What does is take to be a professional Model Maker?

Model maker at work

Model makers need a wide range of skills to be able to translate abstract ideas into something physical. The models themselves can be prototypes, scaled versions of larger or smaller things, or demonstrate how something works, so the model maker must have the ability to take an idea and manifest it in sketches, mockups, a rough draft and eventually a final product that are in line with the client’s vision.

Model makers need to be both creative mentally and talented in using their skills with the necessary tools and equipment. Just because you know how to use the right equipment, doesn’t necessarily mean you’d be a good model maker.

So what does it take to be a model maker? Here are some of the qualities a great model maker needs.

Good sense of scale
When creating models that are scaled up or scaled down versions of what they represent it’s important for a model maker to know what scale is best suited to the project. Choosing a scale that’s too large may mean that the model is too bulky to be practical and will incur unnecessary cost, while opting for too small a scale will result in too much loss of detail for the model to be useful. Whether it is a natural talent or learned with experience, it’s a vital skill for a good model maker.

Able to think in 3D
A model maker needs to be able to visualise projects in three dimensions. Translating two dimensional sketches and drawings into three dimensional objects isn’t a skill that everyone has, but is usually present in those who do well as artists and designers, as well as model makers. Often the way the human eye sees things isn’t exactly the way they are and a good model maker needs to know when to adjust a sketch or the model itself to account for this.

Good problem solving skills
Producing a model is seldom a case of just going through the motions to produce the final product. A great model maker needs to have excellent problem solving skills from beginning to end. In the beginning the challenge is trying to create designs from someone else’s idea. Later on it may be necessary to find ingenious solutions to problems caused by scale or the materials used and all of this will need to be squared up with costs and timescales. As each project and client is unique, being adaptable and able to think on your feet definitely helps.

A feel for different materials
Models can be made from a wide variety of materials, but some are better suited to certain projects than others. To be a great model maker, it’s necessary to have an instinct for which material will work best for the necessary application as well as being skilled in working with a variety of materials to get the best out of them.

Attention to detail
Obviously a model needs to be finished exactly to specification, so attention to detail and working with patience and precision are a must. Most people have a tendency to either naturally enjoy this type of work or actively dislike it, so a successful model maker will almost always be the type of person who takes delight in reproducing the tiniest of details.

Since J H May was established in 1919 as an engineering pattern making business, we have become leaders in the model making and prototyping community. Our strength lies in the ability to adapt in a fast moving industry and the broad skill set and talents of our model makers. You can read more about our expertise as model makers on our website.

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