Details – they’re personal

An entertaining post from Marty McGuirk reminded me that I wanted to expand on  Summons, which I wrote back in October.  There I argued that realism lies in the textures and colours between the details, rather than in the details themselves.

Consequently, some of the most realistic models you’ll find are taken out of the box and simply weathered by master painters.  Some freelance railroads ooze a sense of place that you believe you have visited.

So, why bother with detail?  The purpose of detail is to accurately portray the prototype – nothing more and nothing less.  Getting the accuracy of the model right is a personal quest for each of us.  Some of us prefer to go the distance, while the others prefer to stop off at the first pub.

But here’s the thing: once the model is painted, you and the other foamer who has also attempted the same model are the only ones who will know that you spent hours twisting wire to better represent the chains on the doors.  So, Marty is right: don’t sweat the details, unless that’s your thing, in which case, don’t expect anyone else to notice.

9 thoughts on “Details – they’re personal

  1. ‘So, Marty is right: don’t sweat the details, unless that’s your thing, in which case, don’t expect anyone else to notice.’

    That, René, is a brilliant way to approach Finescale!

      1. Well, that in itself is a very well-considered post, Simon. I’m not sure anyone will understand how our two lines of thinking are related, but I’m flattered by the mention, nevertheless!

        I really liked this thought from further back in the thread, too: “I always think that it is down to a genuine love of the subject, rather than a simple technical appreciation. Someone who is truly immersed in what they are trying to create will outshine a technical perfectionist when it comes down to generate a warmth from within the modelling.”

        Incidentally, as the thread on RMWeb is about MRJ, it made me think about this conversation in that context. One of the things I noticed over the last decade is that MRJ has increased the number of colour images. You’d think this would make the layout articles better, but for me, somehow it has detracted from it. Maybe the reason is that many of the layouts featured in MRJ have nailed the feeling of the place through textures and spacing, but colour is another variable, and not all of them have nailed it. (On the other hand it could be because I’m used to seeing B&W photos of trains, and so the colour ones don’t look right)


  2. Rene,
    Thanks for the comment and link!
    You mentioned the increased use of color in MRJ – having worked in publishing and preparing publications for years there’s some things I find lacking in MRJ and Wild Swan in general – page after page of two columns of smallish text, the use of “color plates” in some of the books and the like) but one thing that’s never bothered me are what to some may seem like an excessive use of B&W images.
    When I noticed even the B&W photos in MRJ were obviously printed with four color separations someone (Iain most likely) told me the magazine had an editorial policy of never printing a color photo of something where no color photos of the prototype existed. (Said another way, if the layout was supposed to represent 1905 there would be no color photos of it).
    But the magic of the b&w certainly played a huge role in capturing the mood of a time and place. I was completely drawn in to Inkerman Street (remember that one) when it appeared in the magazine.
    I had a chance to see it at an exhibition years ago. Sorry to say at first I didn’t recognize it “in living color.” Just didn’t have the same impact.
    To be fair though, this preference for B&W may have been going just a bit too far when they published Barry Norman’s scenery book without any interior color photos!

    1. Oh, I didn’t realize they were B&W printed in colour. How very interesting. Today they could easily replicate the older colour films too, making a model set in the 70s look like it was shot in the 70s.

      1. Printing a B&W image with four color separations really means your capturing the subtleties of the gray tones in a way a simple monotone process doesn’t really capture.
        Try making a copy of a B&W image on a color copier sometime to see what I mean.
        This process can get tricky as part of the printing process – and you do have to be careful especially if there isn’t enough of a separation in the various grays. If they’re are, or the seps aren’t processed properly, the resulting photos can look overexposed or “muddy.” The P. R. Hastings book on the B&M is an example of this.

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