March 26, 2009

City Engine

I'm barely even sure what to say about this stuff. Yes, they are just plain cool... that's obvious. But more than that, I wonder if both products might just represent a sea change in the way we create. 

Not much description is necessary... just watch. First, City Engine, which procedurally constructs complex 3D cities. And then ILoveSketch, which allows artists to draw 3D models with––

Nevermind... just watch. And thanks Kevin, for pointing both products out!

March 26, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

August 11, 2008

Britannica Revealed!


One panel of Britannica. (click photos to enlarge)

It's too good to be true. Artist Chesko (see last post regarding Midtown) succumbed to my infantile beggings and supplications and has recently sent exclusive photographs of his early Britannica work! Chesko's Britannica is staggering; I have no idea how he did it.  It's almost sad to think that that this creation is rolled up in one of Chesko's closets... when it should be hanging on a gallery wall.


Of his fantasy city, Chesko says,

Britannica is the Imagination run amok - my Magnum Opus. 

It begins with a series of maps scaled 1 inch to a mile. Britannica is a city of roughly 400 square miles that contains over 10 million people. It is surrounded by hundreds of suburbs, and the maps when connected portray a metropolitan area over 150 miles wide.

I recently went to Wikipedia to see a map of Gotham City drawn by Eliot R. Brown. My Britannica map is drawn in very similar style, only it makes this rendition of Gotham City look like Hooterville. I also copied maps of the Los Angeles metropolitan area to the same scale, spliced them together, and put them beside Britannica - and Britannica is considerably larger. I have drawn more streets and freeways for Britannica than the whole Los Angeles metropolitan area has in reality. Britannica is easily as intricate and complicated as New York.      

The buildings in Britannica are gigantic. They are ruled by a Titan called Britannica Rex, (the locals call it The Rex), a soaring spectacle reminiscent of the Empire State Building - only it is 2,400 feet tall. In addition to Britannica Rex there is the New World Center, an incredibly massive skyscraper over 2,025 feet tall. Britannica has more than 20 skyscrapers over a thousand feet, and I have modeled them all.  Yes!

Although it is incomplete, I have a model of downtown Britannica that is slightly larger than the Midtown model of New York.  All my models are the same scale, 1:3200.   I wouldn’t have it any other way.

We will be anxious to soon see the Model of Britannica... even if it is incomplete.

Britmetroese Britannica_2

August 11, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

August 07, 2008

Stop and Smell the Miniatures

Nyny01_2click photos to enlarge 

Artist Michael Chesko must live by a similar credo. He first caught the miniature bug while working as a software engineer for Motorola in the early 1980s. His original creation... a sprawling imaginary city named Britannica! His medium and tools... balsa wood, Xacto blades, and fingernail files.

But after ten years of purely creative (but somewhat geeky) fantasy, he realized he must put childish things aside... after all, why spend time daydreaming when one could enjoy the demanding exactitude of reality?

And so, he brings us Midtown Manhattan, his most ambitious work to date...



This scale miniature of Midtown took 2000 hours to complete. As reference, he used blueprints, old photographs, digital reproductions, and satellite images. On a good day, he'd work his way through four city blocks. The entire model is 36" x 30"... a good deal smaller than most office desks. At the 1:3200 scale, the Empire State Building Chesko's favorite skyscraper) roughly reaches the dizzying height of a Campbell's Soup can.


All of us here at the Republic pretty much flipped when we saw Chesko's hand-carved miniatures. Yet we're torn. Because the Republic also takes joy in childish, boneheaded fantasy. That's why we're dying to see some of Chesko's earlier Britannica work! C'mon Chesko!... show us the geeky fun stuff!


Nyny05_2 1 Downtown New York. 2 Downtown and Midtown

Chesko's Midtown model will soon go on display at the Skyscraper Museum in New York. Much thanks to Micheal Chesko himself, who sent Tinselman these photos!

August 7, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

July 22, 2008

Join Us Or Be Destroyed


Republic of Tinselman engineers are currently slaving away on an army of miniature killer-robots. Aren't they perfectly lovely? Now we're just searching for the ideal enemy.


(thanks Eleri)

July 22, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

July 21, 2008

Thumbelina® Brand Mini-Miniatures™


Imagine a horse that fits inside a high school locker and still leaves room for your books. Imagine a horse that jumps hurdles beneath your legs without ever touching your crotch. Imagine a horse that sleeps under your bed in perfect comfort.


Imagine no more! Geneticists at the New Lindbald Centre for Genetic Research in Braunschweig, Germany have created Thumbelina® brand Mini-Miniature House Horse™. When released next summer (2009), the Thumbelinas will be sure to delight both children and adults! They will be released in either male or female sexes, will come in a variety of colors and patterns and, at adulthood, will rarely grow taller than 17 inches! It's only ashame they won't be breedable.

Says Helmut Hienzel Diztl, Ph.D., one of the inventors of the Thumbelina Mini-Miniatures, "In many ways they're more like dogs. Horses are far too spirited to make a decent indoor pet, so we were very careful with the Thumbelina's architecture. In appearance, they're exactly similar to a shrunken miniature horse, but mentality, psychologically speaking, we gave them a pack animal mentality. In fact, we took much of the genetic data straight from dogs. Though in truth, they really are a delicate cocktail of many animals."

Currently, the Lindbald Centre is incubating and growing the horses as they lock down U.S., European, and Asian distributors.

July 21, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

April 07, 2008

Hugely Great Small


As devoted tinsel-readers already know, tinselman is a ginormous fan of the miniature. That's why his brain practically exploded at the tinselmagically amazing Musée des Plans–Relief! Why, he asks, are there no tourists at this remarkable collection of historic Fort2diminutives?... especially when they're housed in such a central location: in the heart of Paris' 7th arrondissement, at the Musée de l'Armée.

click images to enlarge or click here for flickr set

official website

previous tinsel-miniatures

April 7, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

September 17, 2006

Scale Model Archive – Cities

Soviet Era Moscow, photo by Natalia Grishkina ©

Faithful readers of tinselman are fond of all things diminutive. And of course, nothing can be more impressive that a gigantic city, rendered in miniature form. This is why I have gone to incalculable trouble seeking out these scaled down wonders and bringing them together in this handy archive. For your tinselistic enjoyment!

New York, photo by Hurricane Joost (cc)

Edinburgh, photo by only alice ©

Shanghai, photo by Simon & Andrew ©

Shanghai, photo by Andrew Currie (cc)

Nanjing, photo by paul_ark ©

London detail, photo by HalderStream ©


Old Jerusalem, photo by MyNameIsOtto ©

Sydney, photo by mpgilbert ©

San Francisco, by Bechtel Engineering

Rome – 4th Century, photo by D. Lauvernier ©

Singapore, photo by mikeleecs ©

Havana, photo by nfolkert ©

Beijing, photo by Tom Vanderbilt ©

Cincinnati, photo by srhbth ©

Pompeii, photo by Chenzofilms ©

Tobu World Square (thanks, Don Draper!)

Legoland (thanks, Richard Ackerman)

Paris, under glass (thanks, malcolm)

If you know of other any other decent cities for our archives, let me know. I'll add it to the ever increasing list (as long as it's a half-decent photo).

More cities from past posts:
22 Acres of Brooklyn
Futurama - City of the Future
Futurama Film (great!)
New York

Continued below are some photos that don't exactly count as "cities", but I couldn't bear to leave them out...

Reykjivik, photo by The Morally Superior One ©

San Francisco in Jell-O by Elizabeth Hickok ©

Copenhagen Settlement, photo by Robert Ra ©

September 17, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (10) | TrackBack

June 15, 2006



In an flash, 10,000 civilians were killed in Hiroshima. In the days and weeks to come, thousands more would die. The hypocenter (the orange sphere) was triggered at about 600 meters above Aioi bridge. This miniature illustrates that exact point in time.

Here's another Hiroshima model, in striking before-and-after format...





Update: Thanks so much for all these great comments! Please keep it up! And just so you know, these miniatures do not overtly lay blame to one country or another. As far as I understand their purpose is more left up to the viewer, though there is text in one of the museums about the state of nuclear proliferation.

Here are some excerpts from the account of P. Siemes, survivor of the Hiroshima blast...

More and more of the injured come to us. The least injured drag the more seriously wounded. There are wounded soldiers, and mothers carrying burned children in their arms. From the houses of the farmers in the valley come word: " Our houses are full of wounded and dying. Can you help, at least by taking the worst cases?" The wounded come from the sections at the edge of the city. They saw the bright light, their houses collapsed and buried the inmates in their homes. Those that were in the open suffered instantaneous burns, particularly on the lightly clothed or unclothed parts of the body. Numerous fires spring up which soon consumed the entire district. We now conclude that the epicenter of the explosion was at the edge of the city near the Yokogawa Station, three kilometers away from us.

We take off again with the hand cart. The bright day now reveals the frightful picture which last night's darkness had partly concealed. Where the city stood, everything as far as the eye could reach is a waste of ashes and ruin. Only several broken skeletons of buildings completely burned out in the interior remain. The banks of the river are covered with dead and wounded, and the rising waters have here and there covered some of the corpses. On the broad street in the Hakushima district, naked, burned, cadavers are particularly numerous. Among them are the wounded who still live. A few have crawled under the burnt-out autos and trams. Frightfully injured forms beckon to us and then collapse. An old woman and a girl whom she is pulling along with her, fall down at our feet.

Update 2: I recommend the film The Fog of War, an insightful interview with Robert McNamara, who takes an honest and insightful look back on his life – WWII, Japan and the Cold War are especially interesting... and disconcerting.

Update 3: For a response to this post, read Looming Comments.

Additional Photos of Museum
General Tibbets and an Army of Ultramen – Previous post
With God on Our Side – Previous post

June 15, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (65) | TrackBack

June 09, 2006

A New Dawn Rises!


I have a confession to make. Of late, I had begun to become discouraged with our Republic (of Tinselman). I had such hopes, such great ambitions for our fledgling nation. I dreamt that it might slowly grow, mature and eventually age, like the finest French Bordeaux. However, lately I've been forced to wonder, is the Republic of Tinselman forever frozen in that awkward prepubecent stage?

This was far too difficult for me to face alone, so I called Brad [Pitt] and before I could a word out he said, "Hey man, have you heard?! I mean, what d'you think?!"

"Brad" I said, "Of course I've heard. Everybody's heard. I can't get––"

He started laughing, "No, no... I'm not talking about Shiloh. I'm talking about the metropolis! I mean... the presentation! You know... From Emergence to Inferno. Oh God... it's gonna be great, I mean totally frickin' wonderful! I can't wait to see the look on their faces when we... oh god, oh god!" And he suddenly broke into uncontrolled laughter.

Finally Angelina came on the phone and I began to get it all straight. It turns out there was indeed to be a very important presentation. She wouldn't tell me a thing about it, other than it was created by "Wilmey", "Russ" and herself and was to take place in L.A. on June 7th. Of course, it took me a bit to realize who "Wilmey" was... turns out it's her pet name for our very own Adam Wilmer and... well, I did go to this presentation and... honestly, I guess there's no reason to waste anymore time... let me just describe it...


I arrived at Grauman's Chinese Theater at 2:14 in the morning – a discreet time. There were people everywhere. I knew not a one of them. At 3:00 a.m., I was sitting on one of the plush theater-seats next to Brad and Angelina. A moment later, the lights dimmed. A shimmering, lilting music began and the curtains parted to these words...

The Boys Presents...

From Emergence to Inferno

With Special Appearance by Angelina Jolie

Angelina elbowed me and pointed to her name. And I have to admit, I was beginning to shiver with anticipation! And I was bothered only slightly by the fact that the curtains were jammed halfway across the screen. Oh well. In the next moment I utterly forgot about it; I was simply lifted away (in a transcendental sort of way) by the sweet whispering emanating from the THX surround sound system. Angelina elbowed me again, mouthing the words, "that's my voice, that's me!"

Over a black screen, she said this (in her finest british accent)...

It is June 3, 1996. Two men... "the boys"... are standing above the ashes of the greatest city that ever was and ever will be. It is a sad moment. And yet, the boys are as happy as dancing happy little larks.

Suddenly an image appeared and there was Angelina on the silver screen, larger than life, and the boys behind her danced. I swear, they really were just like happpy little larks... it was uncanny (see top photo).

Angelina: The boys wanted it to snow today. This is what they told me. Silly boys... it does not snow in L.A.. But they said it would cover the ashes... a snow-veil, so to speak. I slapped both of them, playfully. Brad laughed when I did that. Then the boys slapped me back. Then I accidentely knocked one of Wilmey's teeth out. He he!


The above image came on the screen and Angelina, still whispering dramatically, continued: "Who are the boys? Why are they important? To answer this vital question, we must push back the hands of time to... another time, another place, to what we like to call Out of Africa. That is where our dream was born. Emergence. The dream of a city. A city commissioned by own illustrious Khan. A city for the Republic of Tinselman. A city constructed of toilet paper rolls. A city conceived and built by sub-Mayor Wilmey and his trusty assistant Russ."

The Angelina in the film continued talking but I could no longer hear her. Now I was weeping uncontrollably. And oh, the next shot was so beautiful...


I didn't even need to hear Angelina to know what this was! A statue! Carefully sculpted to bring glory and honor to me! Khan Miller! But before I could soak it in, this popped onto the screen...


And Angelina was no longer talking. Now she was singing with the voice of an angel. It was a heavenly melody; her lyric went thus...

Four toilet towers,
Bring to them your commerce.
Big road leads straight to it,
In winters, springs and summers.

Then the voice seemed to almost transform into that of a man. It began singing operatically, very quickly (and deep) and, though it was not an especially attractive voice, it had a lot of heart. Immediately I knew it must be Adam Wilmer and he sang these words...

What about the orges?
We have an orge problem!
Someone kill the orges!
The orges are invading!


Then the slow sublime voice of Angelina...

Don't you worry 'bout the orges,
Our stormtroopers will chop their eyes.
We'll throw them in the orge-ovens,
And we'll be eating orge-pies!


It went on like this and there was all sorts of delightful bits, and the orge plot went weaving through all of it, continually growing in intensity, but the theater burst forth with youthful raw energy at the sight of the Khan's personal "parking garage" and "awesome cars" (which are guarded by his own pet dinosaur)...


Or there was the gruesome, but unexpectantly touching sequence: the Gehn Whark Hanging Tribute Ceremony...


And then the lush (and closely guarded) "Battery Park" that powers the city with four massive C cell batteries...


All said, the presentation was exhilarating. Wondrous! But nothing matched its daring climax... (I'm shivering).

For a moment, the sceen went black and Angelina, Wilmey and Russ began reciting a poem... or something like a poem, their voices inseperably woven together (and yet grossly contrasting). In solemn tones, this is what they said...

Life... all things end.
Even empires must eventually... die!
Decayed to ashes and covered,
By our grief;
A veil of snow.

The screeen slowly dissolved to an outdoor scene, very similar to the first image from the film, with the exception that Angelina, Wilmey and Russ were standing, hand in hand, behind the city doing this weird dance thing. And they continued with the poem...

Angelina: Fire cleanses all.
Wilmey: Fire is fun to play with!
Russ: Fire is pretty and orange.

Angelina: Fire is the symbol of eternal passion!
Wilmey: Do you have the matches?
Russ: No, you idiot, I thought you brought them!

Then... silence. It turns out Angelina had the matches. She bent down and... lit the city ablaze!


It was such a beautiful and fitting end for the Metropolis of Tinselman! The entire theater was sobbing! How perfectly stunning! How horrifyingly lovely! We wept.

Of course it ended exactly as it had begun... with the boys dancing over the ashes. And yet there was one small addition. It turns out Wilmey was really determined to see some snow, so he did this macro slow-motion salt shaker thing as Angelina spoke...

Mourn at the ashes,
There's enough to fill a silo.
Hearken to the silent veil,
And I will name my baby Shiloh.
A new dawn,
The Republic of Tinselman liveth...

I cried many times that night. And I had a great and an important realization. Yes... the Republic of Tinselman certainly is forever frozen that awkward prepubecent stage. We can never grow. We can never mature. We can never age. And all of this is awesome!!!

Note: Metropolis of Tinselman model and From Emergence to Inferno by Adam Wilmer. Wilmey deserves much thanks and kudos for such great descriptions of each and every area of the city! Please overwelm him with kind and flattering emails!

June 9, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack

May 31, 2006

Elephant on Your Eyelash


Willard Wigan, a self declared "micro-miniaturist", creates his masterpieces within the eye of a needle, the tip of an eyelash, or a grain of sand. According to his web site,

When working on this scale he slows his heartbeat and his breathing dramatically through meditation and attempts to harmonise his mind, body and soul with the Creator. He then sculpts or paints at the centrepoint between heartbeats for total stillness of hand. He likens this process to "trying to pass a pin through a bubble without bursting it." His concentration is intense when working like this and he feels mentally and physically drained at the end of it.


His subjects range from elephants to Elvis to the Liberty Bell to Santa Claus (and more).

(via: boingboing)

May 31, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack