So you want to build better models? Then you might need more than a large bank balance…
“Surround yourself with acres of paint racks, glues, airbrushes and all manner of kits and accessories by all means, but if you cannot master just one element properly, you will fail across the board”
Earlier today I spent a few minutes whilst drinking tea and eating more toast then I should, watching a few online videos that had popped up in my feed on YouTube. Many of you may not know this, but as well as building models, I play drums, so I tend to watch a ton of videos that are either of live performances from my favourite bands, or from my favourite drummers.
This morning a video appeared that discussed the use of cheap drums. Interest piqued, I watched for ten minutes or so as the frankly, outrageously talented young man discussed how he had decided one day to take his practice kit to a gig (a kit that cost around $200) rather than his studio kit and was amazed to discover that everyone who heard it was astonished by how it sounded and couldn’t believe that it was as cheap as he said it was. As the video progressed he discussed how it wasn’t the drums necessarily that were to blame for this, but his hands, the musician being able to make even cheap instruments sound great with a little application and knowledge. The sound didn’t come from his instrument, the sound was the result of the use of his hands.
But what has this got to do with building models?
Well, as it seems, quite a lot actually as I have discussed in a similar video that I have created today:
Over the last few years or so, the Internet has thrown up all manner of sites that help you to build models. Forums, Facebook pages and obviously as can be seen here, Blogs, have all appeared to help you build better models. And help they have…In the main. They have also proffered the idea that if you spend enough on tools, materials and kits, even the most inexperienced of modellers can reach the heights attained by those that show off their latest, greatest masterpieces. You don’t need skill, patience and practice, you just need money…
Of course this is patent nonsense. No amount of money is going to replace the need to practice the art of building models and unless you are a genius that can master skills in an instant (in which case you don’t need me!), you are going to need to spend a lot of time at your bench before the skills that you want, are the skills that you have.
Crossing over into our drumming video we can see that a modeller with skill can make the most mundane of kits look good. Skilled practitioners can take a cheap plastic kit, a Stanley knife, a tube of glue, a nail file, half a dozen pots of paint and a few brushes and make that kit look like the real thing. Equally, a beginner can grab a £100+ Tamiya kit, a high-end airbrush, a raft full of paints and weathering solutions, a handful of Series 7 brushes and all of the glue they can handle and create a mess that is far removed from a true-to-life replica, as the Sistine Chapel ceiling is from a child’s finger painting. It’s not what you have to hand that matters, it’s what you do with it. Surround yourself with acres of paint racks, glues, airbrushes and all manner of kits and accessories by all means, but if you cannot master just one element properly, you will fail across the board; master all of the steps and you’ll not need anywhere near as much and still be able to create wonderful models.
“You don’t need skill, patience and practice, you just need money…”
I never really know how to get this idea of practice across to modellers. It is human nature to want nice things and be able to keep up with your friends, I get that and though I have no desire to surround my workbench with endless racks of paint (most of which I would never touch), I understand why others would want to. As a kid, the sight of Francois Verlinden’s workbench was enough to make me want to build something that wasn’t only similar, but the same (actually, I’m thinking of doing it again, just for the sake of it!), so I can certainly see why the sight of benches festooned with goodies, would excite those new to the hobby.
The thing is though, those monuments to the hobby are no substitute for the need to learn the basics; they look great, but they’re no replacement for knuckling down, opening a kit box and learning how to get the best from the contents. Maybe it’s simply the world we live in where instant gratification is the overriding feature of the hobby in the 21st Century. Certainly, I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve had the “yeah, but it’s easy for you” line levelled at me, as if one day I fell out of bed and suddenly I could build models the way I do today. When I suggest that forty years of practice has got me to this point, it seems to fall on deaf ears. If only I had practised playing drums for 40 years…
At the end of the day, the drummer was right: it’s not what you have in front of you that matters, but what you do with it. But that takes skill, practice and the desire to learn and no amount of money can replace those needs, unless, as mentioned earlier you are a genius and there are precious few of those in this neck of the woods!
See you next time.