Sunday, October 03, 2010

Monochrome modelling

Brief Encounter by Tony Reeves 

Sitting behind a demo table at a model railway exhibition, you get into all sorts of interesting conversations. At Hartlepool a few weeks ago, one visitor asked if anyone had ever painted models black and white.

Not the colours black and white, but painted them as though you were looking at a black and white photograph. After all, the theory ran, most of us see the prototype in black and white because there weren't that many colour films around at the time. For some of us, steam railways are only something to be experienced in monochrome as we don't remember the real thing.

But would this work in 3D ? I've been pondering this and then tripped over this rather nice vignette from the film Brief Encounter. The modeller is Tony Reeves and you can see more of his work on his website.

Does it work ? I'm not sure. Maybe when we look at something like this, even if the only colours used are shades of grey, we still see the thing in colour. Any light spill will tend, unless it is specially balanced, to add colour to the scene. Put a desk lamp beside it for example, and everything is bathed in yellow. Not much but enough to warm up the scene. Stick the same thing under a fluorescent lamp and an imperceptible amount of green enters the picture.

Despite this, I think there is some mileage in the idea. Obviously it helps to have Tony's skill with the paintbrush, but I reckon a model harking back to the black and white days could be produced. You'd need to be pretty careful with the display but at least viewers wouldn't be able to argue that you'd used the wrong shade of GWR green !

Actually choosing the shades of grey would be a whole lot harder than you'd expect. The eye is used to seeing movies and photographs and will cry foul if you don't get the tonal work just right. It's likely to be harder than producing the same scene in colour. At the very least some serious study of photographs will be in order and not for the subjects either.

Tony Reeves website

1 comment:

Colin said...

I've considered modeling in colour but using a black and white background.