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FROM THE February 2009 ISSUE

Mirrors for "special effect" in dioramas

RELATED TOPICS: DIORAMA
Q: I'm building a diorama that's going to include a "special effect" of having half a car attached to a mirror, so that the other half of the car is actually a reflection.

The problem is, with the standard mirrors I'm trying, there's a space between the real model and the mirror image. What can I do about that?

-Sean Stevenson
via E-mail


Ken: That's a good question, Sean. Without getting into the whole scientific explanation (which we probably couldn't do anyway; there aren't many scientists here in the Workshop), the space that you're seeing is actually the thickness of the glass.

The reason for this is that the reflective coating - the layer that produces the "mirror image" - is on the inside of the class. The object being reflected is not in direct contact with the reflective surface that's behind the glass. That's not a problem in everyday life, but it can destroy the effect you're looking for.

What you need is a mirror that has what's called a First Surface Reflection. That is, the reflecting surface is on the front of the sheet, and not behind a piece of glass.

A company called FLYTEline Models makes a product called MyDIO Mirror Plate - a 1mm polystyrene sheet with a "first surface" mirror finish. It's used by many aircraft modelers to simulate airplanes suspended in air, in the same manner as you're displaying your car - by cutting them in half and mounting them to the "mirror." The effect can be incredible. Go to www.collectable-merchandise.com/aviation/index.shtml and search for MyDIO Mirror Plate. The sheets are 8x10 inches and cost about $15.

Thanks for the question, and for giving us the opportunity to once again extol the virtues of looking to other hobbies to solve our automotive modeling problems.

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