No longer was I struggling to see detail, no longer was I painting a face on a figure that was no more that 54 mm tall no matter how close I held it, this was a large-scale image that I could see, feel and then paint accurately.
There’s nothing much to recommend getting old. You creak in the morning, your tolerance for idiots is often overwhelming and those tasks that seemed easy when you were younger, are all the more difficult as your gums recede and your bath chair awaits.
One of the most annoying reveals that you are getting on in years, if not maturity, is the degradation of your sight, 20/20 vision replaced with glasses, objects held closer as diminishing vision contorts faces into squints that reveal failings we all suffer to a greater, or lesser degree. My vision is no different and although my distance vision borders on perfect, my ability to see anything within two feet of my face, is nothing less than shocking.
Of course as a modelmaker, this can be a disaster. I’ve been a glasses wearer for decades now, but post-50, I found that my eyesight fell of a cliff and whereas I used to be able to see objects I was working on without always wearing my specs, these days that is but a distant and frankly fading, memory. Glasses are worn all the time and even with them on, I still can’t see what I need to see in order to assemble neatly and paint cleanly.
This has had a really negative impact on my work. Although the general standard of my models has in the main improved, my painting, especially the finishing of smaller details and figures, has become progressively worse. When it comes to the areas that I need to capture close-in, I have noticed a distinct degradation in the finesse that I was able to capture 10 years ago, with the advent of hi-res digital cameras making that decline become all the more apparent. My techniques aren’t off: my eyesight is. You can be the most skilled practitioner on the planet, but if you cannot see what you are working on, it won’t matter, your work will always be second-best and the areas that you want – maybe even need – to be perfect, won’t even be close.
As you might imagine, my desire to improve is ever-present. Being in the public eye as I am – albeit in a very small way, I not flippin’ Ed Sheehan! – I need to ensure that anyone who chooses to look at what I do, is seeing something that they have not seen before. It won’t always be like that. I will after all complete a final model at some point, but whilst I can build and paint to a reasonable standard, I want the models to reflect my desire for improvement, no matter how small. When that is shown to not be the case and results are going backwards rather than moving on through incremental steps in quality, something has to change.
Over the years I’ve resisted the idea of additional help, headband magnifiers being the domain of older modellers, a group in which I steadfastly refuse to belong to, despite being absolutely, no spring chicken. So, this week, when things came to a rather humiliating, poorly-painted, head, I bit the bullet and asked the question over on my book of faces: what do you guys use to magnify your work and what would you recommend I buy to help things along? I was looking for personal experience and specific items to look at and that’s what I got.
As I am writing this, I’m waiting in for a parcel to arrive, one that will contain an Optivisor. This seemed to be the most popular choice, which many modellers telling me how it helped with their work. One of my friends, Gordon Ferguson, contacted me to offer to send over a spare one that he had, which arrived yesterday. It was the first time that I had worn one of these and though it felt comfortable, the 3.5x magnification was a little too much and I found that I had to hold the models really close to see what I was doing. The results that were possible from this additional magnification were though, nothing short of amazing! Last night, with a few hours to spare, I painted the face of an old figure and was immediately struck by how much more I could see and thus how much more I could paint. No longer was I struggling to see detail, no longer was I painting a face on a figure that was no more that 54 mm tall no matter how close I held it, this was a large-scale image that I could see, feel and then paint accurately. It felt like a game-changer, one that will perhaps work away the frustrations that I have with figures where it’s not my techniques that are letting me down, but my ability to actually see the model that I’m working on!
So my parcel is on its way, this time an Optivisor with a 2x magnification that was recommended by most of my friends on Facebook. When it arrives and I try it out, I’ll bring you the results on here, with hopefully something that I’ve painted along the way. I still hope to carry on working with the one that Gordon sent me (to whom I’m very grateful for the loan!) as that will give me another layer of detail to see. It will all be about getting used to a new tool and how that can be used to improve what I am currently building and painting. Time will tell if that is a successful path to take!
See you next time.
Before I Go!
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