Sprue Cutters Union #2 – Words of Wisdom

The Combat Workshop recently kicked off an interesting idea called “The Sprue Cutters Union”. Basically, the idea is akin to a group build, only with blog posts instead of builds. Every week, a new topic will be tossed out, and participating blogs will each write their own post on that topic.

This week’s topic:

identify three things that have impacted your modeling, good or bad

Reading through several of the other responses to this week’s topic, the airbrush seems to be a recurring theme. To which I say…obviously. So I’m intentionally not going to address it, and instead focus on three things that have done wonders for my modeling since I came back to the hobby in 2010.

#3 – The Internet

I wandered away from modeling just as the internet was becoming an actual thing in the mid-90s, so stepping back in was very much a shock to the system. I’d seen all my other interests gradually shift to digital – from writing to photography to movies.

With modeling, it was instead like discovering a new world. A world full of reviews and techniques and ideas and research. It opened my eyes to all kinds of approaches I’d never considered, and particularly in those first few months, advanced my modeling further than it had come in all the years I built as a kid.

#2 – Embracing modulation

Even at my most sophisticated, my painting technique in my first modeling go-round basically involved dumping paint into an airbrush cup and shooting. Or, pointing a rattlecan and shooting. The concept of modulation…of tonal variation to bring one color to life…totally foreign.

Now, I’m all about that modulation and tonal variation. That’s not to say I’m a fan of the “lighting modulation” that’s all the vogue in the armor world. I prefer to get my modulation out of shading, fading and weathering. To build up effects in thin layers.

The actual techniques don’t matter so much, in my opinion, as embracing the approach.

#1 – Stepping beyond my comfort zone


I have no patience for the “I need to build my skills up on crappy kits first…” excuse-making you find all over most forums. Face it – in the scheme of things, modeling has a ridiculously low failure cost, and every failure in this hobby is a learning experience, to boot. You literally have nothing to lose by stretching yourself and trying new things.

I will also say this. My best builds have been the ones where I stretched. Where I wasn’t sure I was ready for something, or tackling some rather expensive, “better not fuck this up” kit. The recognition that you’re out of your element and taking a risk really focuses your attention…maybe that’s why the stretch builds are so often the best builds.

Among my stretch kits, I would have to count the Eduard Bf 109E-7 Trop (first 1/32 kit), Wingnut Wings Sopwith Pup RNAS (first biplane, first rigging), Tamiya Spitfire VIII (expensive, first exposed engine, many new techniques) and HK Models B-25J Mitchell (massive, expensive, first use of paint masks).

If you’re holding back out of fear, or because you’re “not ready”, suck it up and step out of your comfort zone. You’ll be surprised what you can do.


Part of being in the Union means we share links to our fellow contributors’ posts. If you liked this post, take a look what some other modellers have to say about this topic:

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