Thursday, October 17, 2013

Sprue Cutters Union #13: How I Prepare

First of all, I never consider myself fully prepared to start a new project until I'm completely motivated. Getting inspired to open that new kit, or start that next diorama is the first step in my preparation process.
I think we've all heard something along the lines of I don't pick the kit, the kit picks me, well this is true. I'm not likely going to build a kit that I just don't feel like starting at the moment.

Whenever I get a new kit, my first instinct is to open it and take a look inside. I examine the parts, and the detail, looking to see what the strengths are, and the pit falls. It is here that the kit may or may not inspire me. Once I decide what I want to build, I research the subject as best I can. Most often I'll look for unique paint schemes (try Wings Palette) or markings (hence the green A-6 I'm finishing now) to make the model a bit more interesting. I'll also locate some photographs of the subject in the real world, doing whatever it does. Nothing inspires me more than seeing a photo of a tank rolling through a ruined town, or a perfectly weathered aircraft sitting fully loaded on the flight line. If it is a diorama I'm working on, I need to have a solid idea in mind first and then use those images as a foundation to support my idea.
So, yeah, motivation is the first step in preparation.

Once I have a pretty good idea of the kit I'm building, its time to locate reference photographs. This is where I'll peruse Prime Portal for good walk-around albums and close ups so I can get that cockpit or wheel wells just right. The iPad comes in really handy for this, and I'll no doubt have two or three different tabs open in the browser so I can easily flip between references. I also have a decent collection of books that cover most of the subjects I like to deal with. It can be a bit cumbersome having a hard cover book open while at the bench, but its better than nothing.

When it is time to jump into the kit, I admit, I don't do much prep work there. I have not taken to washing the sprues before assembly or anything of that nature. I wonder how much of a difference that will make in the end, but perhaps I'll attempt it at some point. However, if I'm working with action figures to create a large scale diorama, I will wash them as the mold release agent tends to be more noticeable on an action figure than a plastic kit. The same is probably true of resin. Aside from that, when the box is open, its game on.

I generally am on top of my inventory, so if I'm running out of a certain paint color or masking tape, it is usually no surprise to me. My tools are always handy, despite not having a proper workbench. I keep everything stored in small containers that can easily be brought out and stowed at the end of the night.

That about covers the extent of my prep work. I don't often rush into a build, but rather give myself time to mental and physically prepare. The rushing tends to begin when I actually start building. But that is a topic for another week!
Thanks for reading!


Part of being in the Union means you must include links to fellow contributors' posts within your own response. If you liked this post, then perhaps you'll enjoy what some other modelers have to say about this topic!

Sven Harjacek Scale Models - New to the Union!


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  1. Nice....I like the idea of the boxes to keep everything in, i lost my hobby space awhile ago so now i am a little nomadic in where i work. I also do not rush into a job, i may open 3 or more kits and look, touch it all then think nah not this time.

  2. Here is my entry:

  3. Pretty much the same research sources that I use, and I can especially appreciate your comment about being inspired by photos of the real thing in action. Nice post, and another good blog subject.

  4. These topics are great Jon.

    I just picked up on this blog carnival thing.

    Here is my response for this topic