Are you a builder or a painter?

Along with @JohnTapsell, I think about modelers as engineers and/or artists. The best modelers excel at both the building and the finishing. I am personally better at, and therefore more comfortable with the building side. I am not as good at painting and weathering. Therefore, I move through the builds quickly and add lots of details. I like PE and individual link tracks. When comes time to paint and weather, things slow down. I’m not as skilled at it so I stop and contemplate how to proceed between each step. I get the base camo down and then set it aside while I contemplate if it is good enough to proceed or if I should start over. I am trying to improve my painting and weathering skills with each build. I strive to be equally skilled at both the build and the finish. But, for now, I derive pleasure and satisfaction from the build, and stress from the finishing.


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…and my thesis is:

Builder by preference, painter because I have to, researcher because it’s fun, and collector because I have more cash than free time - in that order!


Grrrrrreat response.

Maybe the question could be backed one step to:
Why do you build a model?

I want a representation of the original construction. For instance: I want to build “an Abrams tank” to show the technological object. It could be called a 3D representation of the design drawings. I am not specifically interested in any individual vehicle or a vehicle taking part in a specific operation/battle.
I would show a generic T-34 next to a generic Panther (of the correct types of course) to show opponents facing each other at the Kursk battles.
Entering a competition doesn’t interest me and I will spend time on building another variant of an Abrams instead of researching a specific tank to show how it looked at a specific date/location.
My display cabinets are more like an armour museum than a display of works of art.

I prefer to build well and progress my painting to the level of not looking like a toy.
An skilled artistic modeler once called my models boring and I wholeheartedly agreed.
I would rather show the evolution of the hubcaps on Pz IV roadwheels than cover them with artistic weathering even if I know that many find the artistic model more interesting.
I am tall and my sports teacher in senior high school wanted the tall guys to focus on basketball, nope for me, count me out, not interested even though I had the advantage of being tall. Maybe I could advance my painting skills to become really good but I am not interested and I will spend my time on other things like building another model.


I prefer quick and easy build so I can move on the painting and weathering stage in which I try to get best resaults and constantly improving my painting skills.
My favourite kits are Tamiya like, with minimal PE parts. I am not buying aftermarket parts.


No question - builder. I enjoy the assembly, adding detail, scaling parts to thickness and especially scratch building components. I get more satisfaction from my own additions than painting and weathering will ever give. So much so, that a fair proportion of my shelf queens just need to be painted…


@Robin_Nilsson, Maybe the question could be backed one step to:
Why do you build a model?

That’s an excellent insight.

What motivated me into armor modeling originally was war gaming. Specifically Panzer Leader, Panzer Blitz, Squard Leader & Cross of Iron by Avalon Hill. There was a whole menagerie of vehicles, I had no idea what they looked like other than a 5/8 inch cardboard counter with a silhouette. Good armor books were few and far between in 1975 and seldom in color.

I like the 'generic model tank Sherman Easy Eight, Pz IV G, Panther D" approach far more than building a specific tank.

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I agree with Peter I enjoy building, also doing PE and scratch building parts. Also I enjoy building somewhat obscure things that have no kit like my Canadian M4 Skink, which I will probably never finish…

But no question painting is when it comes to life.

A blast from the past there Wade. I still have Panzer Leader on the shelf! My best friend of 40 years still has Panzer Blitz. We have been known to get nostalgic once in a while and have a game over a few beers…

I got into modelling when Santa gave me an Airfix Wellington bomber when I was about 9 years old. Woke up, checked out the haul, opened the model box, twisted off the parts, cut the tip off the little tube of glue inside the kit and smeared that on the pieces… masterpiece!!

Dad must have loved it too, because he had tears in his eyes when he saw what I had done that morning… :rofl:

Expanded into tanks and battleships after that, plus the occasional car…


I don’t think I can separate building and painting, at least from an enjoyment perspective, although I like the two different aspects for different reasons. Sometimes depending on the kit/subject I may prefer the building or painting stages, but only in specific examples rather than generally. For some kits such as a Miniart interior kit the stages blend together anyway.

Despite generally finding fiddly things in life a little frustrating for the most part, I actually find building ‘mindful’. That even goes for high part count kits with tiny pieces eg. the aforementioned Miniart interior kits. I also like PE etc. generally.

The painting, decaling and weathering stages is where the model comes to life, as others have already highlighted. I find myself tending towards multi tone camouflage patterns rather than plain single colour schemes, or at least try to loo to try and stretch myself with colour modulation etc. Like most things I find at least some variety between back to back builds keeps interest fresh.

I’m really a builder. That’s the part i enjoy most :slight_smile:

I do like using an airbrush to do a basecoat a lot, occasionally enjoy detail painting and don’t have an aversion to weathering. But most of my models end up being built and base-coated and then packed up somewhere… :wink:

Question for you guys who don’t paint: do you not paint because you don’t enjoy it, because it’s too much of a bother, or you think you are not very good at it? Please don’t take this as a criticism I am just curious as there was once a time when I too did not particularly enjoy painting until I made the commitment to improve my painting skills(read AB).

@Robin_Nilsson, Maybe the question could be backed one step to:
Why do you build a model?

That’s an excellent insight.

Agreed. The fundamental question that puts the “builder-painter” discussion into context.

Lean to the builder side myself, I’m trying to refine my skills since I jumped back in recently, And I mean everything from being more diligent removing parts, clean up of mold lines and punch marks, cleaner assembly, diving into a little scratch building, minor modifications to boost the accuracy, more complete research with the question “Can I replicate that at my level yet” and tackling large part counts. Bite by the PE bug not long ago so diving into that even more. I really enjoy that stage before priming when I’m seeing all the parts come together, the contrast of evergreen strips and PE against the base color of the model, contrast of parts I adopted or robbed from one kit to move this current project along, the marks from cutting, trimming, heck even the putty here and there. I do stall out at paint as my current ‘style’ if you will is to build a bunch, then go on a paint spree and some base weathering-all of which I’m trying to pace with building as that has gotten much better.

As far as Robin’s question why I build? At first historical interest of a subject, now that inspiration plus seeing how much more in-depth I can get on select kits. I am a history major from college w emphasis on WW2 military history so for me its creating a 3-d representation of what I have read about and studied for so long. I do draw the line on b!tching and moaning that a kit is lacking 3 degrees in the mantle or to scale its a few centimeters off one way or another, by my eye I cant certainly tell for the most part (Zveda’s latest Sherman turret being the exception, love the rest of the kit from my first look in the box). There’s the limit for me, if it looks reasonable accurate and I can add a little more that makes me smile and go “I did that, yes’sir” and challenge and improve my building skills in steps then in the words of Babe “That’ll do pig, that’ll do” (me being the pig).


@Armorsmith For me it is not for any of those reasons. I can’t say I don’t enjoy painting or it is a bother as I do get a sense of accomplishment when I have truly finished, and that usually includes adding the model to a small dio type base. I think I am a a reasonably good painter overall - the odd trophy and the very nice compliments from my club mates and from people here would suggest I’m not that bad anyway.

For me, I think that it is the interest in the kit has waned over time and the real challenge of the build is over. Yes painting and weathering can have a challenge all their own, but I am not a chipping to extreme type of builder, nor am I interested in the artistic side against realism. To each their own…

Deep down, maybe it is because I can hear the call of the next nice shiny new (or Dusty Old) box of bits calling, which is why I like Group Builds/Campaigns. That part of me that says ‘you have agreed to join this, so you need to support the leader and actually finish on time’ makes sure I do finish what I start… even if it does sit idle for a few months in between finished building and painting start.

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Thanks for the reply. Me thinks that you are not alone in the interest wanes category. Luckily I don’t seem to have that problem. I tend to be a rather simple builder. By that I mean I don’t get into all the AM goodies(tracks and screens being the exception here) building mostly OOB with some scratched mods here and there. Nor do I allow myself to get bogged down in endless research. In fact, unless I am really stuck on something I pretty much avoid it altogether. As a retired college history prof. I spent enough of my life doing research. But I understand those who relish all the things I avoid. I just find it very interesting that there are so many different approaches to the hobby, although I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. In the end it’s all about how one enjoys the hobby. Thanks again.


I Do paint, it’s just that I keep it at a basic level. The painting part of the process marks the official finish of a build. Assembled, fixed all the blemishes, painted and the paint looks good, decals in the correct place, off to the display cabinet.
When the paint is on I can lean back and say to myself that I am satisfied with the job, the heap of plastic parts now looks like a 3D-rendition of the real thing (even if the paint job looks boring to many others).
I do look forward to the painting stage as a ‘finish line’, seeing the paint go on and unifying all the parts into a finished object.

I switched to AB after the third or fourth tank when I got fed up with trying to get paint into every corner of the lower chassis of Tamiya Leo 1 or Abrams. It was a miracle! Instead of tediously brushing every little corner a few easy psssh-psssh-psssh had the whole thing covered in a nice, thin, smooth and even layer without any ugly brushmarks. The time savings were significant.
The next major step was to spin the roadwheels when painting the rubber, the time to paint all sides of all wheels on a Pz IV went from hours (paint, check, use profane language, paint again, check, rinse & repeat) down to 15 - 20 minutes.
I have done a few camo finishes just to try it out but a one colour scheme is still my favourite. Forget all the finishing techniques. I’ll do a wash occasionally, I pour the brush cleaning pot over the finished model to blend in the German three colour camo.


Most definitely! Most (actually all) my projects stall before the painting stage. It actually requires me to cross a threshold to finish stuff.

It’s something that has just changed for me, I only came back to the hobby recently and after building some older, quite simple kits,I got cocky and decided to do kit that was far more complex. After struggling though the build (making lots of mistakes and having to reattach PE parts a dozen times), I cannot wait to get into the painting…So, I would say at this point, its painting for me…

I think I’m a painter. I’m not a master at any of the matters, but I like to try new techniques, so I guess I can say I’m more painter than builder.

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