The Basics of Model Building: A Beginner’s Guide
Model building is a fantastic hobby to start enjoying. There’s something exceptionally satisfying about building something from the ground up and showing off the fruits of your labor to friends and family. And, given that there are thousands of model types to choose from, it’s an easy hobby to start regardless of your passions and niche interests.
Whether you want to build model cars, ships, cityscapes, trains, or something from the realm of fantasy, you can. But, it helps to know the basics before you begin.
The tools and supplies you’ll need
As a beginner, building your model will start with finding the right kit. Pre-built kits are the most accessible place to start, and you can always add extra details to them, like lights, car sirens, or other life-like accessories. For example, providers like Evan Designs often carry entire lines of project-ready light features perfect for model building.
In the realm of pre-built model kits, there are several types. Pre-built wood kits are typically easy for beginners since all you’ll need to do is sand, paint, and glue.
Pre-built metal kits are also relatively simple. The manufacturer will typically pre-punch holes in the metal. Then, you’ll solder the pieces together. Resin kits are another option that requires very little model know-how. You may have to carve the pieces a bit, but these kits generally come almost ready to go.
Styrene kits are also a great choice. These kits don’t require any pre-assembly–simply put them together and add your choice of finishing features.
Perhaps the easiest kit of all is the plastic kit. Most of the details are already set with a plastic model building kit. These kits are also affordable, and it’s easy to repair or replace a piece that goes missing or breaks.
Many beginner model kits come with the additional tools you’ll need. If yours doesn’t, you can purchase a model tool kit that will include the basics like tweezers, sanding files, and hobby knives. You’ll also need a glue gun or spray adhesive to put your model together.
The workspace accessories you might want
On top of what comes in your model tool kit, many model hobbyists find they do best with a few workspace conveniences. These tools aren’t vital to have, but they’ll make your work a bit easier.
If you have a wood kit, a few extra nails and screws can be helpful. On top of that, you may want a respirator mask to keep out fumes and particles. A magnifying glass and a good desk lamp are also wise to have around.
Then, there’s the painting to consider. Many model kits come with paint, but decoration is where you can let your creativity shine through. So, you may want to pick a few additional paint colors that inspire you.
Prepare the models
Once you have a kit and your tools, it’s time to buckle down and start building. Start by laying out all of the pieces in your modeling kit. You’ll also want to lay out your work tools and the assembly instructions.
Then, cut out the pieces you plan to work with first. Use a sanding file or sandpaper to remove any uneven bits around the edges. Finally, clean your work surface, so you don’t confuse yourself with any leftover trimmings or plastic pieces.
Assemble your model
Once the different model pieces are detached and smoothed, you can start the assembly process.
Try running a dry-fit first. That means attaching the pieces without any glue or adhesive. A dry-fit will ensure the pieces fit together the way you expect them to. It will also show you if you need to paint any areas before assembly.
Sometimes it’s hard to paint a piece once it’s glued in place. If you suspect that to be the case, set the part aside so you can paint it before you apply the adhesive.
Once you’re happy with the dry-fit, disassemble the model. Then, reassemble it using a thin layer of adhesive on each piece. You may want to use elastic bands or museum putty to hold parts together as the glue dries.
After the glue is completely dry, you can paint. Start with a primer, then add the colors of your choice.
When the paint dries, you can add all sorts of details. Whether it’s real LED lights, decals, or weathering, the more detailed you make your model, the more impressive it will be.
Display your model
Once you assemble and paint your model, it’s time to show it off. Models make excellent home decor, and you can highlight them in several ways.
For larger models, a custom display case is perfect. It keeps off the dust but allows everyone to see your handiwork. Small models may be able to hang in a shadow box or frame. Placing models on a bookshelf is also an excellent option.
Model building is fun, and it’s good for your brain. It can help hand-eye coordination, strengthen mental acuity, and express your creativity. Whether you want to build miniature cities, boats, or battle scenes, model building is a great hobby to begin.