Discussion in 'Tips, Tutorials & Tools' started by DarthPineapple, Nov 8, 2008.

  1. Hi everyone,

    I'm currently building a model of the Graf Spee and to be honest, it sucks. Not the design, but my build. I just can't get a smooth surface like all the other modelers here can. I don't know why, I use very little glue, cut out very careful, even make my own glueing tabs, but it all doesn't work. The end result is uneven, small gaps and a very ugly model. Does anyone have any tips about how to improve this - or better, what I'm doing wrong? wall1

    Thanks in advance!
  2. Art Decko

    Art Decko Member

    Could you post a couple photos of typical problems?

    One possibility - could this be related to the dreaded "outline" issue? Maybe you are cutting the black outlines off the parts, but should be cutting outside of them? Or vica-versa?

    By the way, I want to thank you for the chuckle I enjoy each time I see your forum name. :)
  3. Art Decko,

    Thank you for responding. I don't think it has to do anything with the lines, I meant I think it's more a problem with myself but I don't exactly know what. And when I try to reduce the damage it usually gets worse... :cry:

    I can get pictures tomorrow since my parents are going to Night of the Proms tonight and took our camera.

    Oh, and what do you mean with your last sentence?
  4. josve

    josve Active Member

    I might not be the right one to nswer your question,but I give it a try.
    The problems you have, is the same most of us experienced when we started this hobby.
    To improve your skills, there are only one thing that helps.....practice....practice...practice...

    But let me ask one question. How do you do the cut?

    For the best cuts you have to use a scalpel or the exel knife type with blade #11 and of course a metal ruler to make your cuts straight.You also have to make the cut with an angle inwards the ruler so that the joint will be like this /\ and not this \/ then you see that you will have a gap between the parts.I hope this made some sence :)
  5. The problem is, I am not new, I'm doing this about a year (I think) already. I never found a scalpel anywhere but I keep looking. Usually I just use a scissor but lately I use a knife more. I'll get some pictures now and might try this ship again.
  6. josve

    josve Active Member

    Well doing this a year = new....
    I have been doing this foe 3 years and still concider myselves as a beginner to this hobby.

    From your pictures I can tell that your problems are there due to unaccuracy and maybe to much hurry.
    Papermodelling have 3 important rules.
    1.Be patient( that means cut carefully, then dryfit,dryfit and dryfit if you are satisfied,then glue)
    2.Always use a sharp blade
    3.Keep your hands clean

    Using scissors isn't the best. And the knife you use are also very important.
    You have to get a handle that can hold #11 blades
    Like this
  7. Ok, thank you. I will keep looking for such a knife. I never actually noticed I build too fast, but I will try to avoid this next time. Thank you for helping. :wave:
  8. Art Decko

    Art Decko Member


    Great advice from Johnny. Card modeling requires careful, patient, exacting work. Maybe with some plastic models you can slap things together and they might look okay. But working with paper is different.

    I strongly agree that you should forget about cutting with scissors. While there are some cardmodelers who use them (usually special scissors designed for crafting), using a hobby knife and metal straight edge is far more accurate. And it's not difficult, either. Personally, I'm afraid of scalpels - too dangerous. Whatever kind of knife you use, be sure to do your cutting on a "self-healing" cutting matte. They are cheap and easy to find.

    The best advice I can give you for cutting accurately is to always turn the paper so that you are cutting with the most comfortable stroke possible. For right handed folks, that usually means cutting left-to-right at a near "horizontal" angle. Find the cutting angle that works best for you, and always rotate the paper so you are cutting at that angle.

    Next: are you scoring your folds? Scoring is easy, and makes for nice, crisp folds with straight edges.

    Try using a "rolling tool" to crease your folds. I use a glass ashtray - I consider it one of my most essential tools. It works beautifully to make flat parts with sharp-edged folds. It's also great for folding over very small pieces accurately.

    Next: glue. One of the most common problems when learning card modeling is using too much glue. Looks like you are using white glue - that stuff is specifically designed to bond paper, and works great. But a little too much and ... the paper gets soggy and collapses. Use small amounts. For edges, apply it carefully with a small brush. For larger areas, make a "spreader" from a piece of flat plastic or something - a great tool for applying thin layers of glue quickly over large areas.

    Experiment on scrap paper to find out how little glue you really need to hold two pieces together - you will be surprised. Less glue also means faster drying times.

    As Johnny suggested, dry-fit parts before applying glue. If you "rehearse" attaching parts before applying glue, you will know the best way to hold them and move them together. This also lets you spot and fix trouble areas before you've got wet glue all over them. Make sure any clips/clamps, straight edges or other things you need for gluing are right at hand before you apply the glue.

    I would also like to emphasize Johnny's suggestion about keeping your hands clean. I always keep a small, shallow bowl of water and "kleenex" ("tissues") handy when I'm gluing. The appearance of card models is easily damaged by glue or water.

    Finally: be sure you have good lighting where you work, so you can really see what you are doing.

    Keep at it! Practice really does pay off. I've been card modeling for about three years, and I have been very surprised at how much my techniques improved over time, in accuracy and speed.

    I meant that I think your forum name is humorous. :)
  9. Thank you. Yes, I have once of those mats, I bought it a few months ago. I just started Olli's U-Boat which is a simple model with a lot of straight lines, which is good to practice with a knife. Using a knife is really handy indeed! I already removed the scissor from my workplace. :p

    I'm not sure what you mean with 'scoring' my folds. I use a ruler and a letter opener to get straight folds, if that's what you mean.

    A brush for the glue? You mean those which you paint with? (please confirm) I never thought of that!

    And for last, what is the best method of glueing 2 parts together which have no glueing tabs?

    Oh, thank you. I combined my favorite movies with my favorite fruit. sign1
  10. Art Decko

    Art Decko Member

    If you don't know about scoring, then ... your card models are about to undergo a major improvement in fit and appearance. :) Scoring is making a shallow indentation along a fold line before folding the paper.

    If you score before you fold, the paper will naturally fold along the indented line. This makes for a very straight, accurate, neat fold. Since scoring is easy to do accurately, it really enhances the fit AND appearance of the model. I score every single fold, even very small ones.

    Modelers use a wide variety of tools for scoring. My favorite is an "awl", a common tool used for working with fabric, leather, and books. It's like an ice pick - a wooden handle with a steel shaft. The tip is sharp, but rounded just a bit. Works perfect for scoring. This tool is easy to find, and in the States I think you can buy them for less than a dollar. Other modelers score with things like a ball-point pen after the ink is used up, or the dull side of a knife blade.

    The idea is simple: using your metal straight edge, just indent (press) a line into the paper along the place you want it to fold. Practice on some scrap card to get a feel for how much pressure to use. Don't press too hard or you will tear the surface of the paper, or create a "hump" on the other side.

    The indent is best if it's on the "inside" of the fold, but it can still work on the outside if necessary. This means that most of the time you will be scoring on the REVERSE side of the paper (not the printed side). For those occasional times where you must score across the printed side, be sure to use a light touch, or you will scratch the graphics.

    To make reverse scoring easy, I first use my awl to make two little punctures through the paper, outside of the model graphics, one at each end of the line I plan to score. Then I flip the paper over, and use the awl and a metal straight edge to score between the punctures. Simple and fast.

    Next I make the fold using a pair of metal straight edges - one above, one below the score line. This produces really accurate, neat folds.

    I always work in this order, maybe this routine will work for you:
    - "rough-cut" the part from the page (use scissors to cut it out in a general way, leaving a margin all around the edges)
    - score
    - cut out the part (using a knife and straight-edge)
    - fold
    - crease the fold (for this I usually use a rolling tool - a glass ashtray)
    - test-fit
    - glue
    - edge coloring (when required)

    Yeah, sure! Since it's for glue, a cheap brush will do. I keep several in different sizes handy. If you are using white glue, you can easily clean the brushes with soapy water. I keep a small, shallow bowl of water handy when gluing, to rinse out the brushes between applications. Also handy for cleaning glue off fingers. :)

    For larger areas, I feel a brush is too slow to work with - the glue will set before you finish. That's when I use a "trowel"-like tool made out of a small, flat piece of plastic. It works perfectly for spreading the glue really thinly and quickly over large areas.

    I'm not the best person to answer this, as I only build my own models, which always have tabs. However, I think the most common method is to make a "backing tab". Cut out a tab of appropriate size, glue half of it onto the back of one part. After it's dry, put some glue on the exposed part of the tab, put the parts into assembly position, then press the tab onto the back of the second part.

    I strongly suggest taking some time to browse through the Tips and Techniques sub-forum. You will find a huge amount of useful and valuable tips covering basics like cutting, gluing, scoring, tools, paper, etc. There is no sense in "re-inventing the wheel" when experienced card modelers have already archived so much accumulated knowledge. Spend some time reading through them, I bet your modeling will produce much better results, and you will enjoy the hobby much more. :)

    Hope this helps. Good luck and more importantly... have fun!
  11. zealousy

    zealousy Member

    About gluing without tabs Art deco's spot on with the backing tab...I usually do that when tabs aren't there. Use a thinner paper for this tab for best results and it's easier to work with. In the case of virtical fits, just put some glue on the edge and weigh it down for a while. Surprisingly, the hold is pretty solid! for the gluing bit, I use an unfolded paperclip. I'm not so sure it's the best tool around :p but I've gotten myself used to it and the reach is unbeatable! I can get thin spreads in very tight squeezes with it! LOL!
  12. Thank you. Art, I don't understand the tool you use for the 'scoring'. can you provide me with a picture of the tool and the end result? Thanks!
  13. josve

    josve Active Member

    A scoring tool can be anything with a pointy tip like a used ballpoint pen or the letter opener you use. A scoring tool is used to weaken the paperfibers along a line so it becomes easy to fold with a straight folded edge.
  14. That makes sense. So actually I'm already doing that. :p
  15. allhallowseve

    allhallowseve Member

    It can be done w/ a small ruler fold a score all part before hand . Alway double check the part before glueing just case its does't fit then your able to fix it...

    Once you get use to it try take a sharpie a bring out the edge it make the part look smooth and clean try it on some junk part til your sure
  16. Art Decko

    Art Decko Member

    Sounds like you already "know the score" on scoring. :) Just as an FYI, below is a jpg of a typical awl. Great tool to have around for scoring, poking little tabs into place, etc.

    At some point in the future, after you spend some time practicing the tips we all described in this thread, please dig up this thread and post a few photos of a new build, so we can compare your progress with the Graf Spee shots. :)

    Good luck and have fun!

    Attached Files:

    • awl.jpg
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  17. wrussd

    wrussd New Member


    I can really sympathize with what you are going through. I am building the card model HMCS Agassiz and am now on my fifth attempt. I had the same problems you are having.

    The advice you've been given so far is very good but the one thing you have to do is slow down the building process. You really have to focus on getting each and every part as close to perfect as you can. It seems the only way you can acheive this
    is to practice and make your parts over as many times as you need to to get them

    Over time you will start to see an improvement.

    Good Luck

  18. Ron Caudillo

    Ron Caudillo Creative Advisory Consultant Moderator

    One thing I discovered about scoring- be sure to make them as accurate as you would when cutting out the parts. My eyes are not so good any more and If I miss scoring EXACTLY on the intended line (by being off to one side, or crooked) then that has the net result of making the one side too large and the other side too small. This will definitely alter the final shape of the part. I use a strong light and at time, a magnifyer.

    Hope this helps!

    Best Regards,
  19. Thank you all. So I heard all kinds of tools which can be used for scoring, but what's actually the most effective tool?

    I'm currently building Ollie's submarine, which has straight lines, no glueing tabs (I draw some) and small parts. Ideal to practice all these tips. After that I will try the Graf Spee over, which hopefully will be much better than my last pathetic attempt.

    So thank you all for your kind help and responses, I really appreciate it.

    PS. The failed Graf Spee model will be somewhat 'bombed' at December 31st, Because I'm going to put some explosive fireworks in, as a final end, to my horrible models, with a BOOM. :twisted: sign1

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