necklace, buckles on seatbelts, or insignia on a uniform are just examples of when the precise rendering of a line is necessary. Rendering the line usually occurs in a situation where a great deal of work has been done on the surrounding areas and there cannot be an error on the application of that line because a “fix” is nearly impossible. Often, the harder I try to not make an error an error invariably occurs followed by my heart sinking and my mind wondering why I even try to make models. Is the problem with poorly developed technical skills or could it be something else?
Technical skill is important. Paint consistency, selection of the correct brush to do the job, and proper hand bracing methods are the technical elements necessary to complete the task. Perfecting technical skills requires a lot of repetition and practice but perfection develops in steps and often the line can be rendered but there is a lack of consistency in performance. As important as technical skill is to fine detailing, it is not enough to
execute a masterful line. In my opinion, state of mind is the “something else” necessary to consistently render a straight line.
Have you ever watched a master modeler executing their craft? They approach their work station in a certain manner and set out the materials they plan on using. They assume a position in front of the materials and then “it” happens. A look comes over their face. They become oblivious to their external environment and address the task in a state of relaxed focus. Their eyes address the task and their hands move without conscious command. Colors are dipped and strokes are made to render the “look” that needs to be made. If you ask them about the “look”, their response is usually about making something “look right.” As infuriating as this response is to the beginner and intermediate
modeler, it is an accurate description of the process used by the master.
The master modeler has a large repertoire of well-learned and automatic technique; they “know” when a look has been achieved; but do not necessarily consciously “know” the look they are striving to attain. They have a general idea of the “look” but the nuances rendered are often beyond their verbal description. Their attentive mind, while relaxed, watches the “look” unfold as their hands seem to operate without cognitive guidance. The rendering is the result of an artistic process in which the master’s hands unite with the soul and the final look is “revealed” to the modeler as much as it is technically produced. The technical skills, of course, must become mastered so that they are second nature. But the rendered look is more about the process of rendering than the technical elements of
Over the holidays I re-read a book authored by Eugen Herrigel entitled Zen in the Art of Archery.
On page 77 he writes: “What is true of archery and swordsmanship also applies to the other arts. Thus, mastery in ink-painting is only attained when the hand, exercising perfect control over technique, executes what hovers before the mind’s eye at the same moment when the mind begins to form it, without there being a hair’s breadth between. Painting then becomes spontaneous calligraphy. Here again the painter’s instructions might be: spend ten years observing bamboos, become bamboo yourself, then forget everything and – paint.” To know what something “looks” like requires knowing the thing being painted, forgetting what you know, and then painting it until it looks right. This process requires a relaxed but attentive level of concentration where the hand performs the glimmer of what is desired but is not necessarily conscious.
Contrast this approach to the one in which errors occur in rendering. Errors occur more out of a fear of error than deficits in technical skill. Knowledge of the level of precision required, consequences of an error, striving toward a pre-specified goal, and sometimes self-imposed timeframes causes a state of tension in the modeler. With tension comes imprecise movement and the very thing that is feared is the thing that comes to pass. Shaky hands, jerky movements, fingerprints, and smears are examples of
tension produced rendering. The very error that the modeler desires to avoid becomes manifest because the error is the thing that “hovers before the mind’s
There is a lot that can be said about approaching each modeling piece from a position of calming but attentive ritual, where the hands are allowed to have a mind of their own and the “look” of the finished piece is one that emerges from the vision in the mind’s eye. Technical skill is maximized when calmly executed while minimized from goal and fear driven actions. Learning to go with the creative flow of execution is often the path to exquisite reproduction and taking a piece from “good” to extraordinary. The key to rendering a straight line
comes from “seeing” the straight line and allowing the hand to follow suit, free from the concern of error