with Stephen Foster
When building any model from scratch, or converting one using either aftermarket parts or stock materials, the first step is to convince yourself that you really can do what you set out to do. Many people tell me that they cannot scratch build, but when I ask them have they ever tried the answer is usually no. Many are frightened of making mistakes, parts will not fit properly, or that they do not have the skills. If I ask them if they have experienced problems with parts that do not fit with kits and they usually reply yes. Then when I ask them what was their response to the problem with the kit I get one of two answers: either they used their skills to find a solution and completed the model, or they gave up and threw it away or put it on the shelf. Most modellers know how to correct mistakes with kits, add PE or aftermarket parts, fill and sand gaps, etc, which means that they also have many of the the skills required to scratch build a model. If you get involved with scratch building you are going to encounter similar problems to those that you encounter with older or limited run kits, and to succeed you have to apply a little skill to solve those problems. The sense of achievement when you succeed has to be experienced to be fully appreciated: the feeling gained from “I made that” is a very positive one, especially if, as most people do, you started the project questioning whether you really could make a model from scratch. Remember: you can because you think you can.
Start with something simple and carry out as much research as possible to ensure that you know what you will have to do. In the case of conversions this means knowing what has got to be changed or modified. In the case of scratch building it means deciding how the parts and sub-assemblies are going to be made and what materials will be needed to make them: think about how a kit manufacturer would break the model down into different parts. You will also need to know which tools you will require.
This is a short guide to help those who might be thinking about converting or scratch building a model where not all of the parts can be bought or found in the spares box, but are hesitating because they think that it may be too difficult for them. I have tried to illustrate as best as I can the different tools and techniques that I use. They will not suit everyone – modelling is a very personal past time – but I hope to show that most processes are not nearly as difficult as many imagine them to be, and are actually quite easy if you are prepared to have a try and occasionally fail and start again. I am.
I have used illustrations from a number of different models, most of which I have made in the past 10 years, and although some of them may look very complex and difficult, remember that I started with simple basic subjects and as I gained experience I chose more challenging ones. I have made many mistakes along the way, and I continue to do so because, like everyone else, that is how I learn best. After all, the person who never made a mistake never made anything. I just don’t give up or put my part completed models on the shelf or throw them away.