Figures in Dios/Displays...Needed or not?

Discussion in 'Dioramas & Displays' started by Fishcarver, Oct 19, 2004.

  1. Fishcarver

    Fishcarver Active Member

    This is a rhetorical (ie: there's no right or wrong answer) question. I'd just like to get your opinion.

    Just to set the record straight: I was ( and still am) a figure modeller. I have also done vehicles, ships and planes : and I love them all, as I love modelling in general. I bring no bias to this discussion, other than to just give you a couple of my ideas:
    1. When it comes to displaying a model, "Less is more" should be the rule. Take Jim Nunn's Panther: all that would be needed to really set the scene and emphasize the setting of desperate urban fighting would be to have a couple of Panzergrenadiers ducking behind the bulk of the tank (which is sensibly buttoned up) to escape the grazing fire coming from above. They would also set up the scale of the tank.
    2. Jim's MG42 vignette doesn't need any figures. What would really make it exceptional, however (IMHO) is some "R &D" (Rubble and Detritus) tossed around: stone/brick shards, LOTS of spent brass, a German helmet left behind, a comic
    book, a soda bottle, ration tins, and maybe a Russian slogan "spray painted" over the Hitlerjugend poster. (Jim: likewise for the Panther display)
    3. Leave the “blood and gore†out. Imply (suggest) it only. As a carver, I model Nature: the “jungle red of fang and clawâ€. Every living critter needs to eat: everybody knows this. But most people REALLY do not like to see the Robin dead in the claws of the Sparrow Hawk. If they can’t accept this from backyard birds, do not expect to sell a lot of models of Gough’s Bayonet Charge at Lucknow, or your 1:25 Panzer running down poor old Ivan Ivanov in the streets of Stalingrad.

    In my opinion, figures are not "essential", but they are useful.

    What do you think?

  2. Darwin

    Darwin Member

    I am in agreement. Figures do add interest, but are not necessary to create a good diorama. One of the most moving model dioramas I've seen was the crashed B-24 in the Libyan desert (the Lady be Good, if memory serves and I'm not having another senior moment), with nary one figure in sight, but sets of footprints in the sand leading away from the bomber. I also agree with the "less is more" philosophy.
  3. Gil

    Gil Active Member

    Dropping In,

    Context is everything..., if a figure is appropriate then it should be included. The problem with human figures is that everyone is literally an expert on the form making it hard to produce life like figures. I believe this is the reason they are so often missing from models. This and the fact that putting a human form in a diorama "fixes" the time factor stalling the minds ability to wander in time which I find to be the biggest detriment. But put the figures in a sleeping repose and it works..., wow, psychology is really subtle.

    Tid bits for thought, Gil
  4. Jim Nunn

    Jim Nunn Member

    We are all modelers and have an innate since of scale size but for the non-modeler a figure gives the viewer a reference to the true size of the prototype. So with few exceptions I think a figure is necessary in a diorama.

    The down side of figures is that they are often not done very well, they are poorly painted or they are stiffly posed. Keep in mind that in my humble opinion figure painting and dioramas are two of the highest forms of modeling and fall in the “Art†category while the rest of us are just highly skilled craftsmen. Being a highly skilled craftsman is not bad but I couldn’t paint a figure if my life depended on it.
  5. nebeltex

    nebeltex Member

    figures are very important....

    most of my designs are catered not only to modelers but also to the war game crowd. scale figures serve an important purpose and many are pictured with a figure or two. i like preisser figures best for my scale (1/72). BTW, darwin, i saw a 1/48 diorama for the "lady" last week. museum display. i like the sets of prints you mentioned but in this case it would be inaccurate. that ship was abandoned in flight and crash landed on it's own....but you are right, less is more. "an artist has achieved perfection in design not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away" A. St. Ex. (little prince author).
  6. dardard

    dardard Member

    I think like you, figures are context dependents.
    You put figures on a diorama to give a more livelike touch.
    It is not always required and care must be taken that the figures does not focus all the diorama on them. For example I started an airfield parking area in 1/72. To give a more realistic touch, I made a hardened shelter door in one side (all made of paper, but the plane is in plastic). Morality, the door is bigger than the plane and you see only the door.
    I will not scrap the door, so I will finish all the shelter and make a bigger dio with two or three planes(sorry I have no pics about this yet).
  7. rickstef

    rickstef Guest

  8. JohnReid

    JohnReid Active Member

    I always put figures in my dioramas.Why? it just makes it easier to tell a story which diorama making is all about.Cheers1 John. :)
  9. JohnReid

    JohnReid Active Member

    I always put figures in my dioramas.Why? it just makes it easier to tell a story which diorama making is all about.Cheers1 John. :)
  10. lizzienewell

    lizzienewell Member

    I'm coming at this as a fiction writer and sculptor. In setting up a scene an artist is telling a story. A story is a completed action and requires a protagonist in a situation with a conflict. In sculpture I think of the protagonist as being how the viewer projects him or herself into the scene. The conflict is something that initually seems out of place to the viewer. This causes the viewer to look closer and longer at the scene. In looking the viewer comes to understand the reason for the out of place item and comes to a resolution.

    I kind of like having a space for a viewer instead of a figure in that space. What I mean is that something in the model/sculpture should suggest the scale in relationship to the human body. Some scuptures are lifesized but it still helps to have a seat or a handle or something for the viewer to grasp or sit on in their imagination.
    The viewer can imagine self as one of the figures. Possibly if doing this it's best to keep the figure fairly generic.
    I go back and forth on this. I love sculpting and drawing the human form but at the same time I know it can distance the viewer and objectify the subject.

    Another thing from writing and drawing is to consider point-of-view. From what direction is the viewer going to look at the model/sculpture. Can he or she pick it up? Can he or see walk into it?

    Photographing a diarama is neat because the modeler/artist controls the point-of-view.

    I think that in sculpture the human figure is always present in that the viewer has a body and the sculpture by necessity must relate to it.

    I along with probably all the rest of you as modelers tend to identify with the modeler as protagonist. In each model I see the story of how it was made, the problems overcome and conflicts resolved. A good work of art tells many stories and can be appreciated on multiple levels.

    Fear of lack of skill shouldn't scare anyone off attempting to depict there perception of a person.

    I carry a sketch book around to draw people. I also carry a camera which I moslty use on scenery. Taking a photo of a person might produce a more accurate image in terms of preportions. Yet somehow the distortions produced by drawing the the record of the act of really looking at someone are interesting.

    I spent a half hour yesterday drawing a friend. I could have taken a photograph. But the interesting thing isn't how he actually was but how I perceived him as I drew. A photo would have been faster and more accurate for perportions but the resulting image would have been boring.

    I've also tried producing sculpture of the human figure from plaster casts of actual people. The results do not look lifelike without significant reworking. If you could produce miniture figures from such mechanical methods the rough handmade reproductions would still look better.

    Trying to depict what you think you should see instead of what you actually see creats a barrier to good drawing and modeling. Our perception of thing is distorted and if we take out this distortion to make a scale perfect reproduction the results are cold and mechanical. They don't tell the story of the builder/sculptor overcoming obstacle.

    Sorry, I know this is an old descusion but it had me thinking.

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