This article suggests keeping an old model for practicing new painting techniques.
Most modellers feel the need to continually expand and improve on their modelling skills. No two models are the same and each one presents new challenges.
This is particularly true for painting and weathering. This part of the modelling process can take many stages and there are usually several alternative methods for every stage. It is the part that can make a model outstanding, or completely ruin it.
The dilemma facing modellers is that after spending a considerable amount of time and effort making a model do they want to risk spoiling it by trying out a new painting technique?
A similar problem faces the movie industry and the solution they have chosen applies to modelling. When making a movie the expensive star would not perform risky stunts such as jumping out of a window. They would employ a stunt double to take the place of the star. The same thing can be done by modellers.
Finding Your Stunt Double
There can be few modellers who do not have an old model made years ago that once was a pride and joy, but is now an embarrassement. Alternatively, perhaps there is an unmade model that was bought in a fit of enthusiasm, that is now not likely to be made? Perhaps the contents of your spares box is so vast that you can make up something approaching a tank or aircraft from the bits left over from other kits? Almost all modellers can find or make up a model to be used as a stunt double.
A complete beginner will have the most need for a ‘stunt double’ model but clearly will not have any candidate hidden away at the back of wardrobe. Not to worry – the stunt double does not actually have to be a real scale model, almost any three dimensional object will do. Check out the contents of your kitchen bin and you will find all manner of plastic containers, bottle caps etc. that can be glued together to make up something to practice techniques on.
Using Your Stunt Double
You will need to prime your stunt double just as you would your real model. The best way to use it is then to paint it one stage in advance of your real model.
For example, paint the base coat on your stunt double using the same paints and techniques you plan to use on your real model. If it turns out fine then you can go straight ahead and repeat the process on the real model only it will probably be done better because of the practice you have just done. If it does not turn out right then you have the chance to try again on the stunt double without danger to the real model.
The final effects of some paint stages such as washes only become apparent when they are fully dry, so try to keep your stunt double one stage ahead of the real thing. The painting stages are often done one at a time on successive days, so it is a good idea to keep your stunt double one day ahead in the process.
You do not have to paint the entire stunt double. Often just doing one or two sides will be sufficient. The stunt double can be used many times by re-priming it when each model is completed.
Using a stunt double will reduce the chances of ruining a model, it will probably improve the quality of your models and will make you more likely to experiment with new methods and techniques safe in the knowledge that there is no chance of ruining your real pride and joy. Give it a go.