Koooo…. Hoooo…. : Making a Toy train for puppet animation



An actual steam engine photographed while my research journey in conoor Tamilnadu.

RW station



I made this steam engines miniature  for my diploma animation stop motion film. Actual photograph reference were taken while on my research journeys to various places. Studying details of structure and their working from those actual steam engine was real fun. certain changes have been done while constructing the miniature that to its  purpose in the shoot , Too much detailing should be compromised according to the requirement and time constraint.

Initial drawings :

train sketch

Digital Rendered sketches:

grass f traiiiiintrain front 2pic

Parts Breakdown:


Scraps to Structure:

Plan of work : The trick is to find out similar miniature object lying around us in day to day life. Imagining and comparing shapes of normal household and scraps lying around us to those actual engine parts made my work more easier. these are some of the stuffs i picked for making this engine miniature.

Material used

Cardboard box and Catridge sheets – for the cabin and body parts

Stainless steel vessel : For the steam drum

Plastic mug for the interior : (red) coal burner

Plastic bottles,tubes, Empty pen refill’s and lids : For various drums and pipe joints

Empty Perfume can and its lid : Drum And water filler

Plywood : For chaises

Ice cream sticks : For front Grill

Foam boards and wood reaper’s for support

MDF cuttings : For decoration

LED light and wire : For Head light

Synthetic Adhesives, Wudfil, Masking tape, Nails, Mat Black  paint, blue /yellow / Brown / silver Paint



IMG_5444 IMG_5446 IMG_5449 IMG_5451 IMG_5452


The entire Tyre set with the shafts set were made previously : Refer my previous blog >>  https://kapilgnathan.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=311&action=editIMG_5457

Finished model before painting.

IMG_5458 IMG_5460 IMG_5461 IMG_5462 IMG_5463 IMG_5465

Probe Design

Lets do it 

#1  Model train front wheel set.









Trains wheels on Engine workshop (Coonoor Tamil Nadu)


As part of the reference study, observing the actual engines working is much important to understand the locomotive movements .Visiting a train stations engine Workshop relay helped me doing some detailed study as well and some sketches have been made  for  further reference.It really helped me to set the  final look and feel too.



Thanks to Coonoor’s  Railway Station master and staff’s for Allowing us to Enter the engine workshop and providing necessary helps, Thanks to Sreenath my fellow friend for helping me through out the research and this Project.

IMG_0832_1  IMG_0850_1


Laser cut  MDF

Breaking down the complex engine locomotive part is a hell of hard task so i made it simplified for this sort movie as i only need few mid shots of the engine movement. So i haven’t went for much detailed study and mechanism.I found it is better to make the parts diagram as per the characters size ratio Digitally (in vector format) and get it laser cut  in MDF (Medium-density fiber board) .

mdf cut


Digital vector illustration for laser cut.


Laser cut  in MDF  According to scale.


Assembling Engine Parts in a Foam platform.


Painting with mat black and acrylic colors.


#2  Model Compartment  wheel set & Bench.


Digital vector illustration for laser cut.

bt 1

Laser cut  in MDF , Foam According to scale.






Final touch up in brown to give a rusty ware and tare feel





Probe and Set Design Study:

Studying train for the set design

A Research journey from Mettupalayam  to Udagamandalam via Coonoor,

RW station

Between Mettupalayam and Coonoor, the line uses the Abt rack and pinion system to climb the steep gradient. On this rack section trains are operated by ‘X’ Class steam rack locomotives manufactured by the Swiss Locomotive and Machine Works of Winterthur in Switzerland. These steam locomotives can be used on any part of the line (either with or without the rack section),but the newer diesel locomotives can operate on the entire section, between Mettupalayam and Udagamandalam.This signals the beginning of the process to phase out the coal-fired vintage Swiss engines that took scores of passengers on the rack and pinion track to Coonoor and Udhagamandalam, covering 41.8 kilometres (26.0 mi), 108 curves, 16 tunnels and 250 bridges

REF : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nilgiri_Mountain_Railway

Train Engine : Front : Digital / Pencil

grass f traiiiiin



train sketch

Train Engine : back : Digital\ Pencil

train front 24 paint


Train Engine : Side : Digital



Engine Side : Part by Part


A modified lay out of  Train Compartment for the storyline : Digital .

lay out train


Wagon : Pencil



Train Cabin Interior : Pen & Watercolor

train int


draw 2