How I Modeled The Knight Bus from Harry Potter and The Prisoner Of Azkeban

Using Wood Carving, Vacuum Forming, Plastic Shaping, Painting, Special Building Jigs, Model‑Making and Custom Appliques

making the knight bus

Chapter 10: Signage, Touch-up, and Finish

From the previous chapter:
I painted all the windows by hand. But that neat, inner glow; what to do? I looked around and finally bought some Testors fluorescent yellow.

The part of the process that I did not photograph was the making of the signage. I used Illustrator to accurately place the type for the small signs on the bus. Using an art program allowed me to measure the height and width of the areas needed. I probably could have used MS Word or any other word processing program to do the same thing.

I simply printed the signs out on clear sticky label material. By using clear, I could put a layer of fluorescent yellow where the signs where and thus imitate their being lit up from within, just as the bus is. The type was whatever was not too jarring at that size. It was not really related to what was used on the real bus.

Here is a blow up of the three bits of signs that are in several places on Harry Potter's Knight Bus. They are legible on the bus — which is a tribute to Adobe Illustrator driving a Hewlet-Packard inkjet printer! Of course, I stacked up many of these on the original and ran out a few copies.

making the knight bus

The final painting step for the body was to seal it all with a clear satin finish from Testors.

The last body detail was to use a blindingly purple Sharpie marker to go over the wheel rims. This was very satisfying as it was the end!

making the knight bus

making the knight bus

It was a little time-consuming to cut out and apply all the signage. But the results were very much worth it. I used a master template to make sure that all the cut outs were as uniform as I could make them. I used a fresh #11 X-Acto blade so as to only cut once!

making the knight bus

There you have my trip into toy land. I boxed up the best-looking one and its controller with some simple instructions on how to pull things apart or put them back together — and sent it off to J. K. Rowling’s publishers. I would let them decide if they could send it on to her. Not too long after I got a very nice note from one of Jo’s assistants, who thanked me.

I also sent one to a dear friend who is a thorough-going Potter fanatic and who brought her Knight Bus out to each subsequent Potter book’s midnight release. She lets everybody have a spin around the floor. Now that’s a magical toy!

Final Note:

Just so you know — The Knight Bus and Harry Potter publishing rights are J. K. Rowling and that and everything else Potter is TM and Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

This article and its photographs unless otherwise noted, are Eliot R. Brown and The Kingston Vacuum Works.

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