Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Ravensblight Manor - Pt 1

Well, Halloween is almost upon us and I thought it might be nice to do something special for it. We don't really get into Halloween that much here at home but there are some neat toys and good movies which come out this time of year. Last year I had really wanted to build up a paper Halloween town but never got around to it. This year is different and we're going to start it with a nice little haunted wreck of a house available for free download on Ray O'Bannon's excellent website:

Here you will find games, masks, buildings and more for download, stories (some of which Ray narrates in an audio version), on-line games, art gallery and much more. Our first selection is called Ravensblight Manor and can be found in the 'Toys' section of the site. 

But before we get started building the model, let's have a quick tutorial on paper model building. This may be old hat for some, but for new readers or those just starting to get interested in paper models there's some good to know stuff. Enjoy!

Note: Not everything talked about in this post is shown in the photo

Fiskars cutting mat

Sawing is done on a scrap piece of cardboard

Some form of ‘heavy’ paper. It may be listed as ‘card stock’ or ‘cover stock’ and is designated by weight. Anywhere from 44lb up to 110lb weight will be good material for use in building paper models. A matte, double sided paper will allow you to use markers without significant bleed-through of the color into the paper.

I had been using a couple of reams of 110lb cardstock that I’d had on hand for some time. The paper was sturdy enough to require minimal bracing. My most recent acquisition is Staples 65lb cardstock in a bright white. So far it seems to be holding up well. One point to make: If you’re going to do a lot of printing remember that over time, the heavier material might wear out your printer sooner as it will cause more strain on the mechanism.

Photo Paper
Some modelers prefer to print their projects on self-adhesive photo paper. They print the image, peel off the paper backing, attach the image to cardboard, then carefully cut out the wall, roof, etc, and assemble the model. This method is great when you’re trying to achieve the look of tin-litho buildings because you get that real neat shine if using glossy photo paper.

‘Aleene's Tacky Glue’ is recommended by some modelers as it holds quickly, and dries with a solid, clear bond.

‘Schreiber-Bogen’, the German manufacturer of some of the finest paper model kits you’ll see anywhere, recommends ‘Uhu’ brand glue. This can be tricky to find though in many parts of this country.

Here’s a quote from “The Haggard” courtesy of the ‘PaperVilleUSA’ Yahoo Discussion Group:

I find that the white school glue (high quality brands) and the carpenter's wood glue from a good hardware store and usually both the same PVA glue with minor differences (usually in the water medium and sometimes in the addition of a wetting agent to enhance penetration). Any white glue can be made into tacky glue with a little air time on the palate before use. Your mileage may vary. But I have found even the cheapest white glue to be better for paper models than any of the cements, water glues, epoxies, etc. That is, as a balance between cost, binding, workability, availability, safety, etc., etc., etc. Uhu is good as a binder, perhaps the best... but workability and cost are not as good. However, when it comes to Uhu stick glue, there is NONE better IMOHO. Everyone's favorite, Aline's (sic) Tacky Glue just isn't available everywhere. But school or shop PVA just about grows on trees.

The Group also recommended ‘Scotch Quick Dry Tacky Glue', which holds well but doesn’t have much of a working time.

Me personally, I’ve been using plain-Jane white school glue and it’s done well for me.

Many people like to cover unwanted, exposed areas of white on their models, like the edges of roofs and such. To hide these areas try to use non-bleeding black markers like "Flip Chart Markers". Test the markers on a scrap first. 

They’re indispensible when building a model with small parts. A variety of large and small tweezers will come in handy. Needle-nose, self closing tweezers are great as clamps for holding together glued tabs. Especially those in hard to reach areas.

Cardboard/Poster Board/Newspaper
Anything to cover your work surface! Not everyone has the luxury of a hobby room or spare room in which to work. This means that often times work is gonna be done on the kitchen table! Even old guys like me who don’t have to worry about the wrath of parents still need a place to work. Yes, I do have a garage, and I do have a workbench so in that regard I’m fortunate BUT, the garage (aka Man Cave) is not air conditioned making working conditions in the summer less than optimal. 

Cutting Mat
I use a self-healing cutting mat made by Fiskars as my cutting surface. It wasn’t horribly expensive (about $10 for a 12” square mat) but they last forever, and they will protect your table (if you’re not using other protection), and extend the life of your blades! They are also available in a variety of sizes.

Eye Protection
This is imperative! Please use eye protection when using cutting blades! The tips are very fine and prone to snapping off under stress. And, Murphy’s Law will dictate they will fly where you do not want them – like in the eyes!

I use scissors for two different, but primary, applications. First, I use them to cut the outside edge of tabs, areas that don’t necessarily have to be perfectly straight because they’ll be out of sight when glued-up. I do this to save wear-&-tear on the knives. Knife blades are expensive so why wear them down unnecessarily? Scissors will last much, much longer. 

Secondly, a couple of different small scissors are extremely helpful for cutting small parts. Cuticle scissors work well for tight places.

Hobby Knives
Hobby knives are now ubiquitous. There was a time when people only had scissors and pocket knives (or ‘jack knives’ as we used to call them). It’s a kick looking at model train magazines from the 1930s & 40s that show modelers using pocket knives to cut things that today we  would use hobby knives for. ‘X-Acto’ brand blades are readily available. ‘Testors’ also markets a hobby knife that uses the same standard #11 blade. When new, they are EXTREMELY sharp!  BE VERY CAREFUL!!! Dull blades should be replaced as they make cutting more difficult and increasing the risk of injury at worst, or making for a crummy, ragged cut at least.

Fiskars makes a nifty hobby knife with a very small swivel blade. It’s marketed for scrap bookers but is eminently handy for our purposes as well. It takes a little getting used to but I have found it to be helpful.

Another option for cutting, in lieu of hobby knives, is single-edge safety razor blades. On the up-side, they're cheaper than replacement hobby knife blades. They're just as sharp and cut just as well but do pose a slightly higher risk of accident if used without a holder. BE CAREFUL! BE CAREFUL! BE CAREFUL!                                                           

Machinists, draftsman, carpenter's and other types of squares are a big help in keeping things, well, squared!
Howard Lamey from Little Glitter Houses recommends a 4" x 4" quilting square ruler which has a 1/8" grid plus a 45 and a 30/60 printed on it..

Toothpicks/Popsicle Sticks
It helps to have a means of applying the glue to the model other than your fingertips! Although, I confess that I’ve used that method as well!

A metal ruler is infinitely superior to wood or plastic, both of which will get nicked up and distorted before you know it. I tend to favor at least a 12" rule with a thin layer of cork glued underneath but a smaller 6" rule comes in handy for small pieces.

Stripwood (Optional)
My method of building kits is to print the image on heavy card stock, and brace the interior with strip wood. Seems to work for me.

File (Optional)
If you use strip wood, the file allows you to clean the edges of the wood.

Saw/ Zip Saw (Optional)
Used to cut the strip wood


Paper towels, rags, whatever. You’ll be working with glue. Nuff said.

I use a variety of clamps. Sometimes I can't find the ones I want in my stash and end up making do with whatever it is I do find. Here's some suggestions:
-Clothes pins
-Reverse clothes pin clamp
-Small plastic clamps available in hobby shops and sometimes hardware stores

1. You'll need a place to glob your glue. You DO NOT want to squirt glue directly on the kitchen table. Scrap cardboard works wonders.

2. Some websites recommend scoring fold lines very lightly using a hobby knife, while others simply recommend using a 'spent' (no ink) ball point pen and simply drawing it over the fold line. In any case, the result is to break the fibers of the paper just at the surface, allowing for an easier bend.

3. There are two basic folds:
   - 'Hill' folds. These are the most common wherein the paper is folded over, like most tabs you will encounter
   - 'Valley' folds: Where the paper is folded up unto itself as in the photo below

'Valley' folds are sometimes demarcated using an 'X' on either side of the intended fold line. HOWEVER, each paper model maker has their own style so be sure to read the instructions.
On this model Hill and Valley folds are delineated using red and green lines respectively. One pushes a stick pin or point of the hobby knife into the middle of the line, just to the outside of the artwork. 

Next, turn the sheet over and, using the pin holes as a guide, score the line - DO NOT cut all the way through the paper.

Here's how the scored line looks

4. Brace the interior of your model using strip wood. This isn't necessary, and many sites don't even mention it but you will end up with a much sturdier product.