Arisia 2011 – Scale Paper Modeling Workshop - Saturday, Jan 15 at 5:00PM
Part 1: Where Mr. Zubie introduces the topic and gives some additional information
followed by Part 2: Where he gives some more practical information like instructions
The 2 page handout (abridged from here) is available from my Google Docs storage
Regarding small scale Sci-Fi Modeling and the merits of paperThe craft of creating realistic scaled versions of thoroughly unreal things can be
practiced without requiring any particularly great skill in sculpture, sewing, makeup, portraiture, engineering, or biology. I mention this perhaps as a result of an inferiority complex when looking at all the costumes and artwork and the technical level of the hard sf panels. Still, while recreating some fantastic miniatures of sf, real science, or fantasy subjects does require some of the skills mentioned, I stand by the notion that they are not absolutely necessary if you want one.
(Pictured at left are paper models clockwise top Gary Pilsworth's Orion, Michael Urban's Mercury-Redstone, uhu02's Proteus from Fantastic Voyage, Ralph Currell's Space Ship One, Ron Caudillo's ENT-TOS bridge, U-Don's Lunar Module)
If all you want is a fantastic miniature of something like Harper Goff's Nautilus for the Disney production of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, what you need is a generous pocketbook. The kind of prices collected from the Star Trek prop auctions as well as custom made studio scale models also illustrate the point. There are also commercially available plastic kits, for which some art skills are handy. Even though these kits are meant for the general consumer, plastic kits can still be surprisingly pricey, particularly if you are affected by advanced modeler syndrome. Brass detailling sheets, customized decals, and accuratized resin parts (as well as entire resin kits) can easily turn a $20 or $30 kit (which is what many retail for as new, if not more) into a $100+ project. If you absolutely, positively want a release that you remember as only six dollars 20 or 30 years ago (or more) be prepared to pay collector's prices now.
Paper or card modeling is by comparison a dirt-cheap method of indulging in the pastime of miniature recreations and generating some fairly impressive stuff. Why so? Well for starters, most of the models I'm talking about are designed for printing on your own personal printers using your own paper (here you have to do your own calculations per sheet, but I believe at the time of writing it is between 15 to 20 cents per sheet for inkjet and less than a nickel for laser). Canon's web site even promotes it.When assembled you will have a fully painted and detailed miniature, and all you did was cut and glue. Moreover, if you mess it up, you can just reprint it and start over. If you want a squadron, just print more.
Paper modeling has been around for a very long time, but for the most part was limited to paper dolls and stuff on the back of a cereal box. In other parts of the world, however, it has proved more popular. The Internet and home publishing and photo editing software have made created a wave of available models. The level of difficulty and detail can vary quite widely. Some projects are simple (such as the one I'm planning to use at Arisia) and are good beginner projects. Often the level of detail drawn on the skin can veil the actual simplicity of the model itself by giving the illusion of texture and "greeblies" to your subject much like it does on digital models seen in film and computer games (It's perhaps this last aspect of the hobby that ticks off traditional modelers the most). On the other hand, some of these models are quite elaborate with movable or poseable parts (this Tyderium shuttle is a good example)
Where can I get these models?They are available all over the Internet and many are free. Perhaps the best starting point is SpaceStation42.com’s links page. They maintain links on a variety of paper model websites with specific link pages for different subjects such as boats or cartoon characters. They have two specific pages for sci-fi and real-space models. As mentioned in a previous blog entry, this site is worth exploring backwards in time by using the wayback machine at the web archive. Of course there are other link sites and sites of interest. Some kits are available at discussion group sites such as Space-Paper-Models group at Yahoo! Groups through their archived documents or files. There are also many papercraft blogs such as PapercraftParadise, Paperkraft.net at that keep track of new stuff that shows up or are used by authors to post their work.
You can also search for them using the terms paper model or card model or even papercraft in English, although the last term will get you scrap bookers and origami as well. There are also foreign terms such as recortables in Spanish, karton modelbau in German, maquettes en carton/papier in French, or pepakura in Japanese. Pepakura is also the name of software that helps design these kits so many post these as pepakura formatted files (.pdo) which is currently only windows compatible.
Commercially published kits, many from European publishers, can be purchased online from Amazon.com, or dedicated sellers such as Paper Models International (papermodels.net), or directly from authors such as Delta 7 studios. Some maybe available through your local bookshop, such as the recently published Clone Wars kits (ISBN 0448450046) or the Unseen University Cut Out Book (ISBN 0385609442).
A final note that bears mentioning, particularly on downloaded models, is that of pirated kits. Since all you need to copy a printed kit is a scanner, and a digital kit only needs a drag and drop, there are many pirated kits out there. Production of kits is not easy and one should respect the wishes of commercial kitters to make a profit from their work. Also, many pirated models sold through sites like eBay are actually free to start with, so in a sense you are getting cheated in the process as well.
Now on to Part 2, where I shall go over what you need to build this stuff, and some general tips and pointers.