Prototype Model Making as Art and Science

09 Jan

Art and science are mow making the craft of replica, small-scale or prototype model building more exciting than it ever have been.

On the one hand, architectural and a host of other model-building profession like landscape, cars and ship models making remain a highly artistic trade requiring creativity and dexterity.  In fact, many prototype model makers in Singapore continue to practice the craft using conventional manual methods most of whom still prefer not to use of any software or modelling technology. These traditional Singapore model builders still follow the traditional process. As an art form, model-building is fundamentally dependent on the choice of scale since larger areas or objects often require less details while more specific objects require more details.   Many Singapore scale model builders sketch out their ideas, identify the many pieces and objects necessary for their project, imagine the final output and slowly, tediously work on individual details.  Then they determine the most appropriate materials needed which means choosing among a range of materials from measuring tools or rulers, pens, cutting tools, mats, glues and adhesives, and board materials. And then, there is a need to draw out the important details: floor plans, section cuts, dimensions, spacings, interior layout, and exterior landscape. Finally, the most tedious part of architectural model building a model comes cutting and putting the pieces together including the finer craft of coloring and finishing. 

Today however, model-building in Singapore has significantly benefited from the convenience and greater accuracy afforded by computers. Softwares like Auto computer-assisted design (AUTOCAD) have provided architects, engineers, constructions foreman and even lay artists and hobbyists the ability to produce 3d architectural models with greater efficiency and speed. Computer 3d assisted model making has changed the presentation and speed of making architecture designs by allowing fast and convenient reproduction of measurements and concepts into multi-dimensional images in paper or in multi-media screens or monitors.

Even digital printing and laser technology has made it possible to imprinting or cut various materials including cardboards, styrofoam, fiber glass and even wood and allows more realistic production of objects based only on digital input. These new science of model or prototype building now requires a new range of skills like excellent and extensive knowledge of rendering softwares since most rendering software are highly complicated application, most of which are not user-friendly or easy to use and only those well-versed and competent in other computer programs.

And today, the meeting of art and science in model or prototype building seems to be co-mingling as many traditional model and prototype makers are becoming more and more comfortable and highly proficient in using 3d assisted softwares. Although many of these model and prototype builders still feel that corrections and adjustments are best done manually, they are beginning to recognize how 3d replica making softwares can help. For one, manual methods are often expensive due to cost of materials compared to computer rendering which almost cost nothing.  When used complementarily, computer assisted designs and actual replicas construction helps in eliminate errors, less rework, increased productivity, fewer variables, less cost and significantly reduced designing time. 3D building model maker can also make measurements more accurate and easily adjustable since computers can automatically calculate physical dimensions of objects and its distance in from other objects in the total layout.  This has allowed a better planning of space, sizes, visual aesthetics and even simulation of movement.

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