Friday, 30 July 2021

Learn how to build a model like this

Our 1:100 scale model of a proposed canalside deveopment was built entirely by hand with the exception of the clock hands and the swans.

Our methods of construction and  materials used are fully described in our new publication "Constructing Architectural Models". The 44 page booklet is fully illustrated with easy to follow tutorials on the various aspects of building a model by hand. 

Order your copy now, £6.50 including postage:


Sunday, 21 June 2020

Photoshop Express

Adobe's free app for mobile devices offers a selection of photo editing tools allowing you to quickly edit pictures.  We evaluated it on a tablet and found it easy to use. The smaller format of a phone might make some of the adjustments harder to manipulate.

Here is our guide for using the app:

When you first open Photoshop Express you will be presented with a series of pages outlining what the app can do. Either quickly skim through these or ignore them. You will next need to log in. You can choose between using Adobe ID, Facebook or another app. You can create an Adobe ID which can be useful if you use other Adobe services in future. Otherwise just follow the Facebook log in.

Adobe Express will access the photo album on your device. Click on the photo that you wish to work on and you will be take to the editing page. Below your picture you will see a range of dozens of thumbnail images which give a choice of different tones and lens filters. These range from Normal to Duo Tone. Just tap on the thumbnail to see different effects.

Right at the top of the screen is a little curved, left pointing arrow. If you click on this at any time, it will take you back to your original image. The right pointing, curved arrow will resume your editing. The square icon, divided down the middle lets you switch between the two choices and make comparisons.

At the bottom of the screen is a choice of five icons.

The 3 linked circles will take you to the tone selector described above.

Click on the 2 interlinked circles and you have a different choice of thumbnails from Light-Leaks through to Water-Color. These are different overlays and can produce interesting results.

The button which is like an extended square, is the Crop Tool which enables you to cut the picture down to size. Under all of the pre-set options, you can drag the edge of the picture to the size required. You may also rotate the image with the Rotate button or the Auto slider.

The next button with 2 parallel lines has a number of colour corrections; use the slider to adjust. Under the Split Tone option, drag the two little white circles into the colour selector pane and adjust with the slider. Blur has 2 options: Radial has an adjusting wheel which can be moved around the screen or dragged to increase or reduce the size. The slider sets the amount of blur and the square button switches the blur from inside to outside of the circle. The Full button is to blur the whole image. Vignette give a choice of blurred edges to the picture; again adjusted with the slider.

 The fifth button removes blemishes. The slider sets the size of the tool and you can click on the image to replace a blemish with a sample from an adjacent part of the picture. A lot of trial and error is needed.
  The Eye icon is the red-eye remover and should be self explanatory.
  The T button adds text to the image. The thumbnails give a choice of styles. The default text will appear in a box that may be re-positioned. Click on the box to type and to choose from a range of fonts which will appear below. You may also select the text colour and the alighnment within the box.
  The heart within a circle is a choice of clip art overlays. Tap on the thumbnails to review them.
  The final button is a choice of borders and frames.

   When you have finished editing, click on the export button to save the image or to attach it to a message or email etc.

Saturday, 9 March 2019

Wirksworth Station. A Sketchup model

These are screen captures from a 3D digital model created in Sketchup. A proposed new station building for the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway at Wirksworth in Derbyshire . The images were used to help fundraising for the project. Construction is now under way.  
The Ecclesbourne Valley line is a heritage railway that operates between Wirksworth and Duffield, a distance of 14.5 km.

Monday, 21 January 2019

At School in Pakistan

This model of Dub School in Pakistani Kashmir has just been completed. In a remote location in southern Kashmir, education is provided for over 200 pupils. This is a beautiful location surrounded by mountains. The model includes a glazed panel in the roof to afford a view into some typical classrooms where children can be seen seated at their desks. The courtyard features swings and a slide where children are at play. The model is built at a scale of 1:100 for the READ Foundation, a Manchester charity that to date has built or renovated almost 400 schools in some of the poorest parts of the world.

This three storey school has been built in a mountain village some 70 kilometres north east of Islamabad.  The building is on a hillside and is constructed to be resistant to earthquakes. More than 200 pupils are educated by a teaching staff of 10.

Thursday, 1 November 2018

Work and Play

My recent model of a school in Kashmir  was brough to life by including children at their lessons and at play.  The roof of the model featured a cut-away glazed panel to allow a view into the second floor classrooms. The large chairs and round tables came from a Chinese supplier as did some of the figures. The classroom chairs however, were handmade. Posters on the walls were copied from photographs of the actual school.

To animate the exterior scene and add a splash of colour, swings and slides were installed. These too were handmade; from rods and strips of styrene joined with solvent and super glue.

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

St John's

My previous post features the private chapel of St John The Baptist in Matlock Bath. The chapel is now cared for by the charity Friends of Friendless Churches. Read more about the chapel on their website:

The 3D Sketchup model has now been completed. Here are some scenes from the model:

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

The chapel of St John The Baptist, Matlock Bath

Tucked away behind "Artist's Corner" in Matlock Bath is the delightful little chapel of St. John The Baptist.

The architect was Sir Edward Guy Dawber who lived in the vicinity. This was his only ecclesiastical work. He is well known for working in the Arts and Crafts style although most of his designs were for large residential projects.
Dawber was also a watercolour artist as well as being the first President of The Council For The Preservation Of Rural England and for a time in the mid 1920s, President of RIBA.

The chapel was built in 1897 for Mrs Louisa Sophia Harris whose home was "The Rocks", a large Victorian villa just a short walk away.
Being a private Anglo Catholic chapel, many of it's features were to Mrs Harris's specifications including a memorial "In most loving memory of Vida, L. S. H. Till the last and brightest Easter day be born"; Vida being her pet dog.
Mrs Harris was a wealthy woman who employed only the best of craftsmen in equipping and decorating the chapel.

Mrs Harris died in 1908 leaving £10,000 for the upkeep of the building. Eventually falling into disuse and being declared redundant, the chapel was taken over in 2002 by the charity Friends of Friendless Churches. Over the years there had been some deterioration and neglect but it has now been carefully restored. The charity was founded in 1957 and now cares for over 40 redundant churches around the country. The building is only occasionally open to the public.

As I have no accurate dimensions or drawings, I have relied upon photographs for the information needed to build a Sketchup model. I shall add updates as the model progresses.

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Shanghai's Yuyuan Bazaar

Shanghai's Yu Gardens were laid out in the 16th Century. Outside of their high walls is the Yuyuan bazaar, a confusing array of narrow alleys and streets packed with tourist shops selling jewellery, souvenirs, clothing, snacks and fast food. In the centre is a large pool in which sits the Huxinting Teahouse, an 18th C building linked to the banks by zig zag bridges which protect it from evil spirits. The pool is populated by overfed but ever hungry carp and turtles and watched over by ornamental ducks.

 You might also come across the City God Temple. Built in the Ming Dynasty era, this was once a vast complex dedicated to Shanghai's patron god. The restored temple is quite small. The bazaar is packed with visitors, from all parts of China and looks convincingly traditional. If approached from Fangbang Lu, the bazaar may be reached through a Chinese arch,shops are adorned with lanterns; fretwork balconies overhand the streets and eaves sweep upwards. Look closely and you will soon realise that it is all brand new for this shopping complex largely dates from the 1990's.

Monday, 5 October 2015

Temple of the City God

Standing on a hilltop overlooking the Chinese city of Hangzhou is the Chenhuang Pavillion. This seven storey tower is over 40 metres high and is one of the city's great landmarks and is dedicated to the City God. The architectural style is that of the Yuan and Ming dynasties.

On the ground floor is an impressive 30 metre long diorama depicting life in Hangzhou in the days of the Southern Song Dynasty. The model includes over 1000 buildings and the hundreds of figures are arranged in sometimes amusing scenes.

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Thimble Hall - smallest detached house in the World

In the Derbyshire village of Alstonefield, near Bakewell is the tiny Thimble Hall.

Des. Res. 2 rooms, no kitchen, no bathroom, no running water, suitable for large family or conversion to retail premises. Viewing highly recommended. When Thimble Hall was auctioned in 1999 with a guide price of £5000, bids came in from across the World and the price rose to an amazing £39,500.

This tiny 18th century house is acknowledged by the Guiness Book of records as the smallest detached house in the World. The two rooms each measure just 8ft by 7ft. The upper floor is reached by a fixed ladder and the house has a stone hearth and exposed beams. At one time this was home to a family of eight. The last residents in the early 1930's were brother and sister Charlie and Jinnie Frisky. Since then it has served as a butchers, antique shop and cobblers.

Thimble Hall is currently owned by the Frederick family, ice cream manufacturers of Chesterfield. who intend using it as a craft gallery. The family are descendants of their Italian business founder who in 1875 walked the 1000 miles from Italy to Derbyshire.


This is Istanbul's skyscraper city. A newly developed district on the north side linked to the city centre by metro. Here dual carriageway roads are lined with the head offices of banking and telecoms businesses. The tallest building stands at 54 storeys.  A shopping centre serves the suburban streets and apartment blocks. Nearby are leafy avenues of large villas, many protected by security guards and fierce dogs.
This work by Turkish sculptor Ilhan Koman is titled "Akdeniz" (White Sea or Mediterranean) and stands in front of the Yapi Credi Insurance Company building.

Monday, 13 July 2015

Building Houses.

I have often been required to build housing models. Occasionally these take the form of a one-off  architecct designed house although more commonly a model of a development is required. Here are a few examples.

An arts and crafts styled house to be built in the Fylde area of Lancashire. The development included a "Coach House" to the rear which comprised two further homes.

Congleton Cattle Market closed as business moved to the larger markets elsewhere.  Seddon's redevelopment of the site provided homes in a number of different styles arranged around a green. The model formed a centrepiece in the show home.

The owner of this house in Cheshire required a model to view a proposed extension. The roof is cut away to reveal the arrangement of the staircase and landings which wrap around a chimney breast.

A housing development on redundant railway land in North Liverpool. This model at 1:500 scale shows a small section of the scheme.

A small housing development in Bollington which attracted some local opposition as the site had for many years been open land.  The model at 1:200 scale was for public consultation and to support the planning application.

A small overgrown site in the centre of a Lancashire village was the location for this development of small homes. Parking was provided to the rear of the houses which were arranged around a new village pond.

A development of retirement homes proposed for a "brownfield" site in Blackpool 

Also in Blackpool, a development of apartments. Parking is provided in an underground garage.