1:100 Zaku Kai - Papercraft Prototypes
This 3-D mockup is based on my current version of the chest block and backpack designs. I've already achieved a pretty good level of confidence in my design just through the 2-D renderings I've done, but in trying to figure out how it would look at this angle or that, and trying to check that my orthographic renderings really did line up to make a valid 3-D object, I was having a bit of trouble. Additionally, there are areas of the chest that I've been having trouble defining or even understanding in 3-D, such as the cockpit hatch. Drawing an isometric rendering is time-consuming, really the kind of drudgery that should be relegated to a computer - except that I don't know how to use 3-D modeling software and I don't have time to learn right now. Creating a papercraft version of a blocky shape like the chest, on the other hand, only took a couple hours and the result is that I now have a tangible model of a part of my design which I felt I needed more confidence in.
The plans were drawn out on metric graph paper. I created the papercraft plans by splitting all the Zaku's planes into triangles, calculating the 3-D length of each edge, and triangulating to create the right shape on the plane. I then scanned the plans into the computer for archival, and printed out a copy to use for the prototype. Then, with the measurements of my head design in hand, I sought out a pre-built Zaku head which would match the dimensions: I wound up grabbing an old 1:144 Hi-Zack head. Its height and width are just about exactly right - in length, however, it's 3mm too short. Close enough for now.
The chest mockup is great because it took so little effort to put it together and I feel like it validates the strength of my design. It also pointed out a few areas that may need further refinement based on information from the paper mockup - for instance, the angled planes on the bottom-rear of the chest block need to be adjusted, so they can be planar and still satisfy the edges defined in the plans. Additionally, the top of the backpack may extend too far backward - or else the bottom not far enough - I feel like the backpack looks too blocky, especially hanging off the squared-off back contour.
This prototype has done a lot to improve my confidence in the currnt design. It also has given me some ideas of how to improve the plans. Among other thigns, I've decided that the back-face planes of the chest block should slope backward rather than being straight. This design really doesn't have a lot of "on-axis" lines or planes, so I think the ones I did include can potentially be distracting. The idea for sloping the back of the chest also solves the problem of how to handle the sloped faces at the bottom-back of the chest, and also gives me a chance to counter-sink the backpack into the chest block, which I think could be a neat design feature.