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Modeling in General
General discussions about modeling topics.
How does one become a Kit "Masters" maker?
AngryDog
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Posted: Thursday, March 03, 2011 - 03:20 AM UTC
I hope I phrased that question right within the given space....??

More precisely...
.. How's does someone get commissioned as a "pattern-maker" for garage kit companies, collectors, prop studios and such..?

I understand that talented modelers are sometimes hired by chance..like right place, right time or right scratch built model at the right time. How do these companies find them besides from lurking around forums and stumbling onto their websites?
And what about the big projects? Like the guys who get hired to make 6-foot Stardestroyers, studio-scale sci-fi and what nots stuff...and larger paying work?
And, besides going to a "design school and then to work in a studio"....I've listed a couple ways.....
....Can you guys list some more...........

And......... what kind of money can one make in this range of "Professional" Model making? I can never find a hint from all I read about this.
Plasticbattle
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Posted: Thursday, March 03, 2011 - 04:33 AM UTC
Many modellers have dreams of making their hobby, their main source of income. Not many suceed.
If you have the skills and want to make masters, the companies will come to you ... so make yourself and work seen. Post and blog as much as possible.
You could also cast your own and control what you make, meaning there might a bit extra for you, but all the time marketing and gettng your product out there will take away from your master making.
You also need to be aware ... aware of whats wanted and "in". The market is competitive and somewhat saturated nowadays, with less demand for resin than there was previously.
You could write a book on whats needed and what itīll take to get there, so Iīll leave the rest for others. But be aware, many have tried and failed and lost their joy for the hobby on the way! Can you live with the critic of your work? Paying customers are not as nice as those looking at your finished models.
Red4
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Posted: Thursday, March 03, 2011 - 06:06 AM UTC
Frank makes some really good points. I had looked at doing this very same thing as I love to build models and thought why not make it a business. However, when it becomes work, the shine quickly fades. I have done some commission work in the past on a given deadline and it gave me a slight glimpse of what one might be expected to find in the industry. I build fast, but this particular customer wanted it really fast. I made the deadline, but didn't really enjoy the build as I felt I was rushed and I could have done better with the piece.
Also how well do you handle change? I have been in the middle of some complex builds and received a phone call that they wanted "x" or "y" changed. These changes can either be really simple, or involve starting something over....and over.
If you are really passionate about doing it, Franks suggestion of getting your work out there and the work will find you is sound. Word of mouth is a great selling tool. Just be prepared for what you may find.
There is the chance that you can get to where you can pick and choose what projects you want to work on, name your price, time line etc. and the customer will accept it. Until one gets to that point, it can be a arduous journey. Best of luck. "Q"
HawkeyeV
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Posted: Thursday, March 03, 2011 - 10:12 AM UTC
I know several modelers who make master patterns for others. Its not a get rich business unless you're working for a pattern maker who produces patterns for several companies at one. Hence the reason the two main locations for pattern work in this industry are in either Korea or China.

Most "little guys" in this industry do it on a commission basis, but if you don't recoup your hard costs up front, you may find yourself wondering when and if you're going to get paid.

If you got what it takes, make a couple and send out a resume with pictures of your workmanship. Who knows you might hook a big fish with deep gills.
thegirl
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Posted: Thursday, March 03, 2011 - 02:44 PM UTC
Frank and Matthew bring up some rally good points .

I have had the chance to produce the master parts for resin kits in WW 1 aircraft . Still have that offer up , but one should be aware of a few key things .

Since you are designing the parts to be used for casting make sure you understand what the company wants and what materials they want the masters in . The cost of this comes out of your pocket and the time to do them .

A contract will have to be in place of the particulars , payment , deadline , subject matter ,etc..etc ....and who will finally own the rights .

An example on how much you will make ( and you will not get rich )
For the talks which I was under this is how it ended up . 25,000 for a FULL kit ( this includes designing of the PE parts and declas as well along with the instructions ) The 25,000 is based on 50% of the sales up to 25,000 with an additional 25,000 based on 25 % of the sales up to 25,000 for a total of 50,000 .
This might sound like a great a deal but once the math is applied the company will have to sell a heck of alot of kit's !!! So it can take years to reach full payment .


Getting your work notice is important , post your work lots and get the word out , you can even contact companys for info as well . It's a slow process and sometimes it's just being at the right place at the right time .....
samkidd
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Posted: Thursday, March 03, 2011 - 10:29 PM UTC


All very good points from everyone so far, very thorough! I'm in the position of making masters now for what will be an extensive line of accessories and conversion kits with some full kits well under development. These will be for my own company but I've run into most of these roadblocks before. The one thing I can stress is time.

If you take an assignment or commission then you must be absolutely certain that you'll have the time available to devote to it's completion. Having a "real" job and life can sometimes cause delays so make sure to give realistic estimates. Also it really does help to have a large arsenal of skills prior to undertaking a large project or seeking work as a patternmaker. If you don't already know how to I'd suggest at least a working knowledge of scratchbuilding with a variety of materials as well as casting, sculpture and working with photoetch.

These skills can be expensive to learn and obtaining them may even lead you to change direction from time to time. (Frank made an excellent point about the time required to produce something takes away from your time to make other masters---a real life lesson for me) Remember, what you're looking at selling is your talent and skills so make sure you go to market prepared.

Jim
Large Scale Armory
didgeboy
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Posted: Friday, March 04, 2011 - 03:10 AM UTC
Nick;
if you are looking to find work in films building models, which there is VERY little of anymore, the best thing to do is put together a portfolio and find out which special effects houses are hiring (not many right now). I used to work in film and have a few friends who are still in the industry one works for an FX house and produces models and casts and such. He makes a living but does art work on the side to fund his lifestyle and retirement.
My suggestion to you is to take the items you have made previously and posted about here and start casting them and selling them to all of us via mail order. This will allow you to take on more projects and develop a catalogue that you could post online. Look at ProArt, Verlinden, AEF Designs and such. All started as garage industries, some still are. Cheers.
lukiftian
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Posted: Friday, March 04, 2011 - 09:08 AM UTC
By starting one yourself. It's better to be your own boss.

If you mean how do you market your product, manufacture your product, etc. those are other questions but this is such an intimate industry if you create a good product you find sources to sell it and people who'll buy it.
didgeboy
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Posted: Saturday, March 05, 2011 - 01:09 PM UTC
Nick;
There are those of us that have seen your work here and are willing to buy from you just based on those few items you have shown. If you really want to do this, start casting up some of the things, like those IGLOO coolers, and posting them here. My guess is that there are enough of us who would buy to make it worth your while. Us your profits to fund your research and build your business within the community. If the quality and service is as good as I am expecting from you, I think you'll do well. All we need is a paypal address and your off to the races. Cheers.
AngryDog
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Posted: Tuesday, March 08, 2011 - 12:27 AM UTC
Frank, Matthew, Gerald, Terri, James, Damon, Kevin...
Thank you one and all for your very thorough and detailed information and advice, I won't address you guys individually since you cover the same, yet different details to my questions.
I spent a lot of time thinking hard on all your advice. I appreciate all your efforts and I'll surely be applying them, and particularly keeping in sight the reality of hurdles ahead in this line of work.

Well, I am already in the works of accomplishing a production run for my first kit - a multi-media kit and illumination system for the CVN-65 aircraft carrier Enterprise's Hanger deck and Island Interior.
Progress:
http://modelshipwrights.kitmaker.net/forums/150497&page=1
Application example onto my customer's ship:
http://modelshipwrights.kitmaker.net/forums/116458&ord=&page=1

I've have many ups and downs in the past years during which I had initially intended to start a small production run for a resin package of a few accessories for armor. But having too many loopholes in the subject at that time and especially the downs I was facing, I had to shelf them all the while. So far it worked out on a personal basis for the better.. Anyway, I took a different direction,and since I had so many request for this Hanger Deck kit, I decided to take a plunge. I will not make much $ for this particular package but I am looking for this to lead a positive credit to my name...I hope!
I have quite some orders and am working to get this kit out around mid-year. The project is massive and I think it covers almost every material/media in the AM production output, having resin parts,a photo etch sheet, my scratch building work, a comprehensive decal sheet, and lastly a thorough custom made illumination system which I got done locally. The combination of materials sounds costly and it is! However, since the package are limited runs as I will only scratch build an undisclosed number of kits......I will thus have surplus from the resin,photo etch and decal production parts which will be going into a modified but cheaper DIY package.

I've done my own molding and casting, I do know a bit to achieve some quality controlled simple casts, it's the fine bits that I need to send to a professional.
The Photo etch parts are the pain, I don't know jack about CAD or the like, good thing is there're companies that can do that without charging an arm or leg. I could go for such a course locally but there is so little time for that now. So I just have to get the measurements spot on.
Artwork isn't an issue, so decals are settled.

I have also in the pass months dedicated some time on putting together small armor-related packages for production, but until recent I've been hesistant to go forth with releasing them for a variety of reasons. But hell, I'll be taking that step in a couple months from now when they're complete, casting up some and getting others done commercially...including those Igloos. (Thanks for the vote of confidence)

Also, if all goes well in the next couple of days, I will commence work on a particluar kit master I've been contemplating a long while and see if a company will purchase it when the time comes when it's complete. Taking in mind it's no get rich quick scheme but at least I'll be able to open that door and get some better understand to the dollars.

In regards to commission work .... I can't work on stringent datelines, that would surely kill my love for this hobby/business. That's something of an agreement in my accepting the project in the first place.
One of my biggest hurdles is my location, although I have a regular group of international customers, others are hard to come by, simply because of the extra cost on international shipping. I would think that I will make a gradual transition to dedicate more into AM production, than to source customers for commission. I will still keep building that's for sure..to keep putting my work out there.

As for the dream of working in a studio, short of being relocated to the US or such for even the first step, it's probably never going to happen. So be it.

I would believe the conclusion would be that the most important factor is time management and concentrating on my priorities.. Like any other Business Plan..
I'll continue with commission work, produce my AM kits, blog much more of my work throughout the web, get my work published in magazines, partake in competitions, consolidate my resume, make masters and source companies to buy them or/and have enough exposure for companies to seek me. And I would think, that ultimately produce and publish my own magazine or the like...something I've been working on with some Marines for the past year over.
And through out the whole journey, acknowledge that only a few succeed in this line of work.. and that perhaps it would be most wise to always have a back up plan,...skill,...or job!

Thanks Guys and Gal,
Have I gotten it all covered...?

AngryDog
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Posted: Monday, March 28, 2011 - 07:58 PM UTC
Sorry for the late reply.

Thanks for your input Brian. Your thorough information and truth of the matter is noted and I will apply them accordingly.
It's a niche and tough road, that's for sure. I'm prepared as I can be to face it as I am already on the verge of getting something produced.... I'll have to wait and see how it all turns out after that.

None the less...I'm relived that I do have a back up plan.


Thanks again Everyone.

HawkeyeV
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Posted: Tuesday, March 29, 2011 - 06:25 AM UTC
As mentioned there are fewer movie special effects modelers out there because of the introduction of digital media. However, one who has been working for a company is Roy owner of Barracudacals. He worked on a series of Lipton Tea commericals. Fewer companies doing this type of work means the competition is high between those with the talent.

The kicker with this type of work is the ability to deliver on spec in a very short period of time.

I had to produce a race car model for an advertising agency who was going to use it in a marketing campaign for a beer company. The car they wanted didn't exist in kit form, but they needed it NOW. With the help of other talented modelers we were able to pull it off within budget and on time. It was neat to see our labor on store shelves in the form of product packaging and on the track as the latest sponsor of a NASCAR team.
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