Latest Stories
Sculpting Gas Masks and Helmets from Sneakers!

We meet artist Gary Lockwood, aka Freehand Profit, who transforms sneakers into stunning gas masks and helmets. We take a look at his sculptures and learn how he breaks down a pair of shoes into the patterns and materials needed to craft helms for sneakerheads.

This Old FX Shop: Audrey II

Frank shows us how to paint this garage kit we found at this year’s Monsterpalooza creature effects show. We discuss cleanup processes for castings and different paint methods using visual references from the film.

Hands-On with the Glowforge Laser Cutter!

It's finally here! We have a pre-release model of the Glowforge laser cutter in our office to test, and have been running it through its paces. Adam and Norm show off its features and run through a few test cuts, including tracing one of Adam's drawings. Let us know what questions you have about the Glowforge in the comments!

High Exposure: The Art of Photographing Rocket Launches

We've all seen close-up photos of fire-belching rockets as they break free from the launch pad. But have you ever given any thought to how such dramatic images are captured? After all, the only people who are allowed within miles of the launch pad are required to have a reserved seat inside the rocket!

As it turns out, shooting rocket launches requires a photographer with a wide array of skills and a few bits of custom equipment in their kit. These artists set up their gear near the launch pad well in advance of the final countdown. They will be miles away during the moment of truth, where all they can do is cross their fingers and hope that everything works as planned.

Camera equipment is often left next to the launch pad for days at a time. The setup seen here illustrates one of the countless techniques that photographers improvise to protect their gear from the elements.

Between unpredictable weather conditions, the harsh environment near flaming rockets, and random gremlins, there are far too many variables involved to ever be totally confident of success. Meticulous preparation is key, and a little luck doesn't hurt either. Even so, these photographers have more at stake than just missing the shot with no chance for a mulligan. They could actually lose their camera gear in the process. Because…well, sometimes the rocket photography gods demand a sacrifice.

An Expert's Insight

Ben Cooper has been shooting launches for 17 years. During that time, his photos have earned many awards and appeared on countless magazine covers. You've probably seen his work. I recently had a chat with Ben to find out how he approaches the challenge of shooting rocket close-ups.

Peter Jackson's Original King Kong Stop-Motion Armature

When Adam Savage visited Peter Jackson's collection of film props, costumes, and artifacts, they examined the original stop-motion armature from the original 1933 film. Adam and Peter talk about this prized prop and its role in Hollywood special effects history.

The Taxidermy Diorama Art of Brooke Weston

We met artist Brooke Weston at this year's DesignerCon, and chatted with her about her striking repurposed taxidermy sculptures. Each piece is a combination of fastastical miniature and dioarma, housed in found taxidermy. It was one of the coolest things we saw at the show!

Simone Giertz's Earlids--It Might Work!

Robot builder Simone Giertz dreams up whimsical inventions that tread the line between the peculiar and the practical! Watch Simone problem solve, put together, and test her fantastic machines. In this debut episode, Simone ponders why evolution hasn’t given humans a way to close their ears like we do our eyes, and then works on a solution to that problem of her own design.

Hobby RC: An Introduction To RC Jets

One of the things I love about the RC hobby is that it allows you to choose your desired level of commitment. You can pick up a $30 model from the toy store and have just as much fun as someone with a custom trailer full of high-dollar equipment. While this column often explores projects on the lower end of the spectrum, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at some of the most complex and expensive RC models around: jets.

What is a Real RC Jet?

There are all sorts of RC models that look like jets, but they are not true jet aircraft. Some are powered by electric motors that drive ducted fans, while others have discreetly located propellers. I'm not knocking those faux jets (I own several myself), but the subject of this article is models that are powered by genuine jet engines.

Because the turbojet engines intended for RC models operate just like the powerplants found on full-scale jets, they are tough to beat when it comes to scale realism. They look the same, they sound the same, and their exhaust even smells the same. I have taken photos of RC jets where it is virtually impossible to distinguish whether the aircraft is a model or the real thing.

Not all RC jets are scale models. There are also numerous sleek and attractive sport designs such as this Tomahawk Futura.

Of course, not all RC jets are scale models. There seems to be about a 50/50 split between scale subjects and sport models that are unique designs. There are a few turbine airframes that appear boxy and utilitarian. Most, however, are sleek and curvy. Those complex, rounded shapes are possible thanks to the use of molded fiberglass and carbon fiber components. There are also some jet airframes that employ traditional balsa construction techniques. It is not uncommon to find elements of both building styles within a single model.