What does a model maker do?
Model makers design and make three-dimensional (3D) scale models, usually working in one of the following areas:
prototype models of new products prior to sale
scale models such as dolls houses
scale models of construction developments (architectural model making)
visual special effects for exhibitions, museums, film, TV and theatre.
Depending on their area of specialism, they use a variety of techniques including wood machining, metal working and sculpting with clay, finishing processes such as hand colouring and spray painting, and a range of hand, power and machine tools and computer-assisted equipment.
In product design model makers are likely to use engineering techniques and, in some cases, electronics. For visual effects they will need to use their imagination and creativity.
Model makers work closely with the client or designer, either independently or as part of a team, initially to determine requirements, timescale and budget. They use freehand drawing skills or computer-aided design (CAD) to illustrate initial ideas, which may need to be amended as a result of further consultation before a detailed final model is produced.
What's the working environment like for model makers?
Model makers work long and irregular hours. Evening and weekend work may be necessary to meet deadlines, especially for film or TV work.
Most of the work takes place in workshops or laboratories. Some of the materials used can be dusty and can produce unpleasant or dangerous fumes. Model makers usually wear protective masks and gloves. The surroundings may be noisy. Model makers stand up to use machinery most of the time, but may work sitting at a bench, drawing board or computer workstation.
A driving licence is useful, as some travelling may be involved.
What does it take to become a model maker?
As a model maker you will need:
a strong interest in art, design and technology, with the ability to visualise designs in 3D
good drawing skills and the ability to read and understand plans and technical drawings
practical hand skills - for sculpting and modelling using hand and power tools
familiarity with a wide range of materials and the techniques required for working with them
the ability to work accurately, with close attention to detail
the ability to discuss ideas and concepts with designers and colleagues
stamina and persistence - to work to tight deadlines
an organised approach and the ability to remain calm under pressure
basic maths and geometry - for making simple calculations.
Model maker career opportunities
Most model makers are self-employed and work on a project-by-project basis. Clients include engineers, designers, architects, advertising companies, museums, film and TV companies. Freelance model makers can progress by building up their businesses or by becoming agents for other model makers.
Some model makers are employed on a full-time basis. They work mainly in the architecture, aviation, automobile, shipping and civil engineering industries, and for manufacturers of consumer products. Most work in London and the south of England. Employed model makers may be promoted to lead a team of model makers.
If you would like to know anything about model making that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.
The Design Council
34 Bow Street
Tel: 020 7420 5200
Creative and Cultural Skills
Tel: 0800 093 0444
Creative and Cultural Skills
11 Southwark St