I’ve been wanting to do this for a while. It’s not a perfect execution, but I’m still pleased. I’ve lit up buildings before, but this one seemed to need a little extra. Specifically, I decided that it would look great with some windows lit, and some dark.
I wish that the windows at the top lined up correctly, but the middle looks pretty good, right? And the extra lighting at the “doors” was an unexpected perk. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get it to look “normal” when not lit up / in the dark.
Seeing the model when not lit up probably gives away how I did it, which is somewhat disappointing as well. But, this was a pretty easy mod to execute (sorta) so I can’t complain that much, right?
Please don’t take the limited amount of photos on this model lead you to think it’s not beautiful. It’s just… one side looks like the next, so there’s not much point in taking a bunch of photos. The architects of the real thing, and the designers at Fascinations, designed an eye catching bit of architecture. It’s also a very easy model to build. In fact, you might have noticed that I haven’t done a normal review post for this build, and jumped straight to the mod. Well, I’ve got something special planned for the build review, but it’s not quite done yet, so… this post is first. Plus, I needed to do a “practice” build first, and I wanted to do this mod anyways, so I technically did build this one first.
So, anyways, if it’s not obvious how I did this, there is a piece of paper lining the inside of the model, with black dots covering some of the windows (or at least attempting to… the top windows didn’t quite line up the way they were supposed to… yes, I am a little bitter about that). I went about creating that paper by scanning part #1 on my printer. Then I opened the scan up in Paint.NET and traced the outline of the part (including the fold lines) in a separate layer. Then, following a somewhat random process I “painted” dots over some of the windows. I then padded the diagram to fit in a regular 3.5×5″ photo. Because that’s the easiest way to print things to scale in Paint.NET. Here’s the result:
I did add a little bit of blue and yellow mixed haze in the print, hoping that it would give a little depth to the light showing through, but that didn’t really work. I also tried mirroring it. Once I printed it, I cut it out and folded it up (with the mirrored one inside out). I inserted them into the model after finishing shaping part #1. The one that was inside out would have hidden the effect of blacking out the windows, but the light bled through around the spots and the on / off of various windows was less pronounced. So I decided to go with the black on the outside. The dark lines along the folds was intended to block the light from leaking through the fold perforations, but that didn’t work out.
As for lighting it, I used a little floating LED light thing that was for wedding centerpieces. It’s nice, compact, cool white, and doesn’t flicker. But it was too tall to fit under that small base, so I designed and 3D-printed a base that would hold the LED light and line up with the base box. It was printed in yellow filament, cause that’s what I had, but I wrapped it in black electrical tape so it would look nice. Here’s a side-by side of that (though the base sorta disappears into the black velvet):
Another thing I did, that didn’t really pan out, was drill a hole through the roof piece so that the light might shine up and light up the spire. Drilling through Metal Earth sheets is not done lightly. I have created a “jig” for doing this, which simply consists of two squares of “appearance” boards (smooth surface wood) with bolts and nuts passing through. I drill an appropriate size hole through the boards when they are secured together, then unbolt them and place the metal sheet between the two boards, lining it up precisely so that where I want the hole is lined up with the hole drilled through. Then I bolt it back together, tightening it down well to hold the metal sheet firm. Using the pre-drilled hole as a guide, I then drill through the sheet. This only really works for small holes. If the hole gets much bigger, the drill bit bites in and rips up the metal.
Finally, after having assembled and built my little lighted base, I found that the paper kept trying to “fold” inward, away from the walls. So I rolled up some cellophane packaging material I found lying around and fed it through the small hole at the bottom of the model, then used some long tools to push it out towards the side, hoping that it would unroll and put pressure outwards on the paper, which it kinda did. But, being clear cellophane, it didn’t block much, if any, of the light.