Friday 30 November 2012

Wishlist updated

I updated the wishlist, a link to which is now permanently located on the top of the page.

Tuesday 27 November 2012

Fun is in the details

Now that the interior of the Puma is as good as it's gonna get, I closed it up and added all the exterior details. 41 parts in total had to be added, just to the upper side of the hull : jerrycans, antenna's, shovels and other equipment, grabhandles and stuff I don't even recognize. It took me about an hour to cut off all those parts from the sprue, clean them up, dryfit and glue each of them in place.

Detail painting will not be easy, but that's a problem for later.

Saturday 24 November 2012


I forgot to add another thing last night, just a short remark about superglue.

A tip I found about applying it : to avoid adding too much glue, place a drop of glue on the back of an old CD or DVD, then use a toothpick to apply small amounts on the part. Better to have to apply 2 or 3 small amounts than add one big drop and have it run everywhere you do not want it. Excess superglue is very hard to remove and if you have to start sanding, you risk removing detail on your model.

Friday 23 November 2012

Canopy placing

I glued the masked canopy to the Jaguar. I used superglue instead of the liquid cement, since I read that the cement can fog op clear parts. Also, I'm gluing this on top of a coat of primer, so the primary function of the modelling glue (namely : melting the two pieces together) wouldn't work as well anyway.

The fit wasn't good (as in the rest of the model), so I glued it to the back and used putty to fill the gap in the front. The first layer of paint will go on soon.


THIS time washing does not mean "putting in water with detergent". (As opposed to this post)

It means applying a very diluted paint or ink or oil paint to a painted model, to create subtle (or not so subtle) effects on it. Mostly the desired effect is dirty or aged from frequent use. On a tank, for instance, you may want to apply dust, dirt, mud, molten snow, ... On the model of an old car, you may want to add rust, oil, ...

A wash is only the beginning. Sometimes, actual mud (or various kinds of pigments) is mixed with glue and/or paint and applied to the model. I'll get around to pigments one day, but that's probably in the far future.

Today, I just started with a Vallejo black wash, which is highly diluted in itself, but I diluted it a little more. I applied it to the Puma interior with a soft brush. Once it was all covered, I used a cotton swab to remove it in places where there was too much.

The result is far from perfect, but ok for a first tryout. Once the top half of the Puma is assembled, I just want to give an impression of a dirty floor when you're looking through the turret opening.

Thursday 22 November 2012

Which undercoat for gold paint?

Another experiment on cardboard.

The display stand for the Enterprise-C calls for a gold coat. My question was whether to prime it first with a light or a dark undercoat. Black primer has the disadvantage of requiring more layers of topcoat to get complete coverage, but it covers the model a lot faster.

I coated a piece of cardboard one half with white primer and the other half with black. Using the airbrush without pulling the trigger helps you dry the paint a lot faster, so you don't have to wait several hours for the coat to dry. After thinning the gold paint to the right consistency for spraying, I sprayed both the white and the black part.

The result on the white part was a very white-ish gold sheen. On the black part it was a deep-dark gold cover which - for me - is the more desirable effect.

More experimenting with different colours will teach me which colours are best supported by black primer instead of white or grey. I might even learn it doesn't make any difference, although I do suspect that painting a white Enterprise will be difficult on a black undercoat ...


Time for another experiment : clearcoating.
The Vallejo Air color range contains 3 kinds of "clear" : matte, satin and gloss. This basically is a kind of varnish. The gloss one will give your model a nice shiny finish (like a brand new car), the matte will reflect less light and give a more realistic finish for vehicles "out in the field". Satin is somewhere in between those.

The reason for doing this is putting a protective layer around your model. It will protect all underlying paint and (especially!) decals against moisture, handling with bare hands and the effects of time in general.
If you plan to add weathering effects to your model, like a black oil wash to create an "ageing" affect, add a clearcoat first. It will make it easier to clean up mistakes if you overdo it.

I started by loading some gloss clear in the airbrush. As it did not seem to be liquid enough, I thinned it about 50%. It sprays very easily and covers very fast. I probably didn't have to thin it this far, if at all. I'll find out next time, when I'll try it straight from the bottle.

The interior of the Puma is now coated with gloss, ready for some weathering with a black wash. I slightly overdid the gloss, so it pooled up in some spots, but - being in the inside - this will hardly be noticed.
I sprayed a display stand (for the Starfury) as well, but added a few drops of black paint to the clear, thus creating a very gloss black paint. Not sure if the difference will be noticeable.

Tuesday 20 November 2012

No steady hands

Time for some brushpainting. I haven't done this in over 10 years and my hands aren't really steady for doing the tiny details. Nonetheless, I painted the details on the inside of the Puma (just the seats, steering wheels and some kind of grille on the dashboard), so I can close it up soon and continue building on the outside.
(I must remember to try some weathering on the floor, before actually closing it up)

I painted with the Vallejo air black, which is a little too runny for brushpainting, but for inside details it's good enough. It's clear though, I will need two versions of several paints (black and white for starters) because the "model air" version has better ground pigments for airbrushing, but is too runny for handbrushing, requiring the normal "model color" for the small details or touchups.

It's still necessary to thin the normal paint, because it's very thick straight from the bottle. All this means is you'll be getting more paint for your money in the 17ml bottles. :-)

I picked up the above painter's palette at Dille & Kamille. Not sure if it's meant for painting, or serving snacks, but it's very handy, easily washable and cheap. It's easier than a flat wooden palette (suitable for thick oil paints) because the recesses are better for very fluid paint.

All the submarine parts are dry, so I assembled the propellor cap and attached the entire housing to the back of the model. I think the photo-etch propellor looks really nice.

Monday 19 November 2012

Short session

Put a third and final layer of white primer on the inside of the Puma. No issues with the white paint again.

Cut off all the blades of the plastic propellor, since the photo-etch propellor installed nicely. Since I had to load black primer in the airbrush to paint it anyway, I lightly sanded the nose of the submarine (where dust had gotten on the model while painting) and touched up the entire nose. It looks a lot better now.
Needle-tip went dry again, but at least we're having results. Practice, practice, practice.

Next time, I'll be experimenting with clear varnish (gloss or matt, yet to be decided) for the Puma as well as the submarine.

Sunday 18 November 2012


Photo-etch (or "PE" for ease of typing) parts are small frames with tiny little parts made from metal. The term "photo-etch" refers to the process that makes these frames, but no need to go into detail about that. They are generally used to create extremely small or thin parts, which would be too delicate in plastic - or simply impossible to make.
You often find PE parts in aftermarket kits to add superdetails to existing models : railings, grab handles, antenna's, ... which aren't always in scale when made in plastic.

I intended to experiment with PE later in my "modelling career", but was surprised to find a small photo-etch frame in the submarine kit. It consists of the propeller, some antenna-blades and the nameplate for the display stand.

The PE version of the propellor is optional, since the kit contains a plastic version. (seen below, the rightmost part), but I want to grab this chance to work with it for the first time. It would be a waste not to try it.

The building instructions tell you to cut off the plastic propellor, but best to wait with that until you've successfully removed the PE one and folded it into shape.
This is one of the things about PE : you have to fold them into the right shape. Not all parts, but more often than not, folding is necessary and you need to do this really carefully. (special tools can be found for it)

The PE frame is usually packed in (self-adhesive) plastic. Do not remove this! It will help you when cutting off the part, to prevent it from flying off your desk onto the floor, where it will be eaten by the carpet monster. (Tip: keep your workbench away from carpet, if possible)
Cut through the plastic wrapping to remove the part. Use a sharp hobby knife and avoid using sprue cutters, as these are not intended for cutting metal.

I removed the propellor, peeled off the protecting plastic and  gently bent the propellor blades. It's extremely thin, but feels stronger than I had feared. Handle with extreme care though.

(Sorry for the picture quality, I seem unable to get my camera to focus on small parts)

Below you see the part in it's place, inside the propellor housing. It's still missing it's cap, since I decided to play safe and not remove the propellor blades until the PE one was in place. The cap is now painted black and drying. Although the plastic one, once painted gold, would probably have looked okay, the PE result will always look extra sharp.

2nd layer of primer

Added a second layer of white primer on the Puma. Thinned 1:1, it does not seem to be too runny, but we'll verify that tomorrow. Painted for about 2 minutes and did NOT have to clean the tip. Looks like the white primer will be easier to handle than the grey. Weird ...

It's still not covering 100%, but I wasn't expecting it to. I will add a 3rd and final layer later, then start handpainting the steering wheel and seat cushions, then have a go at weathering the floor with a very thin black wash to make it appear dirty.

But first : a visit to the hobby shop for more paint. Some colours will probably last a lifetime, but when painting your first model, all you seem to do is buy more different colours.
My old paint collection has mostly dried out after 10+ years in the cupboard. It's Humbrol enamel anyway, which I no longer wish to use. Below an impression of the colours I collected over the years. I'm sure, my Vallejo acrylic collection will resemble this very soon.

Thursday 15 November 2012

Submarine - priming finished

The submarine is now completely primed in black. Since the primer covers nicely, I don't think I'll need to add anymore paint to it, except a layer of gloss before I apply the decals.
The paint covers nicely, without obscuring any details. There are a few places where a nitpicky modeller would start over, but for my first model, I'm not going to bother to reach perfection.

It's still trial and error on the airbrush: sometimes it flows nicely, sometimes it sputters, sometimes nothing comes out at all. With the black paint, it's easy to see what you're doing and what's happening (or not). This will be a lot harder if I'm spraying - for instance - gloss clear, since it'll be difficult to see on the model if you're actually delivering something to the surface or if nothing's happening.
More practice will make this easier, I suppose.

(I may need a stronger desklamp to better see which part becomes wet, indicating at least something has reached the model)

I did another try with the white primer as well. I assumed it would be as bad as the grey, so I thinned it 1:2 (1 part paint, 2 parts thinner) which actually turned out to be too much. It sprayed really nicely, but you can see - in the photo below - that the paint has run down from the vertical surfaces, pooling up in the corners, indicating it was thinned TOO heavily. Not to worry, it was the first layer and it's on the inside of the Puma, so no real harm done. I'll try the second layer with less thinner and see how it goes.

Monday 12 November 2012

Airbrush - some success!

Armed with some new confirmation about airbrush behaviour, I decided to give it another go.

  • Air will bubble in the cup if the nozzle is not fitting well in the airbrush body. 
"Fingertight" on the nozzle cap did not quite cut it in my case. I screwed it on tighter (with the provided mini-wrench) while the compressor was on and immediately noticed the bubbles becoming smaller. One more slight turn and the paintcup was bubble-free.

1 - 0 (my first victory).
  • The main reason for no paint coming out is "tip-dry".
    (Another reason might be the paint not being thinned enough)
This can be fixed by regularly cleaning the tip of the needle with a small cotton swab dipped in cleaner.
  • Dark paints appear to be a lot easier to paint than lighter ones.

The main reason I started building the submarine is because it needs to be painted black. I thinned the Vallejo black primer about 1:1 with Vallejo thinner (stick to the same brand, just for safety).
I started out with the 8 wheels for the Puma (seen below on toothpicks) to test the flow, which came out fine. I had to clean the needle after 4 wheels, then the rest went ok.

A little overzealous, I immediately started painting the sub, which went rather well actually. I did have to clean the tip 4 or 5 times, but it becomes a habit and isn't really that much work. I managed to do 3/4 of the sub before the needle had to be removed for more throrough cleaning. I ran out of place to hold it anyway, so better quit while I'm ahead. A few spots will need a second layer, but better wait and add more later, then spray too much at once and cause runs, which are harder to clean up.

2 - 0 (we're on a roll!)

Feeling good about my first success, I cleaned the brush for a colour change and filled with grey primer. The Jaguar is now also completely primed, but still this paint is fighting me for every inch. I can barely paint the top of this mini-model before it stops doing anything, cleaning the tip or not (compare this to at least half of the submarine in one go)

2 - 1 (time to call it quits and maybe call the shop for more ideas)

Is the difference between paints really THIS much? If the lighter paints are such a hassle, I am NOT looking forward to completely painting the Enterprise with white primer. To be continued ....

(The paintcup on this Revell airbrush is rather small, so painting a complete kit will take several refills)

Saturday 10 November 2012

Project number ... I've lost track

I just can't help myself. I feel the need for modelling, but another airbrushing session requires a state of mind I can't bring myself to just yet (until it starts going better, I really need to mentally prepare myself before I start, just in case there's more bubble, bubbles, BUBBLES!)

Next up is an Italeri kit : "Sd.Kfz 234/2 Puma 1:48". Germans really love their abbreviations. This one stands for "Sonderkraftfahrzeug", which could be translated as "Special purpose vehicle". It's basically a tank with 8 wheels instead of tracks.

There's 4 sprues with 130 parts in total. Detail is nice, the fit so far is excellent. A 10-page booklet provides 13 steps for construction and 3 paint schemes. It's in black and white, but - luckily - the back of the box provides colored paintschemes as well.

As usual, I start with a washing in warm water with some detergent, then let airdry. I've started construction of the inside and the wheels, just to keep myself busy. The wheel halves only fit one way (there's a big and a smaller pin), make sure to take notice of this before applying glue.
Step 2 calls for the two hull halves to be glued together, but I'm gonna skip this until I've painted the inside. The turret is removable, so a little attention to the inside is required.

Canopy masking

One reason to choose tanks and boats over airplanes is that you don't have to bother with canopies. They need to remain transparent, but you need to paint the tiny support frame.
You can choose to paint this by hand with a very fine brush, if you have a steady hand, which I do not. Or you can mask the transparent area and spray paint with the rest of the plane.

Some companies provide pre-cut masks that fit the canopy exactly. For the Jaguar however, I just mask the entire canopy with Tamiya masking tape, then cut away what needs to be painted with a very sharp hobby knife.
You need to find the balance between enough pressure to cut through the tape and not too much, so you do not damage the part. Better safe than sorry, apply light pressure and go over it a couple of times.

Below is the masked canopy. Bear in mind this part is about 1 cm long.

Monday 5 November 2012

Airbrush - first success, without happy end

I had a spare hour today, so I decided to give airbrushing another try. Since I read that darker colours spray easier than lighter ones, I decided to give the black primer another go. I painted the display stands for the Starfury and the Borei submarine. (If I mess them up, I can strip the paint and start over)

Once dry, the resulting layer of paint is perfectly smooth. I could never hope to achieve this result by handbrushing. I know some modellers who can do this with a brush, but I never had the steady hand nor the patience to get this result. This is exactly why I wanted the airbrush and I'm hapy with this first result.

(The picture isn't very clear, so you'll have to take my word for it, but I plan on buying a new camera anyway.)

I was almost ready to call this session my first success, BUT ... I noticed the paint in the paintcup had small bubbles in it. There must be a small airleak somewhere. I took it apart, cleaned it, same old story. After visually verifying that everything was clean, I filled the cup with water and turned on the compressor. Which is when the following happened :

The tiny bubbles are now huge bubbles. The needle is still in place, so no air should be coming in AT ALL. I can only deduce that the nozzle is not fitting properly on the airbrush body because of the tiniest spec of dirt or paint, so I took it apart and dropped all the parts in a glass of cleaner and called it a day. 

We'll find out in a day or two if I can fix this, if it needs further cleaning or if I'll take a trip to the hobby store and ask them to take a look at it.

Sunday 4 November 2012

Another new project

Since the airbrushing isn't going as well as I'd want, I started a new project (Yes, ANOTHER one) : HobbyBoss' "Russian Navy Project 955 Borei-Yuri Dolgoruky SSBN".
The main reason is that the black primer seems easiest to paint, unlike the lightgrey and white. Forums confirm that darker paint is usually easier to airbrush than lighter colours.

Since the only black model I have is the Russian submarine, I decided to start that one. After a coat of black primer, it won't be needing much more than a gloss layer and a little red on the nose.

The kit consists of 1 sprue with 24 parts, 2 hull halves and a display stand. There aren't many parts, probably because it would be a bad idea to have much detail on the outside of a submarine. They're meant to be smooth, make little noise and reflect as little sonar-waves as possible.

There is 1 photo-etch frame with some antenna-blades, a propeller and the nameplate.

The 3-step instructions are very clear. There's a coloured paintmap, even though the bulk of the thing is just plain black. The decal-sheet contains mostly the white stripes, broken up in short runs to make placement easier.

I started by giving the entire thing a thorough wash in the sink (it IS a submersible, after all) with some detergent and assembled the hull a couple of hours later.

The seem along the entire hull is noticeable, but I probably won't bother trying to completely remove it, since filling and sanding would probably remove a lot of the detail-lines. The nose wouldn't really stay together, but some creative rubber band placement persuaded it.

Saturday 3 November 2012

FineScale Modeler

Upon opening my mailbox this morning, I've now become an official FSM-subscriber. "FSM" is "FineScale Modeler", a modelling magazine I've come to really like. The website can be found at

The magazine is filled with :

  • tips and tricks for the beginner or advanced modeler
  • general construction guidelines
  • newly released kits (several are reviewed in detail each time)
  • pictures submitted by the subscribers  (in case you have a model you're particularly proud of)
  • airbrushing tips
  • weathering techniques
  • how to build a diorama
  • ...
Every monthly edition (10 per year) contains the above and more. I particularly like the fact that there are many step-by-step pictures, not just the one picture of the end-result.

If you want a sneak preview - to see pictures or how the articles are written - several articles are freely available in pdf on their site. (Or contact me, if you can't find them)

(I'm sure there are other magazines out there, equally interesting, but this is my personal favourite.)

Thursday 1 November 2012

Removing bad paint

One of the models I started over 10 years ago, is a space shuttle. The paintjob was really bad. The black was applied rather quick and far from nice, and the white touch-ups had gone yellow.

I decided to (try to) remove all the old paint and start over. If it failed, it would be a kit for the scrapheap.
FSM suggested oven cleaner or brake fluid. This sounds drastic, but it has to eat away paint designed to withstand much, so drastic measures must be taken. There's a hobby product for it, called Easy-lift-off, but it's not available here. I decided to try Bref oven-cleaner (extra strong). I sprayed the model with a foamy coat, put it in a plastic bag and let it sit overnight.

The next day, the result is promising. Most of the paint just flows off under running water, some parts need persuasion with a sponge.

The larger part of the bottom is shown below here. The remaining black parts will need another round of oven-cleaner.

After a second application, another nigh soaking and more rubbing with a sponge (the one with a rough - green - and a soft - yellow - side), the result is nice: the black paint is gone, so is the white that turned yellow. The white base-coat however seems 100% unresponsive to the oven-cleaner. It might be Tamiya white from a spraycan, but I do not remember exactly.

This coat of white paint is ok in most places. Where it had formed little drops, I used a sanding stick to get rid of the paint. The rest can stay the way it is. If I wanted to build a perfect shuttle, I'd start over with a new model. As it is now, it's just a matter of trying things out and hoping for the best result possible.