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Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Engineers and the Visualists

For me, modelling preferences fall into two categories, which explains everything from scale preferences to the debate over accuracy to color interpretation to joyless modelling Nazis.

There are the Engineers and there are the Visualists.

For the Engineers, perfection is a model that is visually indistinguishable from the real thing. They tend to stress detail accuracy and color fidelity. An anemic fuselage width or missing cannon port drives them mad. Rivets and raised panel lines are just minor obstacles to be overcome in the process of building.  The Engineer wants each model made to be the summation of all that is known about the particular aircraft type, and generally, the larger the scale, the better. When Engineers go mad, they become JMNs.

For the Visualists, the impression is every bit as important as the reality. Buildability is liable to be valued higher than ruthless accuracy. Color and markings tend to be the driving interest, so you will often find them building multiple copies of a single type in all sorts of different markings. They will often shrug and say that it looks like a B-17 to them, something an Engineer would never do. When Visualists lose it, they are the guys who overweather, paint shadows, and run felt tip pens over panel lines.

Engineers like larger scales with tons of detail; Visualists are drawn to smaller scales so they can make multiple versions with different markings.

Visualists are often described as artists, though that seems a bit strong to me. A hugely detailed P-51 can be every bit the work of art that a beautifully finished basic model is. While I personally fall more into the Visualist camp, I have a lot of respect for the Engineers of the modelling world. But if you sense a whiff of contempt toward the brutal rivet-counters, at least you’ll understand where I’m coming from.

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