Friday, June 24, 2011

How'd you do dat?

There are always questions about a build when others view it. "How did you do that?" echos throughout the forums and lists when someone shows a successful piece of modeling and often the creator is generous enough to share his/her process. Without this sharing of knowledge, I certainly would not be at the point I am with my modeling for there are many in all scales that have contributed to my experience. I have mentioned names like Ken Hamilton, Joe Enriquez and Chuck Doan before here to give credit for a certain technique or material but there are dozens of great modelers out there that can offer good solid modeling basics if you just know where to go and who to listen to. Yes, unfortunately there is not so good, if not simply incorrect information too. So what to look for to find correct information with regard to scale and prototypical accuracy becomes the question.
First of all study photos. I understand that photography plays a big part in this modeling endeavor and many of us aren't as good photographers as we are modelers. But one can't really tell how good a model is by seeing small (500 pixels or less) photos of finished models. If you don't believe that look at what kind of detail is shown on these 4 and 5 hundred pixel photos. Then click on them to see what you're missing. The best modelers I know take detailed shots of individual assemblies in large format. You can really see the details close up and isn't that what modeling is all about? Being able to see in miniature what we see in real life. If you can see fine details well constructed to scale in a photo then you have a better idea of what kind of modeler is doing the build and is he/she worth listening to.

I let my photos speak for themselves and you be the judge of how good I am (or not). I try to convey in a photo the best description of the model seen as if you were holding it. Yes, I try to make an esthetically appealing photo but making sure the model and it's details are the photo's foremost feature. I won't try to tell you how to take photos because I do not profess to be all that good at it. And because that's not the point of this writing (read: rant). I just want to say that being able to actually see all of a model and every small detail in it is the best way to judge whether a modeler has anything valuable to contribute. The proof is in the puddin'!

The truck crane featured is not a particularly spectacular model in my opinion. I took a rather complicated subject to build that I really liked and sacrificed some precision on the build in order to complete it. But it conveys the feel of the original prototype and has been done in a plausible manner. Key word here being plausible. Is the model something that actually existed and if so are the proportions to scale and accurately placed? Are the details era specific and appropriate to the size, use and type of vehicle you are building? These are questions you have to answer yourself as the builder and good research will help in a successful project. Just saying that it looks right to you isn't going to get a superior model unless you're very lucky. Measure, do the math and know that you're right. The prototype of this truck shows no winch or motor to power it in the bed of the truck. I make the "plausible" assumption then that the winch is under the bed with PTO from the driveshaft.

The bed was the easiest part of this particular project of course being a simple sheet of styrene cut to fit. I used the styrene deck from the Roco model for this and glued .125" U channel around the perimeter with wheel well cut outs in the appropriate spot. The Boom frame is .10" U channel that has had the center cut out. .015" styrene strips were used for the X bracing inside the cut out and a slightly wider strip was used for the diagonal bracing front and back. Blocks were glued inside the top of the frame to accept the pulley in back and support rods from the bumper. These rods are very stiff steel used by R/C/ model airplane builders for control rods to flaps etc. The bumper is the same .125" U channel, drilled out on the top to accept styrene eye bolts from Tichy. The same eye bolts are used on the top of the boom frame.

The boom is again the .125" U channel spaced apart with lattice work on the bottom of the boom from the same strip styrene as used for the frame diagonals. the end has a sheave made from styrene rod and pinned in place with rivets from Tichy. I used the rivets for ornamentation as well down the length of the boom in a plausible pattern. At the base of the boom, a 3/32" styrene tube was cut to length and a block glued to it to attach the boom foot, fastened with a styrene rod with rounded ends. To round the ends of a styrene rod, hold it close to (not in) a flame until you see it round over. It makes a perfect convex. To the bottom of this, I fixed a block of styrene with gears from Vector Cut. These are highly detailed laser cut reinforced card stock. All sits on a raised platform of grooved styrene to simulate a wood deck.

Finally, the not so great pulley is a brass strip bent in the shape of a U, drilled out and a piece of styrene rod was pinned inside with Tichy rivets. The cabling is cotton (not recommended) that has been run through moustache wax to relieve it of it's fuzzies.

For the finishes I use, please take some time to go through the archives here. I have posted on several topics the methods I use to acquire the desired finished look on individual models. Suffice it to say that this model didn't get a lot of weathering treatments since I really didn't want a beater look to it but rather just a working truck. I hope this has been informative as well as entertaining. I enjoy bringing it and my models to the world. The world you say? I have just shipped models to Switzerland, Santiago, Chile and Paris, France just this week. It gives me great pleasure to know that over the years in every continent but Antarctica, someone may be viewing a bit of my work. And what better way to promote the hobby than presenting the real article not just a photo on the computer. So thank you for visiting and please check back often. Oh, don't forget, clicking on these images that accompany the text brings up larger photos.

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