Creating 3D miniatures (Part 2)

Creating 3D miniatures (Part 2)

“To understand a real object in its totality we always tend to work from its parts.” – Claude Levi Strauss

Professional computer-aided design (CAD) software has revolutionised model making. It enables the model maker to focus on tiny yet significant details of the actual building. The software measures up to several decimal places which allow designers to design at very high and precise standards. Known for its precision, ARCH uses CAD to create precise, detailed and immaculate miniatures that mirror its real life counterparts. This process is known as artwork development.

However, even as CAD has made producing handicrafts simpler, there is still a need for research, including keen observation and analysis of the architecture. The designer has to pay attention to the building’s engineering as well as the social context informing its design. After the design is set, manual labour then painstakingly assembles the pieces, carefully and seamlessly putting everything together. 

At ARCH, there are three steps to create our 3D miniatures. From thorough research to precise drawing to careful assembly, every step is important in crafting a model. Selective parts of the original can be emphasised as a way to customise your corporate message. As an example, this is how the Big Ben miniature is made.

Steps in the making of an ARCH Miniature: The Big Ben 

1.           Research

Research is done by scrutinising photographs and old floor plans of The Big Ben for drawing. We scrutinise all the details including the iron grills, the structure and height of the clock tower, the cast-iron gothic girders, the quatrefoil motifs and the finials at the apex. The Big Ben in Westminster signified an age of gothic revival. During that age, cast iron architecture represented a yearning for historical truth.

 Research of the details and understanding of the social context is necessary to create a miniature as close as possible to the original. We try to capture the richness of its gothic architecture and its timeless magnificence. 

2.           Artwork Development

Research of the original leads to the next step of artwork development. The graphic design of the miniature is drawn out using CAD. This process is done by drawing lines. The software measures the space between the lines up to a precision of several decimal places. These lines will guide the production, such as where to place the veneers and where the laser-cutting machine should sear.

 In order to recreate the intricacies of the Big Ben, the 3D-miniature’s design is separated into three components: The base, the clock and the pinnacle. These are all made using wood veneers. The base structure is drawn out as a base layer of veneer. Next, the intricate architectural details of the base are laid out in another drawing. This is then cut and mounted onto the structure. The third piece for the bottom frames the borders of Big Ben’s bottom in matching dimensions.

 The clock face is drawn separately. First, the ornate frame is drawn, followed by the clock face, complete with its geometric design, dial and roman numerals. Minute ornaments and motifs are drawn to great precision and smoothened. The drawing is then completed with Big Ben’s pinnacle. 

Overall, the Big Ben miniature consists of over 300 separate pieces.

3.           Production



When the drawing is done, the file is sent to the laser cutting machine to be cut out by searing the edges. When all the pieces are ready, the model will be hand-assembled. This takes skill and technique. A piece of acrylic is used as a base for support. The rest of the veneers are then manually assembled layer by layer. Eventually all the pieces are put together to create The Big Ben miniature.

Big Ben 03


The beauty and intricacy of the miniature lies in the layers of veneer that are layered onto a 3D structure, showcasing the original’s gothic magnificence. This particular 3D miniature is compelling.

At ARCH, we help you to personalise 3D miniature gifts that speak of your corporation’s understanding and commitment to your clients. Customised artistic designs can be chosen to emphasize your message to your client. Give an ARCH miniature art piece to your client as a gift to reaffirm your close working relationship today. Our trained artists will work closely with you to customise the miniature.

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