Sunday, 20 July 2014

Bricks are not cobbles

Now, this might be considered a bit anal, a bit, maybe, picky, but that's me, folks...picky, not anal.
I was looking through an excellent blog called Albion Yard and agreeing with the guy's many points about aspects of modelmaking, when I espied something that I see on so many layouts, which drives me nuts.  Used correctly, there is nothing wrong with moulded plastic brick sheet.  Organise the bond properly at windows and corners and it's a great time saver.  Get the corners filled so you can run a three square Swiss file round to continue course lines in the mortar, all that sort of stuff which should be obvious really.  BUT, why, oh why can't people see that the moulding of this sheet, perhaps by design, perhaps by virtue of worn moulds results in a very noticeable radius to the edge of the bricks, which renders them as odd shaped cobbles rather than bricks.  Bricks have a sharp cornered look, even when old.  In our scales, there is almost no appreciable texture to them, which is why brick papers can still work very well.  What we certainly don't want is any texture left to be pushed in our faces by that ghastly shiny highlight round every edge of every brick, made worse by so many peoples' lack of care about absolute mattness of their paint.
The answer is so simple.  Before you start covering your Foamboard, card, ply, whatever, with the plastic sheet, take a block of wood with wet'n'dry Evo-Stiked to it and rub down the sheet until the mortar lines are just visible. This will still be plenty to show beneath your chosen paint, but won't look like a wall of vertical cobbles, all rounded off and shiny edged. It takes no time at all to do.  It can even be varied to add a little texture, paradoxically, since you are after all, removing it!  Combined with careful painting in different tones with maybe different mortar shades where you change the degree of rubbing down it can make a wall so much more interesting and realistic.  And the rubbing down gives an excellent key to the paint, not normally found on untouched styrenes.

Here's a case in point, made about 30 years ago.
Rubbed bricks, scribed returns, microstrip window frames, sagging, rotten bottomed doors, soldier course in scribed styrene sheet the same thickness as Slater's brick sheet, 60 thou. capping stones, photo/etched name board from my artwork in those heady far off days when you could get a pair of negs made, emulsion side down for a fiver and send 'em off to Photoetch Consultants or Chempix for a single 18"x12" fret for £18!
Now you have to be able to master Corel Draw or Illustrator and pay about £85 for "graphic tooling" before they'll even show your 10 thou. any acid!  And we're supposed to call that progress, are we?
The above office from Tony Moss's country Garage in Upwell was weathered with ground down chalk pastel sticks and fag ash.  And so many years of dust and sunlight, which is something you just cannot fake!


  1. I love those bricks on your model...perfect. I do enjoy Albion Yard, I agree that it is very readable and the modelling is amazing. I know, it's maddening that most places take only Illustrator files now, although the folk I use take hand-drawn artwork. I use Illustrator, but a sheet of ten thou normally works out at £55 for the first etch and £45 for the next. That's PPD in Lochgilphead.

  2. Not any more, Iain, PPD too, require a damned pootah file, so I am now out of that particular loop.