Tuesday, March 02, 2021

Unfashionable painting

Sometimes social media amuses me. Never more so than when you see modellers trying to cosy up to a manufacturer. Most do this in an unsubtle way by loudly rubbishing any competitors products and saying they will never build anything but the kits produced by their "favourite". 

If you actually know any of the people running the companies, they don't fall for this at all. In a way, this pledging of allegiance is something the poster will have done at school where they tried to join the gang of cool kids. 

I'm not a cool kid, so let me say, I like painting good quality whitemetal figures. Yes, I know this is very unfashionable, especially in the finescale modelling world, but a top notch sculpted figure has more detail than even the best 3D printed ones. Yes - controversial, I know.

Now, I love the printed people. They are perfectly proportioned and adopt the right poses because of the method used to create them. For a model, proportion and pose trumps detail every time. Give your mini-person the proportions of a simian, and it doesn't matter how fine the chain on their watch is, they look rubbish. 

But, for the moment (and this is changing), a really superb figure sculptor can do better. I really enjoyed painting these people from Duncan Models, and the S&D Miniature range. OK, the close-up is a bit cruel, but a bit more finenessing, if I had the time, would sort that. Doing the facial details was fun, perhaps I should dig out some of those photo-realistic eyeball transfers...


Mark said...

I like painting a good whitemetal figure as much for the weight they bring to a locomotive than anything, but I tend to find they are certainly better sculpted and with crisper details than plastic figures. I've yet to try a 3D printed person, although I have printed some figures (a troll would you believe) at home on my resin printer and while the quality is good the level of cleanup from removing supports etc. means you end up smoothing out some of the finer detail anyway.

I assume you know about Andrew C Staddon as another source of excellent whitemetal figures in sizes from 2mm to the foot all the way up to a few Gauge 1 scale figures. The quality is superb (I've mostly had 7mm scale ones), and no connection other than being a satisfied customer.

James Finister said...

There are a number of threads to this. The first is the old one about everything on a layout being of roughly the same standard and look. A 3d printed figure can look very odd ona layout built to, shall we say "heritage" standards.

Like anything newish I also suspect it will take time for people to work out the best way to use them. On a few layouts I've seen them painted in the very cliched style of military modellers, which can work well when the figure IS the model, but again not so well as part of a scene.

One particular strength of the approach does seem to be that there are more figures of very ordinary people, rather than cameo figures, and figures to go with specific rolling stock, especially locos, with less need for amoutations.

Phil Parker said...

James 0 Good point about military modellers. We are always told that railway modellers should learn from them, but if you look at the results, there is often too much emphasis on shadows and highlights - a bit like the scene has been given excessive HDR treatment.

" the figure IS the model" perfectly sums up the approach and why it doesn't work so well for us.

Luke Stevens said...

James Finister wrote "A 3d printed figure can look very odd on a layout built to, shall we say "heritage" standards."

Not least because quite a few of us are also built to "heritage standards"!


James Finister said...

Luke, Well that is another issue with using modern people as models for 3d scans!

I suspect at some point we will see some clever stuff being done combining the scanning of people, in computer manipulation, and even perhaps a collaboration with traditional sculptors. I believe at least one producer is planning to go down the sculpt and scan path for some farm animals

matt scrutton said...

I have been tearing my life apart ready for a move to Three Bridges (which has in some ways been a total pain in the rear and at the same time really satisfying - getting rid of the junk) and found a load of 10mm S&D miniatures figures and accessory castings I have no idea the origin of. Something to paint in the new flat!