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Figures in dioramas; is it cheating to 'contract' them out?


W Humble
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At age 76, I've been doing car kits since the late 'fifties, and think it's time I started trying my hand at dioramas.  The show/contest I recently attended in Yuba City CA impressed me greatly, and though most of the scenes were based around armor kits, I'd prefer to stick to autos.  However, even if I get involved with this type build, I don't think I can learn and become proficient in doing figures, and it is clear to me (looking at the last IPMS magazine) that they are necessary to make a scene come to life.

I read once where a builder chastized another for involving a cohort in doing the figures for his dioramas, but it that necessarily bad?  Esp. if the two modelers state on their entry that it is a cooperative project?  What is the sense of the forum on this tactic?  My problem is that they may be too hard -- and time consuming -- for me, and this may preclude my doing the deed at all.  My current project is the scene from 'Leave It To Beaver' where Wally and Eddie chain the rear axle of Lumpy's spiffy '40 Ford ragtop to a tree with disasterous results (though no teen actors were hurt in the scene, apparently) AND I'm adding Jeff's Model A tub (with hand painted flames) from Father Know's Best as a spectator/bystander.  Sound good?

I don't have a collaborator yet, but should I pursue it?  Wick

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Thanks for the input.  As I hinted, one of my problems is TIME; mine is running out!  I also do 1;1 restorations/restomods, write, and try to be a good grandpa.  I have a MA in art, so I can wield a brush; a little, anyhow.  But sharing a diorama build might be my best hope to get some stuff done on that level before I'm too shakey!  Wick

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James, It is your life and your stuff. I say do as you please. Don't give yourself heartburn trying to conform to some rule to get a $5 trophy. Pleasing yourself will be much more rewarding. Here is a link to my limited space diorama for inspiration.

 

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  • 4 weeks later...

My thought is since most contests say it must be the sole work of the person entering the model you could state on the entry that the figures were done by someone else and let the contest officials

decide what to do or since you don't really care if you win a trophy you could enter in the display only area and not worry about it.

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Entering under two names would be best, if allowed by local standards, I suppose.  I think I was most concerned with the feelings of fellow modelers about not being able to specialize in both aspects of modeling skills; I'm too old and short of time to learn figures, I think.  but I hate to let that spoil my attempts at diorama building; what I've seen at shows is superlative in quality -- I just like to do some fun ones 'with a story'.  Thx!

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Hello James....... This is just my comment, regarding the issue of figures in dioramas, which I hope might be helpful to you. Myself, I do find painting figures very challenging as I am 68 years of age. When I see some of the incredible detail painting that some model builders have produced, I do wonder how on earth they do it. Using an OptiVisor magnifying device on my head, I can just about paint 1:24 scale figures, but when I then attempt to paint 1:43 scale figures, also 1:35 scale figures and even 1:32 scale, the results are not so great.

The difference between my dioramas and yours James, is that apart from one exhibition during June of each year, my figures appear in photographs with the buildings and the cars. What I am saying is that for the purpose of photos the details on the figures don't necessarily have to be perfect, whereas I do understand that you are wanting to enter a competition.

I suppose it is fair enough for the competition organisers to clearly state that all models and figures must be built and painted by the entrant, and it is a shame that you cannot make use of pre-painted figures in this case. I purchased some really good 1:43 pre-painted figures from a seller on Ebay, and they look so realistic in my diorama settings. These small figures were not cheap, but to me it was worth paying extra for professionally painted figures.

Here are three photos of the 1:43 scale figures........

David

101_0433.JPG

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101_0441.JPG

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David,

Those are sweet!  Well, I'm no longer much concerned about entering for judging; mostly just being stigmatized for not attempting to do my own.  Maybe I should just forget it?  At 76-1/2 it's getting hard enough to just assemble and detail a model with anything like my old ability.  Diorama seems like a very apt and ultimate ideal for a nice kit to be displayed in, but I don't get to many shows (cost, Covid, other interests, etc.) the N CA IPMS things about all. 

Good to have your input -- I asked the question because once quite some time ago there had been a minor uproar over someone contracting out figures, etc.  Prob just for competitions?  Looking at my plans for the TV Sitcom diorama, I can see how it doesn't have much punch without such... I considered making scale photo facial paste-ons to add to wire-sculpted 'stick figures' to add interest; might be my best bet -- different, anyway.  A humorous one I'm doing is of a lunar rover (converted toy, prob about 1/20) with a blown Hemi having just knocked out it's oil pan on a Moon rock, the (toy) astronaut thumbing a ride with his AAA card in hand.  Wick

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I agree with Paul....... Forget the contest, and build for yourself James...... You can be the best judge of your own scale model dioramas, cars and figures, and in your own home too. When you can post topics on this forum later, you will find that many other members will appreciate your efforts. Model on !!!

David

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22 hours ago, Paul Payne said:

Build your diorama and the figures to please yourself- it will spend much more time enjoyed in your home than on a contest table- and pix on the forum would be most welcome!

I agree with Paul. I build for me and share with the mewmbers, if they don't like it, there's others to look at. Make it fun.

 

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Some contests have a "collaboration" category for when multiple individuals created the contest entry.  Other shows allow models to be entered for display only -- those will be still enjoyed by the spectators, but will not be judged.  If the contest you are planning to attend does not have either of those options, you can also contact the contest organizers, and ask if they would allow you to display your work.  Most will gladly agree.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Whatever you do and how you do it is a means to an end. I have seen many exquisite auto models with a figure that looks doll like next to it, so go for it if you do not have figure painting expertise and contract it out of you feel inclined.

A lot of emphasis has been voiced about competition in this thread, but that does not really matter. There is plenty of scope to just place your models on display for others to enjoy at shows and so on.

Edited by Bugatti Fan
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5 hours ago, Bugatti Fan said:

 

A lot of emphasis has been voiced about competition in this thread, but that does not really matter. There is plenty of scope to just place your models on display for others to enjoy at shows and so on.

The original question was about contests.

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Still working on my first diorama, the LITB/FKB sitcom one, but have two others in progress!  Well, I saw what might be a solution for me in the new IPMS mag: in-scale photo 'figures' (fire-fighters) mounted to stand up by the scene.  Not exactly scale authenticated figurines, but look okay for my purposes.  TV images can be captured, I guess, then sized to scale, printed.  An alternative: bent-wire body/limbs with a photo face attached; tongue in cheek, so to speak!  For figures of sitcom actors (Wally, Eddie, Bud) that might be the most effective, anyhow.  

I think that I just didn't want to be stigmatized in exhibiting a diorama because of poor or even non-existant figure work!

Thx everyone for the encouragement.

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  • 3 months later...
On 1/15/2022 at 7:49 PM, Paul Payne said:

Build your diorama and the figures to please yourself- it will spend much more time enjoyed in your home than on a contest table- and pix on the forum would be most welcome!

Absolutely. You build for yourself.Here are some of my figures. They are 3D printed from real people scans snd painted by me. They look OK from a distance.

Camera.JPG

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Pat: I know you're not fishing for kudso, but you got 'em!!  Thought it was 1/1 at first glance!

I'm pressing ahead with my three dioramas; will solve the figure problems later, I guess.  Wick

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  • 1 month later...

Personally i say screw the nay sayers. Is it wrong to buy after market parts for planes, trains, and automobiles? Same thing to me. If you can buy a barrel made by some one on a lathe why can you not buy figures? 

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Thanks for the positive words, friends!  Now I'll try to find sources.  Help: I need teenagers (not undead ones!) from about 1960 era, or able to be modified as such.  Wally, Eddie, Bud, Lumpy and maybe a chick?  Sounds like fun!  Wick

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I’m an amateur at figures but have had pretty good luck just painting them using a simple-minded “paint-by-numbers” technique (out-of-the-bottle flesh for face and hands, green shirt, blue pants, black shoes, etc…) and then applying a dark brown oil paint in white spirits thinner wash. Here is a German tank crew I did using this technique:

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I think figures don’t need to be perfect when they’re in a diorama setting, they give scale and context to the scene and most eyes are distracted by other details so it is more forgiving for imperfections. Just paint them and stick them in your scene, they’ll be better than you think!

Edited by papajohn97
Replaced incorrect word
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Good!  I agree; now I need to find some 'typical late-'50s/early '60s teen-ager figures!  Suggestions, you experienced diorama guys?  Help?  Wick, a child of the late-fifties/early-sixties myself!  (9th grade in 1959, graduated HS in Class of '63...)

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