Where and how do I start????

Discussion in 'Gallery & Designs' started by doc_harvey, Apr 30, 2005.

  1. doc_harvey

    doc_harvey Member

    I'm a realtive "newbie" to cardmodeling, and desire to attempt my own desing of a Battlestar from "Battlestar Galacitca". I have downloaded several video captures, CGI pictures and scematics. Now what do I do with them, what programs will I need (e.g. Rhino, Photoshop, etc) and how to I create a "professional" looking model? Any ideas? I would greatly appreciate any and all suggestions offered. Thanks!
  2. Willja67

    Willja67 Member

    I don't know how much experience you have actually designing card models but the best piece of advice I could give is to keep it simple at first. Maybe I've been too influenced by math teachers that tell you to know how to do equations before mindlessly punching numbers into a calculator, but I would try to have an understanding of how to design models before using software that will do it for you.

    In that vein if you really do want to start out with Battlestar Galactica I would advise you to learn to design parts without the aid of anything more than a drafting program so that you can get a feel for what a part should look like before you even start working on it. If you just start out with a modeling program it might spew something out that is totally wrong because of one small oversight somewhere and you won't know it's wrong till you go to build it.

    I would make it a very basic model at first then upgrade as you gain proficiency at modeling. For example, the first model I ever designed using autocad (I didn't have any card modeling software) was an F-15. Initially I designed it with as few parts as I could (around 20), and over the course of several years I steadily improved the model until now it has over sixty and I started a major overhaul of the design that would have taken the parts count to over a hundred before the super corsair caught my eye and I decided it was time to start a new project.

    That's my two cents for what it's worth.

  3. Ashrunner

    Ashrunner Member

    F-15??? F-15??? Someone has another F-15 card model out there??? Hummm....

    Okay...back to the original question. A lot of what Will mentioned is good advice. I haven't designed anything complicated (the World Famous Flintstone line of card model cars wasn't that complicated), but I did my designs without any designing software. I used a CAD program (TurboCAD) only to draw the parts.

    My approach was to look at what I wanted to design, break it down into individual pieces (I did this by drawing out a very rough sketch of each piece) and then I just drew them. There was some trial and error involved, but overall, things worked out fairly good. The hardest part for me, was providing each part with a realistic looking texture.

    If you want to do the BSG model, study it. Look over each area closely, break it down into parts to be assembled, then look at each individual part and decide how best to draw it in a 2D to cut/fold/roll to a 3D shape. Use the drawings to keep everything in the same scale. If you run into trouble on a design, look at some of the model kits you have. They can inspire you to go in a different direction.

    If this isn't the way you want to go, you could always use Metasequioa to produce a 3D model, then use Pepakura to unfold the project. Both of these can be used to produce a decent model in their unregistered versions. Rhino 3D and other programs cost a lot of money. If you its fun to design, but something you probably wouldn't want to do a lot of, then sinking about $500 into a program to find that out is not a cheap way to go.

    Either way, there is a learning curve. Study other model kits, study the parts they use and how they were drawn. Look at what you want to do and at some point, you will know the first step you need to take for the project.

    Finally, have fun with the project. 8v)
  4. doc_harvey

    doc_harvey Member

    Thanks, Gents!

    Sounds like I'm really in for it on this one :shock: I'm not completely confident that I have all the necessary skills to model the Galactica, but I'm going to keep on looking at pics and schematics to see what I can come up with...being the typical lazy American, I was hoping that there would be a program that one could simply load a 3-d CGI into and that it would spit out the plans for a cardstock model, but then where would the fun be in that :?: Thanks again.
  5. Willja67

    Willja67 Member

    I feel the need to justify my adding one more F-15 design to the already sizeable fleet. I began the design in 95 when I had no idea how prolific this hobby really was. That said I now have a little more advice for Doc.

    The BSG very closely resembles (at least in layout) a Star Trek type Shuttle craft. It has the main hull and two nacelles. The curves are very basic and would be easy to design. So my suggestion would be to design a shuttle first and use what you learn from that on your BSG model.

    But no matter what you decide to build, pretty much the first step in designing a card model is deciding how the internal arrangement is going to work, ie what does the beasts skeleton look like. Like Ashrunner said break the model down into it's main components to do that. The best thing to do would be to get your three view drawings and remove all the little details leaving the main structural components (things that can't just be glued onto the skin). At this point look at all the places where there is a noticeable change in shape and contour and you will probably like to put a former in each of those places. Probaly the best thing to do is follow Ashrunners advice and look at what other designers have done, especially how they laid out the framework of their models.

    One thing I would highly recommend doing is making sure all your 3 views are consistent. Sometimes (frequently) you'll find a discrepancy between views. That can really be a headache especially when your are halfway through designing a part and realize that you have to go back and fix someting.

    I hope your project goes well for you and please don't let the initial learning curve deter you. This stuff gets more enjoyable really quick if you can make it over the first hurdle.
  6. Re: Thanks, Gents!

    I knew better than that in third grade, and quickly mastered the use of Pi and the basic Pythagorean.
    If you use someone else's mesh that could lead to involved IP rights arguments... beside a CGI model is not designed for cardmodeling.
    Zero-thickness CAD objects are not precisely compatible with the minor thickness of paper, let alone structural considerations and basic buildability factor.
    A CGI 3DMesh could be used as a template to design a CardMesh from, that is if the 3D model designer got the subject anywhere near "right" to start with (had classmates in drafting trying to CAD-up a NCC-1701-D with a circular saucer :roll: ).

    Using any of the ubiquitous "game meshes" has been a standard Pepakura shortcut to produce mediocre models.
  7. Ashrunner

    Ashrunner Member


    No need to justify your F-15 design. My comments were made because of all aircraft in the world, the F-15 ranks on the very top of my list of fighters. Bombers, its the B-52 and cargo the C-141A. I have had many close encounters of the personal kind with those three makes (among many others) but those three top my military favorite list. The more F-15s there are out there, the better this world is...in my opinion...and that includes card models...hehehe.
  8. 46rob

    46rob Member

    I have designed two models--the A7 Corsair II and the F-100 Super saber. Both were designed without CAD or 3D software. I developed my basice fuselage and wing shapes from three view drawings--manually. Once I had a good shape, I scanned the bits intot he computer and used Photoshop Elements to add detail and color. Each one took about a month to get to get a good likeness. (see my album for pix). I chose these particulatr planes, because they were fairly simple, as far as shape went. I've set my sights a bit higher this time and have an F-80 slowly taking shape. I say slowly, because I only work an hour or so a day on it and only if the urge catches me. I look to other folk's models I've built to get solutions for getting difficult shapes --for example, I use the basic technique used in FG's P-38 to get a proper nose shape for the F-80--same mfgr and era, plus same basic profile--hence similar solution. In my experience, the best models are not produced by computer programs, but are created as paper sculptures--not only in terms of appearance, but also buildability. If you want to try it my way, with a really simple project--go to the Vought Heritage website and download their drawings of the Regulus I missle, and see how nice of a model you could create. Start simple and work your way up. Pretty soon you'll have an entire intergallactic fleet of your own design...but, if you try to start with something 'way too advanced, you'll end up frustrated, like me, on my first attempt--when my subject had 'way too may compound curves and fiddly little thingies. I had the right ideas, the right techniques but was 'way short on skill as far as conceptualiziing the best way for the thing to go together. Build a bunch of OP's stuff and get a feel for different assembly techniques and design styles.
  9. doc_harvey

    doc_harvey Member

    is this a good place to start?

    Got these off starshipmodeler.com....anyone think that these would be useful for building a paper Battlestar? If so, would the next step be putting them into paintshop for colors and textures?

    GEEDUBBYA Active Member

    Howdy Doc,

    Simple is better, look at "subjects" not as what you see but as cubes, rectangles, spheres, triangles etc. Learn to build those and then you can "customize" them into what you see. Dont worry about detail and coloring while designing the shapes, those are two different things altogether. Get the shapes first, then later you can worry bout the details.

  11. lizzienewell

    lizzienewell Member

    scissors and tape

    I have a BFA in sculpture and work in a variety of mediums. The advice I have is to recognize that you are designing a proceedure for making a model not just one model.

    Work in series so that each model you make is the prototype for the next model.

    I use Corel draw mostly as a means of drawing accurately and repeating what I draw. I have no interest in complex programs that try to think for me.

    I'd start with a rough paper drawing and then get out scissors and start cutting the major shapes. Tape them together to see how they will fit. The results won't be pretty but you can work quickly this way. Then cut the tape and draw the shapes on the computer. Print this and build the model again. As you cut and make changes to the design of the paper model change what you have on the computer to match.

    It seems to take me three to fifteen builds to get the design and proceedure right depending on the complexity of the model.

    You might split out difficult problems and work on them seperately from the rest of the model. If you have some little part that needs a bunch of experimentation then you might work on it by itself without building an entire model with each expereriment. I suppose if the proceedure for building a model were a computer program this little sidelines in experiementation would be subroutines.

  12. barry

    barry Active Member



    Got to Gremir download the free siatki trial and have a play it won't cost you anything. I use photoshop for the rest of the drawing.

  13. 46rob

    46rob Member

    If you're not familiar with the computer programs, to the point you can use them in a natural and matter of fact way, to try and design something and learn to use a drafting or graphics program at the same way is an excercise in sheer frustration. Before the advent of computers, card models were designed, drawn and colored using only an old fashioned drawing board and basic drafting tools. I'm a firm believer in getting the basics down first. Forget Photoshop, Rhino and all those mega buck programs until you can honestly say, "I'm to the point where I can justify the cost, as I've outgrown the capabilities of the tools I have on hand currently. I've had three models published by Fidder's Green so far, and the fourth not too far off. I've redesigned several of their other models (not just a paint job). I do it all with an older PC and Adobe Photoshop Elements (which cost under $100). Like Lizzie said: start with a pencil, paper and scissors. Scan them into your graphics program so you can repeat what you've already drawn and work your way to a great model. I have never started a modle on the computer "cold turkey" they always evolve from sketches drawn and measured as accurately as you can make them.
  14. rowiac

    rowiac Member

    It might help to take a smaller piece of the model you want to design (a nacelle for example) and try to design that in paper first. Based on how that goes, you can then use the knowledge gained to do the more complex pieces such as the fuselage.

    Card model design shares a lot of the same principles as sheet metal flat pattern development (for ducts and chutes, etc. in the construction industry) so you might search for websites and books with flat pattern tutorials. One such site is:


    You can break up most shapes into a series of simple rectangular "cubes" or truncated cones that can be simply developed into a flat pattern. I've played with Metasequoia and Pepakura a bit, but I haven't spent the time to learn them very well yet. I've also had some success with Rhino, but the cost is prohibitive for most. Since I already know how to use 2D AutoCAD (basically an electronic drafting board), I've been using that and sheet metal methods to develop the models I'm designing. Any other vector drawing program could be used, as well as good old T-square, triangles, pencil and paper.

    Eventually I'll get back to Rhino, but for now, with a long time between uses, I forget how to use it.

  15. 46rob

    46rob Member

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