Tuesday, April 28, 2015

5 ways to increase your output

I'm a slow modeler. Like, four or five models a year slow. I enjoy detailing and I've been known to obsess over seams and fiddly bits, but with more kits in the stash than I'll have time to build, I've been thinking a lot about what I can do to increase my output. A couple of weeks ago I suggested painting your cockpits black as one way to move more models across your workbench, so here are five more ideas. I know they're not for everyone, but maybe you'll find something here that can increase your output, or at the very least get you thinking about other shortcuts.

1. Don't use photoetch

I like the idea of photoetch, but I'm growing increasingly frustrated with it, and by the look of the comments on this thread on ARC and this one on Hyperscale I'm not alone. When you use photoetch for a kit you're often building a second kit; you have to cut the parts off the fret, sand the cut edge (and usually the other edges, too), bend it, and apply it. One small part may require 10-15 minutes of preparation and application. Multiply that by 25, 50, or 100 and you can see how much photoetch sucks from your modeling time. I'm very close to avoiding it altogether unless it provides significant aesthetic value (such as the mesh for engine grills on armor).

2. Minimize time spent on the underside

Ever try to look up the kilt of a 90mm Scottish Highlander? There's nothing to see. The legs of figures often just attach to the block of resin or metal that forms the torso. Figure painters are smart. They don't waste time modeling things that 99 percent of the viewers don't see. Aircraft modelers can learn something from them. Why do we obsess over landing gear bays, resin wheels, and underwing weathering? I know, I already hear some of you saying, "I know it's there." I understand; I've said that myself and have replicated my share of landing gear hoses and whatnot. But you also know there aren't tiny pistons within the engines you just attached to that B-17, yet you're still happy with the model, right? Think of the time savings if you did just the minimum with your undersides.

3. Don't obsess over minor seams

I'm no trophy hound but admit to enjoying the challenge of trying to build each model better than the last. I spend a lot of time trying to get the seams on my models perfect, because an obvious seam can be a major detractor from an otherwise excellent model. One of the quickest ways of speeding along a model is not spending too much time on minor seams. Maybe we should ensure that only the prominent seams are good but leave the others "good enough."

4. Skip the seamless intakes

I like the idea of seamless intakes, but I rarely notice or appreciate them, particularly in 1/72 scale. The only time you see a seamless intake, or the horror of a blanked off intake, is when you look directly at the model. How often do you do that? Are those few moments worth the time and expense of modeling them? I'm not sure.

5. Skip the stencils

We like stencils, but with the exception of 1/32 scale models, and maybe a few subjects in 1/48 scale, most of them wouldn't be seen in scale. You can probably skip the NO STEP markings on your 1/72 F-16 and still dazzle your friends with your epic skill with filters and pigments. The four hours you don't spend applying those 50 stencils could be time spent starting your next model.

So what do you think? Are these good ideas, or am I diminishing the value of our craft?


  1. Hi Steven,
    New reader to your blog and enjoying it very much.I've been modelling off and since age five,and now at 53 that makes for a lot of years at the bench. I fully agree with your views on increasing ones output. I tend to be a OOB modeler anyway so I'm already there so to speak!
    Douglas W.

  2. "But you also know there aren't tiny pistons within the engines you just attached to that B-17" - unless Z-M ever do a B-17 ... ;-)