Model Making, the design and construction of a replica of an existing object, or an object that could possibly exist, using a wide range of materials and construction skills, both manual and mechanical. The finished result is termed the “model”. In most cases, the model is a smaller replica of the original and the term “miniature” is often used interchangeably with the model, especially within the media industry. However, model making also includes the creation of replicas that are the same size or larger than the original; for example, models of small creatures or atomic structures. The size of a model compared to the original is termed the “scale”. This is normally expressed as a ratio, for example, 1:10, which indicates that the model is ten times smaller than the original. Consequently, if the model is one metre long, the full-size object would be ten metres long.
Model making is as old as human history itself, and examples can be traced back to the Greeks, Egyptians, and earlier cultures. Then the range of materials available would have been what are usually called the traditional model-making materials: wood, metal, and clay. In recent times the invention of plastics, resins, and other polymers has greatly added to model-making techniques. Model making has been employed across a wide range of occupations for both business and pleasure. Model making has been vital in architecture, product design, aerospace and petrochemical industries, museums and exhibitions, the hobby industry, and (one of the most high-profile users) the film and television special effects industry.
Schools and colleges use model making to teach many skills beginning with creating the ideas for the model in the first place, initial designs, drawing of plans, and the choice of materials. The construction then adds further educational opportunities from the correct use of tools, both hand, and machine, to working the selected materials, choice of adhesives, manipulative skills of the actual construction, and the artistic creation of the finished article.
Model making is a popular worldwide hobby ranging from the traditional model-makers working in wood and metal, or who build intricate card models; to those who fly radio-controlled model aircraft, sail miniature ships, fly model rockets or build detailed dioramas of military or fantasy scenarios. A number of specialist publications are available and many clubs exist at local, national, and international levels.
The increasing use of computers in all walks of life has affected model making as much as any other occupation. The introduction of applications such as CAD/CAM (Computer-Aided Design and Computer-Aided Manufacture) in the manufacturing industries and CGI (Computer Generated Images) in the media have consequently changed many of the ways model making is used. However, although computers have replaced many aspects of model making in industry, they are unlikely to obliterate totally the skills required to produce these three-dimensional replicas and the pleasure in creating them, especially for the hobbyist.