Are you for real…?

Realism in modelling. It crops up periodically here and there, engenders a usually prompt response that (if a recent discussion on Facebook’s anything to go by), boils down to the popular view that the hobby only really winds up pointing in one of two directions – ‘realism’ and the pursuit thereof, focussed on perceived replication of detail, colour and the other facets of the full size object or ‘art’ in rendering said object in a stylised manner, principally also through the use of colour but in a perhaps more dramatised and extended way. Like so much in modelling philosophy (and the most prominent key speakers), the conclusions demand adherents divide into camps; it has that tedious ‘billy goat’ intellectualism that pre-supposes that both sides are right, while catering for the expressed need to regard the other side as ‘wrong’.

The Facebook thread I mentioned too’d and fro’d and was all very good natured as it happened but didn’t mention (at least overtly) that in order for a model to be mistaken for the real thing there has to be a filter between the model and the observer – photography. Put a 1/35 M4 Sherman on the museum exhibit you based the model on and no-one will mistake the former for the latter. Place the model on a meticulously crafted base, with the tank equally skilfully finished – photograph the combination sympathetically in natural daylight and Photoshop the whole lot seamlessly into a photographed background and you have the right cocktail for fooling the eye into believing the ensemble is the full size object.

Quite some years ago, I saw this done with a 1/32 Hawker Hunter. The paint was realistically given a sheen that tallied with what I was used to seeing in the flesh. The finish had been applied over an extremely smooth surface – no give away texture in the paint. The low angle of the photo was commensurate with an image taken from a standing position and the bright overcast nature of the daylight matched the photographed background that the model was immaculately stitched into. It was quite startling to realise it was all a representation of reality and not reality itself. It was also a fine achievement by the author (who’s name escapes me now), as success in this doesn’t come easy…or often.

There. I’ve done it. I’ve mentioned a word you’ll likely never find crop up in this debate. Representation…and when it comes to modelling, it’s what it’s actually all about. Even the astonishing 1/5 Spitfire by David Glen, that resides in the RAF Museum Hendon, is a representation. The attention to detail in that momentous model is rarely matched elsewhere, down to his re-creating the same number of knurled ridges in a hand wheel for instance…but it’s still representation not replication. That realisation in no sense diminishes David’s legacy achievements but instead enhances it in tandem with the conspicuous care he took in creating his masterpiece.

When you accept modelling as representations of reality, suddenly there is no longer any need for divisions between ‘realist’ modellers or ‘art’ modellers. Both represent the full size object and both have much to teach the other – when ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ are removed from the dialogue.

Until next time.


Bad Wolf



Lawrence of Arabia

I have, in recent times, become convinced that where painting and finishing is concerned, figure modelling is at the pinnacle of current achievements, ahead of other genres. The jaw-dropping skill I see coming out of Europe and the Far East, astounds me. Some of it is now tantamount to ‘photographic’ in its realism and I greatly admire all those who practice in this area.

Coupled to that, if I have a modelling regret, it’s the domination of the hobby by men, with too few women by far engaged in it.

So, it is with great pleasure that I have the privilege of featuring the stunning talent of Maria Alberta Iaia who has kindly offered ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ for my guest models slot. Maria is currently honing her already advanced skills under the tutoring of Emilio Rajani and hopes to achieve ‘Master’ status by the end of this year. I have no doubt she’ll more than achieve her aim and I look forward to what comes next from the MAI stable.

This, in Maria’s own words:

“I have always had the passion for modeling since I was little, basically I started with LoTR in 1999 when I was only 6 years old. Then, I started painting seriously recently on 2016 with Warhammer: Skaven, Sylvaneth and Orks. Since 2017 I have decided to take lessons and began painting both historical and fantasy with my master Emilio Rajani.”

In reference to her WIP images:

“I only use acrylics and black primer with the ultra matte varnish of AK.
As you can see I always start with the eyes, they will give me a more wide vision of the model itself and its expression for the future steps. Then I start to paint the skin using the layering technique, not the blending one. The black primer helps me with the shadows as they are already there, all I have to do is to keep layering from bottom to top many times, slowly shortening and shrink the lights.

Once the face is done I can continue my project with the turban (which I decided to make red) and the garment with white and yellow stripes. Even here I used the same layering technique, in the first step I could set the first lights then increasing them with brighter colours until pure white.

I mainly use Vallejo colours, only the red I chose two tones from Andrea Colours which are Blood Red and Prussian Blue. Once the garment and turban are done the only thing to do is to make some details, as you can see, I decided to follow the box art and make some seam on the shoulders and darker lines on the white stripes to emphasise the creases of the vest.”


Finished images.




Bad Wolf