Architecture Model Making Tips – Part 2



Part of the art form here is thinking while
you're making things. It's like sketching, you're drawing and thinking
at the same time and you know that's a powerful connection to make you know thinking with
my hands it helps me reflect on ideas and possibilities that I just don't have access
to any other way so if this works for you totally cool if not that's fine too you know
this is a part of my design process just like sketching is and just like making computer
models is it's just a way to unlock a different part of creativity so in part two of our model-making
series we're gonna be looking at a collection of tips and techniques things I've developed
over years of making models part one if you haven't caught that you want to watch that
first that's kind of the overview this one really gets into the details
making architectural models obviously involves lots of cutting and we're talking about manual
cutting methods today we have some tools to discuss first the tools you choose will be
dependent on the types of materials you're working with with wood anything generally
less than 1/16 of an inch and all of this is very thin stock here with the exception
of these thicker pieces all of this I'm going to be cutting with my Olfa L2 this is a utility
blade and I like the black blades the best because they're sharper they stay sharp or
longer and what happens is when your blade gets dull you simply snap off the end and
you have a fresh very sharp blade to work with now with wood in particular need to pay
attention to a couple of things so this piece has a grain that runs in this direction and
we can cut it in one of two ways we can either cut across the grain or we can cut with the
grain when you're cutting with the grain you need to be careful that your knife doesn't
wander with any grain inconsistencies so as I'm cutting the planks and you can see there's
two planks that make up this walkway so I'm just gonna cut them here I've measured out
the ends and I'm going to make a light score here and a second pass I have a nice sharp
blade and that's the key with all of this and then my third pass I'm almost all the
way through fourth pass it pops right off now let's take a moment to talk about this
ruler this is a cork backed ruler here it's a metal edge the metal edge is so that the
blade doesn’t dig into the side of it if this were to be plastic or some other material
the blade has the possibility of cutting the ruler if you're using a nice sharp blade even
pressure with your hand along the length of the blade here and really light cuts to begin
with I’m just gonna make a light cut and just keep making multiple passes until you
get through the material here so one of the keys with architectural model making is to
keep your cuts nice and clean that's with the grain when you're going across the grain
I like to use something like this little square here it's the same thing across the grain
is a lot more forgiving in terms of how your knife is going to wander but it also is probably
going to take more passes and just keep working at it until you get all the way through the
material now for these thicker pieces so we have these little cabinetry inserts here that
go inside the model these thicker pieces this is about a quarter of an inch thick this you're
not going to be able to cut with a utility knife very easily so for this kind of thing
you're going to be either be using a band saw or you're gonna be using a razor saw a
fine-tooth razor saw and you'll be using a miter box like this and you can cut it using
different angles here that again will give you a nice clean cut if you have a sanding
block then you can clean up the edges there so anything generally thicker than a sixteenth
of an inch I'm probably going to be using another tool here so some of the other materials
that you might be using corrugated cardboard or a chipboard in general I like this utility
knife for that as well other common materials that you're going to be using to cut would
be the Xacto blade and this is the number 11 blade the thing I don't like about this
is it tends to cramp your hand over time so if you're using this for a long time you'll
get a lot of hand strain here quick tip is to get a foam block and use that to store
your blades and your pins and things like that so I don't love the Xacto for that I'll
use the utility blade for cutting chipboard and it's the same methodology you're going
to use multiple passes don't try and bite through the entire thing all at once if you
want to cut windows and doors you can get something like this chisel blade here and
the chisel blade can be used to get your corners very precise personally I don't use this because
I find this a little too time-consuming so I'll come in with a short cork backed ruler
I'll lay out my window on the face here and I'll overcut the corners it's the corners
in all these that are the tricky bits if you overcut the corners and you'll see it looks
like slightly messy but you get nice clean cuts come back into the corner make sure you
get that cut nice and clean but you'll see we have some overlap in the corners and for
me totally fine architects make different types of models so this is a study model that
we're working with here and a study model is just that it's designed to help you study
forms and iterate on top of come up with new ideas it's not meant to be a presentation
model okay I'll show you a trick for cleaning up this window opening I basically have cut
a little strip of chipboard and ideally that chipboard would match this chipboard I'm just
going to mark each side of the opening here this is going to act almost like a little
jamb liner and I'm lightly scoring each one of these pencil marks here and then I'm going
to fold at each one of the scores a little bit of trimming to do trimming is often done
well with these nice heavy-duty metal scissors okay can you see how I fit that in that jamb
opening here now you can come along here with some white glue at the perimeter and glue
that in there but what this does is and you can experiment with the depth that you use
but it changes the shadow and how crisp that opening appears so I like that trick for making
window openings and one of the things about model making is once you start simulating
like actual real-world material wall thicknesses the realism of your model just increases greatly
it also helps these corners which seem a little bit messy right now – you're more forgiving
of that let's take a moment and talk about some other cutting tools that you can use
let's say we want to assemble this structural bay and we want every one of these bents to
be exactly the same so how do you do that easiest way is to make a jig a jig is basically
a template that you're going to create using any of your scrap material so we're gonna
scale out how long we want each one of our columns to be and we're essentially going
to make a little template where we can insert we can insert our column here and use this
as a cutting guide okay so I've basically taken a scrap piece of chipboard all I'm gonna
do is tape it to my work surface so it doesn't move now I know every column that comes along
here it's gonna be that wide it's assuming I cut it at this joint and then you just go
ahead and cut as many as you need okay so we know we have the height there if you do
the same with the width okay now to assemble the pieces we can make a jig the same way
so we have a corner here we know if that's 90 degrees that we can put our beam in here
and really just try and keep these as simple as possible you don't need to they don't need
to be elaborate it just needs to be wide enough to move the pieces in and out so now I'm ready
to glue this other side so I'm just gonna put that over here if I were to design this
so that the jig were exactly the width of this piece it would be just more difficult
to get in and out of so that's how you create a repetitive piece you make all the pieces
the same length and width that you're wanting and then you make a jig to assemble it so
you've probably seen a lot of different ways people make models compose models and one
of the ways is to design something in the computer print it out and then cut and build
the model from there I don't prefer this method I prefer to build it up using a series of
planes as we talked about in the first video now if I have an idea for in elevation what
I'll typically do and let's just say we're using chipboard here for examples sake on
the chipboard I've basically constructed the layout lines for my elevation and here I just
have a basic grid but you can set up your window layouts however you prefer now the
reason I don't use a printed out CAD layout and then spray fix it to the model face here
is because I want it to be more loose I want to be able to play around with different ideas
and things so what I'll do is I'll scribe out these let's say it's a window layout on
here and I'll come back in and I'll start cutting my window openings we’re gonna try
and start putting some of these techniques together so we talked about how to cut our
window openings sharp into the corners here make sure those cuts are clean
so here I have some idea of what kind of window layout I'm going for and I'm just kind of
marking it out okay so we pull out these window openings right I've actually decided I'm gonna
cut it off here like this so we have that let's do another one up here
I prefer not to have a sort of preconceived elevation idea I have some idea but you know
maybe I want to experiment with this and so that's the reason for drawing layout lines
on the chipboard the other thing that's nice that this does is it starts to give some added
depth and dimension to the face here so I really actually like how this feels when you
have some line work here an additional technique that we can layer onto this is to start scoring
so scoring you'll use for a lot of different things on elevation models in particular it's
kind of a nice thing and I'll show you what I mean here so I've basically lightly gone
and made the first cut and we've been always talking about making light cuts forceful cuts
but a number of passes now I've cut through the top layer of this chipboard and then what
I'm gonna do is I'm just gonna peel back the top layer here and this technique can be used
to indicate different materials it can be used to indicate just joints if you just use
a scoring mark and then you paint it changes in texture often times I'll use this on like
a ground plane to indicate and paving surface or something like that and you can see we
can do this wherever we choose make a light score grab the paper face and pull it back
clearly haven't scored this enough now if you'd like you can come back and sand this
out and you can really work on it to get it nice and clean and crisp depending on the
kind of texture you want on the face so that's one scoring technique you know another
use for scoring will help you save some time here you can see in this model I've glued
all of these corners which meant I cut these planes first and then I glued them at each
one of the corners one way to save time doing that is to is by scoring a sheet of material
so here I have cut a strip of material it's the right width and then I'm going to come
in and I'm gonna score here that's just a light cut probably cutting two-thirds of the
way through this is a really thin material so it doesn't take much and you'll see we
can just fold this corner fold this corner and this one and instead of having to glue
in four places we only have to glue in one place so I just need to touch a little glue
there and that gets us our box and this works for all sorts of shapes the other thing I
like using this for when I'm building study models is I'll score these little L-shapes
or U-shapes and there are these kind of space defining
gestures so think like Barcelona Pavilion right? Planes and walls and columns they're really
useful the score technique allows you to quickly bend small pieces and use them as sort of
roof forms to test out roof ideas I really like these L-shaped forms as space defining
elements especially early on when you're just coming up with conceptual models okay another
use of the score the quintessential gable roof right score down the middle of the material
here we have an uber long house right? If you're using something like a corrugated
cardboard I really like this scoring technique as well make sure you make it through the
whole face but you can start really playing around with this
add some visual interest and also gets you thinking about you know the ground playing
manipulation material differences textural differences because you know the reality of
building architecture is it requires a lot of materials and it requires interacting with
the ground plane and it requires thinking about textures and you know a model that's
one-dimensional like this where there's just a you know a planar face here is deceiving
because you know this is actually composed of individual boards or metal siding a whole
range of things so start playing around with textures it's kind of interesting way to add
some diversity and variety to your model okay let's talk for about the types of glue you
can use there's Elmer's glue and I keep this in this really small container and I keep
it sitting on the desk on its side so that when I need to pick it up it's all it's very
close to the tip that's the only reason for for that white glue Elmer's glue things like
Sobo they're great because you have time to reposition your pieces and we're gonna talk
a little bit about how I'm gonna use it here with this model but it's how I sort of created
these these little slats I wanted to be able to reposition if you use something like hot
glue it's great because it sets really fast but it doesn't give you a lot of working time
with it so when you're using small detailed pieces that aren't very forgiving I defer
to something like a white glue like Elmer's when you're using something that just needs
to be you know done quickly like these this walkway plank here you can see I've just glued
the underside of these little planks and just set it in place very quickly it doesn't show
so it's not exposed really which is great because hot glue is kind of messy it's globby
and I'll show you some tricks for how to use it more effectively but the third option here
is to use something like a CA glue – a super glue – and I don't use that very often it's
very unforgiving you could stick your fingers together any materials that it touches basically
they're glued to sort of permanently hot glue at least you can remove and replace pieces
and that's the value of this for study models if we just look at this little sort of facade
piece that I'm layering up here now I have some wood details that I want to add on the
face here so I'm going to use white glue for this white glue very forgiving dries clear
I prefer the Elmer's to the Sobo the Sobo tends to me to look glossy when it dries so
I don't like that look so I just use Elmer's I've always used Elmer's just use whatever
you prefer so you can see I have working time here if I were to use hot glue it's very unforgiving
as soon as I stuck the piece it would be ready to adhere which is great in some cases and
I will be using that for a part of this so I've pre-cut these pieces they just kind of
fit in place adding three-dimensional detail to your models
like this where you're adding depth and shadow really helps your model to pop it helps you
to think about how it's actually constructed now the top piece top three pieces here I'm
going to use some hot glue because I want this to set more quickly I'm just going to
dab it on each end and you notice I kind of make a circle the circle cuts off that little
thread that exists on the hot glue okay so I've hot glued the top sections here
I've got white glue setting on these pieces now I want to add some cross braces here cross
members so I'm just gonna come in and do that with some white glue because I want to be
able to reposition these so for these cross members I'm just gonna use some white glue
remember all this will dry clear so you don't have to be exact if you have some layout lines
down below like I do that's helpful if you have this cutting mat and you're using a grid
that's helpful now if this were the hot glue hot glue would be way less forgiving than
this it would have already dried okay I want to add some cross bracing here I'm just gonna
come and measure some wire for this one I'm gonna glue one of the ends
and then I'm gonna come to the other end I'm going to glue that end trying to use as little
as I can this would be a good application for CA glue one end and then glue the other end and then
what you can do is kind of come back and clean up those joints if you need to if they're
just too messy kind of hit it with the edge of your finger to pull off the excess glue
and then with the hot tip you can kind of come in and clean up the joint and hit any
of these little stray spurs that are flying off of it there's these kind of little glue
hairs another part of our brace you can see why having it something that's
quick drying here in this particular case is beneficial because waiting for white glue
to dry in that scenario not good I’m just gonna come in there and try and clean it up
with my fingers as best I can this is just kind of messing around this is not you know
this isn't for a house necessarily that I'm doing but it's just to show you how adding
detail and in particular structural detail is particularly convincing in these little
models if you think about how wind will blow on a building and what forces that induces
in to say a facade you start to understand why they're designed the way they are why
you see structural bracing because when the wind blows on one face you need to resist
forces with tension or compression and X bracing is actually a pretty efficient way to do that
so you can picture this being layered up into a facade maybe we have some glass over this
maybe this is just an armature for something else here I've taken some thin Mylar sheet
and you can do this with a vellum sheet as well to simulate glass or glazing I put some
pencil markings on one side of it and you know we could even go as far as to sort of
cut windows out of it so let's cut a window out of this
the thing that you start thinking about when you start building these models is how you
can layer on all these systems and details you know there are these real world systems
that exist in a building heating ventilation air conditioning systems floor systems structural
systems bracing plumbing and she can start to see like you know we can we can really
start to layer these things up and then start to study how things might work within those
subsystems you know another layer to this whole thing is we can start looking at taking
our markers thinking about how the glazing might be colored or shaded
presuming this is glazing so there's just like all these layers of subtlety
that you could start playing with and adding to your models and I think it's yeah it's
a really great way to start to generate other ideas you know now I'm starting to think okay
well like do we actually other pieces that move in this facade maybe there's overlaying grids you know there's
there's just lots of lots of opportunities this study model is an armature for experimentation
and that is really how I think you should look at it use the techniques of collage to
start developing a you know structural framework start making this architecturally real, start
playing with planes for walls planes for roofs start defining circulation paths start thinking
about landscape elements and water elements where light comes in how doors and windows
operate – work – how people move in and around the space what scale the space is it's nice
to have some ambiguity to the scale of the model here I’ve made a ton of model making
videos check the end-screen here for the links to those and we'll see you again next time,
cheers my friends!

pexels photo 7551434

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