I suddenly have a lot of space in the workshop, as last week I delivered a 2m long model to the tourist attraction The Scotch Whisky Experience on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh. It’s been a big project, and has been delayed by the construction work for the room that the model is situated (its not yet open to the public, but soon!!). It’s been epic, I’ve taken the model from sketch to finished installed model. Here’s how.
The original sketch
Bright 3D oversaw the design of the space, and commissioned Finch & Fouracre on behalf of SWE. They provided me with a sketch and dimensions, and after some discussions, left me to it. I refined this design based on researching many Scottish distilleries, collecting images of the various pieces of distilling equipment as well as the traditional buildings that are scattered throughout Scotland and are an iconic part of the rural built environment - particularly those pagoda roofs. (Did you know - almost all pagoda roofs are just decorative? Most distilleries bring in their barley ready malted). My final design was fed back to the clients, and having got the thumbs up, I got to work.
Planning the model
The main challenge with this model was the inclusion of lighting, both in the roofs and beneath the equipment. There’s 6 push buttons which each light up a different part of the distilling process.
I commissioned Roy Shearer to help with the circuit and coding for an Arduino to control the lights. We used NeoPixels - individually controllable RGB LEDs. Basically the lights are a single chain of LEDs that we can send a digital message to each one. So the model had to be physically built around the circuit that we created - much of which was in the base, but with some encased in the buildings.
Modelling the equipment
The distilling equipment was all made by hand. That’s right, those beautiful stills were cut down from solid block, using rings layered up, then sanded to shape, before being painted and varnished, with detail added. The washbacks were clad with individual strips of timber, then stained and the straps added. The malt mill was block, detailed in plastic, with tiny bolts added and metal handles. Just to give you an idea - those metal handles are only a few millimetres long! This was very much a project to revel in the detail.
Contrary to most models, relatively little time was spent on the buildings, as at this large scale - 1:22.5 - I just wanted to keep things simple. Part of the key was adding texture, but not overdoing it. The walls were of a basic plywood construction, with plaster added for texture.
The reason for choosing this unusual scale was finding figures that would suit. 1:22.5 is a model railway scale (I think the biggest, though not common) which meant I could order figures the right size. However, they didn’t really cut it, style-wise. They all got a new paint job, and some of them had their arms sawn off and repositioned!
The finished model
It was a huge amount of work - hopefully what I’ve laid out above gives you some idea - there was so much more! It was complicated in many ways, but the kind of work I love doing. It’s so involved and you can just keep going with the details. I was lucky that the timescale got pushed back as it meant I had as long as I needed to get this model as good as I knew it could be. I’m so pleased with it, and can’t wait for the public to see it. See more photos of the finished model here.