Realism 101: Basic Neatness

(Photos and Modeling by Ron Griffin)

Scene composition and color treatment are the two largest contributors to realism.  That said, basic neatness in your modeling efforts does play a significant role as well, and it’s free. Because they are such visual focal points, extra care with structures particularly pays off.  Ron Griffin’s excellent modeling on this engine shed illustrates the point.  Notice the clean tight joints at the corners, the invisible seams where parts meet and the perfectly plumb downspouts.  There are no globs of glue or melted styrene oozing out.  The door frames are flush and squarely aligned.   You can accomplish a lot with respect to being neat simply be being aware of it.  However, in some cases (such as Ron's structure) a degree of skill comes in, skill that is acquired through practice and repetition.  Naturally, when you first start developing a skill your initial efforts won’t be as neat as they will be after you’ve had some practice (or a lot of practice).   Producing neatly executed structures like Ron’s does take practice.  You’re not going to get those results on your first attempt.  I’ve gone on record before in saying I think it’s a tremendous mistake to put off model building until some ‘perfect’ time in the future.  Start now and begin to develop your skills.  Smaller structures say four inches square or so are ideal platforms.  Build and practice.  Work at a careful but deliberate pace that still allows for progress.  When done, make a mental note of things that worked and things you want to improve the next go around.

One practice that can prevent messy mistakes and disasters, and leads to a neatly executed final product,  is to always apply your initial color and weathering attempts to a scrap or sample first.  Don’t just hit your recently completed model with a wonder mix and hope it works.  Ron painted some scrap siding while working on his structure and then tested his ink wash techniques on the sample.  Once he had the color and application method he liked he then moved on to the model.

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