Acetate Workbees and a Sense of Scale

As I mentioned in a post the other day, working backwards into some of the small detailing pieces that will eventually be part of the model is part and parcel to how I plan on having the level of detailing in my model be realized.

So I have been working up micro-scale Illustrator files as a sort of miniature “blueprints” for a micro-model of the workbees.


Adobe Illustrator “blueprints”.

My approach in this has been evolving as I have been contemplating and experimenting on how to build the in-scale, accurately shaped, internally lit, workbees. Where I am at currently, and what looks to be the method I will likely go with is building these micro-parts of the workboxes is building them in cut out pieces of transparency film acetate.

These sheets are (as one would guess) as thin as a high-quality laser printer paper, or about 0.38mm thick. As a point of reference, a human hair is between 0.08 and 0.1mm thick in diameter.


Test sample (with temporary coloring).

Working in clear acetate allows me to do several things. First, It makes it so the “structure” of the workable (before painting) is transparent. This will allow me to glue within the interior space, fiber optic filaments which can be run out the bottom (or back, or top) of the workable and into the hanger bay floor (or ceiling) of the model. These fiber optic filaments can then be run to a more central location in the model and connected to super-bright miniature LEDs.

Second, this means the windows (while being tinted liked the original studio filming model) will be see through and let you see inside the workbee to the micro figure of the pilot, his control chair and console, etc.

Third, this will afford me the ability to paint, decal, and/or print, micro detailing on small pieces which can then be attached onto the surface of the built-up micro-model. This will afford me the ability to keep the different paint pieces clean with relatively straight lines, and sharp detail that other methods would not afford.


Test sample on my forefinger.

Again, the sense of scale in how small these pieces are may be lost without a visual frame of reference. To the right is a photo of one of my early experimental test prints which I cut out, resting on the tip of my forefinger.

As you can see, these are extremely small!

The amount of precision, patience, and planning going into this is pretty intense. So the past few evenings I have been working on exploded views of all the parts for the workbee. To this end, SketchUp, Illustrator, and some larger scale paper models some other people have put together, have been key to making progress in this approach.

In the next few days, I hope to have a set of line drawings ready to run off, and start some test builds. All the while, I will be doing some more lighting and painting tests on the acetate. Towards that end, I have some samples being sent from The Fiber Optic Store, along with an illuminator kit, so I can start testing how to thread into, attach and light the acetate model to a level that is acceptable.

Should be fun.

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