Model makers craft three dimensional scale models that are used in a variety of situations. Model makers use information and preliminary designs or blueprints to bring an idea into reality. Often model makers create 3D models for architects, based on the architect's initial designs or blueprints. The model can help the architect evolve his project and see what needs improving. Model makers can also work on film sets as part of the special effects team. Essentially, model makers are the people who take an idea and make it into a three dimensional piece, in order to bring the design or concept to life. They are a vital part of the artistic and design processes in many different fields.
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Model makers have a number of responsibilities in a variety of industries. When working in the construction business with an architect, the model maker will be given the blueprints, or sketches, for the building that the architect is creating. This could be a sketch for a school, a hospital, or a home. After receiving the sketch, the model maker and architect discuss the design and decide whether or not a simple or complex model is going to be created. With a simple model, they may just create a scale model, which outlines the basic three-dimensional structure of the building. If the architect decides that more detail is needed, the model maker may create a more complex model in which he includes aspects such as scaled down furniture, trees and people.
Once a model is decided upon, they will examine the architect's designs carefully and come up with a plan for their model. They then carefully craft the model using a variety of materials and tools. Once the model is finished, the architect can get a three dimensional idea of his blueprints. This helps the architect to get a clear vision for the rest of his designs in the architectural process.
Model makers also work in the film and television industry as part of the special effects team. In this sphere they can be called on to create a variety of models. For example, the film director may want to use a miniature model for some scenes rather than having to film on location. After a disucssion with the film's director to decide exactly what is needed from the model, a model maker will then create the piece and it will be used during filming.
Those who are considering a career in the model making industry must be artistic, be able to communicate effectively with others, and be able take an idea from a simple sketch to a full-blown three-dimensional piece. They must also have an eye for detail, the ability to understand scale, patience and be able to focus for long periods of time. They must also have knowledge and skill with sculpting, drawing and computers, and know how to use a variety of tools, machinery and materials including glue guns, resin and plastics.
Although there are no strict educational requirements needed for this career, having practical work experience or training can help individuals find employment in the model making industry. Gaining a degree or taking classes in fine arts, design, sculpting, drawing, painting, ceramics, metal work, woodwork, model making, computer aided design and studio arts is ideal. Employees prefer that model makers have design and model making skills and experience over a degree. Finding an internship or apprenticeship is one of the best ways of gaining experience in the field.
Model makers will often work with others in the preliminary stages of their job. This may be at an architect's office, a client's office, or in the special effects department of a film studio. Once they have the design for what they are going to create, they can then return to their own shop or studio, or if they are working on a film set, they may return to work in the special effects department. Once they are in their shop or studio, they work alone to craft their three-dimensional piece. They will work in a shop environment with many craft tools and will often work for long hours.
The salary of a model maker can vary greatly based largely on the individual's level of experience. Earning potential is also directly tied to the specific field in which they're working i.e. architecture, construction, film or television. The country, state and city where a model maker lives plays a part in how much money they can expect to earn.
In the US, the average salary for model makers is around $60,000. Salaries vary from state to state and from city to city. In New York City the average model maker's salary is $78,000; in Texas the average is $62,000; in Los Angeles it is $69,000; in Ohio the average salary is $62,000, and in Maine it is $64,000. In the UK, the average salary is £25,000, however, it varies depending on location. In Canada the average salary for a model maker is $30,000.