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WelshZeCorgi

Question to the community about books:

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Which book do you think actually improved the quality of your builds after reading?

 

I've started picking up a few books about models but have been a little disappointed. I want to buy more reading material but can't spend hundreds of dollars and hours reading every one of them. So I wanted to ask you, the Britmodeller community, what books would you swear made you a better builder after reading?

Edited by WelshZeCorgi

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No book ever made me a better builder. Some books gave me ideas and taught me a few techniques but what improved my skills were watching other modellers and, most important, practice!

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I tend to agree with Giorgio on this. I think quality walk arounds like DACO, Squadron etc allow you to appreciate what 'real' looks like. You can then figure out how to replicate that as best you can.

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What they said!

 

Books on the actual subject, not books on models of the subject, are most valuable. To be fully transparent, I did get a couple of model books, but, well, the money would have been better spent elsewhere.

 

To be sure, this is for plastic and resin models. I do have books on wooden ship modeling that I believe are quite valuable and worth the money. Well, except for zu Mondfeld's Historic Ship Models--don't waste your money on that one!!!

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To my mind, the best source of inspiration for different techniques is hanging around a forum like this. I spend a lot of time hanging out in build threads where techniques are used I may never follow but there will almost always be something I can pull out of it thinking 'hmmm, thats not a bad idea",  the opportunity to try these things is my stumbling block just now but incrementally, I reckon I've managed to improve my skills, such as I can be bothered with. Some things I just won't bother with, they're not for me, & that is another thing, to define for yourself what sort of modeler you want to be. Don't try & use all you learn immediately but grow your skills bit by bit till you feel comfortable with what you're trying. Just my happorth worth. <_< :) 

Steve.

Edited by stevehnz

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Books and periodicals are what inspired and taught me to model. Discovering Airfix magazine in the late sixties was a revelation to me, I had never seen anyone else's models 'till then. The work in that one magazine was a complete inspiration and I was hooked. I subscribed to every magazine that was going and pestered the hell out of the library requesting books on the inter library loan scheme. as I became financially dependant I started growing my library.

 

On coming back into the pastime, again, a year ago I was so disappointed in the current crop on printed matter especially the periodicals, poor quality and non existent editing all round, they are just advertising vehicles and are bereft of any professional critical content. I have bought a few contemporary modelling books but have been in the main disappointed, as they seem to be picture rich but content poor, the lack of cogent writing and just words ends up creating more questions than the books answered. Good instructional text and clear relevant photographs/diagrams/sketches go together however in modern publishing the word seems to have dropped out of use.

 

Author/modellers/publishers that have inspired and instructed me over the years are people like Almark, Bryan Philpott, Harry Woodman, Michael Andress, Roy Dilley, Kalmbach, Chris Ellis, Alan Hall, Roger Chesnau, Shep Paine, Matt Irvine, Windrow & Greene, Bill Horan, to name but a few and thankfully their books, though long out of print, are still available mostly at friendly prices.

 

I am not any longer a great fan of the internet, although an early adopter online from 1992, the internet's promise has failed to flourish in my opinion due mainly to the capitalisation of data. The drive, sweeping generalisation I know with many exception such as these forums, seems to be more about "hits" than content as to why they are mutually exclusive on the internet is beyond me. I find life is too short for trawling through youtube to try and find something of value and as I will now have nothing to do with google you tube no longer sucks the life out of me.

 

Forums are great within their limitations however they seem to be starting on the wane as social media, another internet thing I will not use, and the use of phones/tablets gives way to us old PC users, but as I am aiming to becoming internet free over the next three years it is an increasing irrelevance in my life.

 

The plethora of model shows around should be a great source of inspiration for many, as the stuff on show is truly amazing and when one ponders all the time, effort and resources that such a collection of work has commanded the energy and enthusiasm the pastime demands is staggering. I went to one modelling show in my life nigh on twenty years ago in Telford and never again for me, being of a strong misanthropic persuasion I found the crush of people nauseating.

 

So for me my bookshelves are the back bone of my scale modelling, good books are still being published especially those whose subjects benefit from much photographic content. Magazines have gone, the internet is going but I will not be any the poorer as my tangible, tactile, friendly books and periodicals will keep me scale modelling within my own resources.

 

So to try and answer your question the best I can do is the list of authors that have worked for me, at the end of the day there is no real shortcut, you will need to put in the reading time to discover those authors and tomes that work for you.

 

Just as a snapshot currently on my desk at the moment are, Scale Aircraft Modelling March 2003, Building and Improving Vacuum-Formed Model Aircraft, by E.Richard Staszak, Warpaint Series No1 Bristol Beaufighter, Modellers Datafile No6, The Bristol Beaufighter, Scale Aviation Modeller International September 1997, Making Model Aircraft by Bryan Philpott and the Oor Wullie annual 2000.

Edited by dromia

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I find forums like britmodeller give me ideas for new techniques and products ( paints etc) as we are all modellers. My books are all about subjects so I can do  research on my builds.

   As someone mentioned above, the quality of printed magazines seems to go up and down, I'll only buy them if theres something that interests me. 

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There is one seminal book that I forgot to mention, it has such an impact on me and is referred to so much that I obviously take it for granted now and heartily recommend as must read and absorb especially when approaching a making pastime. 

 

"The Nature of Art and Workmanship" by David Pye.

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I think two things had a big impact on improving my modelling skills (apart from the obvious things like patience and knowledge). Firstly buying my first copy of Airfix Magazine in January 1967, shortly before my 13th birthday. It was an eye opener and encouraged me to have a go, like converting WW1 German infantry to Zulu War British solders. Secondly going to an IPMS branch meeting in Sheffield in 1977 after meeting Neil Robinson in a long departed modelshop, where people exchanged ideas and comment in a reasonablely friendly environment. 

I still buy books about the real thing and have a good collection as I fund them useful for inspiration as well as knowledge. At 66, I am still trying new products etc, although I probably am behind the curve in some ways as I realise I am mortal, the stash will not build itself and I build for my own gratification and if I give people pleasure in looking at my models, then I feel I have achieved some good. 

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If I have to pick one, hands down it would be "How to build dioramas" by Shep Paine. Informative and inspiring in equal measure, but most importantly, not intimidating. You really believe you can do it, and you can... Plus he introduced me to the concept of "gizmology", which serves me well to the present day...

best,

M.

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Interesting comments above about the internet and its value, or otherwise. As a modeller in my 40s I am comfortable to jump back and forth between both digital and old school printed media with ease. While the internet certainly gives you up to date content and interaction (such as this forum) traditional paper sources still have a place.

I personally find that reading through old copies of modelling magazines, such as Scale Aircraft Modelling from the Alan W. Hall years, gives me huge inspiration. Modellers back then had to make do and improvise far more than now, but things felt less pressured, at least in my opinion. The writing style was also what I would describe as formal and well structured. 

Old copies of Airfix Magazine, from the 60s and 70s, describe conversion topics that today we have no need for, but again they seem fresh and exciting, in retrospect.  

I guess we all have our favourite sources and each helps us improve, incrementally or sometimes in great leaps, whether it be online, offline or a bit of both. Whatever works and whatever the results are, it's all about fun, satisfaction and passing time in a constructive way. 

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Not a book but a person - Alan Hall, chiefly through (initially) Aviation News and later (from 1978), his dedicated aviation model magazine, Scale Aircraft Modelling.

 

Second largest influence has been the internet and forums such as this one. Although I began modelling in the mid 1960s and was well into it by the 1970s (long before the internet), since the late 1990s the internet has brought about a resurgence in my enthusiasm in the hobby. I love these forums. However, I do not use much in the way of other social media such as Facebbok so I would hate to see this type of forum fade out.

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I must agree with all of the above, magazines and websites have revolutionised the hobby in so many ways.

This applies to many of the authors who have been willing to share their hard-won knowledge of not only how to do things, but equally important, how to not do things.

Not only can you see what others have been proud to publish, but also read their hints and tips about the kits they used and how they modified/ tolerated inaccuracies.

Also hard-won advice on the joys/perils of painting, finishing, markings and actually displaying something.

 

As to books, they can be very helpful and informative, but may also be counter-productive.

The following tale is true, the folly of a man who began with Airfix in the 1950s and probably has never properly grown up.

Personally I began to be interested in a theme of building kits of Swedish aviation in the late 1960s/early 1970s. Before that it was random Airfix/Matchbox/Frog etc.

In Britain I was a minority of a minority of a minority. Magazines sometimes covered the Draken. Lansen and later the Viggen but little else.

Correspondence with Swedish people was by post and I used something called 'International Reply Coupons' to pay for their return postage so they would write back to me.

I rarely ever got a response, not even to polite requests for information from the Air attache of the Swedish Embassy in London. This was along time ago....

Heller made kits of four SAAB aircraft but that was about it. An Airfix Draken that was rather crude. A Matchbox J29. Malformed Canberras, Catalinas, C-47s., the odd Junkers and a vacform or two.

It was only through IPMS UK and Ted Burnett that we later formed the Swedish Airforce Special Interest Group and gained both a membership and a degree of respectability.

 

I write this as a warning. When you know little, you have fewer options to attain authenticity or realism or whatever you seek by making a decent replica.

The quest for making the best can become self defeating.

Over the years my hobby switched from making a few models, mainly fairly mediocre but some were good enough for a club stand, to amassing a collection of kits and books.

Before the internet and websites it was just magazines and a limited range of books that were our main sources of information. 

As publishers sought authors who could plough the soil of history to turn up the stories that were unknown to us, we enjoyed discovering the range of things that we could replicate expand beyond our wildest dreams.

There were books with decent illustrations, better paper and much more information, histories of airfields, squadrons, aircraft  in their many versions, colour schemes and markings and covering a huge range of aviation.

 

Suddenly my obsession (which it was in many ways) with things Swedish was diluted with learning about Air-Sea Rescue from Hawkinge in Kent, then 500 (County of Kent) Squadron, then the test/development aircraft flown at Farnborough/ Boscombe Down and so it went on.....the development of the Spitfire, captured aircraft in enemy markings, personal aircraft flown by senior officers, aviation oddities.

I had a large and expanding library, a loft full of kits to match and neither the time nor inclination to build anything because I wasn't that good anymore.

My standards were reduced by cataracts, dodgy vision in general, a chronic lack of time and a fear of having a lot more knowledge than skill.

Even retirement increased my book collection but local community stuff replaced my meagre attempts at finishing builds.

 

This is a confessional, really. And not a proud one either.

My lungs are seriously damaged by ciggies and pneumonia and my life expectancy is now very short.

So in the last year I have sold it all. There is no way I could leave that lot for my wife to sort and get rid of.

Books, kits, decals, resin and white metal, the whole lot. I sold it all (well, there are a few kits stashed away, either part-built or just of interest to me, less than 20.....honest).

Had I built all that I had stashed away then we would have had to live in the garden shed. It was ridiculous.

 

So books are a useful addition to your knowledge, but they can become a diversion, an opportunity to vastly expand your knowledge but possibly at the expense of actually building models.

Like everything in this life, you have to control what you do and 'moderation in all things' is perhaps the  maxim to follow.

Had I stayed with just the Swedish stuff, I could have binned all of my model collection a few years back and started again on more modern (but not always better) Swedish kits that have appeared and probably spent more money on beer and family and friends. 

This confessional may have bored many of you, amused a few and perhaps reflected something of the obsession that we have all had in differing degrees but it is how my relaxing hobby turned into something more.

It may be that for some of us a surfeit of knowledge is a dangerous thing.

 

No matter what, just try and enjoy your model making. And remember, not everything in life looks as good as the book illustration.....

John

 

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I use books strictly for reference but with a warning; some older books have info that is no longer valid so one needs to be careful. To improve my modelling I am a member of several sites. For the most part members are always happy to share their techniques. This alone has vastly improve my modelling skills

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