Making Instructions?

Discussion in 'Tips, Tutorials & Tools' started by goney3, Aug 29, 2006.

  1. goney3

    goney3 Member

    Hi Everyone,
    So I know this sounds silly... but how do you make instructions? or what methods do you use that work the best?

    I have recently finished work on my first model ever (of the building I work in). But now I don't know how to make instructions for it... do you draw out the pieces being put together? Do you use 3D programs? Do you just write out a paragraph and hope they get it? ... I am totally blanking on what to do next. I thought I'd ask for help, seeing that most of you have been doing this for years. ;)

    At least now the lightbulb is on in my head (Thanks Barry!) So I plan on making a lot more models to come... hehehe, I just need some free time is all. 12 hr days and 3 jobs kinda sucks the modeling life out of you :twisted:

    Thanks for all your advice and help in advance!
  2. Kevin G

    Kevin G Member

    First let me say that from the other thread the model looks great!
    Now I will admit that i know nothing about designing models or making instructions.
    One suggestion that I would make for your instructions though would be to include pictures of the finished model or at least a link or web address to some photos of the finished model. A picture is worth a thousand words and when it comes to a pic there is really no language barrier! I always look for pics when I start a new model and look at them as much as any instructions included with any kit.
  3. thewoodengraver

    thewoodengraver Active Member

    When I designed my castles, I built them, and basically wrote down what I did. I included a diagram, and several pics of the finished product.

    As Kevin G stated, translated into my own words, if all you did for the instructions was posted pics of the finished build, it would be sufficient.

    Or you could photograph step-by-step assembly.

    Nice job with the model!

    ARMORMAN Guest

    When I'm doing the final test build, I shoot pics of the entire process. Then I recreate it in isometric view in Illustrator (see attached).

    Attached Files:

  5. TheWebdude

    TheWebdude Just a Member

    Hi Goney3!

    As someone who designs with the widest international distribution in mind I've always been a firm believer that a good picture or diagram never needs translation. Recently I decided photos are even better.

    My current method is to photograph all pieces of an assembly/sub-assembly. I then run them through Photoshop, adding the part numbers and arrows showing how the pieces should be joined. The final step is to photograph the finished assembly/sub-assembly and include it as an inset on that image, hopefully leaving no doubt in the builders mind as to how it should look when completed.

    It takes a little longer than other methods but since I've adopted this method I've received "ZERO" emails asking for building assistance.

    Attached Files:

  6. barry

    barry Active Member

    Instruction diagrams

    You already have click select, click joined surfaces use the edit panel to provide an exploded drawing. Take a screenshot transfer to a paint program and play with it.

  7. keith

    keith Member

    My instructions are normally made using 3d screenshots or renders, but thats because i made the model in 3d first, and because i haven't got a good camera :(
    Pictures with numbers and arrows make the best instructions, whether you use drawings, photographs or 3d screenshots.
    Photo's are the quickest and simplest method but you have to remember to remove the cat from the background, a draped plain bedsheet makes a good background if like me your room is so cluttered it's an embarrasment.
    I'd save text for when the model is so complicated the number of drawings needed to be produced becomes a real task.

    I have found that in general that you need the same number of pages in the instructions as the number of sheets needed to build the model. Unless it's a silly scale.
  8. Willja67

    Willja67 Member

    I'm presently working on instructions for my super corsair and was wondering about something. My joining strips were done after the parts were layed out ie not done in 3d but it's easy to put something in their place, only problem is I can't show tabs accurately or at all.

    As long as the joining strip is numbered and the number can be found on a diagram pointing to a part and where it goes (even if it doesn't look exactly the same) is that adequate? I'm especially thinking of the non english speakers who might purchase this model and the diagrams will be the only instructions.
  9. Darwin

    Darwin Member

    In short....yes.

    Giving the long and less smarta...d response....I've seen all the above. Keep in mind you have an international audience, and translation programs tend to produce some very strange verbage. Pictures are the international language. What I've seen work as well as anything (and which would take me considerably less time than any other) is to take digital photos of the model at each step in the assembly, then lay out the photos in sequence with some basic captioning, warnings, etc. to accompany them. Also a very good technique is to number the parts in the order you intend them to be assembled; if you have subassemblies, it is fair to give all pieces of the subassembly the same number, followed by a letter in sequence of how you intend the subassembly to be put together. And, as a final touch, provide indication (preferably outside the design area of the part) of where the part is to be scored for folding, cut lines (as opposed to a line comprising part of the artwork), and areas within the part that are supposed to be cut away (as opposed to a blank area designating part locations). In summary, pictures are better than words, and parts numbering scheme should be intuitively logical. There are some fairly widely understood symbols that can be used to indicate "tightly roll," "cut," "cut and remove," "fold here," "back with XXX mm cardboard," etc. You won't go far wrong by using the sybols used in one of the prominent design house's instructions, such as Fly Models or Wilhelmshaven. That's my two bucks worth.
  10. Darwin

    Darwin Member

    Or even worse....the unnoticed reflection in the mirror or computer screen that managed to get into the photo.:twisted:
  11. 46rob

    46rob Member

    My instructions are simple--I try to keep verbage to a minimum, and rely on an exploded view drawing. I intentionally leave out tabs and joiner strips, as they overcomplicate the drawing....unless their purpose is a bit arcane.

    The drawing starts out in pencil, finished in ink and scanned into the computer, where arrows, text, and shading is done. For me, the computer does not always have to be the primary design tool, just as the rivet gun doesn't have to be the primary tool in my box at work. It's just one of many different tools, that work together to create a model and it's support documents.
  12. goney3

    goney3 Member

    Thank you for all the suggestions everyone :)

    I don't own a camera (except for my cell phone and I don't really think that counts) so I opted for a half/half method of using the parts and what they should look like (roughly) when put together. ;)

    Here is what I came up with:

    I couldn't fit the main image of what it looks like all put together, but I am going to put a shot of it on the cover page for a good reference. :D

    Anywho, feedback is most welcome for needed improvements, ideas, etc.

    Ps. I am trying to make this with as few page count as possible. And easy for international assembly (we have lots of guests from all over the world). :)
  13. TheWebdude

    TheWebdude Just a Member

    :grin: I like it!
  14. goney3

    goney3 Member

    Ehh... I tried making another build last night, I find the last two building sections at the bottom of the instructions page are really hard to build. I might have to redo this at least with a bit more explination on those two pieces. But how can I fit this still on one page? Oy! my head hurts...
  15. xyberz

    xyberz Member

    God I'm glad someone started a thread on this subject! I hate models that don't have assembly instructions or have insufficient instructions.
    Armorman's method is really nice but since you spent all that time creating the thing in the first place, you may no longer have the patience to make something that nice.
    My suggestion, take pictures on your digital camera! Then import those into the computer and put notes and arrows on them. Simple answer as you should never have to doubt a physical picture with clear instructions.
    Unfortuantely sometimes even instructions like Armorman leads to some confusion.
    It's easy to make your own photo box to take beautiful pictures for less than $20. Even using a subpar camera would look nice using a photo box.
    If you need instructions on building one, drop me a line and I'll get you links to very simple and very inexpensive photo boxes.
    When I design and make my own paper model, I will most definately take pictures using the method I described above and I highly doubt anyone will ever have and doubts as to what they will need to do.
  16. jleslie48

    jleslie48 Member

    you know I'm the first to preach good design practices, good instructions, yet I'm guilty of probably the worst infractions of releases. I mean just look at tat mess I did on the 1:48 Saturn V.

    In many ways I find instructions more time consuming than designing the model.
    I resolve that problem by taking lots of WIP pics from different angles. Hope they work out ok. I find this the least painfull way to make instructions:
  17. xyberz

    xyberz Member

    Another good tip would be to use the video recorder function that comes on alot of digital cameras today. Then most definately then no one should have a problem understanding.

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