Tuesday 31 December 2013

Castle construction continues

I've been doing pieces of the castle almost every night, in front of the television. There's a TON of pieces (I'll count how many for my next post), all with many sprue attachment points that need to be cleaned up. It's tedious, but with NCIS in the background, some progress is slowly made. 

The base is done. A lot of scotch tape persuaded the "lid" to stay on the base while the liquid cement performs it's magic. I'm also glad I have my set of iron files, because 1 to 2 mm needed to be removed all around to make it fit flush with the rock base.
The seams between the flat pieces are very large, because the cobblestone-detail doesn't go all the way to the edge. Unlike a jetfighter's fuselage, I can't just fill the gap and sand it flush. Too much detail would be lost that I can't just repair. It's more than just rescribing a panel line. The stone texture is very fine, which is good, but I doubt I can reproduce it in puttied areas.

I decided to bite the bullet and see what would happen. I filled the largest seams with putty and scraped it flush with a spatula. About half of the seams will be hidden by further contructions, but some will remain partially visible.

A quick glance at the underside to show a pretty sturdy construction. While carrying it around, I have bumped walls, doorframes and even dropped it once. Sturdy construction indeed!

Second piece finished is the walkway that leads up to the main gate. Construction is a little awkward in certain steps, where you're glueing 4 pieces into a square, without much bracing or connector pins. Just hold it in your hands until the glue has done a part of it's work and you can let go again. You cannot clamp 2 pieces at a 90 degree angle, unless you build a specific rig or have more advanced tools.
Time flies by anyway, all recorded episodes of NCIS are done, we move on to Person of Interest.

Up close, we again see the seams we will have to hide somehow. Not sure yet what I'm gonna do. Also, is it just me, or is that angle pretty steep to expect horse and carriage to get up those slippery stones?

Next up is one of the three towers and a connecting wall piece (all pictures below already primed in grey). The contruction with 6 connectors seems very sturdy, but the bottom two don't match the tower's holes. They're off by 3 mm, which is more than just builder's error. Meh, 4 is enough, so I snipped them off.

The tower consists of 4 pieces, that don't fit too easily. Some of the stone pattern is also lost when glueing it all together. I tried adding the grooves (for lack of knowing the correct word) between the stones again with a hobby knife. Up to a point, that seems to have worked, although I made them a little too pronounced. An actual scribing tool would probably help, but I hesitate at buying tools I wouldn't need much.

A view of the inside shows what I mean by "not fitting too easily". You would assume the round piece to at least touch all 4 walls. From the outside, looking in (through a door or window), you won't notice it. Once the tower is closed, it's pretty dark in there.

Doors and window frames reuse the same parts. For the barred windows (in the outside wall, that don't open), you snip off the hinges. I filled with putty, but forgot it would shrink. Next windows will be puttied, allowed to dry more than last time, than sanded flush. I'm no perfectionist, but when perfection is simply a matter of doing it right, I should not hesitate to at least try.

A shot in frog perspective shows it will probably be an  impressive castle for my 1/72 scale adventures.

A view of the tower interior from both sides. It's always nice to have posable doors and windows when there is at least SOME detail on the inside. I always wonder why you can find so many kits with posable hatches, that just reveal an empty plastic interior.

With construction on the base complete, I airbrushed a first coat of black primer (back to black, since the grey still feels icky). It's a good thing I bought 200 ml bottles of the primer.
I taped off the areas where the walls and keep will be placed, so the glue can get a good bond, plastic to plastic, without paint interfering.
By the time this thing was finished, I could smell the compressor getting hot. No need to see if the safety would kick in, so I finished it up and called it a day.

M48 - Chipping without hairspray

I decided to give the "hairspray technique" a go and add some chipping on the surface of the M48's bridge.

I've never added any chipped paint effects to my models. Many modellers do it as follows : basecoat your model, then - with a very fine brush - add little metallic (or whichever primer colour is supposed to be underneath the paint) chips and scratches to make the model seem "worn". This is actually the reverse of real-life paint-chips, but in small scale looks convincing.

Hairspray technique?
This technique reverses the process, actually mimicking what happens in real life with the paint. The idea is to prime your model in it's primer colour, be it bare metal or red primer. Allow to dry, than add a couple of layers of hairspray. On top of this, you add your base colour. When this has dried as well, make the surface wet again and start lightly scratching, e.g. with a toothpick. The water will "reactivate" the hairspray and flakes of your base colour wil start to come off again, the size of which depend on how much hairspray you used and how hard you're scratching.

Without actual hairspray?
I haven't tried it with hairspray, but AK Interactive has 2 products that serve the same purpose : "Worn Effects" and "Heavy chipping". The first to reproduce chipped paint, the latter to produce more heavily worn paint (i.e. bigger chips). I found it difficult to find either product in Belgium, but at the latest convention I visited I finally got my hands on a bottle of Heavy chipping.

Putting theory to practice
After a layer of primer (as always), I added a coat of Steel. When that had thoroughly cured, I airbrushed 2 coats of the chipping fluid. A week or so later (way more than actually needed. A few hours should be enough), I added the basecoat. The building instructions call for "Dust grey" (Revell), but I used "Dark sea green" (Vallejo).

Yet another week later, I found some time to continue. I liberally spread water all over the part, then started to lightly scratch with a toothpick. Light scratching turned into heavier scratching, as in some places the paint wasn't ready to give way.

Slowly but steadily, the result started to show. A comparison below between an untreated piece and a treated one.

And a picture of the final result below. If you think the planks are misaligned, it's because they're not glued down yet and just hastily placed on the bridge for this picture.

Further thoughts on this technique :
  • Even though the product had completely cured - as well as the paint on top of it - it was easily activated and chipped.
    I could be mistaken (it happens), but with actual hairspray I believe you have to be quick about it before the hairspray cures. This product is very suited for modellers with less time.
  • In some places, the base coat was very hard to remove, so I may need to either add another layer of hairspray or make sure the basecoat is really thin.
  • Too hard scratching reveiled the bare plastic in a few spots. On top of the previous 2 suggestions, it may be a good idea to add a layer of varnish before adding the chipping fluid.
  • To increase the idea of a really worn model, it may be a good idea to add rust spots and effects on the bottom layer, before adding the chipping fluid.
I really enjoyed experimenting with this technique. I hope it may inspire some of you to try it as well. The next step for me will be to apply it to a tank or something. Thanks for reading.

Sunday 22 December 2013

Sprue Cutters Union 22: The Whole Kit 'n Kaboodle

For some, it may be a private matter. Others may flaunt it every opportunity they can. I'm sure there are modellers out there that don't even know how big it is ...

- I'll show you my stash if you show me yours... -

I'd call my stash very moderate, containing no more than 17 kits. Of course, I did collect these - together with at least 5 that I DID finish - in about one year, so maybe I'll need to revise my statement in a few years.

I actually have a page dedicated to my stash for a long time already, so feel free to go take a peek or use the button above, conveniently labelled "The stash". Below is a picture of them all together. Right now, they still fit in half a closet.

Don't even try to figure out what my favourite type of kit is, because I have vehicles, AFV, airplanes, Sci-Fi and I even started a Medieval castle recently.

If - like me - you are curious to see other modeller's stashes, you can follow the links below :

Tuesday 17 December 2013

200 posts - A "year" in review

Actually, this is post #201, but it feels like a good time to stop and reflect on the past year and a half, since I decided to pick up scale modelling again. The end of the year is always a good time to look back and see what we've done.

What have I learned, what have I accomplished and what are the milestones these past 18 months? It has been a year of many "firsts".

August 25th, 2012

My first model in over 10 years is Revell's 1/72 M60 A3 with bulldozer blade. I picked it off the shelf in the hobbyshop because it was cheap (€6) and had a camouflage scheme, something I would really want to learn with an airbrush. This was before I even HAD an airbrush.

It's now a year and a half later and the tank itself is finished, but I'm working on a small base to display it on. Work is currently on hold.

September 28th, 2012

One of my 10 year old unfinished kits is an Enterprise-C from the Star Trek universe. Reason it was never made? A big hole in the bottom of the saucer section.
This was the first time I tried making a mould with Latex and pouring plaster to replace the missing plastic. The result is far from perfect, but acceptable to me and a it was a very good experiment with a new technique.

October 20th, 2012

My first airbrush. I picked a Revell starter model, because the initial investment for a high-end airbrush and compressor seemed too steep.
I came to regret my overcautious approach in the months to come, but only learned how bad it actually was after I got my SECOND airbrush, a year later. (Keep reading)

November 3rd, 2012

My first 2 issues of FSM (FineScale Modeler) have arrived. I read a few digital versions of this magazine and really came to like it. Now it's one of the monthly things I look forward to receiving in the mail.

November 5th, 2013

First small airbrush-breakthrough. I discovered one of the things that was wrong with the airbrush, causing it to blow bubbles about half the time. Even after this, using it was far from a smooth ride.

November 18th, 2012

First time photo-etch. It was pretty simple and only a few pieces, though the propellor was a small challenge to get right. There are no do-overs with photo-etch. If you bend it more than once (sometimes you can bend it twice), it snaps off.

December 9th, 2012

First time masking with Silly putty was a fun experiment and rather successful right from the first try. My only mistake was making the paint too thin and spraying it on too heavily.

January 6th, 2013

My first finished model in over 10 years. It's just a practice model, but I'm proud of it nonetheless.

May 25th, 2013

The Abrams is done, although I'd like to do some weathering. I tried a couple of things, but always ended up having to remove it again.

June 2nd, 2013

The Puma is done. I'm happy with the camouflage, even if it taught me how NOT to apply it and I really like the AK mud wash to dirty the model up a bit.

June 14th, 2013

The submarine is done. After putting it on hold because of problems spraying the clearcoat, I struggled through it and ended up with a nice looking model.

July 23rd, 2013

I haphazardly came accross The Combat Workshop at exactly the start of Jon's new initiative : "The Sprue Cutters Union". Every week all the union members write a post on their blog about the same topic, picked by Jon. It's a good way to find something to write about, get to know each other and generate a little more traffic to our blogs by linking to eachother's posts.

September 20th, 2013

A new airbrush! Bought this while looking for a second-hand compressor. I ended up buying the compressor, this airbrush and 11 kits.
This new airbrush quickly taught me how airbrushing should really go and told me just how bad the Revell was behaving. I'm extremely happy with this tool.

October 5th, 2013

My first attempt at creating a base for a model. It's sort of finished, but I want to add ONE more thing before calling it complete.

October 12th, 2013

The Shelby is done, after some issues with the gloss coat. Can't say much about this. It's finished, was a nice diversion and I'll never build another car again.

November 2nd, 2013

First time trying to recreate mud on the M60 with AK pigments. I'm happy with how it turned out.

November 28th, 2013

The Enterprise is done.

That's it for this 2013 end-of-the-year review. I'm already looking forward to what next year's review will contain. Hopefully a lot of models will get finished and new techniques will be mastered (or at least attempted).

Monday 16 December 2013

New project - Royal castle (Zvezda)

We all generally model within our favourite branch, be it 1/72 aircraft, 1/35 armour, 28mm phantasy figurines, anything else or all of the above. 

My newest project is the 1/72 "Royal castle" from Zvezda (kit 8519). I hear you ask how THAT came to pass? Well, I will tell you. Gather around and make yourself comfortable, for it is a long and dark story - as befits these Middle-ages - with a lot of blood and gore. It is a story of friendship and betrayal, forsaken gods and dragons!  

... No, wait, that was Game of thrones. MY story is about hope and anticipation. BUT, dragons anyway!

Some background.
Besides the hobby you all know me to have (scale modelling, if you're still wondering), I also play AD&D (Dungeons & Dragons). If you do not know what that is, I can tell you it is a roleplaying game, with dice, in a phantasy setting where magic and monsters run rampant. Go Google it if you want to know more.

I've been playing this for the past nine years and my young thief has evolved into a force to be reckoned with. Recently, I started a second group, where I play the Dungeon Master (the story leader, if you must) for a few colleagues. The first thing they had to do was plough through three dungeons, each containing one (fairly young) dragon. They slaid all three and came into a very handsome sum of money while doing so. So much that they asked me if they could buy or build a castle.

I looked into it and it turned out to be possible, although it would take a long time and cost a lot of money. The task came to me to start thinking about designing an affordable castle.

Now comes the tie-in of this story with my modelling hobby. At my most recent visit to a modelling convention, I saw the kit below in the second-hand corner. It was priced €50 but was also marked -50%. I took a picture of it because it very much resembled the design I had been playing with, but didn't think more of it.

A few days later, I showed the picture to my players and when asked why I hadn't bought it, I couldn't come up with a satisfactory answer.

In short : I tracked down the seller through the organiser of the convention. A few weeks and a lot of emails and phonecalls later, the castle was mine.

I intend to build it in several stages, each time showing the progress to the players during the next AD&D session. It will take 2 years of the game time (and probably 1 in real life) to finish their castle, so we have enough time.

On to the pictures :

The box is big, heavy and LOADED with plastic. The first thing I checked is whether all the parts could be accounted for. The seller could not guarantee it, but so far I see no shortcomings.

The building instructions are fairly straightforward. It'll just take a lot of time because of the sheer amount of modules that need to be created. There's a lot of flexibility in placement of windows and doors, which is  a nice touch. There are even extra modules you can buy, but I don't gather they will be easy to find.

Some flags are provided, but I'll have to make my own for this AD&D setting.

I started construction with the base, because that's where a real castle would start. It's the last step of the building instructions.

The "rock" modules connect easily and without fault. There's just a lot of them and I do not have enough clamps to do them all at once.

The corners are another story. The fit is worrysome, to say the least, and will require some persuasion. I tried putting them together with masking tape, but the stress on the slightly warped pieces pulls them apart. With some regular Scotch tape they were persuaded to sit flush and the superliquid Tamiya cement did the rest.

I hope some of you will be interested to follow this build as well, even though it's a little out of most of our comfort zones. Thanks for reading.