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 "Finescale Modeling:" What is it?
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MikeC
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Posted - 01/21/2003 :  8:43:34 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Finescale modeling. We see this term all the time in the model railroad press and in advertisements from certain kit manufacturers. We hear it referred to in local and regional meets, in train shows, in club meetings, and even in hobby shop gatherings on Saturday mornings. Many in the hobby consider themselves to be "finescale modelers," but most do not.

So what does this expression actually mean? What is "finescale modeling?" What constitutes a "finescale" model? How do we know "finescale" when we see it?

Is it all about a certain attitude or point of view? Skill level or ability? Is it related to counting rivets and a strict adherence to scale rulers? Or is it all something else completely? What?

Finescale modeling. What is it? Let's hear from you.



Edited by - MikeC on 01/21/2003 8:45:07 PM

Country: USA | Posts: 21584

ANo10
Fireman



Posted - 01/22/2003 :  12:16:13 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Boy, you ask all the hard questions..

To me, fine scale modeling is a depiction of a structure, group of structures, or scenery, that tells the observer "something is going on here". In your words, "it tells a story". It is detailing the model beyond a plastic building sans paint placed on the layout to take up space. It's the window shade partially drawn, a missing shingle, something to explain the "scene" beyond words.

I don't think it applies to just a structure or a particular kit, nor that a certain manufacturer's kit is better that another. It is the modeler's skill in depicting the kit to create an explanation without words, Some of the scratch built structures I've seen here and on other forums are as good as, if not better, than the commercial kits".

Skill levels - Yes, it takes a certain technical skill and ability to assemble a finescale structure. I believe, however, that the most important skill is the modeler's imagination to take a kit and make it unique and have it's own personality.

So, to me, it is an attitude combined with craftsman skills to add realistic details, not rivet counting, that make the model come alive.

Jim




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Hangem Harry
Crew Chief

Posted - 01/22/2003 :  08:37:31 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Jim has hit my opinion of Finescale modeling right on the head. It is a scene or structure that tells a story, makes the viewer feel that they are really there at that place and time.

Rivit counting is not necessary as long as the person feels they are there.

Harry



Edited by - Hangem Harry on 01/22/2003 09:07:41 AM

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MikeB
Crew Chief

Posted - 01/22/2003 :  08:57:00 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Hmmm, I have never considered the meaning of finescale modeling because I have never considered myself a finescale modeler. However, I have been creating scenes in exactly the way Jim described using plastic models (mainly military), since I was very young. The difference is, I call them dioramas, not finescale models.

Am I wrong? Are they the same thing, or is there a fine line between a finescale model and a diorama, or is the act of creating a diorama finescale modeling?


MikeB

Building the first trans-Atlantic Railroad

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Bbags
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Premium Member


Posted - 01/22/2003 :  09:07:57 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Good morning all
For those who do not already know Mike was a school teacher. One of the goals of teaching is to get your students to think. I think Mike has succeeded by asking this question. Next we will be getting homework assignments. (big grin)
Now to finescale modeling.
I read somewhere that finescale modeling is an art form where you model the color, texture and appearance of the model to match the prototype. This means not only the structure itself but the surrounding scenery.
I built the Nenana Depot by AMB which is prototypically correct with size and shape. ie. correct windows where most plastic kits have windows which are way out of scale.
However the Depot has been around for 75 years and undergone many transformations. This required research to find what the building looked like in the late 1980's. This meant some changes to the model. Picking the paint color that was used at this time. Also small details such as the location of the utilities was changed from where it was shown on the plans. Also the surrounding area (roads, landscaping, track, etc.) all had to be researched.
I think that to model fine scale you need a complete diorama that matches the look and era of the structure you are modeling.
Great question Mike and thanks for getting my mind as well as my hands motivated.



John Bagley
Modeling the Alaska Railroad in HO in Wildwood Georgia.

Country: USA | Posts: 13309 Go to Top of Page

MikeC
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Posted - 01/23/2003 :  10:58:55 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by MikeB

Are they the same thing, or is there a fine line between a finescale model and a diorama, or is the act of creating a diorama finescale modeling?



Mike, I think it's quite possible to create a "finescale model" without ever creating a diorama. I also think it's quite possible for someone to create a diorama that doesn't come even close to "finescale."

I think the two terms are used synonymously, though, simply because many outstanding model builders also tend to be dioramacists.

To me, part of finescale modeling includes a hefty dose of artistry, with attention to detail and a concern for realism. But it isn't necessarily counting rivets or making sure that every rivet is spaced exactly 2.5 scale inches apart.

Before anyone can scream at me for this next statement, let me say that I like Campbell kits very much. I have several of them assembled and 4 more awaiting construction. But for me, in a very practical sense, the issue about finescale modeling is the difference between a kit from Campbell Scale Models and a kit from Builders in Scale or Sierra West. Campbell kits use fractionally dimensioned stripwood rather than scale stripwood. (For example, a piece of stripwood 1/8 X 1/8 is supposed to represent a scale 12" X 12". But a true 12 X 12 is actually smaller in scale.) In addition, all you have when you have finished the kit is the basic structure. There are few if any detail parts to make it "come alive." It all looks OK, but it's not finescale. In that sense, there's also a difference between "craftsman" kits and "finescale" kits.

And now I've probably stirred up some sort of hornet's nest....



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Bbags
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Posted - 01/23/2003 :  4:27:30 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Hi Mike
No hornet's nest here.
I totally agree on Campbell kits. I am just finishing up with the Hamiltons Dinghies kit which I think is one of their better structures. However it does lack for detail parts and is basically just the structure. This will not stop me however from adding detail castings to the kits.

I have one of George Barrett's Sheepscot Scale Products and in the general instructions he states that
"You will find very few written dimensions because the plans are all presented in full HO scale. I believe that the best kit will come about by using the most appropriate material to represent the real thing at one eighty-seventh its real size".
I think this then qualifies as a finescale model.

He also states that he
"Believes true realism will come only if there is activity about the structures. By activity I mean that there should be people about and trucks and other vehicles unloading and loading to and from the rail cars".
This leads to a finescale diorama in my viewpoint.
Great discussion here and thanks for starting it.




John Bagley
Modeling the Alaska Railroad in HO in Wildwood Georgia.

Country: USA | Posts: 13309 Go to Top of Page

MikeC
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Posted - 01/23/2003 :  6:20:02 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Thanks, John.

Funny you should mention Sheepscot. I have been planning to ask about their kits. I've never purchased one and don't know anything about them other than what I've seen in the photos in Walthers, Jay's Trains, Valley Model Trains, etc.

They are certainly good looking kits, and I was wondering if anyone here had any experience with them.



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Bbags
Administrator

Premium Member


Posted - 01/23/2003 :  6:38:42 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Hi Mike
I have the C&L Barge #1 Kit. This is really a pile driving barge. Was able to purchase it for 1/2 price at a local hobby shop sale.
From what I understand they have not made any of their structure kits for a while. You can see some of the kits on the Valley Models web Site.
This kit uses a solid plywood former for the hull. I understand a lot of his kits use the solid wood former. You then get lots of strip wood to put over the former so it is board on board construction. His kits include wood, brass, cast metal, styrene, and paper. The plans are excellent as they are to scale. He also included 4 different views of a completed kit plus one color photo on the box.
All in all a very nice kit.




John Bagley
Modeling the Alaska Railroad in HO in Wildwood Georgia.

Country: USA | Posts: 13309 Go to Top of Page

Drew
Fireman



Posted - 02/09/2003 :  8:43:25 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Hi Mike!
Guess I'm joining in kinda late here...sorry, story of my life...
After reading through the thread, I would have to say that I fall more into the realm of "dioramatist" (I didn't even know that was a word!), especially since, as an N scaler, it's never really finescale as much as it's the best possible comprimise...But therein lies an intriguing challenge for me, personaly, & I think one that has made a better modeler out of me than anything I was doing in HO.
But I've never considered anything I've done to be "finescale". I would like to think that my modeling does convey some degree of realism...a "window on a world", so to speak...but finescale...no, I'm not even close.
btw...this is such a cool forum, & this is great thread!


-Drew-

"Life is all the stuff that happened while you were making other plans."

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Bbags
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Posted - 02/09/2003 :  11:37:29 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Hi Drew
Your work looks finescale to my HO eyes. I was under the impression that N scale was for people who were more interested in running more realistic trains in terms of length etc. and that HO was a scale where people liked to model scenery. You and a few other N scale people have shot all kinds of holes in my thinking. I am a green horn to model RRing as I have only been in the hobby for 2 years and I picked HO since my desire is to model structures and have a railroad run through them to tie the scene together with some sort of logic.
This is why I picked HO as the large majority of kits are in HO.
Question: Do you scratch build most of your structures or build them from kits and does N scale have a George Sellios who not only models but also produces kits. I just wondered who the king of finescale model kits is in N scale.
I have learned a lot from this forum in the past year and with the people who we have and are attracting I will learn more I am sure.



John Bagley
Modeling the Alaska Railroad in HO in Wildwood Georgia.

Country: USA | Posts: 13309 Go to Top of Page

Drew
Fireman



Posted - 02/10/2003 :  10:56:01 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Hi John!
I got into N scale for exactly the reasons you stated, but then it became more of a need to conserve space...I still consider my self an HO modeler, & I'm "just visiting" in this N scale thing...
As far as craftsman kits, I know nothing about them...I can't afford them, so I have to make do with scratching & bashing cheapo plastic kits...like I said, a "finescaler" I'm not!


-Drew-

"Life is all the stuff that happened while you were making other plans."

Country: USA | Posts: 1173 Go to Top of Page

MikeC
Administrator

Premium Member


Posted - 02/10/2003 :  11:28:07 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Drew

...like I said, a "finescaler" I'm not!



Ahhh, Drew, I have to respectfully disagree. You are a "finescaler" in N. You and Tyson have two of the best N scale layouts I have ever seen. Your mini-scenes and detailing are excellent. Your photos are proof of that.

I think what "finescale modeling" comes down to is as much a way of thinking (or a philosophy) as it is about building certain kits or anything else. To me, it involves having a certain "attitude" about how the modeler approaches the hobby, having the "eye" to pull it all together on a layout or diorama, and having the resolve to stick with it, even though it may involve long periods of time to completion.

John, if you ever get a chance, take a look at the Allen Keller video on Bill and Wayne Reid's "Cumberland Valley" N scale layout. It's an incredible layout! Talk about finescale in N... that's it! I first saw the Cumberland Valley in an MR article back in the early '80's. For me, it was love at first sight, and I almost switched to N because of it.



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Drew
Fireman



Posted - 02/10/2003 :  7:47:35 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Thanks for the kind words Mike!
Some N scalers I've really been inspired by, in addition to the aforementioned Ried brothers are Scott Seekins, Lance Mindheim, & Art Fahey...
But Y'know, I don't think it's so much that they're N scalers, as it is that they are really top-notch modelers...& I think maybe this touches on a point that MikeC (who, incedently I also consider top-notch, & a big inspiration to me) is trying to get through my thick head... Good modeling really trancends scale...it's a coming together of elements, like texture, color, etc...elements put together in such a way that they are visually pleasing...It reinforces what I have long held, that model railroading is a valid art form & can be persued as such, regardless of the scale you choose to persue it in.


-Drew-

"Life is all the stuff that happened while you were making other plans."

Edited by - Drew on 02/10/2003 7:51:04 PM

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Bbags
Administrator

Premium Member


Posted - 02/11/2003 :  4:43:35 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Hi Drew
You wrote
Good modeling really trancends scale...it's a coming together of elements, like texture, color, etc...elements put together in such a way that they are visually pleasing...It reinforces what I have long held, that model railroading is a valid art form & can be persued as such, regardless of the scale you choose to persue it in.
I totally agree that model railroading is an art form. But better than a painting that is static. I think it qualifies as a play or movie where there is the scenery, actors and plenty of action. With the addition of sound to model RRing there is also dialog. So Model Railroading is the complete art form.
I also agree that Mike has been an inspiration. I have learned a great deal about technique and the finer points of modeling from Mike in the last 6 months since we started these discussions.






John Bagley
Modeling the Alaska Railroad in HO in Wildwood Georgia.

Country: USA | Posts: 13309 Go to Top of Page

MikeC
Administrator

Premium Member


Posted - 02/11/2003 :  9:10:18 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Thanks, guys. But you know, I think there is much that we can all learn from each other. That's the beauty of these discussions.

John - Many years ago, Frank Ellison, who was a well known theater director and producer as well as a model railroader, wrote an essay about the very ideas that you've expressed. He compared model railroading to a well-written and staged drama. That essay, published in MR, is now regarded as a classic!

You're in good company, my friend!



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