Latest StoriesHow-To
    Model Behavior: Painting Miniature Figurines

    We found these gorgeous resin miniatures from the artist alley at this year's Silicon Valley Comic Con, and spend today's Model Behavior painting them! Kayte and Norm also use this opportunity to do some foam sculpting to craft a display base for their figures, as well as experiment with some metallic paint. These kits are from artist Dennis Chan under his Mt Lion Miniatures banner and are available now!

    Model Behavior: Bandai 1/5000 Star Destroyer, Part 2

    Kayte and Norm wrap up their build of the awesome Bandai 1/5000 scale Star Destroyer, assembling the kit with its LED internal lighting system. The last step is to add a weathering pass, and we experiment with using powdered pigments instead of a wash to accentuate the model's panel lines and make it look like the original filming miniature.

    Model Behavior: Bandai 1/5000 Star Destroyer, Part 1

    Kayte and Norm embark on a new model kit build--this time the ridiculously detailed 1/5000 Star Destroyer snap-fit kit from Bandai. In our first day of work on this model, we prime the pieces and try our hand at adding surface "aztec" paneling, using fine strips of cut masking tape. This kind of subtle surface work is wonderfully relaxing, and adds detail that helps model starships look extra eye-catching!

    Model Behavior: Rusted Fallout Fusion Flea!

    Bill and Norm are back with more Model Behavior projects! This week, we take the beautiful Fusion Flea model from The Wand Company and attempt to weather it to look like the post-apocalytic version seen in Fallout 4 using screenshots as reference. Masking, paint chipping, and application of real rust makes this model look fantastically aged!

    Model Behavior: Painting Crazy Cupcakes!

    Bill and Norm paint up these delicious castings from artist Alfred Paredes that were created for the most recent Monsterpalooza. These Crazy Cupcakes are Alfred's latest in his rotten food series of sculpts, and we try our hand at giving them a realistic paint job. Not all goes as plan, though, and this project turns into a lesson of adaptation and rolling with our mistakes. Find the kits here!

    Model Behavior: Kaneda's Motorcycle from Akira!

    Model Behavior is back! This week's garage kit is a 3D printed model of Kaneda's iconic motorcycle from Akira. It was designed by Juri Pranjic (aka 3Dworkbench) and is super fun to put together! We hope that this inspires more people to support 3D artists who offer beautiful 3D models for printing at home.

    Aurum Effects Paints a God of War Leviathan Axe!
    Yout

    We visit the workshop of Aurum Effects, where propmaker Eric Newgard guides us through his process of painting and finishing a God of War Leviathan Axe resin kit. Eric shares his techniques for painting urethane resin to look like old wood, shiny metal, and other materials. The finished prop is beautiful!

    Model Behavior: Aging Miniature Houses

    Time for some distressing and weathering! Kayte and Norm take two scale models designed for tabletop wargaming and add paint, dust, grime, and foliage to age them a few hundred years. What does a house look like in the post-apocalpyse after nature has taken over? This is our idea of fun!

    Model Behavior: Applying Water Slide Decals

    Kayte and Norm have fun applying some freeform water slide decals on two plastic figures, experimenting with different application techniques for getting the decals to stick on perfectly. What are your tips for working with water slide decals?

    3D Printing and Molding the Key to Erebor!
    Yout

    After modeling his replica of the Key to Erebor, Darrell walks us through the process of 3D printing it on his SLA printer, and then cleaning up that print to use in the making of a two-part silicone mold. Next up, casting! Thanks to Smooth-On for providing the moldmaking materials for this project!

    Model Behavior: Miniature Snow Effects!

    Continuing with our practice of experimenting with miniature effects we've seen online, Kayte and Norm try their hand at building a snow scene with a previously-assembled tank model and rocky terrain display. Watch as we make snow puddles, melted snow, and simulated powder for this winter war scene!

    Modeling the Key to Erebor for 3D Printing!

    For Darrell's next project, he walks us through the process of modeling a replica of the Key to Erebor, inspired by the Hobbit films. Throughout the modeling process, Darrell explains how he achieves exacting relief details on the model that's suitable for 3D printing!

    Shop Tips: Tools for Punching Holes

    Sean guides us through the different tools best used to make precise holes in all sorts of materials, from leather to sheet metal. Here's what he uses to make things like custom washers burr-free electrical panel holes.

    Model Behavior: Rocket Launch Smoke Effects

    Using the lessons we learned from experimenting with cotton batting to create smoke effects, Kayte and Norm try their hands on sculpting the exhaust for rockets in flight. We use photo references to guide our plumes, and light up the effect with some cheap LED lights.

    Model Behavior: Miniature Smoke Effects

    Kayte and Norm experiment with a technique for creating smoke effects for our miniature model builds, using simple cotton batting and some paint. For creating smoke at this scale, we sculpt the cotton and trim it to work with our models and give it some volume. It's a fun effect that we're going to keep on using!

    How To Create Snow Effects in Toy Photography

    We're back in the studio of Johnny Wu (aka SgtBananas) to learn about his process for creating convincing snow effects in his photos. It's a simple practical effect you can replicate at home! We also chat about figure posability and what Johnny looks out for when finding new toys to photograph.

    Model Behavior: Shiny Model Cars!

    Bill and Norm build this delightful garage kit from Daniel Dawson, a 3D printed flying retro car model. For this project, we wnted to give this car a shiny candy coated finish, and experiment with two different applications of glossy clear coats: an Alclad lacquer Klear Kote and off the shelf floor gloss!

    Hobby RC: Building a DIY RC Hovercraft

    One of the current trends among micro-quadcopter enthusiasts involves modifications that purposely keep their flying machines at ground level. This floor-hugging tweak is called the Tiny Whoov. It is a micro RC hovercraft built around the uber-popular Blade Inductrix quadcopter.

    There are several different ways to get a Tiny Whoov of your own. A cursory web search reveals many step-by-step tutorials, a few manufactured conversion kits, and even an off-the-shelf hovercraft from Blade, the Inductrix Switch. All of the links I found are based on the Inductrix (or one of the many clones).

    I wanted to build a Tiny Whoov, but I still enjoying flying my Inductrix in stock form. So I wasn't keen on clipping its wings. Undeterred, I decided build my own variation on the quadcopter-to-hovercraft theme using a different micro-quad. I improvised a simple design while taking copious inspiration from the Tiny Whoov.

    Build Notes

    The Tiny Whoov uses only the front two rotors as lift fans for the hovercraft. The rear rotors are used to propel and steer the vehicle via differential thrust. With this setup, the same control and gyro settings that work as a quadrotor will also work in hovercraft mode…sort of. More on that later.

    The heart of this hovercraft project is a 1SQ mini-quad from Heli-Max.

    For the quadcopter, I used my venerable Heli-Max 1SQ. You may recognize it from my recent Christmas tree drone. Although I didn't know it at first, the modular construction of the 1SQ made it ideal for this project. But don't worry if there isn't a 1SQ on your shelf. The basic components of most mini-quads are the same. I suspect that you can crank out a similar hovercraft with whatever quad you have on hand.

    There is nothing fancy about the design or materials that I used. Most of the hovercraft hull was constructed with cheap foamboard and hot glue. One sheet of foamboard from the dollar store is adequate to build several of these things.

    Model Behavior: Painting Portraits

    One daunting aspect of modelmaking is the painting of figure heads and portraits. To get over our fear of ruining a sculpture, we mold and cast a batch of heads to work on. Kayte and Norm each take a sculpt and paint them in quick succession, learning from each practice attempt and refining their workflow.