This week’s selection is “Essential Skills for Scale Modelers” by Aaron Skinner.
Producing models is a popular application among home 3D printer operators. Whether you’re designing your own miniature models using CAD software, or downloading a public design from an online repository like Thingiverse or Prusa Printers, parts will be produced on your 3D printer for assembly and finishing.
It would seem that the process is quite straightforward: acquire a design, 3D print the parts and then assemble them to complete the model. But that’s not really the best way to do it, as there are more steps that can be undertaken the make the model quite amazing.
That’s what this book is about. However, I should warn you that it assumes you’re using pre-made model kits as have been sold since the 1950s. That’s a well-established practice, but in our world instead of buying the kit we would simply 3D print the parts instead.
The important thing is that the rest of the book is highly applicable to making 3D printed models, and in particular, the process of finishing the model.
The book begins with a discussion of the “Basics” of model making. This includes such activities as:
- How to clean up parts before assembly
- Testing assembly contact points before attachment
- Preparing contact points for glue
- Gluing process
But there’s much more detail on things that the average 3D printer operator might not be aware of, especially painting models. While it’s easy to “just paint” something, it’s far more involved to achieve specific effects using paint.
The book includes a large number of tips and tricks for painting, including how to make surfaces appear to be something they are not. For example, you could use a black ink permanent marker to color tires to give them a rubber-like sheen, or making a metallic surface shine using a plain old pencil.
The tools used include airbrushes, but also markers, pencils, brushes, and other items. These are portrayed in ways I had never considered in order to produce incredible visual effects on a model.
The book contains an entire chapter explaining all the specific tools you’ll need to perform these and other effects, and even includes a chapter on airbrushing techniques. It then provides case studies on using these techniques for building models of aircraft, automobiles and ships.
One of the interesting techniques shown is how to produce weathering effects on model surfaces. These can make an otherwise plain model have a highly realistic appearance.
There’s also information about how to “fix” older models that might not have had the optimal finishing treatments, as well as how to tackle large-scale models.
If you’re someone that uses 3D printers to build scale models, this might be a book in which you’d find a great deal of information.
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