Sunday, 8 September 2013

M60 - Decals and mud

I couldn't stand looking at the pieces of the M60 sitting idle on my workbench anymore. I keep starting new projects, always intending them to be quick and "just as an in-between", but I end up with 6-7 works-in-progress in various stages of completion.
All this one needed was some black and white details on the turret, but I didn't feel like masking them AGAIN. So, time to put this Vallejo model colour to some good us, as I've been hearing so much good things about it's brushing qualities.

The black went down beautifully, without any brush strokes at all. The white too, but it needed more layers. I've never found white to easily cover anything, so no real surprises here. The end result is seen below. (no wheels and tracks yet)

After this, I added a layer of semi-matt varnish (Alclad) to protect against weathering and prepare for decals. Speaking of which : there were 2 decals that needed to go in the back, on top of a very detail-rich area, a raised panel with raised bolts on top. Needless to say, the decal was just floating on top of those bolts and would never stay there if I didn't do anything. Out with the MicroSol, since it's sole purpose is to make decals adhere to the detail. If that wouldn't work, I could always just leave those 2 off the model.

After applying a generous dose of MicroSol (the red one, slightly stronger than the blue MicroSet), the decals started to wrinkle. I started dabbing at it with a stiff brush, to push it down unto the model surface.
Careful! The decal is really fragile right now and could easily tear or be hopelessly ruined. The Revell decals are pretty sturdy tough. When I returned half an hour later, fearing to find a still wrinkly mess, I was amazed at how well MicroSol had done it's job. The picture below says it all.

At the same time, I started mixing mud for the underside of the fenders. I used Vallejo pigment binder for the first time. First, I brushed some binder on the fender and started sprinkling on pigments. This was way too slow, so I quickly switched to just mixing up a batch of mud with a puddle of the binder, mixed with dark earth, European earth and Africa dust (i.e. "sand") pigments.

Stabbing the model with a brush loaded with the mud mix, was more effective in removing the mud and making a big, clumpy mess in the brush's bristles than laying down a convincing layer of  mud, so I used whatever was needed to get it all on the model. I sprinkled extra pigments on top of the wet mix.

After fifteen minutes, I gently started poking the mud with another stiff brush, just to remove any visible traces of the spatula I used to apply it and make it seem ... well , more natural.

After 4 hours, it had dried a little, but was still looking like a wet paste. Touching it with my finger, easily left a small, flat spot in the mud, so I had to let it rest some more.

After 24 hours (picture below), you can easily see where it is still wet (where it was applied the thickest, of course).  The bottle says it dries slowly, but this is getting rather ridiculous.

Blowing on it removed some pigment (the ones I sprinkled on at the very end) and rubbing gently with a finger will stain the finger, but not excessively, and leaves the mud generally as it is. I guess the binder does some actual binding, but my test several months ago with heavily diluted white glue was far more efficient and a lot faster. The Vallejo binder seems more effective (and probably intended) for coating a model and working in pigments for subtle effects, not a muddy paste.

I'll just let it dry another couple of days and seal it in with a coat of varnish (as many modellers do). The sides of the tank will be done later with the normal (white) glue.


  1. Looking good! Mud looks great. Hate waiting for that kind of stuff to dry though. I sometimes feel like its time wasted!

    1. One of the advantages of not having a lot of time, is that sometimes a week passes before you continue work on a model. Any paint or mud will be dry the next time I visit the workbench.
      Also an advantage when working on multiple models :-).


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