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What is Modeling ?

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  • Member since
    June, 2014
  • From: New Braunfels , Texas
What is Modeling ?
Posted by Tanker - Builder on Sunday, February 10, 2019 7:59 AM

That's a good question isn't it ?

 Modeling - That which renders in Miniature a small representation of the real thing . Or Modeling - That which is perceived to be a created large or small construct of materials for the final result of an item that is not full sized , but shows the effects or presence of the real object, Or, Modeling - That where we see persons or things positioned for photos or paintings .In the case of living humans or animals referred to as Manniquins - Yup , Really !

     I want to talk about the small miniatures .Those less than 20 feet in length . Why ? Well there's so many of them . Do you realize that when we were kids even Travel Agencies had models of ships they booked your cruise on ? I wonder how many wound up in dusty storage rooms of landfills ? That's a shame too . I have often wondered why there is a Museum for everything else .Why not , the " National Museum of Models and Miniatures "?

    There are in this world many , many folks who've created a really magnificient piece and when they pass , Maybe it get preserved one more generation and then winds up in that landfill . Why ? If we can have a Bibliotec Museum ( a Museum of the Printed and Written word ) then why not a grand edifice for all those forgotten miniatures ? They do tell a story about both that which they represent and then also the time in which they were created .

    I recently restored another ! Model Sailing ship , from the 17-1800s time period . I couldn't help but wonder how they did these in the poor light without so much as an inkling as to what the furure would be like in adhesives and paint . The first was the " Amistad " Yes . a model of that historic and famous slave Ship . She had been painted with an oil wash .Well , many of them . Figurine and Weathering fans know how long that takes to dry .

   So when I did the second one .The Sail Schooner" Elise " I was somewhat surprised .It had it's final color coat before me, of House-Paint .Yup , you read it right ! Thinned Housepaint .

 Doll Houses are Models too ,but we sort of ignore them . Why ? They put as much effort and skill into one of those as we do on our Ship , Plane , Car or Armor models and we get to work with plastic already molded to shape .Yes , there are doll House kits and have you ever seen one out of the box .Scary , That ! . 

 Layers of plywood and sticks and dowels . No , shingles ,siding, windows, doors or such . Hinges and knobs and stuff Nope ! Aftermarket . carpet, wallpaper and fittings for the rooms All aftermarket ! They knew what that meant long before we did . Is it , when done ,a Model ? Well , yes , it can be played with , But , it is definitely a model of a certain type of home .

 I recently saw an engine . Four foot tall , Two cylinders and all the associated gears and levers and such .Imagine my surprise when looking at this model when I found out it was LEGO ! Didn't look like it either ! It is as I have said from the beginning, Models are Miniatures of real things , never mind what the medium of construction is .

    There are model train enthusiasts in Austin,T.X. , to which I belong . They build model Trains and Fairly accurate ones .Their medium, LEGO  !. I knew a fellow in Oregon that built beautiful accurate W.W. 2 , Model aircraft .His Medium ? Soda and Beer cans .Did they look like ours ? Only if ours was finished in Natural Aluminum !

 So lets celebrate the fact that really , all of us are Miniaturists( Modelers ) no matter how ugly of vague or crude our final piece is , Or how beautiful as well . They are , always have been and always will be MODELS !   T.B.

  • Member since
    July, 2018
  • From: The Deep Woods
Posted by Tickmagnet on Sunday, February 10, 2019 9:08 AM

Good points.



  • Member since
    September, 2012
Posted by GMorrison on Sunday, February 10, 2019 9:27 AM

Well written, Gary.

LOL you didn't expand on that third direction in modeling. When I first started including the internet with my other modeling resources, I was amazed how much sort of related to that came up in my searches...

One thing you talked about that struck a particular note is the discrepancy between presentation of a true miniature compared to a miniature that looks like the true thing. There are similar considerations in two dimensional art. I draw quite a bit because it was the foundation of my education, both technical and artistic. At this point I teach others more than I draw on my own, and I often have a conversation with an employee or student that goes like this:

GM- This needs more work. It doesn't really sell the idea or come across as particularily attractive.

Drafter-But I can assure you that everything is absolutely correct, to scale and in the right color.

GM- perhaps (doubt it), It doesn't look like something I'd want to be in/ around.

Drafter- If I make the changes you describe, we would be lying.

GM- We can deal with that problem later.


  • Member since
    May, 2009
  • From: Poland
Posted by Pawel on Sunday, February 10, 2019 1:37 PM


I like it a lot, a pure philosophical question...

There are a lot of models - architectural models, mathematical models, 3D models.

A model is a representation. And this representation is at the same time, out of necessity a simplification. If there wasn't any simplification then we would have a duplicate, and not a model. So a model is a representation, focusing on a chosen aspect of the real thing. A scale model if focusing on the looks of the real thing, letting go on the function, or the physical properties of the real thing - like we don't require our tanks to have scale weight.

Or the mannequin is a model of a human focused on the fit of the clothes, while the crash test dummy also represents a human, but focusing on the behaviour of the body during the crash. Both types of models don't need and don't depict realistic facial features.

And when we build our models we get to choose what simplifications we do in our models. Do we concentrate on the function of the machine, or on the paint scheme and historical background? Do we make shaded seam lines, or interior? It's up to the builder and what he is trying to convey.

A museum as described by TB sure would be a cool thing to see.

Thanks for reading and have a nice day


All comments and critique welcomed. Thanks for your honest opinions!

  • Member since
    September, 2012
Posted by GMorrison on Sunday, February 10, 2019 2:29 PM

When I was young, my dad did a lot of weekend shifts at the airport. He worked in the engineering department at UAL. Sea of workstations. We'd be the only people there.

They all had little aircraft models on bases, giveaways from manufacturers sales reps.

One Saturday morning, with nothing else to do, I went around and collected 50-60 of the things. I took them into the largest conference room and made a model airport, using bound manuals for terminal buildings.

When i showed Dad, his eyes got pretty big, but then he laughed.



  • Member since
    November, 2008
  • From: Far Northern CA
Posted by mrmike on Sunday, February 10, 2019 3:08 PM

Your post is good reading TB, and also reminded me of a couple childhood experiences. Growing up in the Hampton Roads area, there were plenty of military subjects at hand - Armed Forces Day was a very big deal! One of my favorite school field trips was the Mariner's Museum; the model ships were just incredible to my young eyes and they probably would still be just as impressive.

The other standout memory is the wind tunnels at NACA Langley AFB. My dad was an Aero Engineer there and I remember seeing lots of models there for testing, including the Bell X-1. As Pawel said, they were purpose built, but seeing them mounted up in front of the huge fans was a something I'll never forget. Amazing how powerful our modelling memories can be.

  • Member since
    July, 2012
  • From: Douglas AZ
Posted by littletimmy on Sunday, February 10, 2019 5:46 PM

I seem to recall, that waaaaayyyyy back in time,  An Inventor had to make a "Working" miniature of whatever he wanted a Patent for. Some of those "Patent Model's " were truely Jewel's of enginering. FULLY FUNCTIONAL !!

There were also "Salesman  sample's ". If you wanted a  Case  Threshing machine, you first had to have a look at the miniature machine (  which, in this case, was over 4 feet long and about 20 inch's tall.)

 A few more example's ....( just cause I "KNOW" you wanr ro see em... )

One last one..... just for you "Artillery Guy's".

It's a patent model of a  U.S. Navy Howitzer.

 Dont worry about the thumbprint, paint it Rust , and call it "Battle Damage".




  • Member since
    October, 2005
Posted by CG Bob on Sunday, February 10, 2019 9:36 PM

As a USCG Controlman 1st Class ((E-6), I served aboard USCGC CONFIDENCE (WMEC 619) in Kodiak, AK; USCG Base Milwaukee, WIl and USCGC VIGOROUS (WMEC 627) in New London, CT.  CONFIDENCE and VIGOROUS were sister ships.  When I was stationed at Base Milwaukee, I purchased some plans to make a model of the CONFIDENCE.  After I received orders to the VIGOROUS, I cut out keels and frames to make a pair of models in 1/96th scale. Shortly after reporting to VIGOROUS, I started working both models when we were under way on patrol.  After about a year, I had the hulls planked and some of the superstructure built.  During one of the patrols, I had to give an all hand's lecture on the ship's watertight compartments - so I marked all the water tight decks and bulkheads on the hulls of my models and passed them amomg my ship mates.

  • Member since
    September, 2012
Posted by GMorrison on Sunday, February 10, 2019 9:59 PM

My F-in-L left the military after VE day. His last overseas posting was the Piaggio airfield at Pontaderro in Italy.

Industrious Italians made sand cast molds of USAAF aircraft from the rubber identification models used to teach the AAA crews what not to shoot at. Poured melted aluminum into the molds.

I have a box of the things, it'd take a lot of work to make them presentable.

  • Member since
    June, 2014
  • From: New Braunfels , Texas
Posted by Tanker - Builder on Tuesday, February 12, 2019 8:59 AM

Oh My Gawd !Little Timmy ,

 Where'd you find all those ? Were they taken at the U.S. Patent museum ? You are right though .To get a patent you had to submit the plans , notes and a working model ! T.B.

  • Member since
    November, 2009
  • From: Twin Cities of Minnesota
Posted by Don Stauffer on Tuesday, February 12, 2019 9:06 AM

We formed a new modeling club about twenty years ago.  We wanted to cover all genres.

We tried to contact model railroaders and miniaturists in the new club, with personal contacts and flyers.  We didn't generate much interest from these groups.  There is a shop in the area that specializes in miniaturist stuff, and I check out their stock every so often.  And, I certainly frequent the model RR isles of my LHSs.

 And, if you are ever in the Chicago area, check out the bottom floor of their art museum, where they have an exhibit by an ace miniaturist of buildings of an English town.  Superb!

Don Stauffer in Minnesota


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