Here's some of the work for Rocket of London. They were looking for someone to help with building a 1940's style concentration camp. The job expanded to a 6-foot P.O.W. camp guard tower....... Check out the film website on http://www.starcrest.de

jump to guard tower

Monastery door...the real thing

The storyboard called for a close-up of a Gothic style church door. After scouring the area near my home I found a good example - this is it from a distance. The stonework was very weathered from moss, lichen and traffic polution, and the door was chipped, scratched and dented all over. It had also been touched up with modern varnishes, and the huge ornamented hinges had grown by nearly 25% due to dozens of paint layers - but I couldn't show this - it had to be contemporary with 1940.


Models of real objects are much more difficult to make, because they have real surfaces and finishes. The material for the stone was polystyrene, and the door is made of balsa, stained with oils. The hinges were cast from a plastic master with Milliput.

The styrene was cut unto blocks, roughned up then glued together to give convincing fissures. The shapes for the blocks were worked out on computer from measurements of key points (every 5cm!) to get the curves spot-on. The prop has no back - nobody would see it!

The door was made from individual strips of balsa, agained roughened and distressed, then glued together. The stains naturally gathered in the bruised fibres and accentuate the look.

The polystyrene was blue to start with. It was surfaced by coating with PVA glue, then covering with sand sieved to 0.2mm to get the scale right. It was than undercoated with a stone-coloured acrylic blend, then weathered with mossy greens, greys and browns in paints and chalks, by brushing, spraying and pouring, as required.

Guard Tower

The job started with a schematic, which was then scaled so that I got the right number of slats at the right height, the right strut length and thickness.... you get the idea. I made this chart to keep me on track

Since Rocket were in London and I was in Edinburgh, I sent them down lots of wood samples so that they could test them under studio lighting conditions. Here are the samples photographed against my manky old back door gate as a guide.

I cut the samples in half and kept one set, so that I would know which one they picked. I made a recipe mix chart so that I could replicate the finish, of course.

Final selection....

Here's the hut pictured against a meter rule for scale - I found an old post that was the same height as the scale legs were going to be, to give some sense of scale. Note the colour reference chart taped to the side.

Here's the thing on-set....

Mark does a bit of head scratching.....

Viewed from another hut.......

The search-light for the hut, beside a torch. The torch was certainly simpler, but showed the bulb and therefore ruined the scale, so the searchlite was made with 4 rice-grain xenon bulbs with a double layered frosted acryllic diffuser lens.

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