Scratchbuilding Tips

Discussion in 'Tips, Tutorials & Tools' started by Cforrest900, Apr 21, 2014.

  1. Cforrest900

    Cforrest900 Member

    Hi all,

    I have tried my hand quite a few times at scratchbuilding papermodels, but the complex shapes of lots of ships and vehicles have always given me trouble. Could anyone give me some tips on scratchbuilding?
  2. Rhaven Blaack

    Rhaven Blaack ADMINISTRATOR Administrator

    OK, I know that this will sound like a "NO BRAINER", but ALWAYS start with something simple.
    If you can, find diagrams of what you want to build. and start with building what ever it is to the scale of the plans that you have in front of you.
    Cforrest900 likes this.
  3. subnuke

    subnuke Moderator Intelligence Extraordinaire Moderator

    Gerald Wingrove built some incredible car models from brass. They are more replicas than models. He gave a good description of what it is to scratchbuild when he gave the answer to your very question. He said the key is to break down complex structures into their flats and rounds. Everything is made up of flat shapes and round shapes. Curves are basically flats. Absolutely do not think of the real thing, only the shape. What I mean is don't look at a picture or drawing and say engine. Look at flat surfaces, round surfaces, cylinders, blocks, etc. If you say engine in your mind, your mind will tell you it's impossible. We you see flats and rounds, it gets simple and you just tackle sub-assemblies. Also, don't say ship model. Think of yards, masts, anchors, etc. Keep thinking and seeing small and it will become easier to achieve. With card models, you think of cubes, cylinders, and cones, which can be described mathematically. You just progress from there.

    I know it sounds like I am being arrogant in saying it's easy but I am pointing out where your brain can get in your way. Don't see the real thing, look at the small and simple shapes then build from there.
    Cforrest900 likes this.
  4. Cforrest900

    Cforrest900 Member

    Thanks for the help. Are there any good techniques for hand drawing pieces to use? I know that Ninjatoes does this with his models, and I would like to learn to do the same.
  5. zathros

    zathros SENIOR Administrator

    If you tell me of a model that you want to design/build, I can help you do it without a computer, by showing you, not doing it for you, which is what I believe you want.. Ships are great to do like this. :)
  6. Cforrest900

    Cforrest900 Member

    I was thinking of trying to scratch build a helicarrier from captain america 2

  7. zathros

    zathros SENIOR Administrator

    Um, don't get me wrong, but you are reaching waaay tooo high. That model would require CAD, to say the least. To make a model like that, well put it like this, can you loft the Hull of a ship, or, make this very simple model, using line and paper, and a compass, straight edge and some french curves, (last picture on the bottom?). This diagram has all the information to make it (and the real ship, for that matter) using a pen, paper, and a straight edge. If you cannot do something like this, the Helicarrier is not possible. Even if you can do this, then we get into compound radii. How would you calculate that out? It's possible, with a calculator, but if you want to learn how to design, start small. All big models consist of many small models. It is having the ability to make those little models that leads you to the big models.

    If you want to start on an open Sharpie style rowboat, that would be a good place. If you can love the Hull of a ship, that turns into the part of a spaceship that has a similar shape. To do it completely manual, access to source material is paramount, otherwise, you are just guessing. Here's how this boat looks Rendered.

    I have found a very useful simple CAD program, and it is FREE. It would behoove you to spend time learning this, as you could theoretically, achieve your goals much quicker.

    Get this. Link =

    Get the version on the middle of the page that has this written next to it. Ir reads, Release version FREE!ship Plus : v3.4 - full 31.3 mgs.

    R5.jpg F1.jpg

    New Haven Sharpie.png using the dimensions and pictures below?
    Cforrest900 likes this.
  8. Cforrest900

    Cforrest900 Member

    The program appears to be windows-only, so I can't use it. Do you know of any other good CAD programs that I can use?
  9. zathros

    zathros SENIOR Administrator

    You don't use Windows!?! There is virtually nothing for non Windows machines. What do you use?
  10. Cforrest900

    Cforrest900 Member


    I use a Mac. Is Blender a good option to use?

    I would like a program with an unfold tool, as I can't use Pepakura on here either, do you know of any. I've tried the google sketchup unfold tool , but have never gotten it to work :(
  11. Rhaven Blaack

    Rhaven Blaack ADMINISTRATOR Administrator

    Yes, Blender does have a version for Mac. I found this for you:

    Good luck with it and please let us know how it works for you!
  12. Cforrest900

    Cforrest900 Member

    @Rhaven Blaack

    Thanks! I downloaded it and will have a stab at trying to learn some of the basics tomorrow.
  13. Cforrest900

    Cforrest900 Member

    Started using Blender today. Overall, I like it. I'm starting to get the hang of the basics. I'll try to post pictures of my first 3d model when it's finished
  14. zathros

    zathros SENIOR Administrator

    As prices of PC's are getting ridiculously cheap, I really suggest getting a decent desktop P.C, desktop. You can do far more with P.C.'s than with Mac's, this has nothing to do with preference, but reality. You will struggle to do with Mac's to do what is commonly and easily with a P.C. Windows based machine. Why limit yourself? In this hobby, or C.A.D., in general, P .C.'s rule, more freeware is available to you, and I mean professional grade freeware. The first program I sent you a link to is capable of using to make full size ships.

    I don't help people out with Mac's much because their inherent incompatible nature makes it a waste of time for everyone involved. I can show people how to make models with a pencil, proper drawings, a compass and rule, that is easier than using a Mac. :)

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