Have you ever worked on a model that just kicked your butt? Every model has a certain degree of difficulty and some models are more difficult than others. In the large scale figure modeling world it is often the painting that can be daunting but there are some Anime and fantasy figure models where the construction process can also be extremely difficult. I found a model with an extremely dynamic pose that I just had to build. She was wearing a translucent petticoat that was swishing with her movement with a topcoat that was flying in the air over the petticoat. When I received the model in the mail and inspected the parts, I found that the petticoat was composed of nine pieces of clear resin with joints in odd and showing places. The fit of the parts was not intuitive and was more like a complex puzzle. I had never worked with transparent resin before and was uncertain how to proceed, but set about the task. I dry-fitted the pieces, taped them together, and figured the out the puzzle of pieces of the petticoat. So far so good, I thought. Next, I went about the task of gluing the pieces together. As I put the last piece in for gluing… you guessed it… The gap for the piece was about a half inch too wide. That is right, I said a half inch! Foul words and expletives came rolling out of my mouth and I left the work area. I spent the next week thinking about how I would solve the problem of the gap. I even sought advice from others, a wise but unmanly thing to do. The solution was to piece together clear acrylic rod in the gap and sand it to shape. About 40 hours later, quite a bit of super glue, sanding, and polishing the gap was filled and in a shape consistent with the petticoat. Alright, I thought, a modeling mistake fixed and I was ready to move on to the painting.
The challenge was to paint the petticoat so that it would remain transparent yet the raised areas would need to be opaque to cover the before mention seams and give the appearance of light reflecting off the raised surfaces of the material. I mixed together a series of transparent paint colors that I thought would achieve the goal. I started with the dark shadows and had mixed together a transparent shade of dark purple that contained dark purple ink. I hand brushed the shadows with the thought that the other colors would incorporate the color for a nice blend of colors. After the first coat the shadows were exactly as I had wanted them to be, transparent, barely visible, and I was full of hope for the next step. I airbrushed next the light shadows with transparent white paint with a slight shading of reddish blue. After I applied the first coat, I took a close look at my work. Seam imperfections showed their ugly little selves and the purple ink from the previous step changed color to red! TRAGEDY! But, not wanting to stop or concede an unfixable error I decided to force the issue and applied opaque whited with the thought that if it could not be transparent, as hoped, I could still make a cool looking petticoat. Well, it became worse and the purple became redder! You know, sometimes you just need to stop. Then I noticed that as I was turning the model while painting I had brushed some of the wet paint with my fingers and sheared off layers of paint in some places! There were rips and jagged areas in spots that would be very visible. Argh! It was nowhere close to my initial vision for the piece.
This is a complex model. I had visualized the model before I started the painting. Everything up to this point was equal to my vision. The petticoat is the standout feature. The visual impact of the model rests on the finished petticoat. It truly is a make or break element of the model that takes the model to extraordinary or relishes it to “ho hum.” I had overcome the first construction error, I thought, but the painting revealed a poor finish. The colors and method used left a finish that looked hideous, at best. I discovered the complexity of this model far exceeded my level of modeling skill. In other words, this model kicked my butt and none of the options for fixing it seemed tenable!
I know that one of the tenets of modeling is to select models of ever-increasing complexity that challenge a modeler’s skill level. I also know that part of modeling is learning how to overcome errors made in the construction and painting phases. And yet another tenet of modeling is “do overs.” When you mess up too bad you “do over.” Yesterday I was left in a state of frustration, despondency, and malaise and was ready to just leave it as it was and let everyone remark about “missing the mark.” Such was my level of mood that my wife remarked “Does this mean we are going to have a bad day for the rest of the day?” The lofty tenets of modeling did nothing for bringing me out of my mood. However, I was able to compartmentalize my frustration and enjoy the rest of the day which included taking my grandson to the fair. Now that I have had a day to sleep on it, my mind is churning on how to fix the problems. I will probably strip the paint, fix the holes, select different paint for coloring, and start again. Crap! I so wanted to have this part completed by the end of the weekend. Did I mention: this kit has kicked my butt!”