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Old School Modeling

Creatives often have more than one interesting hobby. For me, I have always had more hobbies than the time to pursue them. When I was a kid, I build models, took pictures of them and made movies with my friends. I was also into observational astronomy, my dad owned some home-made telescopes, and I loved to read novels and go to the movies. All of those hobbies still have a special place in my heart and in the past few years I’ve been able to combine two of them into a new hobby, writing and publishing my own novels.

Self Publishing has let me learn so much about the craft of writing and book creation, from designing covers to honing my prose well enough to craft enjoyable stories. I have learned how books get made and how to sell them, or in my case, not sell them. ;-)  Lately I’ve been able to create some interesting cover art using my modeling skills. As a kid I built every 1/48 scale model airplane made by Monogram and Revell, sometimes more than one to scratch build variants. I also designed and built starship models from cardboard. These weren’t models of the Enterprise or an X-Wing, they were original designs that my buddies and I drew up ourselves. We were inspired by Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica but our models were all original.

As an adult, I took those old stories and started writing novels base on them. Many of the starship designs we came up with in our youth still look pretty cool today. Especially when I recreate them using Studio Scale plastic modeling techniques just like they did in Hollywood. Now I can afford the plastic and even the equipment to photograph them using the same blue screen techniques used by Industrial Light and Magic. All of my old SPFX heroes from the late seventies and early eighties SF movies are inspiring me to create awesome SF book covers with my models.

These days, most SPFX for Sci-Fi movies are done inside computers as digital effects. I never learned those techniques. However, all those hundreds of models built as a kid have prepared me for building movie props the old fashioned way. It’s a bit like keeping alive a dying art form. I absolutely love it. My garage looks like ILM in the seventies and I’m reliving my childhood dreams of working for ILM. This time around, I’m still in charge and I can bring the starships of my imagination to life using the same techniques of old Hollywood. Living out my childhood dreams in my garage.

In the coming weeks my garage will be transformed into a studio. I’ll be taking pictures of my models against blue screens with real movie lights and equipment. Stay tuned to this blog for some cool behind the scenes pictures and stories about how I do my best to keep alive the dying art of Special Visual Effects – Old School.


2 thoughts on “Old School Modeling”

  1. Very interesting, Ken. Yes, I too built models in my youth but they were mostly of tanks and ships. Funny, I never got to drive a tank but did spend the best part of 40 years in the Navy. Seems boyhood interests really do endure.

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