On products, tricks, and improvement

Well, this is going to be a boring post about thoughts, instead of exciting plastic tanks.

Right about the time I switched to amored vehicles there was a shift in the modelling world; previously it was all Verlinden’s techniques. Everyone was using the methods he developed/propagated, but a new star, a new generation popped up. (Mind you this is what I think happened; as I said I jumped into the bandwagon in the process as it happened, so my impressions are not necessarily true; anyone living through those exciting times are welcome to correct me).
Suddenly drybrushing and washes made some room for the new kids in town: pigments, filters and the other new techniques pioneered by Mig Jimenez. In a delightfully foreign English we learned about color modulation and how to make filters using oil paints; it was a transformative period. (I am NOT making fun of others’ English, before you look at me disapprovingly. I know I’m having my own issues with the language as a non-native speaker.)
Anyhow, you were buying pastel chalks to grind up for pigments, you were mixing oil paints to get washes and filters, you were stealing your girlfriend’s hairspray to create white-washes at first, and then chipping paint later.
It took a while, but companies (both newly founded, and then later the old guard) started to produce these products; and there is nothing wrong with that. Making a filter is really simple; but for 4 quids you can buy it pre-mixed. I don’t necessarily agree with the idea of having dedicated weathering sets for every single conceivable camouflage and vehicle, but companies need to make money, and that’s the end of it. I just think it’s way too limiting to say: OK, I’m building a DAK Tiger, so I will need a DAK weathering set from XX company, a DAK dust set from XY company, a DAK uniform color set and color modulation set from ZX company, and follow everything step by step I saw on youtube. I know model building is not as creative hobby as glass blowing is, and it’s certainly not art (most of the time), but you do have a range where you can be creative… applying sets after sets in order makes it just an extension of assembly: following the instruction guide. Some people seem to think they are all there it is for modelling; once I was seriously trolled on an online forum, because I dared to suggest there were other guides than AK Interactive’s product guides on weathering worth seeing… Lots of the conversations that discuss techniques changed, too. Instead of sharing tips and tricks, a lot of the times people say, well, you just buy the metal chip set from XC company.

But I digress.
This, on the long run meant freedom of choice: you could do your own DIY or you could buy, or even mix and match. Lately I did buy a couple of things just to see how they work: dedicated oil paints, a couple of Mig Ammo and AK washes and filters, streaking sets, rust wash sets from Lifecolor… to see what difference them make – and came to a conclusion. A conclusion, which is hardly surprising.
You can get the exact same result in most of the cases using your home-made weathering stuff or your shiny, purpose-made products; what matters is how you choose to use them. Nobody will really know if you use a filter on a DAK Tiger that was meant for Olive Green Shermans, I promise you that… and it is not enough to buy stuff to improve your technique – as I’ve learned it pretty soon after using some of these products (it was not a great revelation, thought). I have the same paints as the professionals who paint incredible warhammer figures, for example; yet mine are half as good as theirs… If I want my next model to stand out as an improved model, I’ll have to put effort and time into learning how to use the techniques, materials I already know better, and to learn new ones. This is the end of it, really.
(If it’s of interest: personally I’d like to move on the realistic rust, realistic dust and mud areas… That is something I really need to work on.)

Anyhow, musings are over.
If I’m not mistaken, the next post will be an in-box review of the new Luchs by Flyhawk – but it’s only a possibility. Not sure about yet- the model has to arrive from the company first.

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