Tough question. If there is a trend in the hobby related to finishing models, I’d say we are definitely in the weathering era. We are way past basic drybrushing, oil pin washes and pastel powders on our models. There has never been a time when so many purpose designed weathering products have been available. Moreover and perhaps more importantly, the ability to understand how to apply this products is incredibly easy. My friend Panzermeister36 has plenty of videos explaining his techniques and how to use many different products. And his results are amazing.
I’ve also observed a general change in attitude towards “weathering”: It seems to me the prevailing view among scale modelers is that all models MUST be weathered. Or, without weathering, the model is somehow “incomplete” or lacking. I don’t agree with this view, and there are a few reasons why.
There is Good Weathering and there is Bad Weathering
Someday I will do a write up about bad dioramas but for now, I am talking “bad” weathering. A few years ago I responded to an ad where a local model builder was selling off a significant chunk of his stash. The modeler was a very kind guy and let me check out the kits in his workshop. Once we agreed on a price I asked if I could take a look at his models. Each one of his tanks was heavily weathered as were his airplanes. Actually, the tanks were so weathered they were indistinguishable from one another. Frankly, they just looked like dirty models.
Doing a crappy weathering job on a model is very easy to do. Weathering a model well is incredibly hard and requires a lot of practice and patience. I’d also venture to say that when starting out, you must be prepared to sacrifice more than a couple models as you build your skills. Because, if overdone, it looks overdone and if done ‘incorrectly’, it just looks dirty.
What about aircraft?
I won’t go into the “realism debate” that seems to get rehashed every few months around the internets. I am simply talking about interesting looking models and I am still trying to figure out if I like weathered airplanes enough to start my journey into the weathering wonderland. Right now my simple highlighting of panel lines and/or fading paint is enough ‘weathering’ but these days some would say that isn’t weathering at all.
I also go to a lot of aviation related museums and inevitably these contain what I call “museum” models. Typically larger scale, typically scratch built but almost universally finished to a supreme level of perfection with no weathering at all. And just like weathering a model correctly is incredibly hard, finishing a model airplane to museum display standards is also incredibly hard as it too requires practice and patience.
Here is a good example of that style:
Getting back to the “bad weathering” idea from up above – for an aircraft model, anything short of weathered perfection absolutely looks like crap to me. And I am not keen on having shelves displaying crap. Like I said above, my approach has been “reluctant and timid weathering” which has generally been some form of pre or post shading, panel line washes (usually applied inconsistently), “rusting” exhausts and fading markings. Definitely not heavily weathered and some would even say not even weathered at all.
If I could do weathering to these levels, I would definitely do it. There are a lot of products, magazine articles and youtube tutorials to guide me. What is holding me back? Currently my output is about 4-6 models per year if I have a good year. My fear is that I will do a lot less as I wreck a few models on my way to weathered perfection. One trick is to do multiples of the same model so that at least I get the benefit of a few attempts and improve my skills. I have enough Tamiya Corsairs to pursue this strategy!
Hey, I like it both ways
The idea that an unweathered model being “incomplete” is completely absurd. The thing of it is – I really like both: A museum model is just as visually pleasing to me as one that has been weathered to perfection. I really can’t just choose one. On my own skills spectrum I am much closer to getting museum perfection than I am to weathered greatness – but you know something? I will try it. Yes, I might wreck a few finishes along the way and waste a lot of weathering product, but its the process right?
I’d like to hear some thoughts about this weathering era we find ourselves in. Do you like a specific “style” of model? Have you tried either the museum perfection stream or the weathered greatness stream? Do great products lead to great finishes? What works and doesn’t work for you?