Card Modeling FAQ

4. Detailing and advanced techniques

4. Detailing and advanced techniques

4.1 Compound curves

from Myles Mandell <>: I had forgotten about this trick. It is one of Mr. Heighways and appears in his instructions for MC1 Micromodel which is of three cars.

"Moulding the body of BRM and Bugatti. This is done with two teaspoons as follows: Take one of the cut-out body parts and moisten the inside slightly, perhaps with the tongue as in licking a stamp. Lay one spoon flat on a table and hot point of other spoon over gas or methylated spirit flame for a few seconds (don't get it too hot). Place body section in spoon on table and with tip of hot spoon press along middle of section from end to end to give the required lateral curve. The card will tend to crinkle along edges; this is ironed out on a flat surface, still using a hot spoon. If you find you have given too much curve, it is readily corrected. This `panel beating' is most vital but fascinating work, and care should be taken to get the shape correct before mounting. Slow, patient burnishing and moistening from time to time is the secret. It may be a good idea to experiment first with a spare piece of to get the `feel' of the operation."

from bierce716<>: Oddly enough, you CAN form paper in a fashion similar to forming plastic- but you have to use pressure, not vacuum. It works best with a female mold. Just soak the paper until it's nearly falling apart, press it into the mold. Then pour fine sand, such as aquarium sand, into it till it's at least level, then put weighty objects on top and wait a day or two. Paper can be made to take compound curves in this manner.

There are several ways to make the mold. Sculpey-a type of modeling clay that is really a vinyl compound- will take a good impression and harden accurately in the oven. There are other substances as well-check the hobby shops.

from Ed Grau <>: I've been having trouble with parts of my models that have rounded areas made by cutting slits and then butt gluing the edges of the tabs together. Does anyone have any hints or tips on how to make these look smooth? The parts I'm having problems with are the bridge on a ship where it tapers to a round top.
from Harry B. Frye, Jr. <>: I imagine that this is very similiar to, say the nose cone on an airplane. What I have found helps me is to save those wedges that you cut out and glue them on the back side, overlaping the butt joint. Then while still slightly wet, doing a little forming with a tapered dowel.
from James Nunn <>: When I am working with rounded shapes the first thing I do is to cut the edge with an X-act blade rather than scissors. This allows me to cut the edge at an inward angle. The angle is such that the outside of the part is longer than the inside of the part. The reason I do this is because if you cut the part perpendicular, as you round the part the inside edge will end up a little longer than the outside and you end up with a visible seam. I also use small reinforcing strips to get the shape I want.

Ship hulls

from Mark Lardas <> I recently bought the Cheops Funeral Barge. Because of the nature of the model, it seems well-suited to a paper-only approach (unlike the multimedia I normally use). I plan to do this one as a paper purist, just for grins and to do something different.

This leads to a question. In previous ship models I have built the hull goes together in two or three pieces. The problem is wherever the long pieces meet there is an obvious joint. This blows the appearance of the model straight to the underworld. I have hidden that in other kits through the use of expedients such as copper tape. Since I want this one paper-only, I cannot go that route this time.

The problem comes from the flow of the hull being interupted by a discontinuity where the joint is. My question: how does one get rid of the discontinuity?

I am thinking of taking the two pieces for the hull sides, butting them together, then gluing a piece of newsprint to the back side to make the sides one long piece. Will this work? Is there a better way of ensuring a joint that flows together?

from Todd Anderson <>: Why not back the whole side with card stock and have a monolithic part. You can pre-form the sides as the glue dries between the two sheets. I just learned that one last month. Makes the side look solid and prevents waves.

4.2 Lighting models

from Myles Mandell <>: What I want to do is illuminate the Westminster Abbey Model so that it looks like the illuminated buildings in Paris or Chicago etc. One method I tried was to mount the model on clear Plexiglas which I painted black except for a clear line around the building. I then put this on a box which had miniature bulbs in it. Close but no cigar. Perhaps I should have moved the clean line to the outer edges. I have also looked at Z scale spot lights but never bought any, now all of this was about 15 years ago.

from King Butler <>: Get some optical fibre from Radio Shack. Run it under the board and up through small holes where you want the "spotlights" to be. Bunch the opposite ends in front of any small bulb wherever you can hide it. Cheap too.

from Bob Bell <>: I have a model of this which can be fully lit by the push of a button. First of all I cut out all the larger windows and replaced them with coloured gel (I found later that coloured tissue gives a more "scaled" lighting effect.

The model was mounted on a card base in which I cut a large hole, and this in turn I glued to a piece of thin, clear plastic. I made a shallow box and lined the bottom with mirror paper (cooking foil will do at a pinch). In this box I rigged up a simple arrangement of two flashlight bulbs connected to a battery (In a holder so that the battery could be changed), and then to a small push button switch set in to one of the box sides. Finally I sat the the abbey on top of the box. Press the button, the lights go on and shine up through the bottom of the abbey and out through the windows. There is absolutely no leakage of light through the base or walls of the model.

from Emil Zarkov <>: I'm sure that this is an old trick and maybe some of you are familiar with it. It is highly enjoyable. I discovered it for myself a few years ago.

Do you want to have a trip in your paper world of your paper models? Do you want to feel that they are scaled to their real size, so that you can examine them "just like a real things"? The ticket [return ticket I suppose :-)] for such a trip is very easily obtained.

All that you need is a spotlight source. Take a small, but bright (the smaller the better) electric light bulb and connect it to a battery. Turn off the light and in the dark room illuminate your models with it, watching the shadows on the wall that they produce. Now move the spotlight toward your models. The shadows grow, and you have became a part of their world. After some experiments you can find a really amazing presence effect.

Note the following: The shadows on the wall almost repeat the shape of the model image, projected in your eye, if you are looking on the model exactly from the point where the spotlight is. Choose the trajectory and speed of movement of the spotlight as if it is you walking around your model. Select the appropriate scale of the shadow, varying the distance between the model and the wall, until the presence effect appears. Thus you can walk on the deck of your ship, or run to your plane or walk on the streets of your town.

The battery is exhausted. Light on. Back to the real world.

from Kaye Meldrum <>: Right now I am trying to figure out miniature stage lighting. I need to know what I could use for a magnifing lens for the front of the lights. Also am not sure about the lights themselves, but think maybe those penlight bulbs, as they seem to be bright enough, as well as small enough.

from Bob Santos <>: I've done quite a bit of diorama work, Kaye, and here are a few tips for your lighting.

Buy your bulbs at Radio Shack and but the type that screw in like a regular light bulb. Much easier to replace when you need it than soldered in bulbs and usually you neeed to change them at the most inconvenient time!.

Take heed of the voltage ratings and select what you need keeping in mind the facts about if you will be using batteries or a transformer for power. If you burn the bulbs at a little lower than their rated voltages they will last longer and usually look better in a diorama.

If you want spotlights, get to most hobby shops at their metals section. Usually you can find aluminum tubing in telescoping sizes. It's east to cut and if you take two sizes that have a sliding fit one inside the other, you can tape the bulb inside one tube and slide the other (usually outer) to focus the light and then tape that when you have it the way you want it. These are cut pieces of tubing not the whole 12 inch pieces you buy. Taping them holds up well but also lets you change the setting if you so desire. You can spot these by wrapping a stout wire around the middle and then taping or glueing the wire ends to some convenient part of the diorama. The wire then becomes a bendable stand for your spotlight.

4.3 Bases and backdrops

From Tom Mc Rae <>: As to bases, my technique is to select a suitable piece of thin plywood and ensure the contact surface is clean. Next take the card portions with the bases, removing them from any other items on the card. Don't cut too close to the base outlines at this stage except for the edges where the base abuts together. Turn card pieces face downwards on a large piece of newspaper then spray the entire surface using an aerosol photographic mountant adhesive.

Wait a couple of minutes then turn face up and align on the wooden substratum, leaving overnight to dry completely. I'm lucky enough to own a scroll saw and I now use this to cut around the completed base which is detached from surplus card and timber. Lightly sand the edges and very carefully paint them with a suitable colour of acrylic paint. Lo, there you have a base!

If a scroll saw is not available a piece of soft timber about 1/8" thick such as Spruce can be cut around using a sharp blade. Some models also include card backgrounds which tend to bend around with weather and age. e.g. The London Gate Series. These I also mount on thin ply and scroll out, gives a stable background with a 3D effect.

4.4 Scenery and detailing

From Tom Mc Rae <>: Several of the London Gates in the Micromodel series have tiny statues set in niches. In the originals small mis-shapen bits of card were supposed to be stuck on split matches and glued in place.

While they can be sculpted from matches I opted for another tack, using a toothpick point I carefully applied Gesso (a thick white gunk available in art shops) over each of the small printed shapes. When this dried I applied more, gradually building up contours for head chest and legs ensuring each application was dry before the next was applied.

After they'd attained an acceptable shape I left them aside for a couple of hours to completely dry then cut them out with a sharp scalpel. Due to the card backing it is possible to flex them slightly to give more realistic poses before gluing in position in the niches.

from Tom Mc Rae <>: Frankly Micromodels bases representing the sea, pools, etc, leave a lot to be desired. The HMS Amethyst model is a good example with its lovely blue depiction of The Yangtze River. I used polyurethane water based clear gloss varnish as a base to improve matters. I mixed a much greener colour using acrylic paints and mixed this into the base varnish, carefully painting this thickly over the blue parts. If the paint mixture is covered it will keep long enough to allow a second coat to be put over the first when touch dry.

For foam at the bow and the stern wake I mixed up white acrylic with the base varnish and applied this where indicated on the model. Several layers were applied to give a very realistic appearance. This trick will work well with ponds etc on other models. I use the varnish on its own to simulate glass on the windows of Micromodel buildings, it makes a great difference to the finished work.

From Tom Mc Rae <>: The Micromodels model of London Bridge is superb but, as usual they have not got the water right. As supplied it's white and they recommend smearing it with blue black ink. I know the Thames and, like most rivers it's more brownish than anything else. Having fixed the base on a suitable piece of ply I started work.

I made up an acrylic mix of brown, a little dark green, and some polyurethane gloss and painted this roughly over the `river' prior to fitting the pylons; dabbing it quite roughly to get an irregular surface and emphasising the currents flowing between pylon sites. Some of those currents would merge in eddies as they traveled past the bridge so I simulated those as well. Left things to dry overnight. It looked fair but still not right and some cracks had appeared on the dried surface. I painted a few points with a much paler green, especially around the turbulent zones and also added some blue swirls.

Next day I used a second mix using a lighter brown watercolour paint with the clear polyurethane and applied this fairly dense mixture, as it filled the cracks it accentuated the turbulence of the river. Now I fitted the pylons.

The Thames currents are deceptively fast, as anyone who has drowned in it can testify, so I now added a little white acrylic and clear varnish to strategic points at the pylon inlets, making this turbulence much stronger as currents merged at the exits of the pylon channels. Starting to look realistic but still not quite right so I made two final applications of the clear varnish on its own. I'm quite pleased with the end result, similar tricks will do wonders for ship bases.

4.5 Display cases

From Tom Mc Rae <>: Micromodels deserve to be placed in display cases and the Micromodels publication 'Making Models in Card' has instructions on pages 28 and 29 (Myles has copies on sale).

The techniques given merit updating and I've just finished casing Westminster Abbey and Old London Bridge using the following procedure. Rather than using Perspex, X Ray film, or even celluloid I discussed the problem with folks at our local hobby shop who recommended aircraft canopy plastic. This comes in sheets that look blue due to the protective covering but once this is peeled off one gets a crystal clear material to work with. Make up top and sides by first cutting off a portion big enough to fold to the required size. The stuff can be scored then broken along a straight edge or cut with sharp shears, I use Miracle shears that do cut anything. Measure up from one side to where the top will start and score fairly deeply but not right through, repeat for other top edge then lay out pieces of scotch tape along each scored portion. Bend over a table edge or similar with scores on outside and the tape holds the structure together. Remove the blue covering from the inside and carefully put tiny drops of a suitable adhesive along the lines. The best I know is Formula 560 made by Pacer. Leave supported so sides are at 90° for at least three hours, the glue takes 24 hours to completely cure. Scotch tape can then be removed.

Paint 1/16" square strips with FLO-STAIN or other suitable oil based varnish and let dry thoroughly. Once case assembly is dry cut pieces of those strips to fit inside long edges and fix in place with the canopy cement. Surplus cement should be gently washed off with a wet cloth, do not leave it to dry as you'll get blemishes. When dry do the same to the short horizontal and vertical edges ensuring they all come exactly to the edge of the box.

While this is drying cut sufficient strips of a width suitable to cover the inner supports from a sheet of 1/32" spruce using a table saw. Alternatively get some suitable pre cut strips from your aircraft model shop. these will form the outer frame.

Varnish them as before then when dry give a couple of coats of clear polyurethane varnish.

Now you can measure and cut out the box ends, fitting them in place with the canopy cement as before, the internal struts serve as supports, once again leave until thoroughly dry. This is very slow work but worth it, you can always build something simple like Westminster Abbey while you're waiting. :-)

Time at last to cut the outer frame portions to size and fix in place with the cement, a few small clips are useful to hold them firmly where such things can be applied. Failing that gentle pressure for a few minutes will hold the pieces in place until they dry.

So there's the finished case, you'll probably find some portions of dried cement you missed and quickly learn, just as I did, that they are easily scratched off with a finger nail...DON'T! You'll be rid of the glue but not the resulting scratch.

A Dremel polishing disk also removes the blemishes but the heat generated gives other faults which are not so easily disposed of. Best thing is to use BRASSO or similar metal polish and gently rub over affected areas with the stuff on cotton wool before doing a final high gloss finish with several pieces of clean cotton wool. All you need to do now is rub off all those cotton fibres and you're home and dry.

Now to the base. Work out length and width of this allowing for any timber struts you intend to use as borders inside which the cover will fit, e.g. 1/4" spruce strips. Once measured twice cut the base and the border edges, lay the latter in place and ensure your model on its original base fits well but not too tightly then varnish all components and let dry. Set model well aside and glue border strips in place on base.

I decided to do a light bevel on my borders using my new belt sander, after it ripped one entire strip to 45 degrees I did the other 3 sides the same way to clear up the mess and thus found an impressive base, even though I had to revarnish the beveled strips. Place your model centrally on the base and glue in its final position, place the cover into the base but it's probably best to leave it loose, things drop off models with time.

That's how I did Westminster Abbey, I've just finished Old London Bridge's case but here, due to the model being long and narrow I finished the base wider fitting pieces of 3/8" strip along the outer edges with 1/4" strip then glued behind them to give a stepped effect.

This technique is easily adaptable for larger models. I have jpg shots of both cases if anyone would like to see the final result, taken with my digital camera so detail's not too good but you'll get the idea.

from Bob Bell <>: Here are two or three ideas for displaying Micros which I use in our museum.

1. For locomotives. Searching one of our craft supply shops I found clear plastic balls intended for Christmas tree ornaments. These balls split into halves making two plastic domes. I cut circles of mat board slightly larger than the circumference of these domes then glued on small shelves cut from matt board, upon which my locomotives could sit. I then glued the dome over the top. These make dandy display cases that can be hung on the wall.

2. Ships. The "six little ships" I have set in large scallop shells which I bought from the sea food section in a local supermarket. The ships sit in a "sea" of plaster, suitably painted, which I smeared in the hollow of the shells. These too can be covered with the plastic domes as mentioned above. For the Myles Mandel larger version I found a reproduction of an old world map in a book of wall paper samples . This I cut to size to fit an old picture frame then mounted it on stiff matt board. I then drilled a few holes here and there on the map and inserted round tooth picks upon which I glued the ships. The end result of old time sailing ships backed by an antique map is very striking and has resulted in many favorable comments from our museum visitors.

I have also displayed micros under upturned brandy glasses.

3. I have not tried this idea yet, but I am sure it will be effective. That is to carefully remove the innards of a clear light bulb and use the bulb as a display cabinet a la ship in bottle.

4. Oh! The Westminster Abbey. I actually cut out the windows in this model and created a stained glass effect using transparent colored candy wrappers glued to the inside of the structure. Originally I had it sat on a light box which effectively lit up the windows but now I find that I can position the model on a shelf so that the light from the room window illuminates the abbey's windows.

from Peter Richardson <>: I build transparent cases from hardware store obtainable/10" clear polystyrene secondary glazing stock. This is much more robust than clear sheet from model stores, very much cheaper and can be bought in sheets up to 8 ft by 4 ft". The alternative of Plexiglas (acrylic) is horrendously expensive and much more difficult to handle, though less prone to scratching - polystyrene is quite soft. The styrene is simply cut by multiple scoring with a sturdy craft knife, after which the sheet can be snapped. Leave the protective polythene on the sheets when cutting to avoid scratching, Strip off the protective sheets before cold-welding together the edges with liquid polystyrene (from your model store) applied with an artists brush after dry assembly. Capillary action draws the glue in to the joint and leave a perfect clear join.

4.6 Detailing ship models


from Brent Theobald <>: I have a question about the construction of the lower half of the ship's hull. I have built a few rigged paper ship models now and I always have a little trouble getting the paper to conform to the framework of the hull. On my latest ship I have been considering building the paper covering of the hull separate from the framework. Once both are built I will trim the framework to fit. Has anyone else tried this?
from Mark Lardas <> I assume that you are talking about a full-hull model sailing ship. The problem is worse with those because of the large number of complex curves that go into the lower hull form. Powered ships face the same challenge, but to a lesser degree. The hull is not as convoluted.

The problem that I see with your approach is that you make the hull form dependent on the shell, rather than the framing. If accuracy is not an issue, that is not a big problem. However, if you do that, you get a hull that does not match the real ship's hullform. If you trim the frames to fit the shell that results you get a finer hull than the actual ship. And what do you do if the shell is wider that the framing at some point?

Having said that much, I am not sure that I can come up with a comprehensive alternative answer. Problem is this: paper really only bends in one plane. Yeah, you can kinda, sorta, maybe get sheet of card or paper (wood, too) to bend slightly in two planes, but only just a little. A sailing ship hull bends in two different planes -- much more than just a little.

Logical question is how did they get around that on a real ship. They used planks. Lots of planes curved in one direction. The second curve is provided by putting each one of those long skinny planes on a slightly different angle. And they "spile" the planks -- make them narrower at the bow and stern, where the ship narrows.

That's how they deal with it on wooden ship models, too. Most wood kits manufactured today are plank on bulkhead. Actually, they use double-planking. Put down one layer, sand it to the right final shape, and then put down the final layer. (A no-op for paper models -- try sanding cardboard. Cough! Cough!)

A few paper kits also do this -- the St. Adalberus Boat has you cut out every strake. (This was the first paper ship I made, and I felt right at home.) The planks are even spiled.

More common is to use two or three sheets per side for the lower hull. That's o.k -- barely -- with something like the Yatch AMERICA, because the hull form isn't that complex, and the keel is printed separately. However, when you get the traditional cod-head, mackerel-tail shape of 18th century ships, you have a real problem.

Most kits try to get around that by adding more transverse pieces, to minimize the two-plane bends. Unfortunately, sailing ships use longitudinal planking, and transverse pieces look cheesy. (It does work for iron ships, because they are made up of plates, so you have tranverse lines as well as longitudinal lines.)

I think a better approach would be to do it like the real thing. Lots of long, thin longitudinal strips. Shipyard does that, sort of. The GRANADO, for example has five of these strips making up the lower hull. Even there you have problems (this is independent of the overlapping strakes problem with HUNTER.) It still has problems around some of the curves. This could be minimized if the strips were thinner. Maybe even (gasp) a strip for every strake.

You can kinda, sorta, do this for the Shipyard models, at least for the parts above the waterline. Just cut out each bulwark piece, then cut along the plank lines, and glue the butt seams of each plank together by gluing a strip of this paper on the back side of the joint. Only problem is that once you get to the waterline, there is a solid plane of white, (This is accurate, too. Ships of that period were covered with a tallow mixture that was laid on thick. It would cover the plank, kind of like a thick (1/2" or 12mm) coating over everything.) So you have no plank lines to work with, and have to cut stuff by guess and by golly.

Probably the best way to do this, is cut strips first in plain cardstock, start from the waterline, and work your way down. Instead of gluing these strips, pin them to the frame. When done, you have templates that you can transfer to the printed kit, to use as a cutting guide. (Let me stress, I have not tried this, so it is just theory. But it is one of the techniques I have been playing with.) Cut out the kit cardboard using the template. Either that, or just use white cardstock planks below the waterline. You have a hull that should match the frame, a little at a time.

Actually, the real way to settle the question would be to design a kit that uses that technique. A good candidate for such an attempt would be a model of an anchor hoy. Hoys are small boats used as tenders to seagoing craft. An anchor hoy tends anchors. It is a small, full-hulled, one-masted ship, with a simple sail plan. It should be an ideal starter kit, but done right, one that would allow the experienced builder to really do a good job.

Lines and plans for such a craft are in a book, now in the public domain, that I have. I know ships, but not kit design. If someone who has designed kits wants to contact me, offline (better still one of the kit manufacturers) it would be fun to collaborate on such a project.

from Gunnar Sillén<>:

Actually the viking ships and most common traditional boats in Scandinavia have been built skin first and then the frames formed and put in afterwards. They started with the keel and then nailed plank to plank pair after pair till the sides were full. Of course it was a sort of carpenters art to give the planks just the right shape (a little curved and a little narrowing in the ends) to give the right form to the boat.

I mostly use the same method when I build models. Especially when building paper models, the hulls get smoother and without the "knees" that not seldom want to occur over frames. I use some simple moulds to check the form of the ship before i glue every pair of new planks to the already glued. If you use white glue and let the paper fibres run longitudinal in the planks and just glue the edges of the planks, the water in the glue will help you to shrimp the paper in a helpful way to double curve the planks a little.

If you build a double (halfways overlapping) planking, the hull will probably get so strong that you actually do not need a framework to keep the hull of the model together. At least if the model is not very big.

Rigging and railings

See also Rigging aircraft.

from Bob Bell <>: For ship modelers, I have used embroidery netting cut appropriately, for ship's rails.

from Myles K Mandell <>: I have always used thread soaked in diluted glue for my rigging. The rope ladders are another problem, here I have coated the printed side with diluted white glue, let it dry and soak them overnight in a dish of water and then careful scrape off the card. The same process as I use to make sails.

from Bob Bell <>: I use the same method as you Myles only I "peel" the thread into finer strands first then fasten a weight to the end of the thread which, when hung, pulls out the curls. After two or three applications of glue these very fine lengths of thread are quite stiff and easy to cut and manipulate. To make rope ladders (shrouds) I make a jig from stout card. This is simply a card with a small notch cut in the top short edge and five notches cut into the bottom end. I then wrap the thread tightly around the card via these notches, taping the ends firmly. The rat lines are short lengths of thread that are glued across (a rather tedious job) and, when all is dry, I trim the surplus flush with the outer shroud lines. Since the thread is wound around the card you can make two at a time using each side of the card.

from Fil Feit <>: As long as you're using a jig, why not notch the sides and run the ratlines around it? This will remove a lot of the tedium of gluing the short threads across, and will hold them stretched taut at the same time.

from David Hathaway <>: Well, I have finally come up with a method for making satisfactory ships railings out of thread. Call me either a purist or a skinflint, but I think that ship models look a lot better with railings, etc and using metal photo-etch parts is either a) cheating b) not "paper" modelling or c) expensive.

Having seen hemp railings advertised in the S&S catalogue, I decided to try my own. A series of trial and error experiments followed. The basic method I used was to wind thread around and then across a framework to make a grid of threads in the correct spacing. Coat it in a "glue" and cut out the rail sections when dry.

I have tried:

I got the best results by not wrapping the cotton too tightly and by running the nozzle of the (runny variety) superglue along the threads rather than dabbing at it. Blobs are best dealt with by lifting off with a paper hanky (quickly so it doesnt stick!). Work in a very well ventilated space.

I made up a wooden frame out of 6mm plywood - long and thin (about 30cm x 10cm) - and cut out the centre to leave 3cm all the way round. Printed up a paper template to match frame with markings for 2 sets of rails (both sides of the ship at once) running the length of the frame. Easy to wrap the thread round and glue. Ready to use pretty much straight away, but may be better if left to cure for 24 hours.

Word of warning - superglue makes the thread go much darker than it's unglued colour. Experiment with different colours to get it right.

This method should be easy to adapt to commercial models, particularly if solid paper rails are supplied. Just photocopy the paper rails and glue to the edges of the frame as a template. [Mr. Hathaway has provided on his website a PDF template and instructions for making ship's railings out of thread.]

from Larry Stillman <>: Well, there is always the tried and true method of using your spouse's hair (though I haven't tried putting her head next to a frame and gluing hair to form railings. That might cause a 'difficulty, and what would the neighbours think). I also used a bit of cross-hatched ribbon used for wrapping gifts for the cross-hatched climbing ropes on ships (sorry, I am not nautical). I am sure it can be stiffened.

Hair of course, was recommended in the Six Little Ships kit in the original Micromodels. The evidence is in photos on my website.

from Peter Wehrahn <>: My way to stiffen small paper and thread parts is to soak liquid plastic cement into them. I like the Uhu brand and the liquid Revell cement. I use this even on finished models, where I see some weak parts. The only drawback of this method is the smell and the somewhat darker colour of the soaked paper/card. The effect of this kind of cement is placing a kind of plastic between the cardboard fibers and so they will come out much stronger.

Masts and spars


from Peter Ansoff <>: Most card model sailing ships (including GORCH FOCK) have very prominent seams printed on the sails. This gives them a "pin stripe" effect, which is not accurate at all -- the seams on most real sails are barely noticeable at a distance. What is noticeable is the web of gear that runs up and down the sails: clewlines, buntlines, slab lines, reef points and tackles, brails, etc. etc.

The so-called "rope ladders" consist of two components: the shrouds, which are the heavy vertical lines that support the mast, and the ratlines, which are lengths of light line strung horizontally between the shrouds to allow easy climbing. Many sailing ship models have shrouds and ratlines made from the same weight of thread, and this is totally wrong -- the shrouds are much heavier and stand out clearly at a distance, while the ratlines are barely visible.

from Bob Bell <>: I read in a book of wooden ship models that ships displayed on stands should not be in full sail but should be displayed with their sails furled. Following this advice I tried this idea by omitting the sails as provided in the Maty Model Mayflower kit and substituted rolled sails made from paper towel. The finished effect was super. If you try this make sure the ship is rigged for "standing rigging" rather than "running rigging".

from Kaye Meldrum <>: One of the reasons that I gave away the Cutty Sark was that the sails do not look as though it was under sail in a good wind, the sails are not bellied out. Then I wondered if anyone knows how to get this effect.

from Bob Bell <>: Try dampening the paper slightly then roll a dowel (such as a knitting needle) over it. The curve will hold when the paper dries. My micromodel of the Cutty Sark is mounted in a shadow box with a sunset background cut from a magazine. For the sea I used white acrylic straight from the tube to give the bow wave and flecks of foam. Set at a slight angle the ship looks as though it is speeding across the ocean at sunset.


from Peter Crow <>: If I had to pick out one thing that I would like to see different, it would be to have the flags printed on thinner stock. To my eye, they appear too thick and not in scale when folded over. Has anyone tried to separate the top layer of paper from the card with any sucess?
from Jeff Cwiok <>: Actually, JSC does this already, on the back cover of their kit booklets, which are printed on very thin slick coated stock. Makes for some great looking flags.

I've done this with great success with Wilhelmshaven flags. The typical card material, though thin, has a definite 'core' between the two surfaces which can be split quite easily after bending a few times at a corner. This 'splitting' is done before cutting the flag to size. Then take a slightly used x-acto blade and scrape some more of the velvety fuzz off the back side, until you can just begin to see the ink showing through. Then fold, glue, color the edges as needed, and shape into folds and ripples around the point of a toothpick, to get the desired 'wind blown' look. I practiced the technique on blank scrap stock before useing the printed flag, for obvious reasons.

from Bob Santos <>: Here's a trick that is used on small scale ship models. Use flag decals. Dip in water to release the decals and then fold on itself resulting in a flag that is only two coats of paint thick. After it dries, apply some decal setting solution which softens it and tease it into a limp or flowing shape and let dry again. Sometimes a coat of clear flat spray will help protect it.

Carly floats

from David Hathaway <>: Carly floats are life rafts for ships that are shaped like modern rubber dinghys, e.g. made of a tube in an elongated ring with a flat bottom. I need to make some about 10mm x 6mm with tube diameter being about 1.5 to 2mm. I can roll a straight tube that size, but a complete loop? Ideas How have other designers solved this one?
from Gunnar Sillén<>: It seems to me that the "Polish" way of solving the problem is to glue numbers of layers together. I really understand why you donīt like this method. Even if you could make the floats look good after sanding them and repainting them, the method is rather boring and gives you nothing of the joy of paper ingenuitivity. (Most elaborate model of this type in my collection is the Fly Model "Alaska".)

Your last method (lots of flaps to curl around) is a rather good method for beginners as it is easy to get the ground form of the float right. The problem is the connection between the flaps. The result can look octagonal instead of circular. I have not seen any ship models with this construction. But the free downloadable "Sev Trek Enterforaprize pizza" has it. I have just tried it. Well, makes it fun to build. But perhaps not good looking enough for a serious ship model.

The method I would recomend is the one with a long straight tube with V-shaped cuts. It requires that you control which way the printer lets the fibres of the paper go. (The fibres must have the same direction as the tube. Actually, the problem with the above mentioned method is that the flaps will curl different depending on if they are on the long or short side of the float.) If you recomend people use white glue, the paper will be soft enough to get neatly rounded before the glue dries. But the method requires a little bit more skilled fingers than the other methods.

from Mark Lardas <> This is one time when not being primarily a paper modeler helps. This is a cheap way of producing realistic floats for larger-scale plastic kits.

Solution -- Think paper tubes -- soft paper. Get some high-quality facial tissue (I think this will work with cheap stuff, but the expensive stuff has more body). Roll it into a soft tube of the right thickness (should be a little squishy). Glue the roll together, and while the glue is still wet form into an oval, with the seam down. Join the oval at a spot that will be covered by a strap or line. (The tricky part is joining the oval together smoothly. You will probably ruin about half a dozen before getting the knack. Fortunately facial tissue is cheap.)

Glue a piece of tissue paper to the bottom for a bottom, and trim. (Alternatively, if it has a mesh bottom use fine-mesh organdy cloth.) Add details ( benches, etc.) with 20 pound paper -- like you would use for a photocopier or printer.

Paint to the appropriate colors with a modeling acrylic. (If the paper disintegrates when painted, you may want to stiffen the tissue paper with white glue, first. )

Tissue paper, done right, should almost look like the real thing, shrunk to 1:100-1:300 scale. Make sure you get a smooth-surfaced, soft paper -- not a fuzzy soft paper or a smooth hard paper.

4.7 Working models

from Bob Pounds <>: When building a ship model in card which is intended to take to water, I always spray a coating of shellac onto the model before I commence painting. This seals the card and makes it impervious to water. I have built several models, powered by electric motors, using this method and not yet lost one to water ingress. (An electric motor is one thing, but Geoffrey Deason once built a card model boat and installed a live steam plant in it.)

from Robert Tauxe <>: Tried out the Modelcraft "motor cruiser" that is propelled by methylated spirits with these modifications. Enlarged to 200%, made with card stock, lacquer finish to waterproof. Filled the cockpit tank with 91% isopropyl rubbing alcohol. You get wicking of the alcohol down into an expanding wedge shape that exits at the stern, and slight propulsion. I think the 200% scale (about 9" long) may have led to too much surface tension. Adding the alcohol to the aft chamber lets it pour out more quickly, directly through the hole at the head of the wedge shape, and you do get brief but satisfactory propulsion. Will try again sometime without monkeying with the scale. For those that have tried this in the remote past - what did you use for the wick? String? candle wicking? Maybe my wick is inadequate?

4.8 Macro-models

from Robert Tauxe <>: I have tried re-scaling models in both directions, and have had some success with making BIG ones. I started with the Micromodel Amethyst frigate - xerox enlarging it until it was 2 feet long, and then tracing it onto light cardboard. This brings out the vagaries in the original design, but still made up reasonably well. The second attempt was an enlargement of the Wilhelmshaven Spitfire - again I xerox enlarged it and then traced it onto white cardboard. It takes time, and careful inking, but the model went together beautifully to make a Spit with a three foot wing span. The critical trick was to tape the xerox up on a sunny window, and then tape the white cardboard up over it. The sunlight makes the original visible through the cardboard so it is easy to trace. The most ambitious of all was a 4th grade class project that my wife and I did together - scratch building a 16 foot tall model of the Japanese pagoda Horyuji. We had been given unlimited supplies of corrugated cardboard by a local paper company, and had the willing help of 25 eager kids to trace and paint it. We first designed a small version, that stacks like a layer cake. We then projected transparencies of those parts onto a wall, where the 4 foot by 8 foot sheets of cardboard were. By holding the projection geometry constant, we got good enlargement without distortion. Kids quickly traced the pieces, we cut them out with matt knives, glued them up with mass quantities of Elmers, and painted them. The whole thing collapsed nearly flat for storage, and was used as part of a local museum exhibit on architecture around the world.

Alas, we never figured out where to store it, and it is history now. It did convince me that there is a possibility of 1/4 scale or even larger card models, for anyone with the yen and a huge amount of space.

This summer, I began another large plane, for fun - the twin engined Cessna 310 from Jade, at 400% magnification, so about 1:12.5. I am currently tracing the parts onto 22" x 28" cardstock - looks like it will take about 8 sheets to get them all on. By taping the copies up on a West facing window, and using the setting sun, I can see to trace directly through the card stock. Some circle templates, small triangles, and a French curve help. This one has a complete interior, as well as smooth and round lines that attracted me. This is the second large plane for me - already have a built a 1:12.5 Spitfire. For that one I traced the panel outlines and a few rivets - but left it basically white card color. That one had gear retracted, but am planning to do the Cessna with gear extended - the weight will be considerable, and I may have to add some internal bracing for the gear to support the weight. Before building I make a copy of the final traced version at large scale.

from Kell Black <>: Robert, I admire your dedication in tracing the patterns, but if you're going to leave the surfaces blank, have you considered simply enlarging the plans, rough cutting those, taping them to the card stock, then cutting through the pattern to the paper? I usually use that process for my macromodels.

from Robert Tauxe <>: I have thought about just cutting through the enlarged patterns into the cardstock, but I like the effect a few minimal black lines to outline the panels and the control surfaces and rivets... also am not confident I could anchor the pattern to the card well enough to cut it out accurately without actually gluing it to the card, which would spoil the effect pulling it off.

from Kaye Meldrum <>: ...about glueing a pattern onto card, and then trying to take it back off. Doesn't work well. But, if you have infinate patience, you can do this: Take a zerox copy of each pattern piece, and with a soft pencil, go over all the lines thoroughly. Then, flip the piece over onto the card or whatever to want to copy on, and with a sharp, hard pencil, go over the same lines, transfering your pattern onto the wrong side of the card. This way, the right side is totally free of any lines.

from Kell Black <>: Anchoring can be a problem, but try this if you like: rough cut all the pieces, leaving only a quarter inch of waste paper outside all the lines. Then tape the pattern to your stock, fastening ALL edges with tape all the way around. This way tape overlaps the line to be cut, the waste paper and the stock. Very little chance for error, especially if you cut the curved lines first, for they are more apt to go astray.
from David Kemnitzer <>: Regarding how to temporarily fasten a pattern to cardstock: Scotch makes a removeable glue stick. The smear of glue is like you get on a Post-It Note. They also make a removeable tape in a blue plaid box.

When you print off copy card models, be careful about size creep especially in the direction of paper movement through the device.

from Ian Petrie <>: 3M have an aerosol adhesive, on the UK market, called ReMount. This is a post-it type adhesive in a can, and is excellent. I've used it to fix notices to a glass door and there is no visible transfer to the glass so the card stock should remain clean.
from Kell Black <>: Here's another solution to the problem of damage-free adhesion in transferring patterns to stock; Letraset Studio Tac. If you don't like the vapors of spray mounts this is worth looking into. Studio Tac is a thin paper coated with tiny dots of rubber cement. After pulling off the protective backing, you place the paper on the cardstock, rub lightly to transfer the cement, remove the Studio Tac paper, then you can firmly attach the pattern you wish to cut through. When finished, simply rub the cardstock with your fingertips to roll up the bits of rubber cement. Presto! No glue remains, no toxic fumes, great control. (A colleague of mine, a graphic designer and illustrator, gave me some after he saw me walking around with my new can of 3M ReMount.) It is available in a variety of sheet sizes at nearly every large art/architecture/graphic design supply store.
For paper for large models, Kell Black <> suggests: Arches water color paper. It comes in a variety of thicknesses: 90 lb., 140 lb., 260 lb., 300 lb., 400 lb., and even a monstrous 500 lb. I use mostly the 140 lb. stock, but will sometimes use the 300 lb. if the object has to carry a load, as in the telephone table. The paper comes in big 22" x 30" sheets, and the 140 lb. is even available in 43" x 10 yd. rolls, so it's often possible to design and build objects with long, uninterrupted planes.

The colored papers are Canson Mi Tientes. They are machine-made papers manufactured in France, and they come in a wide variety of colors, are acid free, 67% cotton and 33% cellulose pulp. Its weight is 160 gm/sq. meter, and it comes in sheets of 19.5" x 25.5", and can also be special ordered in sheets of 29.5" x 43.25", and also in rolls of 59" x 11 yards. It is available in most art supply and drafting stores, such as Michael's, Utrecht's, Charrett's, etc. A sheet of 19.5" x 25.5" runs about $1.75. I order my drawing and modeling papers from the Daniel Smith Co. in Seattle, Washington. Their toll free number is 1-800-426-6740. (Call for a catalog.) It is slightly more expensive to buy from them than from other mail order art supply houses, but they always seem to have a complete stock and their service great.

The colored macromodels are supported by a cardboard infrastructure, basically a slightly smaller, more rigid version of the outer shell. The cardboard I use for this is an all grey shirt-cardboard type of stock. It comes in huge sheets, 36" x 48". Our resident printmaker calls it "pressboard". He ordered a huge pile of it a while ago, but he doesn't remember the specifics. I also use it as is for my 1:16 macromodel airplanes. It rolls easily as long as you get the grain lined up correctly, otherwise it creases like crazy! The larger, all white works are self supporting, as they are made out of heavier watercolor stock. (A 300 lb. sheet of watercolor paper is almost like building with a very thin cracker!)

4.9 Airplane tips

from Erik Johnson <>: To set the wing dihedral, prop the fuselage upside down on a cardboard 'crutch' or a cushion of clay. Set the height so that the wing tips rest on the work board top at the chosen dihedral. If the vertical stabilizer is already installed, increase the height of the crutch and blocks under the wing tips as needed. Align the fuselage so that it is straight and then attach the wings and wing struts. In the case of a biplane, construct additional wing braces by notching heavy carboard, like from a tablet back, and get the wings in final position before setting in the interplane struts. The biplane or parasol type may be easier to do upright.
from Jim Hairston <>: To get a nice rounded spinner etc. try tapering a wooden dowel, and use it inside the spinner to shape it then remove the dowel and glue in some soft paper such as a piece of paper towel or toilet paper. This will hold the glue that when hardened will hold the spinner shape.
from Harry B. Frye, Jr. <>: What I do with the bulkhead to bulkhead is, starting with the first bulkhead I sand it down until it is a snug fit. No pressure to insert it. Then I mate it to the adjoining bulkhead, just hold them together and then sand the second to match the first, and so on and so on. Remember, if there is a taper to the fuselage, as there generally is, you must sand in that taper also. Otherwise you will either have a ridge or a depression. One thing I like about sanding, is that if you over sand you can always add a small strip of paper around the bulkhead. Which isn't a bad practice to get into, for it helps to reduce, if not eliminate those unsightly ridges.
from Michael Cittadino <>: I have tried converting bulkhead to bulkhead models to strip construction. After cutting out the fuselage parts I trace their outline onto a sheet of paper, cut a 1/4 inch strip centered on the outline, and glue the strip to one of the connecting pieces. I then use only one bulkhead piece sanded down to fit into the piece with the strip. The fuselage pieces can then be joined in the conventional strip construction manner.

Spinning propellors

from Bob Bell <>: At one model show I displayed a a twin engined plane with props that spun continually for the nine hours the show was open. To do this I attached the props very loosely with a pin through the nose of each. Then I hid a small car fan behind a sign on my table. Once I had the plane positioned correctly the props caught the breeze from the fan and voila!

Simulated spinning propellors

from cory <>: Another way to achieve a spinning prop look, if you can't actually have them spin, is something I discovered while finishing the Ryan Monoplane. After first cutting a circle in the right diameter from acetate, I sprayed the circle with a bit of dull coat; enough to rid the shine of acetate. It looks bad at this point, but that changes. Next I removed the cutting wheel from my Dremel tool and mounted the acetate circle via the center hole on the shaft pin. Then turning it on, I used a piece of 300 grit sandpaper and starting in the center worked outward, skipping over a couple times. At this point, turn off the Dremel to check the visual on the "spinning" look. You may have to give it a couple more whirls. The sandpaper is cutting through the dull coat, and should leave a mini transluscent record sort of look. If your plane has a color scheme on the prop, determine where these color "circles" would be on the real plane, then using pastel chalk on a Q-tip, support the acetate lightly from underneath with thumb and press the loaded Q-tip against the top of circle as it spins. The pastel chalk has recessed into the ringlets from sandpaper. Now apply a clean Q-tip to remove the excess color. This should leave you with a ghost of the color that has that "see through-spinning prop" look. I used natural aluminum pigment powder on my "spinning prop" using the method I described and was satisfied. You may have to experiment with different grades of sandpaper, but hey... it's all trial and error at one time.

Rivet and surface detailing

from J.F. Griffin <>: Most real aircraft are not perfectly smooth-skinned and blemish free. One thing that is missing on paper models is rivet detail. I've been experimenting with one of those star wheel things used to make dress patterns. You get them at the fabric store for about two dollars.

With practice you can use one of them to roll on rows of rivets (the dimples from flush rivets, that is.) If you don't over do it, just adding the major ones, it looks great, especially on shiny or silvered card. I'm still practicing, but I've found that if you lay the card printed side up, on a magazine, or an un-read newspaper, or on the back of a legal pad (depending on the depth desired), that good dimples can be put on the card. You may need to dull the points of the wheel with an emery board if they are too sharp, so that they don't pierce the printing, and vary the force you apply.

You can also do this on the back side of the card for a bump effect instead of a dimple, but this is harder because you can't see where you're doing it. It helps to add light pencil lines for this. Once you determine where you are going to do it, it's very fast. Practice first on an unused area of card.

I've also used a ball point (without the ink) in a similar manner (lightly!) to add raised 3d rib detail to control surfaces such as elevators, rudders, and ailerons that were typically canvas covered on WWII aircraft. You add them to the back (unprinted side) of the card, and then, to put back rigidity and delineate the "gap" between the control surface and the airfoil, do it along the printed "gap" line, but this time on top of the card, to give an inward crease that gives the depth. You can then also add a ridge alongside this one, on the underside again this time, to indicate the front edge of the control surface. Don't over-do it or the part gets floppy.

Rigging aircraft

Also see the discussion on ship rigging above.
from Robert Tauxe <>: Very glad to see the recent post about using stiffened thread to make ship railings. Thread is OK in mu book - for doing things that paper just cannot do. I have been experimenting a little bit with thread as I work on the 1909 Voisin biplane by Manfred Schmidt. There are two uses for "impraegnierte naehgarnfaeden" (pardon my German - stiffened thread) in that model - one is for all the rigging, and there is a lot, in the form of Xs between the wings and the tail struts. The other is for making the spoked wheels. The rigging was a snap with lengths of stiffened thread - cut them to the general length, glue one end in place, and cut the other to fit, and tweezer it into place. The stiffening makes it easy to handle, and there is no tension on the structure. Now for the wheels - you cut out the inner circle, leaving the tire and all the surrounding material intact. Then you glue down threads as the spokes, and glue another tire half over the threads, so they are trapped between the two halves, then cut out the tire. Will let you know how it works.

The key to all this is getting thread stiff enough. This has not been easy. I tried swabbing it with a UHU paper glue, then dragging it through a UHU glue stick, and letting it hang from a railing with a weight on the other end - too limp. So then I squished Aleen's tacky glue along it, and let that dry - still not stiff enough - finally I dripped some thin cyanoacrylate glue down the length of it and let it dry overnight. This made it stiff enough to use, but a little lumpy. Four different glues sems too much. Wonder what methods/glues others have found that worked. I seem to remember there was a formula offered for the "limp mast syndrome" - that might apply here too - but do not remember what it was.

G Heighway, the Micromodel designer, had this to say about stiffened thread, which he used all the time in his designs: I quote here from Making models in card, a little booklet published by Micromodels in 1955.

Ordinary sewing thread plays an important part in building many Micromodels, especially when stiffeed. To stiffen, rub amply with paste (or other adhesive), attach a weight to one end and hang up until thoroughly dry. It is then ready for use to make fencing, rigging, anchors and so on which will be met with as you explore the wide range of Micromodels. If a very fine strand is required, as short length of the standard thread can be unravelled and one of the released strands stiffened.

The advantage of stiffening is that it takes away all the natural "spring" of the thread and perfectly straight runs result which can be cut to the required length and placed in position with tweezers; it will have the appearance of being taut. Thus a whole ship can be rigged without the risk of one tensioned rope pulling others out of place. Ships ratlines and rope and other ladders, fences and so on, can be built up on the flat whilst measured for size and pattern on the plan or design, and placed in position as a unit.

4.10 Mixing media

Horrors! You mean using something other than paper in a paper model? Well, there are purists who prefer to work exclusively in paper. However, many modelers at some point find it necessary to compromise. For instance, I have not yet found any way to use paper for window or cockpit glazing. There are also modelers who are equally purist about accurate reproduction, and they will use whatever material gives the most exact reproduction of the subject. This debate is a perennial topic on the mailing lists, and it's beyond the scope of this document to try to present every viewpoint, but here's an opinion covering the middle ground:
from Bob Pounds <>: There is a distinct satisfaction to making a model that is totally paper or card, especially when there is a fairly high "how could that possibly be paper?" factor. Of course, on, say, a sailing ship model, one is almost bound to use thread, etc for the rigging. Theoretically it is possible to make all that with very fine strips of paper, but I think then it is a case of being pedantic (and perhaps producing an inferior model because of it.)

I use as my guide the great Geoffrey Deason. He was perfectly happy to use non-card materials where the same effect could not be achieved with card. And that's the best rule of thumb, I think. If you can (or ought to be able to) do it in paper, then do so. If not, then feel free to use other materials as appropriate.

Paper purists should skip the rest of this section, but the vulgarians who stray a little from the paper path may find it helpful.
from Fil Feit <>: For people who do mix some plastic with their paper, what sort of adhesive do you use? I find that tacky or other paper glues just don't work on plastic. Does traditional plastic cement hold paper well? I'm sure the solvent types won't. Epoxy? It's too much work for me to mix epoxy just to add a bit of plastic to a card model. (Hey, it's supposed to be fun, not work.)
from Myles Mandell <>: For mixed media I have found an excellent adhesive called "Goop". I find it at my local craft store. I am sure it is also offered on the internet at many of the craft sites.
from Mark Lardas <> Actually, I have used paper on my plastic models in the past -- typically where I want a canvas screen or similar such detail. In those cases I have used Tenex, a liquid solvent. Put the paper on the plastic. Inject or place the glue at the joint (either with a needle or by putting tweezers in the bottle and coming out with a drop of solvent beteween the points of the tweezer.) Tenex dissolves the polystyrene and the plastic goes into the paper, welding the paper to the plastic. Only works if you have a good surface to weld on.

Another alternative is cyanoacrylate. I used that for gluing polystrene figures to a paper boat. Use the thick stuff (dries in 30 seconds) so it won't soak into the paper, creating a stain.

4.11 Mini-models

from Bill Geoghegan t<>, referring to David Okamura's 1:1200 scale version of the Disigal Navy USS Admirable minesweeper: David, I built the DN Admirable at "normal" size and thought my trifocals were going to give out from eyestrain. The 1:1200 model has got to be less than 2 inches long (1.67" if the original is about 8"). And some of the tiny parts must be nearly invisible! Could you let us in on your secrets of miniaturization?
from David T. Okamura" <>: You can see pictures of the minesweepers (1:250, 1:400, 1:700 and 1:1200 scales) at:,

This started off as an experiment which quickly got out of hand. After constructing the 1:250 USS Caravan last year, I wanted to see how far one could shrink the digital plans and still have a buildable model. Since I initially assumed that Adobe Acrobat files could not be altered or reduced, I scanned the printed sheets and then used photo editing software to get the desired size. There was some minor loss of detail and color fidelity during the scanning and photo editing process. I since learned that one can reduce Adobe Acrobat files by simply manipulating the printer settings without blurriness or color shift.

I chose 1:400 because many paper and plastic ship models are in that scale. 1:700 is also popular for plastic ship modelers, and 1:1200 is mainly used for naval wargaming. (Years ago I actually scratchbuilt over 150 battleships in 1:1200 scale for a wargaming friend of mine, using scrap styrene, then aluminum tubing and wire.) In practical terms, 1:700 is stretching the limits of the medium, since the thin paper tends to soak up glue and sag. Most of the 1:1200 parts had to be stiffened with superglue prior to assembly. In fact, this model feels and sounds more like solid resin rather than paper. I omitted the bollards in the two smaller models, but that was about it. Of the three mini-minesweepers I enjoyed the 1:400 scale ship the most. I will not try another 1:1200 paper model anytime soon.

The original size minesweeper was rigged with regular thread, which I now view as a mistake. I should have used "invisible thread" which is a nylon monofilament found in most sewing stores. It is available in both clear and smoke -- the latter is preferable. If it's still too faint, you can darken it with a light swipe of black paint. For the three smaller sizes I used my own hair. Yes, I was literally tearing my hair out while building these boats! It actually looks quite good as rigging, but I'll probably not repeat this since I'm approaching the age when hair isn't necessarily a renewable resource.

Oh, one more tip -- at smaller scales the thickness of the paper becomes a big issue. Tabs and overlapping joints will look too thick, so I usually omit all tabs on my 1:144 scale airplanes and simply butt-join pieces together. At that size, I'm not too worried about the strength of the glued joint.

from Tim Ryan <>: Sanding or "Glass-papering" a 45 degree bevel onto the edges of the parts is recommended in the "Making Models In Card" booklet, but this is just too daunting a task for someone like me. I'm presently working on Westminster Abby and have been using this trick since my first Micromodel (purchased from Myles about one year ago in Dayton.) I use a series of straight "chisel" type blades of various sizes (largest appropriate) to "chisel" or "chop down" into the edge of a piece (at a 45 degree angle) that leaves not only a very nice straight cut, but also a beveled edge on the part. It works just great for all of those tiny "boxes" that are the "building blocks" of almost all Micromodel architectural models.

The cuts also have the advantage of being very "clean", avoiding the "fuzziness" the is inevitable when trying to sand down cardstock. The "boxes" do seem to glue up much neater with the beveled edges.

My largest blade is a number 18 (1/2 inch or 13mm). If that's too long for a particular cut, I move down to a number 17 (1/4 inch or 5mm.) From there I move down to the micro-knife chisel blades from MicroMark (2 and 3mm) and on down to the home-made type chisel (1 mm) described in the FAQ.

I find that I only use the "normal" style of blades (no. 11) for the pre-cutting of pieces and scissors for rounded/curved edges.

All this being said, there are times on certain Micromodels that even the most careful scores and cuts are just not enough because the parts just do not fit, either through a bit of design error, or through outright mistakes. These are the things that really make them so challenging for me. Today, with computers and CAD software, getting all those flying buttresses exactly like the others would be child's play, but back in the days when Mr. Heighway was designing the Micromodels, each one had to be drawn by hand, and the variations are there for us to work with. It all adds to the charm, and assures that your model will be unique.

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