When I lent my services to a collegue who was working on a film about 12 years ago, I was introduced to the world of cnc. I remember watching this huge machining centre milling out a slab of mdf and turning it into a fantastic set of gears. I knew that it would have taken me hours to achieve the same thing with traditional power tools. I decided then that I would invest in a cnc router for my own business Oxenham Design. At that time I could turn on a computer, but even to check email seemed like a crazy set of operations. I persevered and learned every piece of relevant software I could get my hands on. I am now fortunate enough to be using Vectric's ASPIRE software, and Techno cnc routers, which has helped us to create some amazing projects, both in part, or in full. I thought that this blog would be a great place to share "behind the scenes" adventures with the software, materials and equipment we use, as well as the projects we build.

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Painting all the way..............

The painting took a long time on this build. Almost everything was hand painted, as masking for different colors would have been a nightmare!
I added a small OPEN sign that we mounted to the ice-cream sculpture out front of the store. This way, ice cream will be available 24 hours a day, forever! Muhahaha!
The roadway pattern we had printed, and the sidewalks were 1/4" MDF painted. The buildings were the worst thing ever to paint. The light acrylic colors have no opacity at all. This meant a minimum of 3 coats on all the trim. This was Jody's cross to bear for a couple of days! If I ever do anything similar to this, I would laser cut craft foam for the trim, and glue it on. Painting the trim was a colossal waste of time. The other thing that we ended up doing differently, was the awnings. And every building had them. Because I squashed the buildings on the z axis, this left very little separation between the awning stripes. This meant that painting 3 coats on every other stripe was quickly turning into a very amateurish looking building.
I decided to cut vinyl for the stripes instead. But this meant figuring out HOW to draw something to cut. After pondering my dilemma at 2 am, I had an idea!
I was able to select the polygon edgeloop of every other awning stripe, extract it, and export it out actual size for vinyl cutting.
This worked almost flawlessly! Just some very minor tweaking of the cut graphic, on one of the buildings! It's amazing what a clean, crisp, opaque stripe can do for the overall look of the whole project!

All in all, this was a great build! The time allotted was about 1 day less than I would have liked, but we got it done! Everyone loved the build, and it was an overall size of 7 feet by 5 feet. Big enough that they won't have to worry about shooting off the base at the edge of frame!

Ahhhhhh...........I looove my job!

Jody and I wish all of you a VERY happy Holiday Season, and we wish that the New Year brings every one of you happiness, health and wealth!
Until 2016 my friends!

Jamie and Jody


Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Back to the Miniatures!

We sort of got caught off guard with 2 builds, and 2 new shoot dates for before Christmas. We shot the second one yesterday, but I can't disclose anything until next summer :(

But, back to the interrupted miniatures build we were working on!
The next little asset I had to make was the picnic table that will sit outside the ice cream store.
I re-modeled the original umbrella model they supplied, just to make the machining a little cleaner.
I brought my model into Aspire, and found a good height for the split. It was a little too thick to double side machine from 2" material, so I cut it in 2 halves.

We also got a request for 4 more additional buildings to populate around the set. They didn't need to be as complicated as the ice cream store, but they needed to still look good. And with the deadline quickly approaching, I decided to try a different approach to them.
I brought the buildings into Hexagon, rotated them to camera a little bit, then squashed them on the z axis. I did have to elongate the depth on all the details, so when I squished it down, there would still be some detail to be able to paint.
Once into Aspire, I set the z height to exactly 2 inches, so as to fit into the material we're working with.

The end result looks really good with some side lighting to make the details really pop.
Meanwhile, Jody was making some pretty decent headway on the painting portion of things!

I finished up on the interior components, and Jody had finished working the little ice cream chairs.
We went with laminated prints for the walls and menu sign. The case-goods were built from .060" styrene, and put together much the same way you would a real cabinet. There was nothing from the cg company for the interior, so we designed it on the fly. This is a 3 walled set, with no ceiling. We just extended the walls up high enough, that no ceiling wouldn't be an issue at all.

Friday, 11 December 2015

The little things are the coolest!

Inside our miniature ice-cream store will be some chairs and tables, a counter, and a wall shelving. Very store like! They sent me the 3d model for the chairs they want, and I brought it into Hexagon for layout and scaling. The final size worked out to be just over 2.25" in height.
Because these will get double side machined, it was easiest to nest them, with sprues, in Hexagon. The sprues are there just to make sure they don't all fall apart once the cutter starts attacking them!
The imported nesting was 1.673" thick, so I'll be cutting these from 2" HDU. I brought the model into Aspire, did some quick math to center them in the material thickness, then added a base component, so the cutter wouldn't have to travel all the way down to the machine bed. I kept the base component shy of the middle of the block by about 1/4". This way the cutter would at least travel past the center block seam on each side, eliminating any onion skin that would be left attached to the model, if I had the component set at the halfway, or 1" height.

42 minutes total, including flipping the material! Pretty fast turnaround for 6 chairs, and 2 table bases!

 I did have to clean of the sprues, and some machine marks, but HDU is pretty quick to deal with that sort of thing. The table tops were cut from 1/8" styrene plastic.
The next asset to deal with was the large ice-cream cone that will sit out front of the miniature store.
This scaled out at about 8" tall, and 3.625" deep. This I will cut in two halves, from 2" HDU, and glue up.
Here the cone has been cut, cleaned and primed. It's sitting next to our super-cool cartoon trees that will also populate the model base. The tree's I designed in Hexagon, machined from 40lb urethane. The sphere's are just craft foam balls from the craft store, with painted corsage pins stuck in for some color!