Using Photoshop for Dollhouse Mock-ups

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I mentioned on another post that I use Photoshop to do mock-ups of dollhouses before I start altering them. I used to draw them out to scale and then make photocopies that I could then play around with. I've also done poster board mock-ups. It used to be I had a clear vision of what I wanted and then built it, only to find the final product a disappointment. Either you remodel or you just live with it. Photo-editing has made this much easier. There are multiple tutorials on Youtube so I won't go into the finer details of how to use Photoshop.

Since I had these mock-ups anyway, I figure I may as well show examples of what you can do. This has saved me from making one very major screw-up, which I'll point out on the first picture below. These will have to be multiple posts but oh well, easily scrolled through. Or ignored if you prefer!

Some of you may know I want to do an "inspired by" (not a spot-on recreation) of the Laura Plantation in Louisiana using a Lawbre Rosedawn I got pretty cheap. I went through a good 15 or 20 iterations of various ideas but am only going to post the six with major changes. To give examples of some of the minor changes I'm not going to bother you with, I had the original Rosedawn windows on the dormers. Too many different windows on one house, let's use the same ones from the ground floor. Much better. How do all those French-style windows and doors look with vertical mullions on each side? WAY too busy, getting rid of those. You get the idea.

There are other photo-editing softwares out there, probably some of them free. Maybe someone familiar with them can give the pros and cons of each? I got the absolute basic Adobe Photoshop years ago. I forget how much I paid for it but I think around $99? Worth every penny, I've used it extensively.

Just to show how ideas can progress - and how photo-editing makes that progression soooo much easier than drawing things out, building mock-ups, or heaven forbid actually building the darn things - below are my various changes with the whys and wherefores of each. This is much easier than you might think. Once you get a basic model of a house to scale, you can just copy in entire portions of details. You don't create every window and door from scratch, you just make one and then copy/paste. Want to change a color? Select an area then fill with the color of your choice. Heck of a lot easier than painting!

So here's how photo-editing can help with that. First up is my original plan. I widened the middle dormer and extended it out to accommodate the exterior staircases. In my mind's eye, I thought this was the way to go . . . until I saw it. Hated it. Hated hated hated it. That dormer visually detracts from the entire house and, let's face it, is pretty ugly. Imagine if I'd gone to the trouble of making it - even if only a cardboard mock-up - rather than just getting a Photoshop visual.

Rosedawn Mockup 1.jpg

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Maybe if I break up that expanse of yellow siding on the dormer? And oh yeah, what the heck, let's put in the brightly colored railings of the original house and change those exterior staircases just for grins.

NOPE, doesn't help, still ugly. And since the columns are going to be cottage white, those painted railings are orphaned. They tie in with nothing. Maybe if I paint the ground floor windows that will help? Ugh, wow, do those ever clash with the brick. DELETE. But the stairs are an option. Moving on . . .

Rosedawn Mockup 2.jpg

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I'll get rid of the sidewalls on that dormer. Maybe increase the roof angle. Oh darn, now the window doesn't fit. Quick search on Ebay for "oval stained glass window", copy that, get rid of the background, paste it in . . . and now I have a Victorian on my hands. DANGIT DANGIT DANGIT!

Rosedawn Mockup 3.jpg

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I'll go back to the original dormers. No bump-out now, the exterior staircases have to be inside the porch. Okay, that's historically accurate, many Creole plantation homes have the outside stairs in the front half of the porch. Oh, and that brickwork is too much, I'll break that up with some half-timbering. Think Jean Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop in the French Quarter. And while I'm at it, I think a windowed door would work better. Find a model, copy/paste, reverse and add to the side to make it a double.

What I'm left with is a door that's too visually detracting due to its size in relation to the other doors and windows. And that half-timbering is a HOT MESS.

Rosedawn Mockup 4.jpg

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Okay, let's go back to a single door on the ground floor. And simplify that overly busy half-timbering. Alright, this is better but I'm still not liking the staircases inside the porch area.

Rosedawn Mockup 5.jpg

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I want those exterior staircases, darnit! So that middle dormer needs to be a bump-out. Lower the roof angle... copy in the detailing from a photograph of the actual Laura Plantation (I'm pretty sure I've seen that starburst detail in miniature)... I lose a window and square footage but oh well, that front wall would have been 30 inches from the open rear anyway, so hardly usable...

And voila, we have a winner! I may go with the straight staircases but those I can just swap out with the semi-circular ones in real life once the porch is bumped out. They're the same height so I just won't glue anything in until I see which looks best.

Hopefully all of this has shown how Photoshop has simplified my mini life. :)

Rosedawn Mockup 6.jpg

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Not to belabor a point (too late for that, Kells!) but this process also works wonders for floor plans. You don't have to create stairs, windows, fireplaces, and etc. You just find a page of architectural symbols on the Internet and then just copy all of that stuff in. It helps me to visualize how things will work.

I knew I wanted knee walls in the attic rather than tight narrow corners all around so I added those. How would the staircases work inside the porch? Let's try it and see. Oh wait, this house wouldn't have had indoor plumbing, kiss those bathrooms goodbye.

Here's a description of the Rosedawn from the Internet. This is what I started with because it had the basic floor plan.

Rosedawn - Floor Plan.jpg

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Another way to do something similar, if you don't have photo-editing software, is Microsoft Powerpoint.  I use it to create blueprints, mock-ups, and to create repetitive patterns for ceiling and floor designs.  I like that it is has the rulers and grids for making things true to scale.  The old newspaper wall covering below I created my cutting and pasting old newspaper images into Powerpoint.  I did then run it through Paintshop Pro to age all of the images to a similar color.

newspapers 2.jpg

newspapers.jpg

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Modified the floor plan and put the staircases on the porch. Knee walls added to the attic. Copied a wall or two and moved those around. As mentioned, the architectural symbols for all doors, windows, fireplaces, stairs, and etc. were simply copy/pasted in, I didn't have to create a thing. Very simple.

Creole Floor Plan.jpg

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Modified the floor plan to match the exterior I decided upon. The bump-out for the porch isn't usable now but oh well. I'll probably put a fake low half-door to imply access to attic storage in that area. Got rid of the bathrooms and made the pantry a storeroom. I'll put a galvanized steel tub or hip bath in there. Going to need lots of chamber pots and basin & bowl sets in the bedrooms! Ooo, now I have room to hang a sheila from the ceiling in that room. Fun, I can hang the washing on it. Playing around with this and visualizing one's ideas really helps a lot!

Creole Floor Plan w: Exterior Stairs.jpg

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26 minutes ago, Khadi said:

Another way to do something similar, if you don't have photo-editing software, is Microsoft Powerpoint.  I use it to create blueprints, mock-ups, and to create repetitive patterns for ceiling and floor designs.  I like that it is has the rulers and grids for making things true to scale.  The old newspaper wall covering below I created my cutting and pasting old newspaper images into Powerpoint.  I did then run it through Paintshop Pro to age all of the images to a similar color.

 

Just saw this. You posted while I was still blathering on, lol. I've used Powerpoint for presentations but didn't know it could do all of that! I'm totally stealing, er, I mean "borrowing" your newspaper wallpaper. How perfect for an attic! I've also "borrowed" designs from Bradbury & Bradbury to create wallpapers and ceiling designs. I printed on acid free paper, sealed the walls, thought I did everything correct and yet I still had bleed-through and staining. I don't know what I did wrong but I had to get rid of all of it. Argh!

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34 minutes ago, KellyA said:

 I printed on acid free paper, sealed the walls, thought I did everything correct and yet I still had bleed-through and staining. I don't know what I did wrong but I had to get rid of all of it. Argh!

I use a spray called Fixatif to seal all paper:

https://www.amazon.com/Krylon-K01306-Workable-Fixatif-11-Ounce/dp/B00023JE7U/ref=asc_df_B00023JE7U/?tag=hyprod-20&linkCode=df0&hvadid=167143377764&hvpos=1o1&hvnetw=g&hvrand=1279137218586665785&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=m&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=1015116&hvtargid=pla-303396566284&psc=1

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1 hour ago, Sable said:

I'm going to get some of that. I always use matte spray sealer on wallpapers, and I did on my printed ones too, but I didn't spray the back side. I assume you do? I painted the walls with Kilz figuring nothing gets through that! Wrong. Does Fixatif also fasten the colors? Besides the staining, I had bleeding in mine. Mostly not horrible but many edges of the designs got blurry. And I swear the color red thinks it has a right to own the world. It bled out the worst of all.

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I wonder if you gave the walls a skim coat of spackle or joint compound between cots of primer, if that would help stop the bleeding?  I prime with flat interior latex paint and haven't had a problem with wallpaper colors bleeding.

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3 hours ago, havanaholly said:

I wonder if you gave the walls a skim coat of spackle or joint compound between cots of primer, if that would help stop the bleeding?  I prime with flat interior latex paint and haven't had a problem with wallpaper colors bleeding.

I've only had the color bleeding problem with wallpapers I printed. Well, those and some really cheap multi-packs. I used colorfast ink so it must have been because I didn't seal the paper correctly. I should have known to seal the back side because, obviously, GLUE. (smacks forehead)

I'd be afraid I would make the walls uneven if I covered them with spackle or joint compound. Lawbre wood is smooth as glass. Those old Hofco kits, RGT, and Earth & Tree are similar. The wood is perfection and a dream to decorate. Spackle does certainly help with kits of poor quality woods. I've used tubs of it on them! Tweezers also come in handy with those, to pull all the splinters from my fingers, lol.

Anyway, I won't be using a stitch of wallpaper in the Creole house so I guess I don't need to worry about it with this one. I may or may not try making my own papers again for future houses.

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Once the spackle is dry you sand it smooth & flat.  Even that perfect wood needs at least a coat or two of primer or sealer.

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23 hours ago, KellyA said:

Just saw this. You posted while I was still blathering on, lol. I've used Powerpoint for presentations but didn't know it could do all of that! I'm totally stealing, er, I mean "borrowing" your newspaper wallpaper. How perfect for an attic! I've also "borrowed" designs from Bradbury & Bradbury to create wallpapers and ceiling designs. I printed on acid free paper, sealed the walls, thought I did everything correct and yet I still had bleed-through and staining. I don't know what I did wrong but I had to get rid of all of it. Argh!

You're very welcome to use it.  As a teacher, I've come to use PowerPoint for everything.  It is a great work space.  As for paper, I have used sturdy card stock and matte paper.  For "linoleum" floors, I have used photo paper.  I find it takes some experimentation to see what paper and print quality a pattern works best with.  I let the ink dry a day before gluing it.  I also use Aileen's Tacky glue to glue it down rather than wallpaper paste or the glues that have a higher liquid content.  The trick is that if you get a bubble, avoid the temptation to push it down (a lesson I've learned more than once).  Instead, let it dry on it's own, and it will usually go away.  I have never had a trouble with bleeding doing this.

 

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