I saw a guy boasting about his ‘scratch-building.’ He posted pictures. It was of his 3D printing. It wasn’t the first time I’ve seen this sort of comment, either.

You know, I don’t mean to be rude, but drawing something on your computer is not ‘scratch building.’

Please, don’t get me wrong: I am not trying to take anything away from these guys’ ability to use a CAD program. Heaven knows I can’t do it, but that’s because I don’t want to learn how to do it. I took the old-fashion mechanical drafting classes back in the day, and I was good at it. I have no doubt that, if I wanted to do so, I could learn CAD, too. In fact, many people can. But that does not mean the CAD is ‘scratch building.’

Just as I can’t do the CAD work, the guys who can use CAD are usually doing so because they can’t do what Karl and I do — which is true ‘scratch building.’ CAD doesn’t really make anything but a drawing, and even then, the computer is actually doing most of the work for you. Karl and I take a stack of stock plastic shapes and turn it into the masters which then become the kits you guys use. We actually create with our own hands, and it is very different from drawing on the computer. Tell the computer what to do and it does the work — not you. But Karl and I can’t do that. If we want to make a complex design, it has to come from our own hands. We have to literally bend, mold and shape the materials we use into the form we wish to create. That, folks, is ‘scratch building’ — not drawing on a computer and hitting a print button.

True, 3D printing will probably put an end to what I do — and I’m OK with that. I’m ready to do something new, and different. But it won’t happen today, or even next year, and the reason is simple:

Many people can do what these 3D guys are doing, but only a few of us can do what Karl and I do — and the end product shows! Until people decide they no longer appreciate the difference between the creations of a soulless machine and the craftsmanship of an actual man, Karl and I will have a job and TMD will remain in business.

And, yes! I can tell the difference between a printed master and a hand-made master. When you create with your hands for as long as I have, the differences between an organic and a sterile master just jump out at you. But the 3D stuff is getting better and — like I said — I can finally see the end of the line on the near horizon. But, even after I have gone the way of the horse and buggy industry, the 3D stuff still will not be ‘scratch-built.’ It is and will always be artificially synthesized — period! Folks should learn to accept this and stop presenting their printings as something they are not.

2 thoughts on “FYI: TO YOU 3D GUYS

  1. Back in the 80s when home computers started catching on, I got into a discussion with a close friend about computer graphics…drawings done on a computer. The discussion centered around the “is it really art” question. As an artist (of whatever ability), my first thought was that it was not. My reason being that though the person did the design, the computer did the work. Essentially I had confused creativity with technical ability. I have since come to understand that though computer graphics are art, it’s a different art from the person who pushes the pencil/pen/brush to create the work.

    I see 3D printing as analogous to the items I purchase from TMD and others. Could *I* create the resin parts myself? Mostly. It’s scratch-building (can do it, to whatever extent I can), mold making (yup…learned that working in art-casting foundries), and casting (also learned in art-casting foundries). Though I can do it, my build speed can be kindly referred to as glacial. Adding extensive scratch-building to my models (such as your Marine interior for Academy’s M3A1 kit) will slow my glacial build speed even further.

    So if I can buy the parts I want, I do, and scratch-build when I cannot. But when someone compliments my building ability, I most clearly draw the line between bought parts, whether kit supplied or aftermarket supplied, and the bits I made.

    3D printing is not, NOT, scratch-building. As you stated, the computer and printer did the actual work. Saying otherwise is the end product of male bovine digestion.

    But the world is full of posers, wanna bees, and BS artists. Saying a 3D printed part is scratch-building puts the speaker derp into the poser/wannabe/BS artist category. It’s a lie.

    Yours and Karl’s work is excellent. I’m glad they’re available to me and I will use what I can to achieve the results I’m after. When you fold your tent(s) and move on you (plural) will be missed.

    1. I agree with you: computer design is an art form, but it is never going to be on the same level as those who do it by their own hands. I happen to know a professional artist. He makes his living by making paintings for people. He uses the old fashion brush and paint, and he is good. He also happens to have his name on the Corel Draw instruction book. He helped design the program, and he ‘paints’ on the computer, as well. I can ALWAYS tell the difference between his real paintings and his computer work. Don’t get me wrong: he is an artist in both areas. It’s just that, when he uses the computer, he is missing from the work he creates. It is soulless, and it shows. But when he uses the brush, I can see him in the piece. SO, as you pointed out, the computer is still ‘art,’ jut of a different kind. But — at least to me — it will never be on the same level as anything actually made by the human hand.

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