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Techniques: Making Your Models Come To Life

Adding a sense of artfulness to a model is the most rewarding aspect of model-making. It is in going “beyond the box” that the modeler can offer the viewer an authentic sense of the reality of the object, as it might have actually existed for people who were there during a particular “moment in time.” Here are some techniques that can help create that illusion:

Rusty Ford

In the example of the Rusty Ford we see what age and weathering add to a vintage car on a truck trailer. Can you feel the expectations of the owner about how he will restore the car? Will it be a restomod? A hot rod? Are most of the parts there? How would you do it? Those are thoughts the authenticity of the scene can bring out to the viewer, all inspired by adding rust, faded paint, signs of wear, missing pieces and flat, bald tires. This is a model that was created as a prototype for a new kit brought out by Hawk-Lindberg model company. The box art for the kit can be seen on The Modeler’s Art home page.

Horses in Action

A plastic horse—how does one paint it to look real?  Think of a real horse. Its coat is more glossy than flat but not shiny like a car. It has muscles and veins and variations of color because of the way the natural light hits the form. The horse is always two-toned, the top darker than the underneath. Where the two shades meet is a natural feather (gradual mix of the colors) from one color to the next. Horse hair grows from front to back, which is how your brush strokes should go. Then shade the muscles:  the closer the muscle is to the surface, the lighter the color. As the muscle shape goes deeper, the color gets darker. Use the toners, white and black, added to the basic color and feather them together. Then practice, practice, practice!

Main Refit

“The Refit” is a fun scene because it picks up so much action! It captures that moment in time when everyone is on break from the hard work of refitting a boat in dry dock. But look at the movement: painting, drilling, glasswork, electrical work, new planks, shaft replacement. All are happening at once as we can see from the drills, tools, ladders, paint bucket and trash box—even a tarp to cover up parts against the damp night air. And all these elements of the scene were created from “recycled” materials! The paint bucket is used tin foil. The brush is made from paper. The tarp is water-colored tissue shaped with white glue. Wire, wood, acetate, plaster for the cement, rivets for the hull supports. What else can you find? The scene is constructed from leftovers, art and imagination.

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