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THE DESIGN PROCESS

I first learned about using a couple of styles of unfinished wooden Michaels hutches to make quarter scale houses from Pam Junk of the SmallandSmaller online group, whose graphics I used for my Bunny's Cottage.

You will find my original page about my first efforts with these houses here. (I also have an older page on working in general with the several styles of hutches in twelfth scale here.

Although made for these simple little hutches, the final designs could be used on the sides and back (which would become the front) of a plain room box, for instance, in not only quarter but larger scales, as well. I have several plain room boxes that I may cover with graphics this way, once I have used up my stock of hutches.

WORKING WITH THE IMAGE

Here is a broad description of how I do it.

I download three copies of my inspiration pic to a new worksheet document in my PaintShopProX program. Originally I used just a single image until I messed up one time and couldn't find the original anywhere online again. Now I use three copies; copying, cutting and pasting from two and saving one exact copy of my original inspiration.

The latest house I worked on was this aqua stucco with a white arched doorway and window. This is the entire image I had. Notice there is only a partial door and a glimpe of windows that are almost covered with vines and tree limbs, as well as a portion of a bench with wagon wheel ends that sticks out in front of the door. Also at the bottom of the pic is just the head of a cast iron duck, some pot rims and almost totally obscured fence posts.

The first thing I did was copy from one of the originals to rework a separate clean door. This is a matter of removing what I don't want, then using mirror images of the partial bit to cut and paste two sides, then cutting and pasting and recreating what is missing. I try to keep a realistic grain line as much as possible.

I copied the largest visible window section and used the same process to create a full window.

I also fiddled with a tiny sliver of a bit of reflection in the upper curve of the window to make what passes for a shadowed curtain in all the panes. (From a distance and riding a fast horse, this works. lol)

I took a sliver of the blue stucco that showed in the picture and created an entire wall. In several of my early versions I used this process with bricks and stone, but it is very tedious and not always satisfactory. I have a program called Brickyard which I may use for brick and stone walls for future designs, although its versions look too regular, too clean and stylized for my taste with some of these old houses and shops. And, of course, I can find all kinds of brick and stone walls by Googling, probably.

I removed entirely the partial bench and the duck at the bottom of the picture (sometimes I can create a whole from just a piece if I want to, but these two I could not and didn't want to keep anyway) and also took out the partial fence posts. Next I eliminated the pot rims, then cut and pasted and redrew the half trees and plants to make full ones. I also did the same for the hanging basket where the top had been cut off in the original image.

The final version is a matter of cutting and pasting the new doors and windows onto the clean stucco wall, then relayering the plantings, hanging basket, door light, etc. Although the finished version still has vines and tree limbs more or less as the original, it is now a full front view of a house, and the extra clean windows allow me to paste them on the upper story or to the sides of the finished house if I choose to. In addition, I will have them and the doorway to add to my ever growing stock of separate house elements.

If you compare with the original, you will notice that I removed one window on the left and added another window on the right. I also added a small window over the door and moved the planter to the right side.

The final result extends around the house corner. I can print out additional plain wall if I need to for the back of the house and the peak area as I need it. I can also add a window there, too.

This is basically the process I use for all my Michaels hutch houses.

This is the page I saved after creating this house front, although for some of the houses I have larger sections of blank wall.

When I am ready to use the new house front, I print a sample copy and any additional doors and windows, in black and white, quickest setting, on regular paper. I trial fit it to my house and make any adjustments to my document before printing out my final version, which will be on lightweight cardstock in color at the printer's highest setting.

I use regular tacky glue, spreading it evenly with an old credit card, usually house front first, then the back. For the roof, I use a heavier cardstock, sometimes simple, other times shingled, stone, thatched, etc. Decorative scissors are helpful to cut rows of shingles and roof trims.

For the interior, the order is top floor ceiling, then walls, then floor. I usually use white or offwhite for the ceiling to bring in more light. I fold under the ceiling's front edge slightly so that there is a finished edge when glued into place.

Depending on my wallpaper, I usually start on one side, creasing at the corner and extending across the back wall in one continuous piece, with a tiny bit of overlap at the opposite corner. Then I slide in the second side wall. If I am printing out wallpaper, I sometimes use one continuous piece for all three walls, creasing it at the corners, but it is not as easy and mistakes are sometimes hard to correct if there is a bubble in the glue or it is crooked, for instance. If I have a special paper I want to use that is not large enough, I will use three separate pieces, being sure there is an overlap of the back wall so that no gaps will show when the side walls are slid into place. I generally prefer using only one pattern or a solid color, rather than combining a stripe or print and a solid, for instance, because the ceilings are so low, particularly on the top floor. There are exceptions, like using wood paneling for the bottom and paper for the top in a pub, for instance.

For the second floor, since there are cut outs at the edges where the hutch doors were, I use a flooring piece that will wrap over the edge to hide the notches and make one continuous surface.

After that comes baseboards or ceiling trims. I have learned, however, that the space is so tiny and the ceilings so low that I don't usually have a cornice, and depending on how it will be furnished, I may not use a baseboard.

I then do the lower floor in the same order. Lastly, I may cut a new piece for the narrow sides to cover any mistakes and give a neater finished edge.

One of these days soon - like when I have a clear surface somewhere - I will be choosing wallpapers for the interior of this and all the other houses and then start printing these out to make more hutch houses. One at a time, of course, else I will have another bigger mess than I do right now.

DESIGNING A SHOP

The principle is basically the same for shops - removing extraneous bits, creating clean windows and doors, and then relayering.

Here is an example that I will use to create a coffee shop. I will ultimately remove everything in the front of the shop, saving images of the planter and other bits that I might choose to use later.

I will do the same kind of cutting and pasting to extend the windows and create a complete door, etc. All the window reflections will be removed, as well as extraneous images like pipes, sign brackets, etc.

Many shop images include lots of signs and menus stuck all over the place. I usually save copies and sometimes clean them up and use some selectively in the final version. I want my shops to be tidier than their original counterparts. lol

This piece of stained glass, although it doesn't look too different here, I have cleaned up as an example. It will be replaced in a "clean" window later, and not necessarily the same one as the original. I also clean up store signs; sometimes using the original, with modifications, or I may create an entirely new one.

Finally, for this building I will create a stucco like wall, matching it to the existing stone work. Sometimes with shops I will relayer the table and chairs without the people; other times I omit them entirely if it is too difficult to create them from the visible bits. I try to keep a copy of the shop both with and without the tables and chairs, etc., in case I have a different plan when I actually do the shop and its interior.

And this is what keeps me up until the wee hours ....

So, if I don't even print out all that I have already done, why do I keep doing them?

I used to make book covers for relaxation at night and now have literally hundreds of books. Now I am addicted to using this process for these houses and have lots of inspiration all the time for making new ones. As in everything else I do, however, I have a tendency to flit from one new idea to the next - leaving unfinished projects everywhere in my wake. Now I have more house designs (or partially done ones) than I could ever use.

Once I have used up my store of Michaels hutches for these little houses, I wonder what will be next for my doing-this-before-I-go-to-sleep routine....

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