Monday 29 October 2012

I can see clearly now

I was away all weekend, but did manage to find myself a lamp for my modelling and painting desk. My workplace is now in the attic, so lighting is low and badly angled.

I bought a Lightcraft "Flexible round magnifier lamp" (LC8066) with magnifying glass, so besides illuminating my workplace, it reduces the stress on my eyes when focussing on a very small detail, whether during construction or painting.

Tried to do some more airbrush practice:

  • Black primer on top of a previously botched white-primer-tryout went on rather nicely.
  • Grey primer on a first test model (the jaguar) is spotty and ugly. 
Not sure if the black primer handles easier than the white and the grey, or if the first layer will always look bad and I have to be patient until the second layer.

Tuesday 23 October 2012

Airbrush - another try

Just a quick update about last night's second attempt at airbrushing.

It went a lot better. Far from perfect, but everytime you make progress, you should be happy.You can't expect to be a pro-airbrusher after 2 hours.

I'm now always starting with maybe a bit TOO much thinner, working my way down to a proper ratio. Better to spray something too thin than have the brush clog up again. Still practicing on paper or cardboard, since I do not want to ruin a model (even if it's only a 4 euro airplane).

Started with Vallejo white primer, thinned 50:50, which was too thin, but at least paint was coming out, (instead of saturday's fiasco). Eventually lowered the ratio to 80:20 (paint-thinner) and was able to put a nice layer of primer on the entire cardboard sheet. The layer was not covering completely, but anyone who's ever painted a wall will confirm primer may need several layers to fully cover. (Patience is an airbrusher's best friend.)

When the primer was touch-dry, a test with black paint (thinned 70:30) gave a very nice result. The coverage is multiple times better on primed cardboard, compared to painting directly (without primer). This was to be expected, but it's nice to see theory become practice.

(Normally, you would let the primer dry 4 hours, or maybe overnight, to be safe)

Important note : I often see tutorial video's where they're mixing or thinning the paint directly in the paintcup of the airbrush. This does NOT work for me.
Maybe it's because the paintcup on Revell's airbrush is rather small or maybe I'm doing it wrong, but I do not get thinner and paint mixed properly in the cup. Mixing separately in a small lid or cup gives you a better view at what you're doing and gave me a much nicer mixed paint, flowing nicely out of the brush.

Mixing separately also enables you to mix larger quantities. If you mix two colors and run out, it's nigh  impossible to reproduce the same ratio. Once I find a ratio for the primer that I'm happy with, I'll mix a big batch of it, so I can use it ready-made out of the bottle, especially handy when you have a smaller paintcup.

After this, I wanted to test a layer of clear gloss, but to keep a long story short : the tip fell of the bottle (something obstructed the tip and I squeezed too hard) and my entire workbench was covered in it. (Sticky stuff!!) Cleaned it up, used some swear words, cleaned the airbrush and called it a day.

Saturday 20 October 2012

First airbrush session - not a huge success

No worries - I was told it takes getting used to, I'd make mistakes and I'd get frustrated. No matter how much info you gather, how many tutorial video's you watch, you have to experience everything for yourself and make all the mistakes that the ones before you have made themselves.

After attaching the airhose to the compressor and the airbrush ("AB" from now on), intial spraying with water (distilled, just to be safe) is a breeze. It should be.

The first test with real paint (Vallejo Model Air - Black) was not quite what I expected. The paint is supposed to be sprayable straight from the bottle, but after half a minute, the spray pattern became irregular and I had to open the trigger all the way up to get any paint. The brush had clogged, I guessed, so might as well start disassembly and cleaning of the brush for the first time.

The needle cap and nozzle cap (parts 1 and 2 in the schematic below) would not move easily, but gave way in the end. The slot-in nozzle (part 3) would not budge at all. After a quick phone call to the hobby-shop to confirm that it CAN be detached, I used pliers to put some more force into it and it came loose. (He also told me to thin Vallejo air 10% even though they say it's not needed)

I cleaned everything and reassembled. After that, not a single test went well and I kept getting bubbles in the paint cup. Usually this is indicative of a clog, blocking the airflow. After a lot of trial and error and multiple dis- and re-assemblies, I found that parts 1 and 2 had originally been glued together (causing the high friction to remove them) and parts of the glue-remnants were preventing the two parts to close 100%. After cleaning the thread with a sharp knife (carefully!), they screwed together perfectly and there were no more bubbles in the paint cup.

More testing with Vallejo primer were acceptable, but again after 30-40 seconds, the paint began to come out irregularly. At this point, an hour and a half had passed, so I took the brush apart, cleaned it throughly and put it aside. I'll do more testing tomorrow evening.

What did we learn today :

  • It's possible I used AB cleaner without proper cleansing afterwards, so my test-paint had cleaner mixed in, which is not good for the paint quality. Always verify your AB is clean (spray water to be sure) and you're using thinner (not cleaner).
    (While we're on the topic of thinner : it's safest to use the same brand thinner as your paint)
  • Make sure the AB is properly re-assembled.
  • Some googling brought me to a forum where Vallejo primers were discussed. Apparently, with really small nozzles, these primers should definitely be thinned to avoid clogging. This is slightly re-assuring, so we'll know more when I test this further.

Airbrush, finally!

Yay, today I went to pickup my airbrush, which was finally in stock since yesterday. It's Revell's "Basic set with compressor".

It's not a true double-action, but close enough. Allow me to explain :

  • single-action : pressing down the trigger starts the airflow. Paint starts spraying immediately.
  • double-action : pressing down starts the airflow, pulling the trigger back  moves the needle and starts the paintflow.
  • this Revell airbrush has airflow as soon as you turn on the compressor. Pulling back the trigger starts the paintflow. (This basically makes it the exact opposite of a single-action)
Al this summarizes in : you have the same paint-control as a double-action airbrush, but you cannot stop the airflow. Since you can just turn off the compressor, this is not a real downside, since it has to cool down regularly anyway. (max 15 minutes continuous spraying is recommended in the manual)

I hope to start testing later today and will keep you posted.

Of course, while at the hobby-store, I couldn't resist picking up two new kits, which just happened to be on my wishlist. 

Italeri's 1:48 Sd.Kfz 234/2 Puma
("Sonderkraftfahrzeug" = "Special Purpose Vehicle")

HobbyBoss' 1:350 Borei-class submarine

Thursday 18 October 2012

At the carwash

In the modelling world, a "wash" is a term used for highly diluted ink or paint (e.g. artist oils) used for highlighting recessed details (mostly panel lines). That is NOT the subject of today's post. 

Today I washed all my models in warm, soapy water to remove all remaining oil, dirt, whatever, ... from the plastic. The idea is to remove any substance that might interfere with the paint (and glue, for that matter) clinging to the plastic. (The molds used for creating the model are lined with oil, to make it easier for the plastic sprue to be removed. We want to remove any residue.)

Sidenote: same reason why you use primer before painting, because primer has the added property that it adheres more easily to the plastic and gives something for the "normal" paint to cling to later.

In the past, I never bothered doing this, because I was always brush-painting enamel paints in relatively thick layers. Now that we're switching to airbrushing, we will be applying thin layers of paint (often multiple of the same color) and a general tip here is washing your kit before you paint it.

I'm washing it while still on the frame. I guess you could wait and wash it in sub-assemblies, but then maybe water would get to places where it would be hard to remove again and you'd end up waiting a week to make sure all the water was gone. Anyway, it's up to you if and when you do this.

Battlestar Galactica and a Colonial Viper at the carwash.

By the way : your girlfiend will LOVE it when you fill the kitchen with drying kits!

Sunday 14 October 2012

Masking tape

In my last post, I suggested assembly before painting to have the strongest possible bond for the glue.

When painting in sub-assemblies, masking the areas that will be glued is also a good idea. This prevents the need for scraping off paint later, especially in places that are difficult to reach or just very small.

Where sub-assemblies are put together, the kit builders usually do a very good job of providing a big surface for glue and some kind of pin/hole mechanism. (like the various connections on the Enterprise)

Other kits may have parts that obscure certain locations, making them difficult to reach. Wheels on a tank would be my example : if you glue on the wheels, it is difficult to paint behind them, but if you leave them off, their axle-pins will be unavoidably painted. Since wheels are rather delicately connected to the model, you want the glue to have every change to make it strong.

Putting masking tape on tiny pins is fussy, so in this case I use liquid latex. See my earlier post about this topic : "Masking with Latex".

In these pictures, I masked off the parts of the saucer and drive section that will be connected. While the pieces fit together snuggly, as a rule, I always make sure the glue has the best chance of creating the strongest possible bond.

Saturday 13 October 2012

Following this blog - made easy

I added 2 widgets to the navigation bar to the right. All the way on top, you can enter your email address if you want to be notified by email about any new content.

Just below "The archive", you can become an official follower. If you're familiar with RSS feeds or already follow multiple blogs, you know what to do.

If you're slightly less computer-savvy, choose the email-option. :-)

Only paint completed (sub-)assemblies

As a kid, I built every model in the same order :
  1. Paint everything while it's still attached to the sprue
  2. Glue everything together
  3. Apply decals
Some building instructions suggest pre-painting all parts on the sprue, and that is what I always did. While this has its advantage of easy access to all nooks and crannies and it gives you something to hold, disadvantages are :
  • after removing sprue attachment points, you'll need to touch up the paint
  • paint will cover areas where glue needs to be applied
From past experience, gluing (small) parts on top of an already painted surface yields bad results. Scraping paint off a flat surface to attach an antenna or some other detail isn't always possible. Many of my older models (see : Attic) had parts (wingflaps, landing gear doors, antennas, ...) fallen off, because they were glued on top of gloss paint and the bond didn't hold. Had I glued BEFORE painting, the bond would probably have been strong enough to survive long-term storage.

So, what I do now, is try to finish construction as completely as possible before starting to paint (example), yielding the best possible bonding between all parts.

Complex shapes call for painting of sub-assemblies, where painting the completed model would be difficult.

Above are the sub-assemblies for the saucer and drive section of the Enterprise. I think its pretty obvious that gluing them together will make it more difficult to paint certain areas.

I haven't assembled the engine nacelles yet, since they contain clear parts that need to be painted on the inside. (obviously one of the exceptions to my assemble-before-painting rule).

Thursday 11 October 2012

The hardest part of the hobby

For me, the hardest part of this hobby is probably NOT buying too many new kits.

I currently have 4 works in progress, 3 new in the box and 3 old, unfinished kits in various degrees of completion. I can't work as quickly as I'd like, since I still have no airbrush, but once that changes, I hope to quickly finish 3 or 4 projects.

Currently, my "wish-list" contains:

  • An aircraft carrier (preferrably the Enterprise)
  • A battle cruiser (heaviest armed version I can find)
  • A sub-marine
  • A bigger-scale tank, something ultra-modern
  • An 8x8 armoured vehicle (Russian, I believe)
  • A F14 Tomcat (black edition)
  • ...
  • (every time I open a magazine or website, this list tends to grow)
If anyone has any suggestions on particularly nice models in these categories, feel free to drop me a note.

Sunday 7 October 2012

Airbrush info

Looking into airbrushing, but you do not know where to start?
That was the position I found myself in some time ago. I surfed Youtube and Googled away to find info, info and more info, but you often find contradictory info or tips from pros that should not be followed by beginners.

Before you purchase a relatively expensive tool, you will want to know about :

  • Single or double action?
  • Bottom or gravity feed?
  • Internal or external mix?
  • Which air supply?
  • Which paint? How to thin paint?
  • How to clean and maintain it?
  • ...

The video below covers ALL of these topics and more in a very comprehensive seminar. It's an hour and a half, but well worth it. (Make sure to watch some of the other videos posted by the same owner)

If the player isn't working : this is the link.

Saturday 6 October 2012

Daddy's workbench

Daddy's assortment of glue, paint, knives, clamps and sanding sticks do not only make plastic models come to life. They are also handy for repairing toys, puzzles and whatnot! :-)

Repairing the Enterprise-C (part 2)

Now that I have made a mold to repair the missing section, it's time to put it in place and fill it.

I taped the mold in place over the gap, trying to align all the surface detail. Then I mixed some "hard plaster" and poured that into the opening. I probably should have gone with some kind of resin, but the plaster was what I had lying around.

My first attempt was too thin and brittle and the mold was not tightly secured. If you pour 2-3mm of plaster, you end up with a cast of about 1-2mm since all the particles sink to the bottom and the water evaporates.
On the second attempt, I doubled the amount, which turned out as I wanted it.

First attempt                                   Second attempt

Now I just need to fill the gaps and see how well it responds to paint.