Saturday 29 June 2013

More pigment testing

While documenting the previous post, I suddenly remembered seeing someone use (diluted) white glue to fix pigments. Assuming white glue is a synonym for "wood glue", I did some more testing.

I diluted my white glue with water, then added pigment to the mix and spread it on my test card.
Bottom left : heavily diluted. Bottom right : slightly diluted.
In both tests, the pigments remain firmly fixed, but the right looks ugly and the left one is easier achieved with an actual wash.

Then I remembered something else. Instead of making a mixed fluid of glue and pigments, I made a new diluted mix of glue and water (but no pigments) and applied that to my test card. On top of that wet area, I applied dry pigments with an old brush, just stippling it on until the entire wet spot was covered.

When this had dried a little, I carefully touched the pigments. Half of them remained fixed, but many came loose. On a hunch, I added some more diluted glue all over the surface, letting it soak into the pigments.

Once this was dry, the pigments withstood even hard rubbing with a finger, while the looks are becoming more and more than of  thick layer of dust or dirt in a somewhat realistic fashion.
If I were to apply this to tank tracks, wheels or underside, I think I could make something rather nice.

The only issue remaining is how to do it realistically and not overdo the effect. If I use glue, and the result is too heavy, I cannot undo it. If I do not use glue, even mild handling of the model will shake the pigments loose. I was told white spirit would fix the pigments, but it clearly didn't. At least, not on my index card. I should test further on plastic with actual paint on it, to see if it behaves differently.
Maybe I can work out a technique where I apply the pigmenst dry to the model, temporarily fix them with white spirit and - when happy with the result - add diluted glue to fix it all in place.

More experiments will be needed and I'm a little hesitant to try it on an actual model.

Experimenting with pigments

I recently bought several pigments from AK Interactive. I'm very happy with their washes, so wanted to try my hand at their pigment range.

One of my concerns is how to fix the pigment to the model, allowing someone to pick up the model and turn it over, without fear of removing the carefuly placed pigments with their fingers.

As a first experiment, I tried several mediums to dissolve the pigments in :
  • Water
  • White spirit (= "mineral spirits")
  • Vallejo matt varnish
  • Alclad II klear kote matte (basically : matt varnish)

Here you see all 4 tries (still wet) on an index card. The Vallejo varnish was a little thick, which contributes to a slightly ugly result. I'm not trying to get the most realistic look here. I'm trying to find out which medium keeps the pigments in place the best.

One remark about the white spirit. While the other mediums all dissolve the pigments, effectively creating a kind of "wash", the white spirit does not dissolve the pigment and you get a kind of fluid in which the particles are floating.

If you apply some dry pigment to a surface, and then apply white spirit with a brush or dropper, it engulfs all the pigments, but does not disturb their placement. (Unfortunately, it also does nothing to "fix" them in place, even though I was told it would.)

Here's the result, all dried up. On the left, all is still undisturbed. On the right, I just pressed my finger against the card.
As expected, the 2 varnishes have sealed in the pigments. The test fixed with water is relatively undisturbed, but the test with white spirit is simply dry pigment, which slides right off the card.

A little tougher testing. On the left : smudging with a finger. On the right : scraping with a tool or nail.
The pigments fixed with water or white spirit come right off. The ones with varnish stay put.

Test results :

  • Water and white spirit are bad fixers for pigments
  • Any kind of varnish will do the trick
Problem still remains : now that I have an idea on how to keep pigments in place, how do I apply them to achieve a somewhat realistic look?

Friday 28 June 2013

Priming the Enterprise

If I'm totally honest, I have to admit I started to (try to) prime the Enterprise last week, but it ended up a 2 hour session of grumbling and moaning about the airbrush, so I decided not to post anymore whining about it.

Today, I tried again and - even though it was far from a smooth session - I can say priming has begun with the nacelles and the underside of the drive section.

Observant viewers may notice the leftmost nacelle not neatly painted. The white primer is very hard to get right. Too thick and nothing comes out of the airbrush. Too thin and the paint doesn't cover and is very runny. I'm unsure whether it's primer in general, white paint in general or just this batch that is difficult to get right.
Luckily, the paint quality is good and it dries relatively smooth. I just have to be careful not to paint too heavily and add another layer later rather than sooner.

M60 camouflage, round 1

I added a first layer of white paint to the spots that will have small white details on the camouflage pattern. There's no need to paint the entire tank, especially since white paint is difficult to get right anyway. I find it very hard to get a decent consistency in this paint.

The front looks okay.

The sides will need touching up.

While doing the upper hull, it was hard to get the paint right. You can see the result is spotty, or however you want to call it, especially at the back of the hull. It'll need a second coat to hopefully repair this. If it looks right after that, I'll let it dry 24 hours, add putty or Maskol on the places I want to be white in the end-result, then carry on with black, which should be a lot easier.

Saturday 22 June 2013

Prepping the M60 for camouflage

I started masking the M60 so I can do the camouflage. I learned from masking the Puma that I do not want to mask the entire tank for one color, then paint, remove masks and re-apply for the next color.

Now, I have masked everything that needs to remain the same base colour. I will then paint 1 colour, let it dry, add extra masks where this new colour needs to remain, then add the 3rd colour, add more masks, then paint the 4th.

I used tape on the flat surfaces, putty everywhere else and Humbrol Maskol, just for the sake of trying this product out. At first, I tried to follow the paint guide and the boxart, but gradually I started just slapping the putty on, because some details are just too hard to get right and who's to decide which camouflage pattern is right and which is not.

The next step will be to add white paint where the details will come (it's not necessary to paint the entire model) then mask the white details, presumably using Maskol.

Sunday 16 June 2013

Display stand ready

A last coat of gloss varnish has been added to the Enterprise's display stand and it is now finished.

Friday 14 June 2013

Submarine is finished

After spending about 2 hours for all the decals - especially the white lines - and another coat of Alclad varnish, it is finished.
Even though I didn't spend more than 12 hours on the model, completing it took a long time, because it took me a while to get the hang of airbrushing and - specifically - applying the clear coat (varnish).

Price : € 20
Number of parts : 28 (+ 5 photo-etch)
Time spent : 11 hours
Project completion time : 6 months

Paint : (Vallejo)
  • Black primer
  • Black
  • Hull brown (would like it to be redder, but leaving it this way)
  • Gold
  • Silver
Other :
  • Alclad II semi-matt clear

Short notice : matt clear

After some remarks about the Puma being too shiny, I bought Alclad II matt clear, a slightly duller version of the semi-matt (or semi-gloss, depending how you prefer to call it).

This matt coat seems to have had no influence, it's still too shiny.
Not sure if a matt coat on top of a semi-gloss one is supposed to work, if the matt coat is too thin or if there's some other underlying issue. Maybe I'll buy the Alclad flat, which should be the least shiny of all.

More clear parts

All other clear parts for the Enterprise-C are now painted, on the inside, with transparent paint.

Sunday 9 June 2013

All decals placed

A quick update. All the decals have been placed on the submarine. Just another coat of varnish to seal them in and it'll be finished.

I spent roughly 2 hours doing all the decals. The long white lines alongside the entire hull were sturdy enough to be manipulated, but flexible enough to be really hard to get straight. Just don't look to close to the end result.

Sunday 2 June 2013

Puma finished

The Puma is now finished, and unlike the Abrams (which still needs weathering) I truely consider it finished.
Even though the weathering isn't very heavy (no pigments, no battle damage) the "dirty look" looks very nice.

(Edit: It's a little too shiny, as multiple people have remarked, so I'll buy some matte varnish and add a layer. While we're at it, why don't we try some pigments too.)

Price : € 10
Number of parts : about 130
Time spent : 12 hours
Project completion time : 6 months

Paint : (Vallejo, unless otherwise noted)
  • Grey primer
  • Dark yellow
  • Tank green
  • Tank brown
  • White (interior)
  • Gunmetal grey (machine gun barrel)
  • Matt black (tires, driver seats, steering wheels, ...)
  • (LifeColor) Wood (shovels, axe, gunner seats, ...)
  • (LifeColor) Rust (exhaust)
Other :
  • Alclad II Semi-matt clear
  • Micro Sol and Set (for decals)
  • Tamiya panel line accent color (dark brown)
  • AK Interactive Dark mud wash

Dirtying things up

After an earlier not-so-successful attempt to make the Abrams look sandy/dirty, I hesitantly starting applying a "Dark mud" wash (from AK Interactive) to the Puma's wheels.

Not entirely satisfied, I thinned it 50/50 with White spirit and tried again on a few side panels. The effect was really to my liking, so I coated the entire model with it. The wheels have received 3 coats in the meantime and I dare say it all looks really good. It's no longer a factory-fresh Puma.

Saturday 1 June 2013

Almost done

The Puma is almost finished. I've added a first clear coat (Alclad semi-matt) and let that dry for 24 hours. It's not sticky to the immediate touch, but if you hold it in your hand for longer than a few seconds, it does stick a little. If you press hard for a while, it will leave fingerprints, as I've noticed on the submarine.
I'm yet to find out how long it takes to fully cure.

The decals are in place now (there were only 9). I've treated them with Micro Set, just to be sure they cling to the surface perfectly. When dry, I'll add a second clear coat to seal them in.

Now that painting is done, I've removed the latex protection I put around the wheel discs and started installing the wheels. The wheels are held in place by a small cap and (are supposed to) freely rotate.
(I predict none of the wheels will rotate in the end, but I'm trying anyway.)

I painted the gear on the side of the tank (shovel, axe, wire clippers) with wood and natural steel colours. On future models, I'll probably leave off the tiny bits, paint them separately and only install them in the finishing phase. This way, for instance, the jerrycans will not be camouflaged, but I don't think it's pretty realistic to expect this anyway. I don't expect, in the field, those jerrycans were always in the same place, or on the same vehicle, for that matter.