Graeme Webb from Arcimboldistudios was tasked with making an ‘Alien Artifact’ prop for a short film.
The brief was it had to be a very light prop but it should look as if it was made out of Iron, which had corroded over centuries.
Graeme started the build with a polystyrene ball, a soup can and yoghurt pot. The can and the pot were connected with wire, secured with PVA glue. Kapa line foamboard were cut to form the flanges and fins; small beads were used to 'rivet' the fins to the flange.
The first coat of spray primer conveniently eats into the polystyrene ball, giving it a corroded look.
Next, Graeme added a coat of grey acrylic paint as undercoat for Red Oxide spray paint iron effect. The leaked liquid effect was achieved using acrylic medium embedded with coarse crystal salt.
Earth coloured acrylic paints, metallic acrylic paint, ground pastel pigments and a final coat of acrylic matt medium was used to give the finished effect.
The prop not only met the brief of looking like it had been floating about in space for centuries, but weighed in at only 108g.
Tim Chapman joined the crew of the SS Tasmania Star as a 17 year old deck boy on the 12th June 1973.
The ship, a refrigerated cargo liner, carried goods around the world from 1950 to 1975.
Tim completed 3 deep sea voyages upon her, sailing to New Zealand to bring back up to 300,000 frozen lambs a time for the UK market.
Tim's time on the ship took him all around the world, visiting countries such as New Zealand, Panama Canal, Chile, Fiji, Samoa, South Africa, Ghana, Nigeria, Canary Islands, Curacao and Pitcairn Island.
To commemorate his time with Blue Star Line, Tim commissioned our workshop to produce a brass etched plaque of the ship.
Working closely with our staff, Tim was constantly consulted during the preparation of the artwork. Adjustments were made with line weights and details to be included.
The only colours Tim wanted on the finished etching were on the ensign flag and funnel. Iain, our etching supervisor, suggested using vinyl to match the sharp finish of the half etched detailing.
Once the artwork was agreed, the ship was etched onto a sheet of 0.45 x 490 x 155mm brass and sealed with a clear lacquer to prevent tarnishing.
The completed etching is destined to be framed and hung on the wall of the Post Office that Tim runs in Yalding.
George Brown was a professional tech officer, or model maker, whose skills lead to a varied career producing all manor of models for film, exhibition, display and planning.
He started life in the Royal Navy (c1946) on ships such as the HMS Liverpool & HMS Triumph, where he developed his model making skills during the down time, carving & whittling. On leaving the service, George studied and worked on a farm in Royston, but had to give this up due to a back injury.
By the 1950's his interest in making led him to work at a model shop in Balham, possibly Mellings, where he worked on a model of the de Havilland Comet 4 for the 1958 Brussels World’s Fair (notable for the building of the Atomium).
Pupils from the neighbouring Henry Cavendish School had seen an 11ft wingless fusilage being made in the nearby workshop & rumors of a Balham Sputnik quickly began circulating.
George went on to work for Chris Melling Craftsman & Designers in Baker Street where he worked on models for exhibitions and aviation companies.
In the late 60's went for a job at the MGM studios in Borehamwood. At his interview and the boss, an ex Spitfire pilot, said 'see my Spitfire up there?' indicating the painting on the wall, 'make that and come back next week!'. He made it and got the job.
At MGM he worked on films such as Stanley Kubrick's 2001, a Space Odyssey, The Dirty Dozen, 633 Mosquito Squadron and Where Eagles Dare.
In the early seventies George joined the Department of the Environment in South Ruislip and became a Model Maker to Her Majesty until his retirement. He worked on many infrastructure projects including the Saltash underpass and the dreaded M25.
Images & history courtesy of Phil Brown (George's son).
We have gathered together a mixed group of 12 of our best quality etched trees, all handmade by our Scenics Team, that would be suitable for modelmaking project including model railway (N & HO scale), garden design and architectural (1:87 - 1:150).
The group includes a range of species, sizes & foliage colours to add variety & interest:
The 'bundle' is available here and saves 10% on the cost of individual trees.
Please note that this is a web only offer, the 'bundle' only contains the trees in the image above.
Individual trees cannot be substituted.
Our range of Scenic Products have got every aspect of landscaping your model covered:
Matt 'Lunartik' Jones is a multi-media artist, painter, sculptor, illustrator, curator, teacher, sticker fanatic, toy designer and long term customer of ours.
Matt has just finished his second workshop guide Plastik Surgery Handbook - Level 2 showing you how to make a resin Art Toy using the 'Split Tooling' method.
The book takes you through the process:
concept drawing > sketch modelling > master modelling >silicone tooling > resin casting.
All clearly explained and wonderfully illustrated.
The book is available here: Plastik Surgery Handbook - Level 2
Many creative arts students will be model making from home more than ever this year to supplement any workshop time they can get. We have provided various University courses with the tools and materials recommended by their workshop staff to complete their coursework.
A typical example is the Manchester School of Architecture who we provided the following items to each student: A3 cutting mat, safety rule, scalpel, scalpel blade remover, engineers square, PVA glue, masking tape, greyboard, foamboard, balsa sheet and clear PVC sheet.
We have gathered the common items from various requests to make up a Working from Home 'bundle' for £23.
We also have 4D gift vouchers if you want someone to allow someone to pick individual items.
We have a new website service from our Scenics Team BUILD-A-TREE where you can create your own model trees from our stock of armatures and texture colours.
The simple website tool allows you to choose your:
This puts 2,206 model tree options at your fingertips!
PLEASE NOTE: There is a one off set up charge added to each order of £12.60 inc VAT
Trees will typically be made within 3 working days of the order.
Standard Etched Sheets are one of our oldest range of 4D products. They are scale detailing photo etched on a brass sheet. The range includes figures, fencing, railing, chairs and plants.
We asked Alison, from our talented Scenics Team, to make up our 1:12-1:50 etched plants sheet. This is how she went about it.
This film is a graduation project by Emine Oktay from the excellent University of Arts London (UAL) Production Arts for Screen [Technical Arts] course.
We supplied with various animation products for her film ‘OTOKRAT’ (meaning autocrat in Turkish) including the Anibild Two Intermediate Armature Kits required to make the puppets in the film.
Emine explains how she used the kits:
'While the half-sized characters need to remain static and the ‘birth mother’ needs to be bolted down for filming logistics, the other two need to be as flexible and accurate in movement as possible'.
This is why 4D Modelshop kindly provided me with their Anibild Two Intermediate Kits. Ball and socket armatures are industry standard, allowing for durability and precision while filming, so I was really excited to give them a go.
Although the kits arrive with standard human proportions, it only took a few modifications and making of new parts to alter them into my own design. Once modified and glued together with the thread locker glue, I could then start the build-up method of puppet making. Sculpting snip foam and attaching them to the armature with Impact adhesive, to then sew two layers of both felt and tulle.
The construction of all of these puppets took roughly 6 weeks and they are now ready for filming.'
Iain and his team in our Photo Etching Workshop have developed a way of controlling the depth of etching. This means we can achieve a much higher definition even on the thicker gauges of metal, where over etching is an intrinsic problem.
We took the same artwork and made 2 etchings in 0.9mm brass. The brass has to pass through the etching machine enough times to etch through the lattice areas. In traditional etching, the half etch areas start etching sideways with all the extra passed needed.
You can see the 'blurring' of the text in the first three images.
The next 3 images show how Iain has prevented further etching in the half etch areas, preserving the definition of the letters.
This level of definition was only achievable on the thinnest of metals before.
Iain & his team can also produce etchings without the need for tabbing, this is especially useful for small and intricate parts.
With the trend to shop exclusively online, we'd like to make the case for taking the time to visit our East London store.
Our staff, carefully selected for their knowledge, are on-hand to offer advice. They can present the different options available to help you with your project.
You can handle & compare products, as well as discover materials you never knew existed.
If you are after model trees, all are unique, so you can select & see how different species look together.
Around the shop you'll find product displays, modelmaking guides & information downloads, model displays including our staff created 'Make a Scene' mini dioramas.
We have a noticeboard where you can find jobs, events & even put up your business card.
Lastly, you recieve a friendly, personal service.
... so, it you can make it down to our shop, we're sure you'll find the experience beneficial in many ways!
Open Mon - Fri 9am - 6pm, Sat 9:15am - 6pm
t: 020 7264 1288
We have been working with the B15 workshop at the Manchester School of Architecture for several years showing their new students materials & techniques that would be useful for sketch modelling.
The sessions are held in the ARCHITYPES exhibition which charts the different applications of modelmaking used by students. Featuring over 80 pieces of varied types and styles, the display covers: massing, sketch & concept models, cross section & interior models, large scale models, presentation models, study models and site models.
The exhibition offers a fantastic resource for the architecture students and will inspire them to create wonderful models themselves during their time in Manchester.
Designer: Gemma Taylor
Model maker: Jack Charrington Pratt
UAL Set Design for Screen Graduation Project.
This carriage is based oﬀ an 1890's Prussian 3rd class rail coach. It was constructed as part of a BA graduates' adaptation of the novel 'Emil and The Detectives' into a short stop motion animation.
In one scene, the carriage forms part of a dream sequence experienced by one of the passengers, which involves the wall opening up in a similar fashion to a dolls house. As a result, there was a delicate balance during construction between functionality and historical accuracy, and constant communication between the designer and model maker was essential.
Primarily made of styrene, the model includes 3D printed parts, the lower curved sections of the walls/doors, to create a sturdy base for the numerous hinged panels and doors. The model was airbrushed and weathered with a mixture of washes, dry brushing and weathering powders. Obeche was used for the extensive interior panelling, which was stained and treated with a coating of linseed oil. Finally, some custom graphics were created and printed on decal paper, and applied using micro sol and micro set.
The whole construction took just under 2 weeks and used many 4D modelshop products.
Materials: Styrene sheet, Styrene strip, PVC foamed ‘Palight’, Obeche Wood, Milliput.
Adhesives: Plastic Weld, Zap-a-gap, UHU All Purpose.
Paints: Plastic Primer, Citadel colours.
Graphics: Decal paper, Micro Set, Micro Sol
Models for Heroes provides model making provisions to the UK's Military, Veteran and Emergency Services treatment organisations around the UK.
They also raise awareness of the mental health benefits of model making while promoting the hobby.
They are currently looking for volunteers in the West & Central London area.
'If you have some time to spare, a passion for modelling and a drive to assist then you will make a fantastic volunteer. We have a group of 100+ who provide their time and expertise to assist model making sessions and fundraise at displays to provide for veterans in their therapeutic hobby'.
Volunteers advise on modelling skills from the very basics like how to decipher the numbers and letters on instructions to how to use a sanding stick and filler to smooth out seam lines.
Further details about volunteering can be found here.
In March we ran a new modelmaking workshop inspired by the range of Woodland Scenics products introduced to the shop earlier in the year.
Jess from Alchemy Forge FX, took charge of the 1 day course, which guided attendees through the process creating a true to-scale model scenic diorama.
Each diorama included several elements of a scenic modelling, namely, rough grass areas, waters edge, flowing and still water, rocks & boulders, shrubs & bushes and model trees.
The processes and techniques taught can be transferred to a wide range of interests and professions, especially railway, architecture, table-top/war-gaming, theatre set design and garden design.
All attending had a fun day and were very enthusiastic with the results:
“Great teaching, excellent fun! Thoroughly enjoyable and it has given me the confidence of what I can achieve.” Paul Fabricius
“Thanks very much! A great workshop, learned lots and was inspired very much!” Jon Pell
“I enjoyed when it all came together and put on the finishing touches. It really came to life. I had a blast!” Ciara Doyle
“Thanks for the workshop it was a great experience. I love my tile very much!” Marco King
This course will be running again on Saturday 18th May, further details can be found here.
Plastidip is a substance that was developed to coat tool handles with a rubber-like grip. Ben, one of our workshop technicians & a live action roleplayer, saw it as an excellent product for making his foam weapons.
Not only is it relatively hardwearing and easy to apply, but comes out much more consistently than something like latex, which is the usual standard for this kind of work. It provides an easy way to transform three-dimensional foam designs from chunks of glued foam into a single, unified piece.
To apply, follow the directions on the can, ensuring that you use a thin coat with each pass. Make enough passes so that it appears wet. Allow to dry for 30 minutes, spray enough coats that you are just beginning to lose definition, usually 3-4.
We have very creative staff, in fact, they are chosen for their knowledge and experience of all branches of 3D design. With that in mind, mid way through 2018, we asking them to create small dioramas from left over and oddments found around the shop. Their only other criteria is that they had to fit onto a 125mm square stand.
We now have quite a few secreted between shelves, on top of cabinets and under bell jars. If you cannot get along to the shop, take a look on our Google 360 and see if you can find them.
Atelier La Juntana led a 1/2 day practical course at 4D to discover the world of model making through casting materials and resin encapsulation.
The course gave participants an overview of the world of casting materials and its use for architectural models, covering different techniques and materials such as silicone moulds, epoxy resin, encapsulation of animation and colouring layers of resin.
We hope to have Armor back to repeat this course in 2019.
Craft foam clay is a new product we added in November.
It is a clay product that dries to a foam with a slightly spongey consistancy a similar to EVA foam. We thought it would be best suited to Cosplay and prop making, so decided to make an oversized coin.
We chose to make a 140mm version of a 2nd century BC Parisii stater coin.
We enlarged an image of the coin and printed it out, then overlayed it with a piece of clear acetate allowing us to make a tracing guide.
We found the Craft Foam Clay quite tricky to work with at first. It has to be handled with care as any excess pressure caused dents in the surface.
Once we had become familar with its handling, we could quickly make up the features on the coin.
After the Craft Foam Clay had dried (24-72 hours) we stuck it to a sheet of craft foam using a superglue.
We then primed with black Hexflex and finished by dry brushing with metallic paint.
4D have always offered a photo etching as a service, etching in traditional brass and nickel silver.
Iain, our Workshop Manager, has looked at may ways of improving the service over the years and has successfully pioneered and introduced Controlled Etching and numerous ways of In-Filling half etched detail.
He has now mastered the art of applying the photo sensitive resist to copper sheets, so can offer Copper Etching as a service.
The resultultant etching are quite stunning and are ideal for name plates, awards and to embellish projects where aesthetics are important.
A great example of this is the copper etchings designed by Will McNicol for Tom Sands Guitars.
'I wanted to give a nod to my classical guitar upbringing with a radial pattern, but as understated as possible to not detract from the natural beauty of the copper'.
'I believe it was Miles Davis who uttered the immortal: "It's not the notes you play, it's the notes you don't play" and in this instance it was definitely a case of "It's not the lines you etch, it's the lines you don't etch".' Will McNicol
On Saturday the 14th of July, we (Alchemy Forge FX) ran a beginners prop making workshop at 4D modelshop. We are often asked how we make our costumes and props and although we love giving advice, we honestly believe the best way to learn is by doing. This was the driving force behind why we started running hands-on workshops in which attendees can really get stuck in, learn new techniques and skills and have fun whilst doing so.
Choosing from the templates, stencils and Plastazote embellishments we had on hand, each attendee designed, constructed and painted their own shield; leaving the workshop not only with a prop, but also the knowledge and skills to make the next one, a completion certificate and memories of a creative day spent with like-minded people.
We covered all the steps needed to turn a simple sheet of EVA foam, into a shield fit for a battlefield - or at least one that looks like it! The students learnt how to cut EVA foam, the best adhesive(s) to use and how to use them, using different tools and techniques to create effects such as woodgrain and leather, how to prime and paint EVA foam and more.
The day was informative and full of activity, whilst being relaxed and social. Not only did we discuss prop making, we also chatted about other creative ventures and shared stories, such as the dreaded misuse of expensive fake blood!
It was a very fun day all round and we are extremely excited about the next one. If you would like to make your own shield, you can book onto the course for August 18th. Do you have a group that would be interested in doing this? Please contact us for group bookings/discounts.
Alchemy Forge FX
'Had such an awesome day yesterday with Alchemy Forge FX at their workshop for beginners guide to prop making at 4D modelshop I would thoroughly recommend!' (@ciarajdoyle)
'HAD A TOTAL BLAST AT Alchemy Forge FX's 1 day workshop for shield making today. Made Lagertha's shield from vikings. Didn't have the opportunity to complete it with a boss today but I'll finish it when I get back to Australia as it will be easier transport wise. Thanks so much Alchemy Forge FX had soooo much fun' (@thedevilwearssupre)
Calling all prop makers, costumiers, fabricators, cosplayers, LARPers and more! We are excited to announce that from the 14th of July we will be stocking a range of EVA foams, foam dowels, foam balls and paints and sealers designed to work with them.
EVA foam is an extremely versatile material which is easy to work with, lightweight, comes in different densities/thicknesses and is used in a variety of different applications. The foam is easy to cut, form and bond and can be painted and weathered to simulate lots of different finishes such as metal, wood, plastic and leather to name just a few. The material is used in many different industries – from fashion to film sets. You could use it to create giant sci-fi armour, a Viking shield, distressed fantasy leathers and much more.
A guide to EVA foam (1.7Mb PDF).
We ran a 1-day model making workshop as part of the London Festival of Architecture entitled 'Use of Metal Etching for Architecture Models'. The workshop was led by Armor from Atelier La Juntana.
Building on the Festival´s year theme – identity - participants were asked to explore the role that building facades, particularly architectural skins, play on defining the identity of the city.
Each participant created an architecture skin through a geometrical pattern of their own design which was drawn onto a transparent acetate and then transfered onto a brass metal plate through the process of cyanotype and photo etching. The process recreates the materiality of perforated metal, a cutting-edge material widely use in modern architecture.
Iain, our Etching Supervisor, was onhand to help with the different stages of the etching process.
The participants left the workshop with a full understanding of the etching process as well as a diploma for attending the course.
We will be repeating this workshop sometime in the future, you can register an interest by contacting Armor at Atelier La Juntana via the link below.
The Thinking Place is a project by Mark Riley that emerged from his PhD studies at Goldsmiths College back in 2005. He looked at the relationship between a philosopher, Martin Heidegger, and his ‘thinking place’, an unassuming wooden building in the Black Forest.
From here, he began exploring other thinkers and the locations and buildings associated with them.
The creative work involves a number of practices including the construction of accurate scale models and dioramas.
His work is now features in the exhibition ‘Machines a Penser’ at Fondazione Prada Venice as part of this year’s Architecture Biennale. The exhibition runs until the 25th November 2018.
He has made three dioramas for the exhibition, Wittgenstein's Hut at Skjolden, Heidegger's Hut at Todtnauberg and Rousseau's Cabin at Ermenonville.
Mark used a number of our products for his models including: Clear acrylic sheet, balsa, styrofoam, acrylic spraypaint, enamel paint, model trees, flock, foliage, plaster bandage, wire mesh, UHU and balsa cement.
We took the opportunity to get involved with the 'Tree of the Year' competition run by the Woodlands Trust.
The competition shortlists 28 trees from around the UK and the public to vote for their favourite.
The Gilwell Oak came out on top and was put forward to the European Tree of the Year competition, in which it came 5th attracting 12,955 votes.
The Gilwell Oak, situated in Gilwell Park in Epping, has historic connections. It is reputed to have been used as a hiding place by Dick Turpin and is synonymous with scouting movement.
Situated close to the Scouts training ground, it was adopted by Robert Baden Powell as a metaphor to young scouts that big things are possible from modest starts.
Our model of the Gilwell Oak was presented to the Scouts and is now on display in their Gilwell Park headquarters.