Acadia Square - Phase 1: Main Street Buildings
Acadia Square is an urban renewal/restoration/enhancement project not unlike similar projects in many small towns and in fact very similar to projects I worked on in my career years. The Main Street side of the project is a row of three Victorian buildings. In real life these would have been gutted and refitted with new mechanical systems common to all buildings in the project, and all new construction on the inside to make them modern and fully functioning for today's business needs. The exterior walls would be sandblasted and/or painted and new doors and windows made in traditional style installed.
So, the project begins as the buildings have been gutted; raised; a new common foundation/parking garage poured under the whole block, including one free standing building (Phase 3); and space for a new building (Phase2).
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Before beginning the construction of the three DPM (Design Preservation Models) buildings that make up the Main Street side of Acadia Square I established the color pallette for the entire project. The green would be the common trim color and the other colors were for each of the five buildings. I then assembled the front wall of the center building and painted front and back walls to try out the colors.
I tried a few different approaches to painting the resin walls. I use acrylics. Nothing really worked well. I tried primer but it did not want to adhere to the resin any better than the paint did. I pre-washed the walls as the instructions called for but it still took at least three coats to get good coverage. Even now I can scrape the paint off right down to the resin with a finger nail, although it has hardened and looks good. If not for the odor I might try oils next time.
Assembling The Buildings
The whole project started with the base slab, which had been cut according to the footprint sizes of the five buildings. I assembled and painted the walls that would be needed for the two "end" buildings. Using styrene I made connector strips and joined the three front walls.
At this point, less than a week into a three month project I was already up against a challenge that would slow me down by an entire week. The following three figures show the problem with the way DPM buildings are assembled and what happens when you start leaving out walls.
For every side wall you leave out there is a gap that must be compensated for when trying to join the back walls. I am not sure how DPM compensates in the kits such as Merchant's Row, in which they join three buildings in similar fashion. In any case, that was just the beginning. I started by making a floor slab for the three buildings so I would know where everything needed to line up.
I also wanted to line up the back wall for the center building so that I kept the door. That was the part that put the project on hold for a week as I tried to figure out how to make that work out. I needed to line of the left edge of that wall with the arrowhead which would be the corner of the hotel. I finally opted for cutting the right side and making a third storey addition on top of the corner building.
Obviously I had to make the front and back walls connect up somehow at the third floor level so it was a simple matter of making it look like an addition, making sure to leave the addition walls hang low enough to accept the support strips for the roof of the corner building later. The following pictures show that progression.
The other thing worth noting is how the third floor wall on the bank side had to end at the point where it would join the hotel and you can see the way that was arranged.
With the three buildings joined and all walls painted it was time to add the strips that would support the roofs and add the sub roofs which were cut from picture matte. The support strips were made from balsa square stock and to adhere them to the resin I used CA gel. The only trick in doing that is to wet the wood slightly so the CA will adhere well to it.
Being a commercial building I opted for window blinds for the upper floors. I simply made that as a graphics file in Paint Shop Pro and printed off a page of it. I cut it to fit and glued it to the backs of the "glass" using CA gel.
Then, in strategic spots where I wanted a hollow look but did not want to see into a lot of empty space I made little "boxes" as shown below on the side door (left). For that I just used the dark grey construction paper I used for my streets. Black paper makes it too dark and unrealistic. A mid grey works very nicely.
Ground floor windows were covered using two methods. For the dining room and bar I used drapes. I went to an online drapery catalog, grabbed a pic of some commercial drapes from a free graphics site, altered it in Paint Shop Pro, resized it to the appropriate size.
For the book store, drug store, credit union and beauty salon I used photos of interiors, resized them to an appropriate size and saved them. I made my signs by using a digital micrometer to measure all my window and door openings and created signs to fit them in Paint Shop Pro.
I then made a Word document that included all my signs, drapes and interior photos. I printed that off and set that aside.
Next, I cut a piece of picture matte the exact size of the interior wall section of the building and marked with my knife through the window openings, accurately laying out the window and door "grid" I then marked that with pencil so I could easily see my lines.
I cut out the drapes, signs and interiors and glued them to the grid on the picture matte. I then glued the matte in place.
This requires a bit of fussing. You have to crop the photo to what you believe will look realistic in terms of size and range of view, pretending that you are looking through the window from the sidewalk. I actually altered the images (always 600 dpi), printed them and tried them in the openings a few times, making one a tiny bit larger and a couple slightly smaller, a few times until I thought it looked realistic. Once I had those adjustments made it was simply a matter of cutting them out and gluing them to the picture mattes as required.
It all comes down to having a graphics program you are comfortable with. The raw materials are easy enough to find. Drapes and interiors can be found online.
I use Paint Shop Pro 6.0 It is an "old" version but I tried the newer versions and they are not as good. The newer versions are geared mainly to photo manipulation and printing (from your camera) and don't have some of the really basic tools of the older versions. So, at one point a few years ago, I uninstalled my PSP8 and went back to PSP6.
The last four photos show views of the finished Main Street buildings. The second and third show the interior photos. I am happy with the way they turned out. The barber pole in the last photo was made by gluing an image around a toothpick, trimming to size and sticking it on with a tiny drop of CA adhesive.
This completes Acadia Square - Phase 1. Please use the links below to navigate to another page in this series.