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Peter Loughran
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Ontario, Canada
2683 Posts

Profile of Peter Loughran
I get a lot of emails and questions regarding actual illusion design and what it entails.

So I thought I would touch up on the subject over a series of writtings. This one will be just some basic thoughts on design from MY perspective. Some will agree with my approach while others will disagree.
Remember these are my thoughts and opinions, take the information however you like.

Every designer uses differnt techniques, programs, and styles of design. This is obviously what makes our art so unique.

Below are some of the topics I will be discussing from my point of view over a period of postings.

One of the most important things to remember, is that when designing an ORIGINAL peice, there is more to just drawing what the prop will look like and the story line that follows. A true designer will not only design the cosmetics but also the entire workings and methods. I have seen some great blue prints over the years and I have also seen some very vague ones too. I think it is very important to make sure that every aspect of the prop is in the design. Its one thing to come up with cosmetic sketches etc, but the true art of design is being able to show the prop inside and out and if possible with dimensions.

Dimensions can obviously be adapted for custom jobs, but from my experience it is good to start the first design with a particular size in mind and if you can add these, it only makes your design that much better. But again, this is a grey area in design, some use them, others leave it up to the builder.

Speaking of the builder, keep in mind that the builder is the one who finshes the design. In most case after an illusion has been designed, what looks good on paper might not even work in the real world.

R&D being a huge factor and very expensive and time consuming in the illusion creation process, a lot of times, the mechanical design comes from the builder rather than the designer himself. Unless of coarse the designer is the builder. However for a perfect design(if there is such a thing, the designer will also design the mechanical side of the prop also).

Our company now uses an Auto CAD program to design our illusions. This is a great tool. You can basically build the illusion, put it into a 3-D working model and throw in the dimensions and actually run the illusion to see if it will all work out before you even pick up a power tool. The other great thing about this is that you can take this 3-D model, put it on a disc and take it to the shop or give it to your favourite builder.

More on all of these subjects later.
In the mean time, check out some work from these two designers that I like, Paul Osbourne, and Mark Parker, and get a feel for the difference in style and techniques used in the designs, and compare the two. I'll have more on these guys, and others later, aswell as all of the topics I just touched upon in future installments of this post.

Also be sure to check out George Ledo's forum (the one under mine) as he also shares a world of information regarding Design. I am only going to briefly touch upon some subjects here where I find to be either in a differenct approach or a key point in the process, and obviously I don't want to repeat George's wonderful articles.


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