Kitbashing or model bashing is a practice whereby a new scale model is created by taking pieces out of commercial kits. These pieces may be added to a custom project or to another kit. For professional modelmakers, kitbashing is popular to create concept models for detailing movie special effects. Commercial model kits are a ready source of "detailing", providing any number of identical, mass-produced components that can be used to add fine detail to an existing model. Professionals often kitbash to build prototype parts which are then recreated with lightweight materials
Kitbashed gun using iClone Iray for gun image and iClone toon render for the blueprint.
A lot of folks my age certainly remember scale models. Lots of us had them, few of us were patient or skilled enough to properly build and paint them, particularly without a temper tantrum or two. I know it wasn’t just me that threw more than a few models in the trash can after a supposedly “relaxing” evening building a kit.
Damned things never looked like the box pictures anyway.
There was also another group of kit-builders that saw things a bit differently than the rest of us. They were hooligans… throwing out the directions while tearing into multiple model kits for parts to glue together and make their own creations. They were kitbashers and they were rebels.
A Kitbash Quad. Assemble in 3DS Max and rendered in iClone Iray
Some of them also went on to work in the visual effects industry where they brought such kitbashing techniques to the big and small screens. According to Wikipedia kitbashing had been around for a long time before the general public started catching on with Thunderbirds, 2001: A Space Odyssey and Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.
This naturally led to an expansion of kitbashing with digital art and has been around for some time too from greebles and nurnies to kitbashing “kits” of various parts to slap together. These kits can be used with Maya, 3DS Max, Blender, ZBrush, and other similar apps. They can be found in online marketplaces like Gumroad and Flipped Normals.
Kitbashing isn’t just hard-surfaced objects like planes, boats and intergalactic destroyers. It’s also people, animals, and monsters. I use ZBrush for this type of kitbash with items from places like Badking.com.au which is loaded with free and commercial organic kits and brushes. If you need a cost-effective… as in free… monster for your next horror masterpiece you can bash one together from the monster kits over at Badking. It’s worth a look as I keep my Badking assets with me… dragging them from computer to computer.
An organic Kitbash Character...it's not just mechanical items that can be bashed together.
They are that good and fast. I drag in another character for scale reference then once I have kitbashed the torso and legs I delete the scale reference and finish out the kitbash knowing my character will be of proper dimensions. From here I can hop over to Mixamo and rig the mesh for animation or posing.
The original kitbashers were locked to the real-world problems of glue, surface and other considerations whereas the digital artist can throw together anything from a pile of junk. The greatest thing to digital kitbashing is you are only limited to your imagination. An assortment of parts might become a formidable mechanical dragon or a cute little puppy. It can be a killer tank or ultra punk playground swing set.
Kitbashing props and characters can be a quick and efficient way to expand your 3D assets without breaking the bank. Once you gather up a junkyard of parts you can start putting them together in any form or fashion that suits your needs.
Kitbash Kits, Brushes, and Items
M.D. McCallum, aka WarLord, is an international award-winning commercial graphics artist, 3D animator, published author, project director, and webmaster with a freelance career that spans over 20 years. Now retired, M.D. is currently working part-time on writing and select character development projects. You can learn more about MD on his website.