Sunday, August 14, 2011

The campaign for less detail

2F by water crane

All this investigation of 3D printing has me a little worried. As the technology improves, the results will be perfect. Worse, it's possible to print in colour. Combine this with 3D scanning and model making as we know it will be superfluous. Just take your scanner down to the prototype and a few days later you have an absolutely perfect miniature replica.

That doesn't sound much fun to me. Where are the burnt fingers ? The sticky patches on the modelling board evidencing the use of glue ? The aroma of Humbrol paint ?

But then it occurred to me. There will still be a place for it. History has taught us that.

It's the difference between painting and photography.

If I want an accurate record of something I take a photo. Assuming I can use a camera and not get my finger over the lens, the result will be a perfect, accurate, representation of whatever it was I pointed the front of the box at. Anyone can do it with varying degrees of success.

On the other hand people still paint. Others still buy their paintings. We haven't closed the National Gallery just because some of the images aren't as realistic as we might like. In fact some of them are downright hopeless.

So in the future we will have people putting together hyper-accurate models using the latest technology. For a while we will stand in awe as the perfect scene plays out in front of us at an exhibition. Then we will wander off and see the impressionistic version put together by some bloke with cardboard, bits of sawdust and painty fingers. They won't be as accurate it's true, but they will have personality and feeling.

In fact you could argue that the quest for every more realistic and detailed models is the highway to nowhere. At some point you will be overtaken by the technology. On the other hand, blokes in sheds will still enjoy making models, just with less detail. So join us in the bodger camp - you know it makes sense !


Anonymous said...

Personally, I would rather have the super-detailed model anyday. You can keep your pieces of soldered brass which cost twice the price of a ready-to-run model.

Andy from Workshopshed said...

I get a big kick out of making stuff, part of that is that you have to have some failures which makes success even better.

The photography analogy is good, just because you have a flashy camera does not mean that you will get good results. A lot of experimentation and practice gives good results for that. I think it will be the same with 3D scanners and 3D printing to get that joy of creation you will have to make some mistakes. Even with good tools making 3D models takes time and skill.

Some people want to schedule trains and spend their time shunting and running timetables. For them I can see this 3D printing is a great idea as they can select from a catalogue (I love catalogues too) and have their ideal train delivered ready to deliver mail to the Welsh Valleys or whatever they want.

In the meantime I'll still be in the workshop filing pieces of metal...

CF said...

I popped into the Tate Modern yesterday. There were sume fantastict B/W prints done in the mid sixties on what I would imagine was fairly basic equipment. The photography anaology works to a point. Whatever the technique used there will still be the fact that given 'perfect' most people will make it look less than that.

Paul. said...

I have some Parkside kit built 16 ton mineral wagons. I also have a Bachmann 16 ton mineral. Two versions of the same wagon. The bachmann wagon is lovely, nice detail, well decorated, free running, and cheap. The Parkside kits cost more, partly due to having EM wheelsets and rocking brass w-irons. Ive built them, sprayed them and applied the transfers. The moulds are stating to show their age so the detail is not as crisp as it could be.
However, ask me which I prefer and it will be the kit built wagons every time. You see, there's a bit of me in each one, I made them. And that's what counts. (To me anyway, others are perfectly entitled to do whatever they please!)
Paul the halfwit.

Phil Parker said...

Interesting. The thing with photgraphy is that you can have a perfect result, or mess around and get an atmospheric one. I suppose the 3D scand and print option will allow us to do both as well. Some of us will buy the perfect loco and insist on repainting it.

As for the soldered brass costing twice the RTR model, well nowadays that isn't true. In fact the price of RTR has passed the price of the kit bits in many cases. OK so you have to build it but that for many is the fun bit.

Phil Parker said...

Well said Paul. I think that's is the difference between a photo and painting. The later always has a bit of the artist in there, wheras there is alway the sneaking suspision (possibly unfounded) that with the camera did all the work in the first case.

As for the wagons, well the Parkside sides are thinner and more delicate and you did get compensation and EM wheels so the cost isn't as much an issue. In fact compensating the RTR version would probably be harder.

Carl Atkins said...

I look at some of the current crop of super detailed models, and wonder at the prices being asked. I do enjoy the super detailed models but I don't want to spend good money on something that I might modify or re-paint, and second-hand stock is becoming rare near me.
I am glad that Hornby has it's railroad range and I am going to save-up to buy Tornado. I am then going to repaint, and detail it as and when I have the pocket money.