Wich way to make a prototype/ formgiving model?

  • Clay and paint it
  • Foam and cover it with filler and paint it
  • Cardboard and paint it
  • Clay model and make a mold and poar plastic in it
  • Clay model and use cheap home build vacuum molder

0 voters

I need some advice, I know what kind of possibilities there are to make models. But what is the easiest and fastest to make a model. And don’t really want to pay hundreds of dollar so all rapid prototyping are excluded.

If you know better ways please post it or how you make the models.

The fastest and easiest way will completely depend on what you’re making. Generally I’d say yellow foam thats been prepped and painted is the easiest way to get to an effective appearance model, but theres still a huge amount of work involved from just getting the foam base to properly prepping/coating the surface, sanding it, and painting.

Hmm should been more detailed on going on the foam. Cause the real blue or yellow molding foam are very expensive compared to normal white foam you could buy at local shops. Prices are 10 times more expensive using special foam.

I can get big piece of normal foam for 1 or 2 euro and special foam cost abour 20 to 30 euro.

Sadly design is an expensive profession…it’s the reason our markers cost $5 a piece, paper is $1 a sheet, and foam goes along with it.

With that said, how big of a piece do you get for that price? At school we purchased the foam directly from the school, but it was only something like $8 for a board foot (12"x12"x4").

The white stuff is useless for modelling, it’s meant to be packing material. I suppose it isn’t impossible to make something out of it, but you’ll spend FAR more time preparing it. I’d do some research, maybe if you’re in a specific area theres someone on this forum who knows a good local supplier that has good prices. You also may be able to purchase it in bulk to get the cost down.

Oh yeah, and get a respiratior too if you’re working with the stuff. Foam particles in your lungs don’t feel good.

Its depend of how you work it actually. Cause you are going to fill the outside, you use it to make the base shape.

2 euro for 1,5m x 1m x 4cm or 2 cm

I made this with that foam and wrap it in vinyl. The reels I bought on the market for 2 euro. I used markers on the cork in the middle not good idea hehe. But I added LED for realism in the screen and the printed with overhead sheet to make the screen.

I needed to wrap the foam first in a layer of paper so you wont see the bubble of the foam. But if i use fillers it would work too. Cause mostly you use fillers you need to sand it all smooth again. Just fillers if its a hard shape that need to be painted and paper for easy shape i can wrap vinyl. I heard you can wrap vinyl on difficult shapes too but havent seen tutorial for it or i need to think of a way to do it myself.

best process for modeling totally depends what you are making (how big? need for details? form?) and what you need (how many models? visual? functional? weight accurate? form only? photo model?)…

in addition to the methods you mention there are lots others incl.-

  1. MDF wood or renshape + traditional wood modeling techniques.
  2. vac form plastic over a MDF or other form.
  3. cutting and gluing sheets of plastic with desktop modeling tools
  4. paper mache (dont laugh, actually quite useful for larger organic forms)
  5. etc.

in the end, there are lots of methods and different costs. no secrets really, and sometimes, the $ do just add up. i remember i did a wood model of a auto pressure washer in school and all in (paint, wood, graphics, etc.) it cost me about $800+ ! Sat around in my garage at home for a while because i couldn’t bear the thought of throwing out what cost me so much time and money. in the end though, got kicked to the curb.


If I can’t do it with foamcore and hotglue, I reach for high density foam, a saw, and 60 grit sandpaper.

More Info will get you a better answer. What are you going to make, how accurate and for what purpose?

Of your list I’d go with foam and filler.
I’ve used plaster and a brush as filler before which is really cheap and can be sanded to a polish and it’s not toxic or an irritant. You can use a tool dip for a rubber finish or a polyurethane sprays, automotive products are very useful. I use automotive lacquer at work to finish pieces and to prep them for mold making.

heres a very old post that might be useful

have fun!

Just bit topic to stir about prototyping. Just visual side of it don’t need to work but to show how it would have look in real life. I know 3d renders are great on computers but people like to hold the real things and see the actual size too.

But one thing I haven’t ever made a bottle model. Like a perfume bottle or a drink bottles. I know how they make them with pressure and a outer mold. I got few pre fab products before they becomes bottles. I picked few up during the Interpack convention in Germany few years back.

But I can’t get my hands on any of those machinery. Cause my school packaging design education is totally news so they got very little things to support prototyping. Only thing they got is a cutter plotter to cut paper templates. And those machines are very expensive.

For student is way too expensive making models that cost more then they earn in a half year. Rapid prototyping companies are also not option cause they ask allot of money too.

But I know packaging goes further than cardboard boxes. What kind of method can i use to make a good bottle with a liquid I can ad inside. So inside need to be hollow to make it look realistic. Maybe transparent too look good for perfume. Or are these kind of models not hollow but a mold filled with transparent plastic and then polished?

What machines and or tools do you have available to you in your shop?
Your design will also effect how you would go about making it.

I would say there are two ways to look at it.

  1. Create your design with real world production method in mind, when you are happy with the design then work with someone to help you get the most representative model you can achieve within your means.

Given your limited means, it may be that you use computer renderings as the visual component of your story, and a solid model to further elaborate on the tactile elements, form, feel and so on.

2. Begin by looking at the machines, tools, and processes that are within your means, and design the packaging around them.

No machines actually. I could try to made a home build vacuum molder. And try to make 2 half shapes and then paste them together. Problem 2 half shapes need to be perfect aligned together and pasting them together need to be good so it wont leak.

I found a real model give more then just a rendering. Also directly can see if its too big or not. Cause drawing and computer rendering give you how it looks but nothing about size and how you can hold it.

I can get all sort of stuff to make sillicon/rubber/latex molds. Al kind of poly stuff and also colors. I can get white/transparent/silver/gold inject printer sticker sheets. I can get plexiglass and vinyl in all kind of color or texture. A paint blaster somethings, like a hair dryer but much higher heat. A tiny compressor can use for airbrush. A dremel to engrave things or to polish things.

Just things that are not that expensive.