Sunday, May 24, 2009

Model building
In a previous post I talked about models I make and use for reference when drawing Mouse Guard. This post I wanted to go into a bit about model building.

My models can be very simple or very complex depending on my needs. If the model is only for quick reference of shapes as they appear in multiple angles of perspective, I can make something very rough and dirty. This example is the Cistern seen in Issue #5 of Winter 1152. Concentric circles in perspective gets to be a tedious job (drawing square planes for each mortar line). Instead, I just took an 8.5" x 11" sheet of paper and layed out mortar lines. I then taped the long edges together and have a tall cylinder with mortar lines that are always in perspective.

Another method is to use printed designs and paste them to flat surfaces. In this example, the Lockhaven Library, I needed to get the general perspective of the arches and shelves and also the complex design of the stained glass window (based on artwork by Jane Irwin!!). I made the arches in photoshop using a line tool and then added photographs of bookcases and bricks. This trick is really handy when doing a repeating design. you can make 1 section and then copy/paste as many times as you need.
Measuring is important here, you need the walls to be the same height so everything lines up in the end. I printed out each 'wall' and mounted them to scraps of matboard using rubber cement. I cut out the openings with an xacto blade and taped the 3 walls together. To add some strength and to remind me where the ceiling structure was, I cut one ceiling arch from cardboard and notched it to sit over the brick posts of the side walls.

This last model is one of the more complex I have made. Gwendolyn's office is a room of Lockhaven that I hope to draw for a long long long time. Even if Gwendolyn is not the matriarch and I'm doing stories years before or after her term, this room will remain rather unchanged, so it makes sense to have a more detailed model of the space. The walls are made the same way the library model was done (design in photoshop, print, paste, cut). The ceiling however, was much trickier.
I have to admit, I should have made this model a long time ago...I was now having to reference my artwork for the details. I found that when I drew one end of the room, the ceiling was flat with exposed beams. The other end had an elevated pitched ceiling filled with wooden trusses. Looking at the exterior of Lockhaven I was able to find an excuse for this being the case (the roof seen above the windows of Gwendolyn's office) and I merged the designs. The roof beams on the model are all made of double thick (glued together) chipboard (the backs of drawing pads). This model is helpful for all the details of this room: the portrait, the mantel, the scroll cubbys, the roof beams, the doorway, etc.

I am also a bit ashamed to say that this is only Gwendolyn's office V2.0 (I had a quick/dirty version from the Fall series). My plans for V3.0 will be more 'real' in the sense that I want the materials to look like themselves, so the model will be made of wood and drywall mud and stone details, etc.
I hope everyone enjoyed this model post. If you use home-made models as reference, post a link to your models in the comment section!


Brandon said...

This is so cool seeing your models! You should have them photographed all nicely and also in perspective for a scene, for bonus material for a future Mouse Guard book or that Art Of book I hope you'll do one day :) The more complex ones, especially with all the detail you add, are awesome. I can imagine how helpful they would be as you draw. While the art of making the models physically must be satisfying - I've rather unsuccessfully tried to make architectural models several times - have you ever considered making models with a 3D program? Not only would it probably be much faster, it would also be easy to texture them, and it would be super easy to visualize the exact angle you want, including lighting effects such as reflections, streaming light and shadows.

Kat said...

Actually, I was just thinking that it might be cool to have some of these model pictures as a bonus in the back of a GN sometime. just a thought.

I love it when you post these. It's so cool to know that each setting in MouseGuard is a functioning place because you have built it. You even took the time to figure out where a certain room is in a building.


DPetersen said...

I have not tried a 3D program. Partly because I have little experience with them, but mostly, because I like making these with my hands. There is something very satisfying about the tactile sense of the model being right there in front of me.

Thanks! There is something about how the MG books so far are self-contained worlds that I like. For the same reason I don't show sketches/roughs/layouts in the hardcovers, it feels like it's showing the man behind the curtain during the performance. Whereas this blog is meant to be that 'behind the scenes' view.

I would like (at some point) to publish a book of cut-out make-it-yourself MG papermodels.

Brandon said...

Yeah, I definitely get what you're saying about actually making the models by hand, that's what I figured.

Re: "showing the man behind the curtain during the performance," that's an interesting way of thinking about it! Dark Horse's recent-ish Hellboy Library Editions are absolutely gorgeous oversized collections of Mignola's original Hellboy comics. I love the treasure trove of sketches at the back of those. You might think of that as a backstage tour after the show! But waiting until you might collect that type of material in a volume separate from the stories themselves is just as valid a way to go. Thanks for the reply!

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