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How much detail is too much

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63 replies to this topic

Keith Simmons

Keith Simmons
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  • LocationBrentsville Va.usa

I agree that the amount of detail in a build is up to the builder. As I don't use or have plans when I start a ship, my builds come from a general idea of the look I'm going for. The details just come with the process. I realize this may not be the best way to build a model but it does allow for the imagination to run wild.  :)

  • mtaylor, CaptainSteve and Altduck like this

Current build:


     A Battleship


Past builds:


   The Unicorn - The Lindworm - Malahini -  Shinobi Maru  -  The MaryJane - The Weeligstraal


















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I think that one also gets a very  biased idea from photographs of your work


 I have had bits of my own work that i thought were close to perfection and then I took a picture and it looked awful.


So now I am build for my  eyes ( well, at my age for my grandchildrens somewhat better eyesight) and leave "camera perfection" for the true masters

  • mtaylor, Altduck, AON and 1 other like this


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  • LocationDenver, CO

Detail needs to be a balance of time available, skills, impact of the model on the viewer, details known from historical records, point in time the model illustrates, and more. On board sailing operations and living are often overlooked, in my opinion, but should be considered and modeled. What is actually going on at the moment? Some detail is too fine to be readily visible. 


I am working on my first tall ship model at 1:60 scale, from a kit my wife gave me when we were married. Next week is our 50th wedding anniversary. It was the rigging that stopped me for several decades. The woodworking part went fine. 


I have spend lots of time this year studying rigging, sailing, operations, cargo handling, etc. Many of the standard texts such as "Two Years Before the Mast", "Five Years Before the Mast", O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin series, etc. have given me lots of insight and entertainment plus understanding of how these ships were lived in a and sailed. The Tea races of the 1860's are fascinating. 


It seems that level of detail should be relatively consistent in level and scale. The ship should be operational at the detail shown. This is partly out of respect for the men who sailed them. Sails are often removed while in port, and a model can follow suit. More and more detail runs against up the problem of when in the life of the ship is it being modeled? Context of the model becomes important too. Most ships underwent heavy modifications during their careers. 


I have ended up modeling my ship as a tea clipper, changed from the original slaver. It is a merchantman rather than military. It has recently docked and shows activity aboard related to this time. The sailors have stowed some cargo on the deck along with a couple of cages of animals. This was very common in actual practice. There will not be any sails, but there will be a small picture of an approaching ship in the corner of the case under full sail. 


I sure would like to discuss others' thoughts on my amateur approach. It is a real blast to work on, and I hope to finish it before I croak. 

  • mtaylor, CaptainSteve, Chuck Seiler and 2 others like this


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  • LocationAlexandria, VA USA

As long as you are having fun it doesn't matter. Otherwise it isn't a hobby.  If that is the case your collectors or clients will dictate the amount of detail either by desire or costs.  If it is your hobby, put in whatever detail you like and exclude those that you don't like working on.  In the end if it wasn't fun, then why did you spend your time on it?

  • mtaylor, Nenad, Altduck and 1 other like this

Currently building the Cutty Sark


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