So, I was thinking of putting together a new building for Captain Dan's American War of Inconsideration project as perhaps a birthday present. In a recent hobby store trip (Meeplemart, in Toronto), I picked up a 4Ground kit that looked suitably AWI/ACW-ish. When I had it home for closer perusal, I decided it wouldn't really fit with the remainder of his collection. So what to do with it? Ah yes, the never-ending WWII town building project. This building, strictly speaking, is a late 19th century north American "shotgun house." But I thought I could use it, with appropriate tweaking, as part of our European industrial area. I'm not so picky as to worry about it being from the wrong century or continent. Details are for suckers! (note: I'm fully aware that that statement, as facetious as it is, flies quite forcibly in the face of my next comments on the details of mdf building kits)
In my experience, 4Ground kits are good starting points for a model but require some work to satisfy my (admittedly) subjective aesthetic requirements. The kits are normally well-coloured and designed but tend to be a bit too "perfect." What I mean is that the edges and corners are perfectly square. This is not unique to 4Ground kits but in fact is common to all mdf models but is explainable by the design and laser-cutting process. The other issue, of course, is the roof and the ever-present lug-holes. Explainable in a design context but unacceptable for me.
A photo of the stock 4Ground kit from their site...
This is a perfectly acceptable model but the "perfect" edges and corners are clearly visible, particularly at the building corners, the veranda supports and the wooden steps. Not even a brand new house is so cleanly cut.
And the finished model after some appropriate tweaking; most obvious is the newly-shingled roof (using Warbases laser-cut sheets). What is not so obvious is the that most (if not all) sharp edges have been sanded down to remove the perfect angles. This is a simple (but sometimes fiddly) process but usually best performed before assembling all the pieces. The result, I think, is a more subtle and organic form.
Another way of breaking up the regularity of a structure is to add bushes and flowers. These serve to pretty up the building but also create breaks in the straight lines.
And, of course, adding posters or signs add another level of detail and irregularity.