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Old 04-28-2012, 09:15 AM
Diderick A. den Bakker's Avatar
Diderick A. den Bakker Diderick A. den Bakker is online now
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Zeist (near Utrecht), Holland
Posts: 559
Instalment 3

More suggestions
How to prevent dreaded white bits showing? We probably all use watercolours or felt tipped pens to mask scoring and folding lines. However, a few things can also be done at the designing stage.
1. Sometimes a white field indicates where another part goes. See the white shapes marked 12, 13 and 17 on top of part 5 in Figure 1. Even careful builders are sometimes left with a little bit of this white showing. This is why I prefer some colour to 'spill over' into these white fields. In architectural models it is also a very good idea for the colour to 'spill' onto part of the gluing tabs.
2. Some designers also add a band of colour over the middle of the gluing tabs. So if the fit is not quite exact, no white becomes visible. This works especially well for our spaceships: when you turn them over in your hands any less than perfect join will be camouflaged this way.
3. The same problem occurs when two mirrored parts have to be glued together. They never fit, and you are always left with ugly white edges. AS the solution is literally too simple for words, just look at the two small squares in Figure 2. One is glued to treble thickness, the other to double thickness, then the parts are cut out. Look at the feathers again - you will now see why one side is slightly larger all round then the other.
Numbering and test building; sketches an written instructions
This is always a difficult bit. Start numbering too soon, and you will be punished for any mistake later on by having to correct and change all later numbers. Start too late, and you will have forgotten your brilliant ideas about the exact order in which one should tackle this model... A few suggestions.
1. Consider your model in terms of separate units or segments, such as fuselage, wings, tail, landing gear, cockpit etc.; then decide on the most logical (and therefore probably the easiest) order in which to build the segments.
2. Let's suppose the hull or fuselage to be the first stage. Break this down into segments again and number the individual parts 1,1a,1b etc (as in Figure 1). This way, if you decide to add or scrap a small part, the damage in terms of renumbering will be very limited.
3. While numbering the parts, always follow the exact and most logical order of building. With a rocket or plane fuselage, it is often best to start with the part in the middle, then build towards the nose, then towards the bottom. This is one of my very few points of criticism with regards to the WMV technique.
4. Always do (partial) test builds at this stage. It is really the only way to check if your brilliant computer design really works. Believe me, you will often hit on easier solutions, and improve your model.
5. If it isn't a very straightforward model, this is also a good time to start making sketches with the numbers added - sometimes a sketch is worth several paragraphs of text.
6. In my own experience, however clear and detailed the sketches, in some cases some explanation is inevitable. Try to keep this to an absolute minimum.
7. When everything is finished, add one or more overviews in which all parts can be located.
Size and thickness / weight of paper
Amazing, really, how few hobby designers seem to realize that paper, and ink, cost money and trees. I have regularly come across models spread over a dozen or so pages, which might easily have been 'compressed' into at most half a dozen. Or a model where the instructions took up considerably more pages than the model itself, all filled with dozens of colour pictures. Good for producers of ink and toners, not so good for us.
Have a look at these measurements first. They are the actual paper sizes; in the 'advised sizes' I have taken into account the fact that most printers leave a few millimetres margin.

A4 : 210 x 297 mms / 8.27 x 11.69 in

Letter : 215,9 x 279,4 mms / 8.5 x 11 in

ADVISED SIZE : 200 x 270 mms / 7.9 x 10.6 in

A3 : 297 X 420 mms / 11.69 x 16.54 in

Ledger / Tabloid : 279 x 432 mms / 11 x 17 in

ADVISED SIZE : 270 x 410 / 10.6 x 16.1 in

1. The world standard size is A4, the Americans use Letter. Most designers work with either of these two sizes. Larger models are sometimes printed on A3 and Ledger / Folio. Not a good solution, as very few people have a printer that size - and printing at a copy shop is expensive.
2. The difference between A4 and Letter regularly leads to worried, and often confused questions and discussions on various forums about their compatibility. This is why I strongly advise to opt for my 'Advised Size', and to mention this at the top of every page of your model: 'print on A4 or Letter'. Believe me: it will set a lot of people's minds at rest.
3. In the rest of the world, paper weight is simply measured in grams per square metre. Life is too short to understand or explain the USA system of points and pounds... Rule of thumb: use the two sorts of paper that are most easily found. I find 160 grams/mē very suitable, but some people prefer 140 or even 120. The final decision is up to the builder who downloads and prints your model, but if you (the designer) have reason to advise a particular weight, mention it at the top of the page.

Regular printer paper : 80 grams/mē / Suitable for text, instructions, small parts
Maximum weight for most printers : 160 grams/mē / Suitable for most model parts

1. The well known Thai designer Nobi (no longer active, alas) always started by drawing a frame of the 'advised size' first, with a clear page number always in the same position.
2. This done, try to use the available space on each page to capacity. It makes life easy for the builder if parts are grouped more or less in order, but if this means wasting space - if the parts are numbered carefully, the builder will find them.
3. Some designers put all 'construction' parts on a separate sheet: spars, formers, tabs. It is very practical if all parts that have to be laminated onto card are grouped together (and marked clearly: a * will do).

Go through your notes and sketches very carefully, and try to look at them from the point of view of a complete novice. Better still: ask someone who is interested, but not very experienced, to go through them for you.
1. 'Pictures speak louder than words'. Avoid text as much as possible.
2. Consider the building order one last time, and number your sketches correspondingly.
3. Try not to put too much information into one sketch - see that you concentrate on just one aspect of the building process per sketch.
4. Personally, I am not always happy with long series of photo's. A simplified line drawing is generally much more informative than a cluttered, colourful picture.

* * *

Dear reader and fellow paper-model-enthusiast. I have enjoyed making this survey of Tips and Suggestions for beginning designers, and sincerely hope it may be of some use to beginning designers. If I have missed or overlooked anything, please mail me at, but bear in mind that tips for builders do not belong here. That is a different kettle of fish, as the (English) saying goes.

Diderick A. den Bakker
Zeist, Holland, April 2012.
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