Old Dogs, New Tricks

Recently I announced to my now teenage son that there would be a new after school routine with respect to getting homework done.   He was less than pleased with the new plan stating, ” I liked the old system (i.e. procrastination). You know I don’t like change”.    In a nutshell, he summed up human nature in general.  By design, we generally don’t feel comfortable with change and prefer to stay with the old way of doing things even when simpler and more effective techniques and skills would make our lives easier and measurably better.

The above certainly applies to model building.  Over the past decade there has been an explosion in the number of new techniques, tools, and materials that can make our models look so much better.  In most cases the newer methods are even easier than the old methods we cling to so ferociously.   For  example, for some time my son had been suggesting to me that I make myself familiar with the  YouTube web video site.   Even though it was a ridiculously simple matter of entering a few key strokes, the luddite in me resisted.   In my view YouTube was for hip youngsters and as such would have no appeal to a dinosaur as un-hip as myself.  Eventually he wore me down though and opened up a new world  with infinite applications to model railroading and rail fanning.   Interested in a ‘how to’ modeling video?  Just enter the topic in YouTube’s search window.  Want a video of the Miami River?  A few mouse clicks offers up stunning footage of a pair of tugs hauling a container ship right through the area I’m modeling.   Why did I resist learning something that was so simple and yet ultimately so helpful?  Its in our DNA.

Whether its model building or other aspects of our lives we need to develop a self-awareness of our natural resistance to trying new things.  On the modeling front, I sit down at the beginning of each year and list two or three new modeling skills that I hope to develop over the next twelve months.   On this years list: learning to use the Alclad brand of metallic lacquer paints and  improving my skills in the area of photographic lighting so I don’t have to spend so much time color correcting my photos with an editor.   Everybody has their own list of new skills they’d like to acquire.  Listed below are some suggestions.  Why not give yourself a gentle nudge to cross a few off your list each year.

  • Digital photography
  • Digital photo editing
  • Weathering with oils
  • Weathering with chalks
  • Applying static grasses with an applicator canister
  • India ink weathering washes
  • Soldering
  • Scratch building
  • Airbrush skills
  • Basic wiring
  • Basic woodworking

These are just  a few examples off of the top of my head.   Sources of information include the internet, DVD’s, seminars, magazines, and input from fellow modelers.   Drop me a line next year and let me know how you did on your list.