28 May 2017

TARDIS 1/12 scale model

I've wanted a TARDIS since I first started watching Doctor Who in the late '70s during Tom Baker's run which I watched on TVOntario on Saturday nights (with a repeat on the following Thursday which I also tried to catch). My mother didn't try to prevent me from watching the show but she didn't really like it –not because of the scary monsters, but because she was worried The Doctor would trip over his long scarf! This caused her much anxiety and me much amusement.

Anyway, Doctor Who merchandise was pretty scant in Canada, so getting some kind of toy or model TARDIS (or sonic screwdriver or overly long scarf) was beyond me for most of my life...but the show was enough and I enjoyed much of it.

A night's work.

I'd used cereal boxes for my study models of the Bata HQ in Toronto and an a-frame restaurant prior to this project, but, in researching architectural modeling materials, I was introduced to chip board, a sturdy cardboard-like material (similar to mat board, which is typically used when framing pictures). This stuff is great to work with and is cut easily with a utility knife (just make sure the blade's sharp...and use many light cuts (along a metal ruler) instead of a few heavy cuts). Regular white glue would suffice, but I used wood glue for a stronger bond.

Familiar...but sloppy.

After literally hours of searching online, I finally found some plans for a police box and divided the measurements by 12 to scale it down to a manageable size (but it might be fun to try to build a full-sized one!). Some of my measurements were off (the roof angle needs to be shallower, the four sign boxes need to be slightly taller, and the wall/door insets need to be slimmer and more rectangular). I was translating imperial to metric, fractions to decimals, estimating much of it, just to figure it out and get a handle on building these forms...but that's what study models are for. Now that I know which measurements to correct (I'll take a trip to Logopolis for some block transfer computations just to be sure), I can build a better-looking one next time in balsa wood. Eventually...

Ghostly, but better.

One side of the chip board was white, but the back and the edges are a tan cardboard colour, so I decided to use some white gesso to cover this up and unify the overall look. A pleasant surprise was that the gesso served as a gap-filler so it helped with just more than the colour.

The lamp cover was made from card stock-like paper from a flyer and the lamp itself is a few pieces of clear plastic from a package. I used a black Sharpie to line the windows and mark up the front panel details. The St. John Ambulance badge is simply blue pen.

Painted and Shopped.

I really like the look of a white TARDIS, especially after the gesso tidied everything up, making it look like a proper architectural model, but I was eager to see this in its proper blue, so I got out some acrylics and got to work. I started with a dark coat of navy blue and then two coats of cyan, allowing some of the dark to show through in the corners and shadowy areas here and there, adding a nice texture.

I was also eager to see what it looked like with windows and signage in place, so I Photoshopped those elements onto the model, planning to add printed details later.

Lamp parts.

Using leftover parts from the food truck model kit (which I transformed into the Small Pond Arts Puppet Wagon) and the Romulan Bird of Prey, I'll be adding a working lamp to this study model (and probably transferring it to the new balsa wood version whenever that gets built). Pictured above is one of the LEDs which is part of the lighting system I'm installing in the Romulan ship, but my TARDIS light will be the same, only flashing.

Printed details.

After getting colour prints of the window and signage details I carefully cut them out...but then realized I didn't have any glue handy where I was...so I rummaged and found some Gorilla Glue. Good stuff, but not for paper (note the discolouration) and it doesn't dry clear. I was impatient and should have waited until I could get my hand on some white glue. I can still fix this with a minor paint touch-ups and applying my spare cut-outs. The "Police Box"graphics need to be longer and the boxes themselves need to be a smidgen taller.

Spare details added.

Above is the TARDIS with four new window cutouts, as well as a new phone box label and St. John Ambulance badge...it looks good out in the sunshine at Small Pond Arts, checking out the new silo banner.

All in all, this was a very fun and quick project in where I learned a lot about building with chip board, which I think is a great material, especially for my future study models.

Some disassembly required.

After looking at this "study model" for about two years (I signed and dated the bottom of the box: "May 7 + 8, 2017") I started growing attached to the way it looked and started to reconsider building this again –but with wood. This chipboard version suits me just fine; after decades of wanting one, I finally have a TARDIS that I built myself.

This meant I no longer had to reserve that flashing LED I'd bought to install in my wooden version. I managed to poke a hole in the top (then through a few more layers of chipboard) then I cut out the bottom so I could install the wires and battery.

Got it on the first try!

The hole going through the top had to be very small so as to not let the narrow bottom of the lamp fall in, but large enough to thread the wires from the LED into the main body of the TARDIS. Yep: I got the two thin wires through on my first try, but I realized I had to pull them out again to strip a bit more insulation off the ends for easier connections to the wires from the switch and power supply (I forgot to order them pre-wired). I had to try three times to get them back in again.

Then I realized that, while my hand could fit inside the box, I couldn't move it around much and I couldn't see inside, anyway, so trying to attach the four wires was getting very frustrating...

A very important loop.

So I came up with an idea: make a loop at the end of the wires for the switch and power supply, then, using tweezers, twist the LED wires into the loops. And it worked. I probably should be soldering my connections, but twisting the wires and wrapping them in electrical tape seems to be working well, so far.
A short video of the light in action.

I don't have a sound chip installed; the TARDIS sound effect is playing via YouTube.

25 May 2017

Small Pond Shipyard Architectural Projects List

This is the main hub for all my architectural Shipyard projects.

I've also created hubs for my science fiction model projects as well as my automotive model projects.

In this post I talk about my first known exposure to models as a very young boy, and, as that one was architectural in nature, so I think it's nice that I'll be making architectural models among the others.

23 May 2017

A-Frame Burger Joint (1/72 scale study model)

In this post detailing my return to modelling, I talk about being fascinated by a model of a hospital I saw as a wee lad, and recently, I've expanded my modelling interests to include architectural models, starting with my test model of the former Bata Head Office in Don Mills, Ontario. I definitely have a preference for mid-20th Century modern architecture and its (now) retro futuristic look, so looking around the internet for suitable candidates for future projects, I immediately fell in love with the design of these small a-frame diners.

This a-frame design dates a little earlier in the 20th Century, the first instance I can find being the late '20s or early '30s and the burger chain, Hardee's, used this for many stores in their chain across the USA. I'll be taking the design and incorporate many details from real a-frames to make my own unique burger joint as part of an action-packed diorama.

1/72 or 1/87 scale?

Based on a particular element involved in the diorama (sorry for the vagueness, but I'd like to keep the reveal a surprise) I initially designed this to be 1/72 scale, but I found some elements for the project that were in HO scale (1/87) so I've decided to reduce the scale of the diner to match.

Lots of visual interest.

If you look at this structure directly from the front, directly from the back, or directly from overhead, it looks like an ordinary rectangle...but from all other views it's got lots of dynamic visual interest and almost appears as though there aren't any 90° angles at all.

Necessary mechanicals.

This is a great little set and with some proper painting and additional wire detailing, these will look nice and realistic on my diner. For some reason I have a fascination for mechanicals like these and kind of can't wait to be able to use more of these parts on other buildings.

HVAC sprue tour.

Two parts trees are all you get, but the parts are well-molded and nicely detailed. It says HO scale on the box and instructions but, once I put them on my model, they look a little large –and I'll be making the building smaller!

HVAC test fitting.

These HVAC units look pretty good on this 1/72 scale building but look like they might actually be 1/48 scale...which means they'll be way out of scale when I reduce the whole building to 1/87. There are a couple of smaller box units on the sprue tree, but no smaller vents. I'll do another test fit when the new, smaller building is done (or another test model is built) and see if I need new, smaller roof parts.

New numbers.

I really can't remember now why I decided to make the whole project HO scale down from 1/72, other than the whole diorama will take up a smaller footprint. I found and used an excellent scale converter online which helped my math-addled brain immensely. I've scrawled all the new measurements on the test model, alternating from centimetres to millimetres (wherever the closest round numbers were), and these will be my guides for the new, smaller diner.

22 May 2017

Small Pond Shipyard Sci-Fi Projects List, PART 2

So many of my modelling projects fall into this this category that I've decided to split them up in groups of ten to avoid an overly long scroll down the list. I'll do the same for my Automotive and Architectural projects when necessary. My first ten sci-fi projects (which include my novice attempts in the 1990s) can be found RIGHT HERE.

The following are more or less in chronological order (some projects are being built concurrently; some are temporarily on hold for various reasons; some are simply very fast builds and get done before the more complex ones, etc.).

21 May 2017

Bata HQ (1/144 scale study model)

This is another modelling project whose inspiration goes way back to my childhood in the late '70s and early '80s. Growing up in Canada with a Macedonian cultural heritage, the main meeting place for us was St. Clement's Orthodox Church in Toronto for various functions: weddings, Christenings, and many, many dances (outside of Christmas and Easter, we didn't attend regular church services, nor did my parents insist that my sister and I go to Macedonian school). I bring that up only because more than 90% of the time we would pass this building on our way to and from church (and the dozen or so times I'd visited the Ontario Science Centre just around the corner from Bata HQ) –otherwise, I might never have known about this relatively short-lived gem.

Heading west along Eglinton Avenue (just east of the Don Valley) I'd see the this strange and beautiful building before we turned left onto Don Mills Road. Waiting for the light to change I'd often have ample time to admire this lovely, unique, futuristic, bright white thing (the view below is how I'd see it from the road). I would wonder what "Bata" meant and, early on, mistook it for a certain building from a couple of favourite current TV shows (I wasn't able to compare them side-to-side, so, to my seven--or-eight-year-old eyes, the one blocky building on a grassy hill easily resembled the other).

Misguided youth.

Designed by architect John B. Parkin and completed in 1965, it graced that hill for decades, but barely got to see the 21st Century; it was demolished in late 2007 to make way for the Aga Khan Museum (which was completed in 2014). Toronto Star architecture critic Christopher Hume said around the time of its demolition: "Surely there's an element of irony when an architecturally worthy building must be destroyed in the name of culture."

The Bata design had its critics from the get-go (what doesn't?) but I agree with Hume when he gave it this praise:

"Situated on a height of land in Toronto's north end, the simple, modular edifice exemplifies the ideal of the building in a park. Simple and seemingly weightless, it rests on rows of columns, reminiscent of an ancient Greek temple. Unadorned yet poetic, the architecture pays homage to the past while extolling the virtues of the future."

No blueprints.

Around 2010 or 2011 I was looking around on Google maps and wanted to have a look at this building from the aerial view that application afforded –and that's when I discovered it was gone! I hadn't been in that area for years, so I never had an idea that it was demolished and replaced by something else. When I returned to model-making in 2015 and eventually started thinking of branching out beyond spaceships and cars to include scratch-built architectural projects, this building was the first on my list.

My plan is to build this in styrene as part of a diorama including the grassy hill and accurate landscaping...and maybe even lighting the offices if I can find suitable reference images. But first I'd have to build it with simple and cheap materials (cereal box cardboard and masking tape) to get a handle on the measurements and scale (which, to make the project manageable, would be 1/144).

New details!

Since the building doesn't exist anymore, I had to scour the internet for reference images, and managed to collect quite a few, but nothing showing the roof, so that'll have to be creatively extrapolated. I never saw the back of the building in real life (even when I worked at the Radisson Hotel in the summer of 1989 –which was nearby on the same road!– so the six tower blocks on the "backside" (actually the front entrance) were a revelation to me. If only I'd been interested enough to take photos that summer (or any time before its demolition).

My measurements were approximations based on a more-or-less flat view from the side and an estimation of the height of the doors there. I think I need to make the top block a little taller to look more like it consists of two floors and, more obviously, I need to have two rows of nine windows on the front side, not eight.

For the surface treatments I painted the base and tower blocks with acrylic and the windows are simply drawings on paper, taped to the sides. Plus, this is a very basic study model and leaves out a lot of nice details like the column tops and the porte-cochere above the back entrance.

Fresh and clean and new.

This is what it looked like in the mid-to-late 1960s after its completion. It's so clean and modern, with some great details like the corner cuts and slight lower taper to the office windows, and those nifty umbrella-like radiating supports atop the columns. I've got my work cut out for me to accurately portray this wonderful structure in miniature. My modelling skills are growing with each build, so I know when I'll be suitably ready for this project.

She married into the Bata family and left behind her dreams of becoming a great architect to successfully help develop the Bata company. But look at her: she's so stylish and elegant here that if you told me that she completed her architecture studies and single-handedly designed this building, I'd believe it. I haven't found anything in my research to suggest this, so it's pure speculation on my part, but I like to think she had a big influence on the decision to go with the design (if not having an influence on the design itself) for Bata's head office in Don Mills.


I've since built a more formal version of this model.

15 May 2017

Reed Underwater

36" x 48", oil on wood panel, 2017, private collection

This commissioned piece features one of the boys in the canoe in Life Jackets (his brother, Gus, got his own commissioned painting featuring him diving off a dock).

The challenge here beyond capturing the likeness and pose was making the underwater effects look convincing. His hair (actually a deep dark mass) looks like it's sparkly or something, but that's just the shiny paint catching reflections -a side-effect of the way I paint and the crisscross textures my surfaces have.


First thing's first (obviously). Here I'm playing with the hair to look like it's undulating underwater and not being blown by the wind by making the groupings (or locks) flow in different directions.

Skin and reflections.

At this early stage, weird shadows look weird, but I had to trust that, after much more work, it'll work out and look like he's in a pool and not suffering from some kind of skin condition or tanning accident.

Early highlights.

No point in working on the background water effects if I get the skin wrong here, so, putting that off a bit, I continued rendering the shadows and reflections from the pool's surface onto Reed. I decided not to tint him a cool blue shade so he would contrast more warmly with the cold blue water.

The reflections on the pool's floor were done freehand, trying to look as natural and irregular as possible, trying to avoid a grid- or web-like pattern. Super white highlights at some of the intersections help to sell the effect.

14 May 2017

Gus Diving

40" x 30", oil on wood panel, 2017, private collection

This commissioned piece features one of the boys in the canoe in Life Jackets (his brother, Reed, got his own commissioned painting featuring him underwater). Like in Life Jackets, I had to paint a lot of surface water, but unlike that painting, the surface was more wavy, so I had to get a grip on lots of shadows and reflections and highlights. It was slow going, keeping track of things, but fun.

Many hours into it...

Most of Gus is done here, but that's a lot of water! It's gonna take a lot of work to get this looking anywhere near good. So far, only the basic surface with a gradient getting lighter toward the horizon and wave shadows are done. The sky is blocked-in dark to give some depth to the lighter colours that will go in afterward.

Nearly done.

The sky is now properly lighter and the trees have some highlights of their own. Now, just dozens upon dozens of highlights to do in the water, plus some darkening of the vertical part of the dock. The highlights were quite simple but took a long time due to the size of this piece...wave by wave by wave.