My Approach To A Subject

by Oct 26, 2022The Modeling Conversation

There’s more than one way to approach a subject.

My early approach to modeling was shaped by the general interest magazines. Being a rank novice at building, I wanted to know how to do things like capture the shape of the object, the sizes of the parts and how to make it look more realistic. These pragmatic concerns still influence the work today as I happily obsess over correct dimensions and gathering all the information I possibly can to reproduce a subject accurately.

My interests in the craft have shifted from being focused on building a layout to seeing the work through the lens of art, which brings a different set of influences that are more intuitive and personal.

After seeing, sketching and photographing this car, it had me with the corner posts.

The ends are simple in form but challenging for a novice brass modeler.

Is It A Challenge?
The covered hopper shown in these images is one that attracts me for a variety of reasons. I’m drawn to those uniquely shaped corner posts. They look like straightforward but fun parts to form.

Modeling is more enjoyable for me when I’m learning something new, and a primary consideration in choosing a project is whether it will stretch my skills. So far my modeling has focused on boxy forms with flat surfaces. A cylindrical form like this hopper would stretch my abilities and understanding just as the compound angles in the hopper bays of the current build have done. There’s a tremendous satisfaction in conquering a challenge you were once intimidated by. Developing new capacities and understanding are what I truly enjoy about model building.¬†

Can I Get What I Need?
It’s the question most of us base our choices on. If certain parts aren’t available, the project comes to a screeching halt.

Finding accurate parts and details can be difficult, especially in quarter-inch scale. Modern era modeling is gaining a foothold in P48 but it’s slow going. With the ever present closures and retirements of sources for high quality parts, certain subjects are a real challenge.

I’ve made my peace with the fact that modeling ¬†contemporary rolling stock in P48 means I’m largely on my own. Items like high quality etched running boards will be problematic but that’s nothing new in this scale.

3D printing has come of age and will fill in critical gaps, however, going forward, modelers in this scale who want out of the ordinary subjects will have to take far more initiative. That’s also nothing new and, in my view, that’s a good thing for the individual and the craft.

Excellent quality rivets, and bolts are available for most of the examples seen here.

Is There A Personal Connection?
I found it’s easier to maintain enthusiasm for a project when I have a personal connection to the subject. More and more I appreciate the experience of a firsthand encounter. I would be far less interested in the railroad in Centerville, if I hadn’t experienced it myself. That core of memories forms a solid foundation that I draw on to this day.

In a similar manner, when I have the chance to study a car up close and at length, that experience can be brought to bear on the work. If a subject really interests me, simply working from a plan in a magazine will do in a pinch but, I find far more satisfaction when I have the memories and impressions of seeing the car firsthand to draw upon.

Seemingly unrelated things like the weather, location, or finally seeing how a certain aspect of construction was done, even a smell, can all be infused into the model based on the strength and quality of a personal encounter with the actual car. That might sound silly to some but my own experience over many years of painting tells me otherwise.

Modeling is a series of choices and questions that all lead to a variety of outcomes. We have the model itself but there is also the personal growth we experience through the process. These days, I find the experience and potential of that growth more compelling than ever.

I like to mull creative ideas over for a long time, so I don’t know if or when work on this model will begin. Covered hoppers hold a special appeal for me and this one is definitely on the list of future projects.


Links to other posts about this car.
Drawing: Thinking With A Pencil
When Answers Create More Questions