Thursday 17 October 2013

Sprue Cutters Union #13: Preparation

This week is all about prepping for the next build. Weeks of thorough research or just dive in the box, tube of glue and loaded paintbrush in hand?

- How do you prepare for your next build? -

Do you mean mentally or physically? Mentally, I need to be in a relatively relaxed state of mind for any modelling session. Building or painting does have a relaxing effect on me, but if I'm too stressed or tired before I begin, the tiniest problem or an encounter with the carpet monster can ruin my entire evening.

This is, of course, not what this week's question intended.

Because of my fairly relaxed way to choose new kits, I do not have to research a certain topic and find out which manufacturer has the most perfect version of the kit, browsing vendors and Ebay for weeks on end. I just have a number of appealing models in the stash and I pick whichever grabs my attention the first. I can imagine this is different for a builder that exclusively builds 1/35 scale Tiger tanks.

My actual preparation routine consists of a few simple steps :
  1. unboxing the kit (and taking pictures to blog about it)
  2. washing all the sprues in warm, soapy water to remove any possible oil remnants that might make it difficult to paint certain spots
  3. go over the instructions step by step
  4. go over the instructions step by step (yes, again!)
  5. check the paint requirements (more below)
  6. start building
Step 5 is a little more than just that. 
  • I start by writing down (in a new Excel-sheet, in a dedicated folder for this build) all the suggested colours from the building instructions, in a breakdown of colour and what it's used for. 
  • The colour callout is always Revell or some other brand I do not have, so I start matching the colours to what I have (mainly Vallejo). 
  • Of all the missing colours, I substitute for near-matches. Nobody will ever notice me using black grey instead of dark sea-grey, or silver instead of aluminium on one or more petite detail, especially if the subject will be weathered. (The one person that does, can count on a frown and a shrug)
  • Now I start googling pictures of the subject (or other people's reviews, including which paint they used) and try to find if the missing paint can be replaced by other colours in a "Yes, I know the boxart says darkgreen, but this picture I found has it in lightgreen and it looks neat" kind of way.
  • What's left missing and is not TOO exotic (so it has a decent chance of being needed in a later build), I purchase in the LHS, which is nowhere near local since the last one in Ghent closed. It's a 30-minute drive, in a direction I never have to travel. They don't have Vallejo anyway, so I usually purchase paint online.
While browsing reviews on the particular kit, I invariably find comments like "The tracks are wrong for this model" and "The turret is 3 millimeter too short, you should replace by this or that resin aftermarket part."
I don't care about such things. For all they know, I just happen to be modelling a Tiger tank, running on salvaged British tracks, because they happened to fit and it was that or stay stranded. (It could happen!)

So there you have it. It's a pretty basic prep, with most time spent on colour decisions, with a relaxed FICE attitude (Fuck It, Close Enough!)

How do other modellers prepare? Check it out yourself :


  1. I like your FICE - have to remember that one! Thats almost the same way I think about the colors. Good post! Cheers.

    1. I can't take credit for FICE, but I can't remember who to give credit to.

  2. Yes great post, especially about your color choices! I agree, if it looks fine to me, I go with it.

  3. very cool idea. Maybe you could post a sample excel sheet with your build info?