About plan changes and rotating worlds

When it comes to a new project, I am hardly attracted by anything more than experimenting with new presentation techniques and building concepts. It happens that the idea for a charming presentation approach haunts my mind for a long time until it meets a suitable book template. More often, however, it is exactly the other way around, and I am waiting for years for the inspiration for a suitable framework concept to finally be able to adapt a particular book template.

In the case of »Nightfall in the Lot« the ideas for the concept and the book rose at the same time ... when I actually wanted to build something completely different.


In fact, I was in the midst of conceptual planning for another King adaptation (no, I'm not saying which *g*) when I got caught up in a quite spontaneous idea that immediately inspired me: that of a »carousel model.«

The concept was based on the idea of placing different sceneries on a round, freely rotatable disc - an approach that promised a multitude of dramatic possibilities. On the one hand, a sufficiently large disk would provide enough space to accommodate several different locations in a single model. On the other hand, one could - as an additional dramaturgical trick - place the main central motif of the novel immovably in the center of the rotating disk.

It would thus be an unchanging, omnipresent component of each setting, dramaturgically as well as content enormously attractive.

Building 'Salem's Lot

June 2018 – August 2019

I thought the idea was good and was immediately on fire. There was only one problem: The approach did not suit the planned book project. Whenever I closed my eyes and tried to visually shift the concept to the originally planned story, it wasn't Castle Rock (ok, I can tell that much) that I saw in front of my inner eye. 

Instead I saw Jerusalem's Lot - but this all the more clearly: a small town with its countless small dramas and individual theaters, enthroned above it the Marstenhaus, looking down from its mountain to every corner of the city, omnipresent and yet inscrutable, always in the background. It seemed terribly good to me.


And because I've learned that in such rare cases, when concept and idea spontaneously come together as if by itself to form a unified whole, it is a good idea to follow their gut instincts, and I simply postponed my original intention to a later date – and made me immediately to the planning of Jerusalem's Lot.

Structural Central Perspective - At the Center of All Things

When planning the various locations, I initially struggled with the selection of the individual sections and their arrangement. They should, on the one hand, reflect the most pithy scenes of the novel, which means they had to be diversified and multi-faceted, on the other hand, they had to line up or be combinable with each other without any major breaks.


After some back and forth, the selection fell to three representative streets of the city center as well as the settings garbage dump, »Harmony Hill cemetery« and city entrance. It was important to me for the conception of the individual sceneries that each section worked independently in terms of arrangement and effect, but at the same time, in terms of both content and perspective, always focused on the middle element: on the Marsten House.


To achieve the optical focus on the middle element, the use of perspective played an important role. I used an already very well-known technique that I developed at the time of Derry's construction - perspective distortion. Practically, this means that streets, houses and electricity pylons are built slanted and distorted in perspective. They shrink toward the center to half the size, and similar to a perspective drawing, their transverse edges all aim at a common vanishing point, in this case logically on the Marstenhill.

If one likes to work freely and spontaneously, the construction of such a perspective distorted overall arrangement poses certain problems. It would simply be a crazy effort to want to calculate exactly the dimensions and slopes of the individual buildings in advance. In addition, a fix calculated plan would leave little room for spontaneous ideas, plan changes or even free work.

Nightfall in the Lot WIP (c) Kassiopeya 2019

My compromise for this dilemma is to plan a rough floor plan, but then to adapt each building in its construction individually to its environment. This adaptation works surprisingly well with simple tools and without any calculation:

The main tool here is a twine whose end is fixed to a defined vanishing point on the back wall. With it as an auxiliary line - comparable to a perspective auxiliary line of a vanishing point drawing - the perspective slopes of the individual building fronts can be defined quite simply during the construction. And in fact, it takes little more than the relevant slopes (roof edge, base, upper and lower edges of the windows) to create a coherent overall picture.Once the essential edges have been defined, all further details can be added as eye-balled, without causing much going wrong.

In the construction of Jerusalem's Lot, however, another aggravating initial condition was added: the sloping ground surface. If it does not pose a problem to fix the vertical edges of a building by means of a triangle ruler, unfortunately this does not work on a slope. In order to be able to straighten my buildings on a leaning surface in every respect, another aid was necessary. Here I used a self-made line solder to define the vertical edges of the houses, which worked surprisingly well with a little practice and patience.

Measure of all things - talking about scale

One question that always puts me in a position of embarrassment is the scale of my models. For in fact I have always built without a fixed scale. I do not calculate any lengths, widths and heights to scale, but look at the space I have available, draw a rough floor plan and then start ("free muzzle" and by eye) with a central object / building in the foreground. All surrounding elements are simply adapted in size to this initial dimension. Of course, I also end up at some scale - this is usually somewhere between 1:20 and 1:30. This slightly amateurish approach has proven itself in more ways than one:

Because the size ratios in my models (due to the perspective distorted construction) continuously shrink towards the back wall, building according to a certain scale would be completely pointless anyway. With every inch of space it would have changed anyway.

In addition, I have found that it makes a big difference to the ultimate effect of a model, whether one focuses on building a desired atmosphere while working or on the unconditional correctness of the outer form. Scale and proportions take on a lot of gradual freedoms, provided that the essential dimensions are halfway true - a harmonious atmosphere does not. Therefore, I focus very consciously on the structure of the latter and adapt the scale flexibly to the situation, depending on what should be emphasized.

Another advantage of this more intuitive design is a certain degree of tolerance in terms of changes in size. Especially in the case of »Nightfall in the Lot«, where fundamentally different spatial sections border on each other (each having a different scale), I have learned to appreciate this circumstance very much. Here the challenge was to arrange the different sectors for the transitions as favorably as possible and then to delineate each other so skillfully that their differences in the scales would be masked. Thus, the free area of the garbage dump adjoins that of the overgrown graveyard. And the veranda of Eva's Pension turns into a grassy area, at the outer end of which the cemetery wall stands on a completely different scale - but due to the distance, this does not matter. Half the art of an arrangement consists of skillful concealment.

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