Sunday, July 17, 2011

Finishing A Horse

Nearly three months after initiating building the first components for the horse, and nearly five months after deciding to build this, I've reached the end. Last time on the Vortex'o'suck, I had finished the entirety of the horse's neck, with means to conceal the largest gaps resulting from neck articulation. All the pre-planning and well-documented work ended there. Now it's time to throw that all away and free-hand everything. Why? Because I have no plan from here on out!

With the neck mechanism built, I can figure out the envelope for the chest cavity to conceal the sections. This involved cutting away the chest cavity and replacing the scaffolding with some nice solid walls. Most of the thin strips of cardstock will remain to keep the structure, but thin areas like the chest were removed entirely. They have served their purpose.

Using an old technique of "build a pinata", by gluing strips of paper until a hollow shell is formed, I completed the chest cavity that houses the neck assembly and hides the gaps. This technique will be used for the rest of the horse from here on out, and was the single cause for the delay in completing the horse, since it's an unexact method and tedious to do. 

 The upper assembly required a new cover. I peeled the previously built scaffolding away and formed a new cover. I opted for a double layer of card to ensure structural stiffness and to conceal join seams on the other side by hiding them between two layers.

 Here is the new cover, with the old scaffolding in place over it. The fore legs have been fleshed out with 110lb cardstock internally, and a single layer of magic card over it.

Building all the leg cover plates was annoying. I could wrap the entire body around with a layer of card like I did with the camel, but there were some sections that it wasn't feasible with due to the hinges. So, I decided to go with sets of mirrored cover plates to reduce the number of unique parts and to allow for somewhat easy assembly.
Once the wireframe support was constructed, more pinata building was in order. The opening on the side of the rear leg was added to account for the supports holding the rear legs in place. The rear leg assembly itself was a balance of form and function, as I could either go for a structural column between the legs, or remove it entirely and let the legs complete the shape themselves.

Some trimming later, and I built a dividing column for the rear legs. Some pillars were added to maintain strength, even though there should be zero interaction in the direction of the plates during normal operation. Figured it's a better option to do this now than deal with depressions in the card face later.

 With the rear structure completed and the front skin done, it was time to make the rest of the body. First off, I ended up breaking my personal rule of not using lands for construction. You can see the outer shell made of some swamps. They came in some free intro packs and I was actually dwindling on chaff cards. Not like anyone's going to care if I use some Tenth Edition swamps. People already assume I'm using lands anyways. I need to save the most horrible of cards for other projects. The skin was reinforced in some areas with two or three layers of card. Damage was a concern, and repair would be difficult. I am keeping the templates for all the free-handed sections in the event I need to redo sections, but I'm hoping I won't need to. 

 After assembling the last remaining parts of the horse, I added a tail (which I had never made provisions for in the first place) by putting two twisted strands of black electrical wire flanked by some black wig hair. I probably need more hair. The wire's there so I can attempt to put the tail in dynamic poses, which so far doesn't work.

 Adding all the skin and remaining sections used up a total of 69 cards. With the previous sum of 246 cards, I'm slightly over the original budget with 315 cards. Still not bad. Is it worth building a 1:6 scale horse out of cards? Totally not. I'd recommend buying an artist's reference model if you want it as a reference, and I'd recommend buying a professional made one for $99-300 that isn't made of flammables and cellulose. Although neither of those lets you have silly poses with 1:6 scale figures.

If you're interested in the plans for the horse, drop a comment or send a message. Otherwise, I won't bother posting them. They need some clean up anyways.

Monday, July 04, 2011

This Weekend's Project: 1:6 Scale Violin

This weekend's side project is severely lacking in the explosives department.

Tried my hand at #2 in Stringed Instruments Series, a Violin. The guitar was a fast project, and quite fun to do. This project however, was anything but quick, and mildly annoying to develop.

A quick search for violins yielded a blurry resized image of professional violin plans. The image was about the size I needed, and mildly blurry that I could still read it. After some resizing and quick drafting of some plans, I formed the basis of my violin body, in the same way I built the guitar.

This looks nice and simple, with tape holding the frame to the template, but the image lies! Taping a 5mm wide strip of Magic card and trying to get those pointed parts right was painful. Took a lot of time to get the laminations to stay in place while the rest of the frame dried.
Making the two faces was interesting as well. A violin has a contoured front and back, whereas the guitar I could slap on a solid face and call it a day. I took the contour map, made a model of it, then used it to form the pattern for my violin. Both sides differed in curvature, so I got to do this twice. Went through a good amount of cards trying to get the shape right.

After forming the sheet for the face, it was a good time to start cutting out the F-holes. Cutting them after being fully assembled would prevent me from cleaning up the other side of the holes. Unfortunately, the size of a violin prevents me from strategically placing the card back in interesting ways on the sides. What you see now will be obscured by clutter and will look less interesting.


Building the neck was much more difficult than the guitar. Here's a side view of how the inside was constructed. A hollow curve for the scroll, and lots of cobbled together laminations for the neck support. Peg holes were made using a 1/16" bit on a hand drill, same as with the guitar.

The main issue was trying to get the scroll shape, while keeping the side profile as a single card.I chose the more elegant route than the quick and dirty route of rolling up paper or shaving down the face to achieve the effect. It's a barely noticeable effect, especially at a distance, but I like knowing that it's there.

Stringing the violin was the same as the guitar. Stick white sewing thread into holes, stretch, wrap around pegs, repeat multiple times. I toyed with the idea of making the pegs capable of tightening the strings, then decided that was the stupidest idea ever. I jammed some knots into the pegbox and retained them with paper clips, then called it a night.

I have never played the violin. I can only guess that the chin rest is there to prevent your facial acne from creating a circular spot on the violin from contacting it for hours. Decided to try to make it removable for the sake of being able to. Worked out fine by using a bent paper clip anchored to a 4-card stack. The chin rest gets held in place as well by the spike I rammed into the tailpiece to hold it in place. I figured since there's some metal thing holding it in a real violin, I can jam one in mine to prevent mine from flying off after a slight nudge.

The bow used a large paper clip to provide support. I had underestimated the size of a violin bow. I always thought they'd be shorter than the violin. Seems like some are longer than the violin themselves. I opted for a 4/4 size violin and bow, so it's quite monstrous. The bow just uses paper to thicken the paper clip, and to provide an attachment point for the two bits that hold the string. Gluing them directly to a metal paper clip would have been ineffective and utterly silly. I ended up painting it with gloss black enamel and spraying it with a coat of clear gloss coat. Will that hold up against rough use? No idea!

I ended up using about six cards worth of material for this project, but ate up about 4 cards in development. Most of the parts were leftovers from the horse. This project helped deal with the pile of small scrap cards sitting on my desk, which is always nice as large projects yield a lot of semi-usable scrap.