How's Your Growth Rate?

08-31-2010, 11:49 AM
As in most aspects of life there's an expectation that as we accumulate experience our skills will improve. Some folks just seem to improve drastically from model to model while the rest of us don't show much difference.

Aptitude plays a part in the rate at which we progress. Imagine a graph where improvement is plotted on the Y axis and accumulated experience on the x axis. A typical learning curve starts out steep as we gain basic skills but starts to level off with further advancement. People with more aptitude have a higher slope at every point on the curve (more change in Y for each accumulation of x). It's bloody unfair but life seldom is.....

Attitude can play as big a role as aptitude! If you're stuck in a rut and don't seem to be progressing focus on acquiring a new skill. Try scratchwork or soldering, or learn resin casting. This will open the door to more interesting opportunities and get you back on the steep part of the curve again. Plan your next model with some forethought on skill development. What skills do you most want to acquire or improve? Select or tailor the project to focus on that. Try a different type of vehicle to shake things up and force new skill acquisition: motorcycle or a rusty pickup for example.

Assess your skills from time to time. I remember years ago at Gold's Gym there was a skinny guy with ridiculously oversized biceps. Half his routine was biceps even though his legs looked like twigs! If your skills are getting lopsided focus on the things you are weakest at even if you don't enjoy doing them. Your models will get better and have a better chance of completion too. Builders with a high skill level in many areas impress me more than the ones with one brilliant skill.

Just random thoughts...I don't really know where this thread is going.:screwy: (The skinny guy was me)

08-31-2010, 12:58 PM
Yeah, all true, if only we had the time to do that. I have not touched models in over a year, or close to that. All because I simply don't have the time, or motivation to do it. To build a model one must have a right set of mind. Without it, you can't build.

08-31-2010, 03:17 PM
All good points! Improvement from one project to the next is probably guaranteed, assuming that there aren't other factors which you cannot control - I guess for kit-builders you always have the possibility of a 'bad' kit which no amount of skill or creativity is going to rescue! Even with these builds, though, there must be something that can be learnt for next time - even if it is only to remember to avoid certain makes of kit...

Attitude and motivation - absolutely important! There have been many occasions where I have just known that today wasn't going to be the right day for tackling job X, Y or Z...but I do feel like having a go at P, Q or R instead. If you're not going to enjoy it, don't do it just because you feel you have to (or as my folks say to me - 'you haven't got a deadline to keep!') Fortunately, I'm not planning on entering any competitions any time soon...

I would argue that building a subject that really interests you is a key part of maintaining motivation, but I can understand where CC's coming from with the comment about building something different. Again, with kit-based projects this is probably a better option than for me with my scratch-builds - at two years or so per model, I can't spend more time building something that isn't quite what I want to be building! I already have three or four potential 'next projects' as it is - that's me occupied through to 2016 at best!

With the longer projects I try to return to particular components throughout the build - nothing is totally finished until I start painting and assembling. On the 908-03, for example, the basic core of the engine was one of the first things to be made (at the end of 2008) - but only to the point where I needed it to be to progress with the engine bay, or the gearbox, etc. A few months later I made some of the induction detailing...then the underside detailing...then more work on the oil system...and so on. It still isn't totally finished, but it's getting there. Similar situation with the fibreglass bodywork - I made the basic shell in the spring of 2009, and it gives a great boost to see the size and shape of the new car. However, it's only in the last week or so that I've started cutting out the various ducts and openings, adding detailing, etc. I guess everyone has different ways of keeping their projects 'fresh'.

Finally, I would say that posting progress reports here on AF has certainly helped to keep my project rolling along. On my first few builds I would keep a pretty accurate record of the hours I was putting in - the challenge then was to keep the average up! After doing the first 917, I knew that any similar future projects were going to be two-plus years so I stopped keeping a count, but although there isn't a deadline as such you still don't want to let a project grind to a halt through lack of enthusiasm. Now with the 908, I know that if I don't post an update for a couple of weeks, people will start asking why!

Hope this helps explain where I'm coming from.


09-01-2010, 02:23 PM
To build a model one must have a right set of mind. Without it, you can't build.

Absolutely! And one thing that keeps my enthusiasm up is learning a new skill. I like to be on the steep end of the curve where I can hopefully see larger gains. When things level off I get sluggish knowing I've "been there, done that, know what it's going to look like".

Maybe you should buy a mini-lathe or a photo-etch kit from MicroMark just to try something new. I'm getting a kick out of my mini-lathe. Hey, you know you need a new soldering iron! (Hehe, I love spending other people's money!)

If you're not going to enjoy it, don't do it just because you feel you have to (or as my folks say to me - 'you haven't got a deadline to keep!') Fortunately, I'm not planning on entering any competitions any time soon...Well this proves we are all different SB. I seem to only be able to make progress by having deadlines and competitions force me to complete my models. I guess I need discipline or something. Since I'm not competing in our local show this year (I'll be judging) my 330 P4 project is sliding badly. Different strokes.

Martin S
09-02-2010, 11:06 AM
I think my problem is that I can not start a model and just finish it.
I always seem to get very ambitious and try some really challenging stuff that I have never tried before.
This normally is very time consuming to develop the building method and skills as you are building. But also very rewarding when you manage to pull something off that you didn't think you could do.

I think I should try to build some kits just plain and clean out of the box just to feel that I have actually finished something. But this is not as much fun to me.

09-03-2010, 08:48 AM
Wow. I was thinking the same thing. It would be nice to just do a simple build that only takes a few days instead of months. I have a Hasegawa Miura in the pipeline. I might scale back plans for that one so I can get it done in a reasonable length of time. It will have to have some extras though. I don't think I could build anything straight out of the box!

09-03-2010, 11:34 AM
There's nothing like the real thing to get my blood running. I get stoked by serious full-sized racers, especially postwar sports racers and F1 cars. When I see and hear those great cars, I gotta have one, even in 1/20 scale. The sight of them moves my modeling spirit, no matter how many parts I lost or ruined the day before.

So - I attend historic races whenever possible. And shows and concours. And automobile museums. Plus, there's a great website called the It has over 28,000 images - most of them outstanding photos of sports and classic era cars, taken by the guy who runs the site, Wouter Meissen. He's a terrific photographer.

Car books are a great stimulus program. They're expensive, but they're always on hand, and you can plant them strategically around the house, so they can turn sitting and doing one's business into quality time.

As to skill level, mine has advanced slowly. I'm cursed by perfectionism, and that means I tend to do things over. And over. And over. Till they're just right. Plus I'm pretty clumsy, and tend to drop things or accidentally put glue right where I don't want it. So my models take forever.

Like Martin S, I'm always tackling projects that are too difficult to finish in a reasonable time. I made a classic mistake when I started: I got in over my head. I finally managed to finish that 917 with all the PE, and it looks okay, but whoa! What a chore!

I'm also always trying to find a better way to do things. That has also led to a lot of time-consuming dead ends, but there've been some successes along the way. I've got a painting routine that I'm extremely happy with. I've figured out how to fix painting blunders without re-painting the whole car. I'm pretty confident which of five glue choices is right for a particular joint. And I've learned that "pinning" is not just for emergencies - when I see a potentially weak joint, I pin it.

Even though I know better, I still tend to tackle long, complicated projects. The best model I've built is probably my Lotus 25, and it was also one of the easiest models I've built. So do I use good sense and mainly build kits that are fairly basic? Oh, no. The first kit I tackled after the Lotus was the Fujimi "Enthusiast" Porsche Speedster, including Gio's great PE and all that. Even without the PE, that model has about a zillion parts, plus some tricky construction puzzles, like why does the windshield frame have to be so thick? And exactly where does the dash fit on the tub?

Anyhow, the Speedster problems have been solved - except for the weak axle/wheel attachment problem - and it's nearly finished. And I am very, very pleased with the way the car is turning out. This is one that I plan to post. And after that, a '40 Ford convertible that's also going along nicely.

If I were to advise a beginner on how to get the most satisfaction from modeling, here's what I'd say:

1. Don't do what I did.

2. Start with simple, inexpensive kits. There's nothing more satisfying than a completed model! Well, almost nothing. (If you ruin something, and it's beyond fixing, just go ahead and buy another kit, even if it's just for one part. Git 'er done!)

3. Hold off on the custom stuff until you learn to build kits OOB - Out of the Box.

4. Don't try to re-invent the wheel. At first, use only methods and materials recommended by experienced modelers. (I think of the guy who used acetone to strip paint, despite what forum members had recommended. He came very close to ruining his model - unnecessarily.)

5. Use up-to-date materials intended for modeling applications. Big car stuff is for big cars; it isn't necessarily the best for models. (As you gain experience, you'll find some very cool exceptions to this, but for now...) Tamiya is a reliable brand for just about any modeling material. Just don't put a thick, wet coat of clearcoat over decals.

6. Listen and learn. The forums have lots of good info. But try to figure out whether a poster has actually done what he's recommending, or just guessing. Most guys recommend only what they've tried themselves, and that's how it should be.

7. Don't be discouraged by the extremely complex, advanced models you see posted on the forums. Only a small minority of modelers are that good. You may never get to that level, but that doesn't matter. The majority of modelers do much simpler work, but they enjoy what they do. You will too!

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