One of the area's I love to work in as an artist is in model making - in miniatures. For some reason, a tiny version of a man made space fascinates me. Capturing textures to make my miniatures look close to life sized versions is an ongoing exploration. I do love brickwork and creating run down or impossibly imaginative spaces like this image above of the warehouse facade I created recently. The idea is that it is supposed to look like it has been built on multiple times so there are old bricks mixed with new and a great deal of wear and tear, indicating a long history and a very run down feel to it.
Last year, I retrained in model making techniques, mostly to enhance my own skills and to give myself a better chance at employment. Unfortunately, I've yet to find a job with these skills but I'm still trying and meanwhile still learning as I discover new techniques.
So here below, I'm including a technique I have perfected....making semi realistic bricks using foam board. It is my objective to try to find ways to make model making easy to do with limited materials primarily because model making materials are expensive. In this video demonstration below, I'm only using a bit of foam board with a scalpel blade, a mechanical pencil and a metal ruler. Though I've re-trained with Leigh Took of Mattes and Miniatures from Creative Media Skills at Pinewood Studios as well as David Neat here in London, I have always tried to make my materials basic and affordable. This technique below was first discovered from my time studying with David and then perfected after studying with Leigh. I think the use of the mechanical pencil as a sculpting tool is just as important as the scalpel. Using black foam board is deliberate too as it helps to have a black background before painting so that any cuts made afterwards helps define the shapes you're cutting out.
For painting afterwards, which I didn't include, you can just lightly dry brush faint reds, oranges and browns over the surface with a sponge to create realistic looking bricks.
Studying model making techniques with David Neat is great to learn about precision and how to accurately measure to create very tidy miniatures that are ultra realistic. He has a book out too which I bought and still refer to often. I did enjoy his classes but I'm too much of a free spirit and if he sees my video above, I'm sure he'll cringe at how badly I measure out the bricks but as a sculptor, I do like to "feel" my way around my work rather than seriously follow rules.
Studying with Leigh Took at Creative Media Skills was so opposite of David's classes. Leigh is more relaxed and makes experiments much more. He does of course follow measurements and so forth but not to the point where it stops him from making discoveries along the way. When I took the Miniature Model Making course at Creative Media Skills, it was the happiest week where I worked on a team with other model makers all creating one dystopian city together! One of Leigh's miniature brick making methods were to save time which is far different from David's methods. I like both methods I think. Once I have similar material to his method, I'll add another demonstration as I've used it a few times in variations with very interesting results each time.
I learned so much and experimented and discovered and really grew my skills which was wonderful! I wish it could result in finding a job in the industry!
Below is an image of the tiny miniature chairs with a little brick wall that I made in David's class:
And here's a picture I took of our final dystopian scene while in Leigh Took's Miniature Model Making class:
And below this a close up shot of the building I made:
I've always made sculptures and miniatures in particular have been a fascination since I was very young. Really sparks the imagination for some reason!
I find that I can get very excited about brickwork or architectural textures in general just while out and about and have far too many photos on my phone of close ups of textures because I'm always trying to understand how I can make something in miniature form. Brickwork being one of the most fascinating!
I'd highly recommend both David Neat and Leigh Took as model making teachers as they've taught me so much and if I had lots of money, I'd take their classes again just to freshen up and to have a lovely time! Also if you want to buy David's book then follow this link: Model-Making: Materials and Methods by David Neat
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My name is Franceska McCullough and I'm the owner and artist of Toothpickmoon. I'm interested in blogging about art materials, art events and conducting artist interviews.
*Disclosure: The links I'm using on this blog will only ever relate to the products I myself use in my own practice.