The world needs it. On Instagram I came across Darren McGuniness. His work is excellent – he is a true artist. I looked at his website. It is wonderfully clear and makes a very good impression. My wish was born: I would like to do an interview with Darren. I contacted him and he immediately agreed. We did the interview by email.
Please tell us in a few sentences who you are?
My name is Darren McGuinness. I’m 48, and I live with my wife and son in Lancashire, England. I am a scale model artist and member of IPMS UK. I build commissioned scale models for private collections and my own studio.
Which last model did you throw out the window because you failed?
Ha! Ha! Good question! It was many years ago…….It was a Monogram 1/48 F-14A Tomcat. The kit had fought me all the way with fit issues and warped plastic. Normally I am not a quitter – but for some reason I just couldn’t get it to work. The model landed right in the trash can, I was very frustrated. I hated this kit! Thankfully we now have the Tamiya F-14 kits which are much nicer to build!
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Every now and then I see photos of your plastic models in the air in the middle of a fight. Looks cool. Or am I wrong? How complex is it to edit such photos?
I think you are speaking about the X-wing fighters from The Force Awakens? I don’t normally pose my models in flight unless a client has commissioned me to do it that way. On this occasion the client was my son Tom! He wanted something exciting to display in his room, so I bought a couple of Revell snap kits and I modified them and displayed them in attacking formation as we see them in the film.
I used clear acrylic rods to hold the models in the air. I get asked a lot about how I edit my photo’s! For me, I need a good background and good lighting-In my case I have a portable photo light studio that I can place my finished models in and with my iPhone take professional quality photographs.Editing is done on my iPhone with its built in software. It’s quick, convenient and easy to do.
“If you are stuck halfway through a build and not enjoying it, don’t carry on. Put it away and build something else. This is meant to be fun! Oh and one more thing- Be kind! Be positive! The world needs it.”— Darren McGuinness
Take these photos, for example. Damn – is the title photo your model?
No it’s not! I found this title image and thought is was a fantastic picture of the F-4B Phantom I had built. I think it lends a little dynamic excitement to the article.The photos of the model are taken in the portable light studio and edited on my phone. The idea is to display the model in context. When you see it on the aircraft carrier deck with ground crew it creates a picture in your mind, a story is formed. This is the CAG,s aircraft, his guys are wishing him luck before his next mission. Now the model tells a story, from the Vietnam War. Maybe someone will see the model, see the era it is from and investigate further, history is brought to life with scale modelling.
On your fantastic website you can see that you do a lot of research on every plastic model. Why do you do this?
Thank you! It’s important to me. On two separate levels……In the first case as a scale model artist I want to produce something that is a realistic representation of the subject that I am modelling. In the second case and arguably the more important one, clients ask me to build a historical subject that is close to their heart. I’m being asked to provide an accurate replica of something they love. So research is essential. The reward is seeing the smile on a client’s face when they are presented with their finished model or when a veteran pilot tells you that you got all the details just right on a fighter he flew in. It doesn’t get much better than that!
The world needs it
Look at this:
What does your work desk look like when you are in the middle of a project? Nice and clean so that the planes can land and take off? Or is it total chaos?
Ha! Ha! Whilst I would love to tell you that my work desk is always clean tidy, usually it is in a state of organised chaos! I usually have two or three projects that I am working on in my studio at any one time so there are parts from different kits on the bench at any one time. I have my own custom desk set up so everything I need is within reach. Over the years I have modified my setup to make things easier and I am happy with the way it works.
Among the model builders there are also people who are very detail-loving. How do you decide which details you want to make on your models?
Interesting question! If it is a build just for myself, it will depend on my own desire for the level of detail. The bigger the scale, the more detail can be seen so it follows that I would add more detail to add interest to the model.When I am building for someone else they may simply want an easy out of the box, no frills model. Or, they may want a museum quality model correct in every detail, this goes back to the previous question about research, at that level the detail is critically important.
“Research is essential. The reward is seeing the smile on a client’s face when they are presented with their finished model or when a veteran pilot tells you that you got all the details just right on a fighter he flew in.”— Darren McGuinness
What airbrush do you use?
I have two airbrushes, one for general use and one for fine detail work. The first is an Iwata Eclipse HP-CS , it’s a fantastic all rounder that has never let me down! For the tight, detail work I now use the Procon PS-270. It’s beautifully balanced and easy to use.
Do you have a favourite kit manufacturer?
I have always enjoyed Tamiya and Hasegawa kits, they are my favourite.
Which story in model making is there that was totally funny or inspiring for you?
Mmm…….A funny one is some years ago I built a 1/48 Hasegawa F-4S Phantom in USMC markings. I published it on an online forum and a guy wrote to tell me that I had painted the sidewinder rails the wrong colour. I thought I was correct so I asked him how he knew what colour they were? He simply replied that it was his phantom that he flew when he was in the Marines! That soon put me in my place!
An inspiring story is easy to remember, I have a few. In England we have a privately owned Spitfire Mk. IX it’s number is MH434. I had seen it fly at air shows when I was a kid and always loved this particular Spitfire. I never got around to building a model of it though because I could not find the decals that I would need for it’s markings.
When Tamiya released their 1/32 Spitfire Mk.IX my friend Frank bought me the kit and commissioned special paint masks and decals so that I could build my dream subject. It’s my favourite model. Many people who have seen it have written to me as they know the history of this Spitfire. One day the owner of Spitfire MH434 wrote to me to send their families application of the model. Knowing that my work had such an effect on people just inspired me to build better models.
What else do you want to tell the members of scalemodel.zone? A tip? A wisdom?
What I would tell members of scalemodel.zone? If you are stuck halfway through a build and not enjoying it, don’t carry on. Put it away and build something else. This is meant to be fun! Oh and one more thing- Be kind! Be positive! The world needs it.