Transforming Location Part Five: White Card Model Making

What is it?

The purpose of a white card model is to clearly display a scale version of your chosen location in a 3 Dimensional format. This assists with demonstrating where the camera and actors can be placed within the set to capture the most cinematic shots. This also allows you to experiment with lighting and is essentially a blank canvas for you to transform into a variation of the original room.

After you have photocopied your technical drawing, you spray mount the copy on mount board. There are a number of card types that could also be suitable but I prefer mount board because it is matt finish with a little foam support in-between the thin, white card displayed. This means I can easily cut through with minimal friction (less friction = less sanding) and if necessary, easily sand. The matt finish means this can easily adhere to another section without repeating the process.


To begin, you will need:

  • Mount board (A1)
  • Photocopied technical drawing
  • Spray mount (NOT extra strong hairspray, as some have recommended).
  • Sharpened scalpel
  • Safety ruler
  • Various grades of sandpaper
  • Nail file
  • Model making glue (I adore UHU all purpose adhesive, it’s fast drying and has a thicker consistency than some other glues).
  • Tweezers



After you have spray mounted your technical drawing to your mount board, you simply cut this out using you scalpel and safety ruler. I recommend a safety ruler because you will have to be quite firm with pressure in order to get an even, quick cut and as the scalpel is extremely sharp – you will not want any accidents!


Once this has been cut, I find it best to cut and stick the inbuilt features as well as it can be fiddly to glue these on once the four walls are put together. If you have in build features such as beading or battening that are the same width or length, you can save time if you trace a pre cut section and cut a fraction of a millimeter inside the lines.


Sometimes, even with the additional pressure you can get messy cuts as seen in the example. This can be easily fixed by working through various grades of sandpaper. I prefer to wrap this sandpaper around a nail file as the sides must be straight to replicate the wooden beading. I work through various grades of sandpaper because I want the finished product to be as smooth as possible, but not waste hours grating this away with fine grit sandpaper. A nail file wrapped in  sandpaper eliminates these potential problems. In this example, I have only used the nail file as it is quite old and the harsher grit has come away.



When all of your pieces are cut, begin sticking. I like to have a cotton bud to hand in case of any spillages but I would imagine a pencil with twisted tissue around the tip would have the same effect.


The UHU all purpose adhesive has the same consistently as hot glue, and sets within a similar time range. This means you must be fast and accurate or you will be left with a half set glue welt that you will then have to sand off. I prefer to work with one generous blob and use the nib of the glue to smooth this along the remaining edge, adding more blobs along the way. UHU has a tendency to produce annoying spider webs when it is pulled away from the material, so try to pull the glue away from your work to prevent further sanding.




Once you have finished cutting and sticking all of the fiddly parts, it is time to turn your work into a 3 Dimensional piece.


On the technical drawings, I have included actual measurements of the wall thickness and have decided to include these in my 3D model to show an accurate likeness of my build. This means that windows must be carried through to the either edge, so that the viewer can see the potential for concealing light boxes or some other accessory within this ready built cutaway.


The most challenging part about assembling the four walls together was having to glue both the height of a walls edge and the base. This is because the glue dries fast and you don’t always have enough time to glue both. However, it not gluing both, you risk not being able to sandwich one wall to the other and this would allow any unwanted light to shine through.

I found the best course of action was to glue two bases of the walls down at opposite ends and only take on the challenge of gluing both base and sides for the remaining two. If it halves your workload – I consider it a triumph.



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