the inside of the glass
- I also made miniature bullseye glass, seen in the 3rd picture. These were 7mm squares of 1mm acrylic heated over a tiny hole with a bead in the middle then pressed down with my, now burnt, thumb
- Spray the windows with plastic primer and then silver spray paint and then more primer, this will prevent the light showing through the acrlic
Step 7: Doors
- You can go to town on the doors with multi-level etching like I did
- In the first picture you can see a very colourful door in Rhino. each colour depicts a power setting for the laser etch, so higher power = deeper etch like between the planks
- The second image shows the painted pub door with the tiny metal bars over the window and the tiny latch too
- Eventually you should end up with a nice collection of doors, try and make them all a bit different with some character
- You can see above the black door a metal etch I made earlier
Step 8: Cladding
- Get comfy because you'll be doing this for a while
- You're going to need a lot of bricks so I started off with a plastic sheet with laser cut rectangular holes in it
- I smoothed car body filler into the holes and left that to set before popping them out, the resulting bricks are in the first picture
- I made a mould of around 50 of these bricks and then kept casting them out in fast cast before sticking them to the buildings with glue
- After doing that for a week, I realised I should have instead made a section of wall with the 50 bricks and cast out small interlocking sections instead of individual bricks each time
- Once they've been laid, give them a wash with black acrylic to fill in all the tiny nooks and crannies
- Dry brush over the now black bricks with varying shades of red and brown
- I made the paving slabs in the same way as the bricks ad again washed them with black before painting them grey
- On the pub, I simply smoothed in poly filler between the wooden beams, it's a nice analog for the real thing, not too smooth and has a very fine grain to it
Step 9: Tiling
- If you though the bricks were bad, welcome to tiling!
- You can see I laser cut all of the tiles with rough edges and all from a pool of about 8 slightly different tiles
- Spray them with plastic primer and then grey/orange/brown before you start to lay them
- The age of the building your tiling should denote how carefully and orderly you lay the tiles themselves
- On the pub for example, the oldest building, I used slates but I cracked a few and left some gaps and allowed some to slip
Step 10: Lamp Posts
- The worst is over, now for the fun parts
- I designed my lamps on Rhino and then broke them up into parts to be 3D printed
- The detail is far to fine to be captured by my hand so I opted to 3D print them all apart from the shaft which was some hollow plastic tube
- Laser cut some .5mm acrylic squares for the glass and spray it with some frosting then paint them black
Step 11: Chimneys
- These were hand turned out of chemiwood, a wood analog which is fairly soft and easy to sand but has no grain
- After turning them I made a silicone mould and cast multiple ones out of fast cast
- I sprayed them with a cellulose paint with a considerable amount of matting agent added to give it that furnace baked look
- Take an airbrush and blacken the tops for a soot effect
Step 12: Lighting
- Now we're really bringing the model to life
- I ran mine off a 9V battery with the LEDs being 3v
- The lamp posts had a micro .5mm ornage LED inside
- The buildings also had some LED tea lights you can but from a 99p shop and they add a lovely flickering effect without doing any wiring
Step 13: Pub Sign
- One of my favorite details was the pub sign
- Like the doors it was a multi-level etch an then hand painted with acrylic paint
- The iron arm supporting the sign was again laser cut very finely and painted black with some orange dry brushing for rust
- The chain was from some cheap jewelry
Step 14: Finishing Touches
- Nearly there, just add a few things to make your model pop!
- I 3D printed some wagon wheels in 2 parts and glued them back to back
- Etch the street sign (do your research when naming your street because they've mostly been renamed since the 1800s)
- Print and age some posted and stick them to walls
- Rip open a tea bag and pour the contents onto the road, brush it to the sides and in all the little nooks and crannies as well as at the foot of the buildings, it looks like dirt and decaying leaves
Step 15: Play and Photograph!
- Now for the fun part, photograph your work
- Try different filters and lighting levels
- Have a play with a go pro to really get down to the street level
First Prize in the
Full Spectrum Laser Contest 2016