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Scratch-building and resin casting with scale model master Dr Alex Clark

Alex Clark is one of the best 1/72 scale model makers around thanks to his talent for scratch-building parts from Magic Sculp and using casting resin to produce high-quality reproductions
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Dr Alex Clark built his first scale model as a young boy in the 1970s and since then, he has become a master of the art of resin casting, mould making and scratch-building – with the awards to prove it.

He was conquered national competitions within the United Kingdom and international shows in the United States and Spain, including Euromilitaire, AMT Torrent, and the IPMS USA Nationals.

He has had three books published on the casting and scratch-building process and written articles for many magazines, including the first ever issue of the popular AFV Modeller, edited by another star of our Showcase Section, David Parker.

All model makers go through a journey, discovering what they enjoy and what they are good at after having a go at the many different spheres which make up the pastime.

Dr Clark is no different. He went from putting scale model kits together to scratch-building and resin casting his own parts and accessories to becoming one of the best at 1/72 scale AFV models there is. Oh, and he has a chemistry PHD too, hence the doctor.

“Back in the 1970s, I would build all sorts,” Dr Clark explains as he takes up his story. “Aircraft, armoured vehicles, ships, cars and more. Over the years, I gradually settled around armoured vehicles, mostly in smaller scales such as 1/72nd.”

As Dr Clark discovered his calling for 1/72 in his early twenties, he began to read up on the vehicles he was now recreating. What he discovered was a lot of the kits he was building were nothing like the full-size machines they reputed to be.

“As I delved more into research and the details of the real things, I became increasingly dissatisfied with the quality and accuracy of some of the available kits.”

“To this end, I started scratch-building my own details. Inevitably, I reached a point where I needed multiple copies of some parts, which is when I took my first step into the world of mould making and resin casting. Since then, I have never looked back.”

We often find when resin casting that the simpler you can keep the process, the better the result. Dr Clark’s ridiculously detailed work is evidence of that. “To this day I don’t have any specialist casting equipment, I make everything with simple one-part, open moulds,” he proudly says.

Dr Clark uses the most basic of resin casting and mould making materials and tools to recreate his scratch-built parts – and it was his mission to show other scale model makers that you do not need any expertise to start casting that led to him writing his three books for Osprey Publishing.

“My first two books dealt with building specific vehicles – Modelling the Tiger Tank in 1/72 Scale and Modelling the Panzer IV in 1/72 Scale. The third book, Small Scale Modelling Masterclass, has chapters devoted to scratch-building.”

“This also covered basic mould making and resin casting for beginners. Being an enthusiastic amateur, I wanted to show that any modeller can start casting themselves, just as I did.”

Small Scale Modelling Masterclass is a bible for beginners when it comes to everything to do with scale model building, taking readers through construction, painting, finishing and presentation.

In it, Dr Clark explains how he scratch-builds parts and then uses casting resin and moulding rubber to produce highly-detailed recreations which are good enough to wow at competitions across the globe.

A scale model T-54 tank engine made from separate parts cast in resin and assembled together
The two photos above show parts for a T-54 tank engine scratch-built by Dr Clark. He then cast the parts in resin and assembled them

“My favourite tools for scratch-building are Magic Sculp and a Swann-Morton scalpel with 10A blades,” Dr Clark says – without giving too much away from the book, obviously!

“Magic Sculp is the best type of modelling putty for making stowage, like tarps and rolled blankets. It rolls very easily into thin sheets without tearing and gives realistic and natural folds and creases.”

“A scalpel has been my preferred cutting tool for nearly 35 years. Swann-Morton with a number 10A blade is perfect for the small, intricate parts I create.”

When it comes to casting and mould making, Dr Clark has been using SylCreate’s resin casting kits for 15 years now in his scale model work. “Grade 380 Silicone Moulding Rubber has just the right degree of strength and flexibility for the small, detailed parts I make.”

“To partner this, Polycast G27 Resin cures in an ideal time. It is enough time to work it into the moulds, but then not too long as to hold up projects. I also like the sharp and crisp results it gives, they are perfect!”

“A humble cocktail stick is enough to work the resin carefully into the details and remove any air bubbles. Much can be achieved with this approach and I believe it is within the scope for any modeller to do the same if they wish.”

Transmissions for a 1/72 scale Tiger II tank made using casting resin
The transmission of a Tiger II tank. Dr Clark scratch-built the parts, test assembled them and cast them using G27 resin

Dr Clark’s attention to bubbles is clear throughout the casting process. Rather than dispense the Silicone Moulding Rubber straight into the mould box, Dr Clark coats each part in a layer of the liquid rubber first before slowly pouring the rest of the rubber in. This helps to eliminate air bubbles which can otherwise form.

It is the same story when it comes to the resin. Dr Clark describes getting the resin completely into the mould without any bubbles as “the biggest challenge of the whole process.” Again, he turns to a brush, painting the resin into the most detailed parts of the mould and jabbing it gently so that air bubbles rise to the surface.

The results are award-winning models and a loyal following. Dr Clark’s public Facebook profile is followed by thousands of people who like, love and share his regular updates of projects he has been working on.

If you like scale models, resin casting or are looking for inspiration for your next project, then give him a follow. It is always a thrill to see a master at work.

Dr Alex Clark’s three books on scale models are available to buy from Osprey Publishing.

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