Who loves theme park models?? We do! Join me as I build a scale model of a portion of Disneyland's beautiful "it's a small world" exterior.
While I was building a tiny Jungle Cruise model, my wife suggested I model part of her favorite attraction, "it's a small world". I figured such a model would require many different fabrication processes... which would make for a good model-building tutorial... which is something I've wanted to do for a while... so here we are.
First, I decided to create a tiny passenger boat using a process I'd never tried before– 3D printing. I built a 3D model in Google Sketchup (free version!) then exported the file to Shapeways.com. Within seconds I had a price quote for each of the many materials offered by Shapeways (like plastic, steel, and even gold). I chose "White Strong & Flexible Plastic". This particular model at this size came in at just over $18.00.
After a few business days (which felt like FOREVER), the tiny boat arrived in the mail. Basing my color selection on an old photo of an actual "it's a small world" boat, I painted the 3D-printed boat with two shades of pink plus some black for the bumper.
I found a pack of unpainted HO-scale figures by Model Power® at my local hobby store which I then painted with regular old craft paint.
The layered cut-out look of Mary Blair's "it's a small world" facade called for some laser cutting. I drew each layer in Adobe Illustrator then separated the layers before sending them to be cut. I found a guy nearby with a laser cutter in his garage who offered to cut the designs into 1/16" clear acrylic for about $30.00.
Laser-cut pieces are cut with great precision and are well worth the cost. Cutting these by hand would have been a big old pain in the neck. No thank you.
A quick check to see if everything is here.
Now it's time to peel away the protective paper... But only the portions that need texture.
The protective paper serves perfectly as a mask, when cut accordingly.
You'll notice the real "it's a small world" facade is made up of both smooth flats and textured flats. About half of this piece of facade needed texture. A quick coat of textured spray paint did the trick.
Next, all protective paper needed to be removed.
I then made a simple oak box to contain the model.
The flume was a cinch to construct. I used Evergreen Scale Models® sheet styrene and styrene strips (modeling must-haves) and Plastruct® Plastic Weld solvent cement (my favorite solvent) to join the styrene pieces together.
According the Evergreen package, "Unlike wood or other materials, styrene parts are joined by bonding with a solvent. Parts are assembled by merely holding them in position and applying a small amount of solvent to the joint. Use a small brush and apply the cement very sparingly– only a little is required to make a joint. The cement will be drawn into the joint by capillary action, softening the mating surfaces so that a fast bond, as strong as the styrene, is formed."
It's recommended that this sort of styrene structure be air brushed or spray painted, but I brushed on craft paint with a normal 1/2" flat brush and it turned out just fine.
The same process of joining styrene together was applied to the clear acrylic pieces.
A block of green high-density floral foam is cut to form the hill between the flume and facade. More about this in Part 2.
A quick, temporary assembly of existing pieces brings the model to life.
I then sprayed a coat of primer onto the acrylic.
Then two coats of white spray paint.
We're about halfway through the model-making process. You might be happy to know that this sort of thing requires less artistic ability than most people assume. It requires some know-how and a bit of practice, but really, most people can do what you see here.
Stay tuned for Part 2.
Tiny Jungle Cruise Model
Tiny Submarine Voyage + PeopleMover Model
EPCOT City Model [Part 1]
Working Splash Mountain Model
Mechanizing a Miniature Main Street Electrical Parade
Mars and Beyond Robot
Swiss Family Treehouse Model