Saturday 31 August 2013

Enterprise-C - Removing all masks

I added the last colour (darker blue) and a couple of hours later I removed all the masks. I was very pleased with the result. Main things that remain to be painted are the escape pods and the phaser banks. Let's hope my hands stay steady so I do not ruin the paintjob.


This is the pile of removed masking tape. A bottle of paint serves for size comparison.

Ford Shelby - Stripes

After about 4 or 5 layers of white, each time with sanding in between to remove imperfections (like specs of dust getting in the wet paint), I've decided it's good enough and time to move on to masking for the characteristic stripes.

About 1 hour of meticulous masking resulted in the pictures below.

Once masked, the first thing I did was spray on a diluted layer of varnish. This is a trick to minimize the risk of paint running under your masking tape. As there are always little imperfections in your tape-job, paint will unavoidably run under it and create little hairlines where you do not want them. The higher the contrast in colour, the better these faultlines will be visible. By first "filling" these imperfections with clear varnish, the risk of actual paint running under the tape is reduced to almost zero.

After a layer of Insignia Blue, I started removing the tape. Here's a shot of the result with the masking tape still in place, except for the central line, because I couln't resist taking a peek to see if the "varnish trick" had worked.

And here is the end result. I dare say I'm very happy with it. There are a few imperfections, but they are located on the extreme front and back, and do not ruin the first impression the overall body gives. It will look even better once the black "carbon" pieces are in place, but those will have to wait until I've added a few layers of gloss.

Tuesday 27 August 2013

The Sprue Cutters Union #6: Can't Make Me!

This week's assignment for the Sprue Cutters Union makes us reflect on which modelling topics we would never touch, which part of the hobby we wouldn't ever consider doing.

- What will never make its way on to your workbench? -

I never say never, or at least rarely. As a teen, I built jetfighters and sci-fi, mainly Star Trek. Currently, I am making a tank, a car, a ship, more Star Trek ... There's a big truck in the stash and more sci-fi, so I guess it's fair to say I haven't chosen a theme and do not plan on doing so. Models tend to slowly trickle into my stash rather randomly. I browse a hobby shop or vendor booth and wait for one of the models to jump out at me, saying "Build me!".

With all those different categories, I still reside within the "plastic" scene, so how about we consider some aspects of the hobby I haven't played with yet.

Photo-etch, resin replacements, Friulmodel tracks, ...
I've experimented with photo-etch parts and understand the obvious quality they add to a model. The M1070 truck in my stash has loads of it (300+ I believe), so I'll get used to handling it, but I'm not one to buy a load of aftermarket upgrades.
As my modelling skills progress, I can understand one day feeling the need to add more detail, even if just for the sake of experimenting with new materials.

Figure painting
I haven't done any figure painting, and I'm not anxious to try it, but I'll give it a go someday. My brother-in-law is a master at it, so I can get all the tips I need.

I'll admit I'm a little scared of starting a diorama. I told myself I'd first get better at making models (i.e. using the airbrush, weathering, ...) and once I get the hang of it all, I think the desire to make some context to put it in will come automatically. I see people struggling with realistic water and plants, and one day I will endeavour to do the same.

The answer to this week's question?

There's one thing I am really incapable of : drawing and - as an extent - sculpting. I simply cannot do it realistically, even if my life depended on it. I can draw a cartoon cat or make one with play-doh, so my 2-year-old daughter knows what it is, but if it has to be a little more lifelike, nobody wil be able to tell if it's a cat, a dog or the creature from the black lagoon. So that's a big NO to sculpting.

Oh, and wooden boats with lots of rigging and sails. Never ever touching that again!

Check out other people's stories :

Thursday 22 August 2013

Enterprise - more masking

Just some quick WIP (work-in-progress) pictures. The Enterprise has received a coat of lightblue. The Vallejo paint is touch-dry after 15 minutes, so you can add subsequent layers of paint or even other colours in short order. Masking is another thing. I dare not apply tape until I waited at least a day.

24 hours later, I started another round of masking. I estimate it took me an hour to complete it.
On to the next layer of paint, slightly darker blue.


Wednesday 21 August 2013

Revell 1/535 USS Missouri - Unboxing

I ran out of white paint, and feeling a bit better today, I popped outside for a quick visit to the hobbystore. As you know what happens when I go buy paint, I couldn't resist to browse the shop and pick out a USS Missouri. It was only €15, which is within my limits for an "impulse purchase", AND it's on my wishlist.

The box-art is stunning, but the box opens at the side. I hate these, because this means you can't store anything in it, like sub-assemblies or loose parts. The sample pictures of the finished model on the side of the box are a little low quality. It's handpainted, which I can respect, but it's not very neatly done. It actually looks like something *I* would achieve with handpainting, which isn't saying much.

The box contains 3 sprues and the lower and upper hull. All in all, there's 75 parts, but 30 of those are cannons, so there's really only about 40 parts to be assembled. Prepare, however, for tackling at least as many seams. There is a lot of flash and some quick dry-fitting tells me I'll have a lot of work sanding all the parts flush. The hull parts are slightly warped and no amount of tape or clamps will fit them nicely together. The starboard side is acceptable, with the upper hull protruding about 0.2-0.5 mm, easily solved with (a lot of) sanding. The portside easily protrudes up to 2 mm, so that will require either hard work or simply accepting the way it fits.

Some research tells me this is actually the very first Revell kit ever made, in 1953. I doubt they're still using the same, 60-year-old molds, but the quality of the kit does suggest it isn't very recent.

I do have to note that the quality is acceptable for this price. If you want a topnotch, highly detailed USS Missouri, you can buy the Tamiya 1/350 version, but you'll pay 10 times as much.

There aren't a lot of decals. Just the name, identification numbers and a row of windows for the tower.
We'll find out later how they handle.

There's 2 suggested paintschemes. Portrayed above (as the boxart) is the 1944 camouflage scheme. I won't be doing that one, since I've kinda had it - for now - with painting camouflage. The alternative is the 1945 blueish lightgrey. Another good reason for choosing the latter is that the rigging has been removed.

The paint callout suggests painting the deck brown ochre, for the wooden planks, but that seems incorrect.
I'll be portraying the "Mighty Mo" as she was at the 1945 signing of the Japanese peace treaty. The deck was painted blue-grey, according to the official "Measure 22" paintscheme. The teak-coloured deck was installed only later, if my references are correct.

Sprue Cutters Union #5: Philosophy

This week, the Sprue Cutters Union asks us about our modelling philosophy.

If you'd like to be part of the union, all you need is a modelling-related blog. Write a post about the weekly topic and provide a few links to the other union members.

- What is your modelling philosophy? -

My modelling philosophy is very simple : I enjoy building things and keeping it simple. I'm not a rivet-counter, absolutist or colour-purist. That means that - so far - I build everything out of the box.

I don't use aftermarket photo-etch or resin replacement parts. If a part is not scale-appropriate, so be it. The M1A1 Abrams tank threads are for the wrong version, the barrel is too thick and who uses vinyl tracks when you can buy Friulmodel super tracks? I won't lose any sleep over it.

I build the kit as intended by the kit designer. If it is wrong on some account, either because it was a cheap kit to begin with, or they really did mess up, I accept that and continue working. I want to have fun while building something. There's often enough reason for frustration at the workbench (it's part of the deal), but I'm not gonna make it worse by spending $50 extra on every model.

I *will* check if the colour callouts in the building instructions are somewhat accurate by doing research and checking photos online, but if a colour turns out not in my possession and something similar is, I will go with that. I have a bottle of "Hull red" which is actually too dark for it's purpose, but if I go buy a slightly different tint of brownish red, I've spent money on something most people won't even notice. There's so many shades of grey (dare I say 50?), that any person who remarks about my battleship being the wrong blueish light-grey tone, won't get more than a shrug.

Now, don't get me wrong, I respect the modeller that goes out of his way to make a model as accurate as possible. I too can marvel at scratchbuild replacements and PE parts. It's just not my way of doing things.

Maybe, some day I'll look back at this differently. I'm still getting the hang of many things. I still fight with the airbrush, I've only recently started removing seams, so I'm gradually getting better and raising the bar for myself. But it IS possible to make the absolute best out of a kit, using only what's provided.

Check out what the other Union members have to say:

Saturday 17 August 2013

Starfury - Which sheet shall I take?

The Enterprise and the Mustang are slowly getting there. The M60 is somehow not managing to draw my attention, even though it only needs some final black and white camo spots.  Progress is slow as I can't spend as much time at the workbench as I'd like, but slow progress is progress nonetheless.

Tonight, I felt like some simple and straightforward construction. I admit it, I like the smell of glue. The Starfury caught my eye and it's about time we do something about this one.

The fit for the inner wings isn't perfect, but this model was never gonna be my masterpiece. It's a shame to let it sit unfinished, so instead of worrying about seamlines that are neigh unreachable or other imperfections, I'm just gonna finish it up as is.

Time to show off my new set of clamps :

And now for the hardest part : which decal scheme will I choose? There are 6 options! I already decided NOT to go for Sheridan's tiger. I'm currently leaning toward the Delta 7 (the green one).

Friday 16 August 2013

Masking, hours of fun!

I was sick at home today, but well enough to spend some time (a couple of hours) masking the Enterprise, preparing it for it's first blue stripes. I estimate 5-6 meters of tape went into this.

I hope to finish the lightblue stripes tomorrow. The top of the saucer requires further masking of the lightblue to prepare for the darker blue, so - just to be safe - I will allow 24 hours drytime before I add more tape.

If all goes according to plan (i.e. the airbrush remains friendly) I should be finishing this model rather soon.

Thursday 15 August 2013

Sprue Cutters Union #4: FML...

It's already been 4 weeks since the launch of the Sprue Cutter's Union.
The what? you say? Check it out over at The Combat Workshop, where Jon had the brilliant idea of launching a weekly topic, for all modelling bloggers (or is that blogging modellers?) to discuss.

The obvious advantage for all of the participants is to share thoughts about our common hobby and increase traffic to our respective blogs. I like that it gives me food for thought and makes me reflect on various aspects of our favourite passtime.

This week's assignment :

- What is the worst experience you've had with this hobby? -

In the past, I've made my share of mistakes. Fingerprints in glue on a fuselage, obscured details because the paint was too thick, parts that fly off when you cut them from the sprue, ... You know, the standard stuff that teaches us what we know now, like we learned not to ride a bike into a ditch (I still have the scars) and not to jump on top of a football.

When I returned to this hobby last year, after an absence of about 10 years, I swore I wouldn't make those mistakes anymore. Still, I can be impatient sometimes, and that's when I make them again : too much glue, hastily masked, too much paint, ... all over again. Experimenting with new tools or techniques can also be frustrating, but the positive thing about mistakes is learning something from them. I think the following cartoon sums it up nicely :

Longterm frustration
The most irritating and frustrating part after this first year is still the airbrush. Whether I'm just clumsy, unlucky, or I managed to get that one bad-mannered, ill-tempered airbrush, I'm still fighting it every step of the way. Don't get me wrong, the paintjob on my finished models is good, and infinitely better than when I was brushpainting. Some people can do magic with a simple brush, but I'm not one of those people.

When the airbrush is behaving, I'm over the moon with how easy it goes, how smooth the painted surface is and how every little detail is still conserved.

But a large portion of my time spent with it, is wondering what I did wrong to make it upset again. Only time and a lot of patience will improve this, but I'll admit that sometimes I haven't made any modelling progress in 2 or 3 weeks, just because I'm scared of going to the workbench, where "it" lies mocking me.

FML moments
Two particular FML moments do come to mind.

#1 - opening the box of the Enterprise-C
It had been lying in the attic for 10+ years when I encountered it again, looking for paint. I remember wondering why I hadn't made that one, until I opened it and remembered a huge chunk of the saucer was missing. (See picture below. The clear part was an early attempty at doing something about it)

I've tried to put a positive spin on it and made an attempt at replicating a part for it with plaster in a latex mold. The result is far from perfect, but it was a learning experience.
This is how it looks now, not completely painted.

#2 - Trying to move a closet full of models and books
When dismantling a closet for a pending move, I was emptying it shelf by shelf, starting with the top. When I removed a big stack of books, the shelf they had been sitting on fell out ... on top of the shelf beneath it ... crushing several models beyond all repair. 

I don't have any pictures of the casualties. There was a Kamov Ka-50 helicopter (dual rotors) with a rather nice camouflage pattern, and the lunar lander module with very fine details, all gold-plated with actual gold foil.

Part of being a member of the Sprue Cutter's Union is sharing links to the other participant's entries.
Here's what others had to say about their worst experiences :

Monday 12 August 2013

Ford Shelby - A few details

I emphasized the underside details with Vallejo Aluminium (71.062). The Model Air version is actually too thin for brushpainting (I would need the bottle from the Model Colour range), but it's a little ridiculous to have 2 bottles of the same colour in 2 different viscosities, especially since it's only a detail colour that will probably last years.
It is too runny, so the paint tends to flow open even were I don't want it to, but as soon as it was dry enough (less than 1 hour), I went over it again with black to touch up little spots.

I initially painted the seats with Model Air white (also too runny), which would give no coverage at all, so I kinda overdid it. I tend to get impatient and then I do stupid things. You can still see it, particularly on the backseats. I have since ordered the Model Colour white, which is not as thin, to add more (and thinner) layers.
I made an exception to my above statement about different bottles for the same colour, since I'm always using white to lighten paint anyway (the Enterprise base colour and highlights all require 80% or 90% white).

I have to retract my statement from the previous post, about not finding reference photo's that match the model, because I found the perfect match. I haven't found any white Super Snakes yet, but the leather seats seem to match the outside colour, so white stripes it is.

I printed the reference photo to scale and cut off 2 pieces for the dashboard. The picture does not do it justice. I swear it looks 10 times better in reality. When the model is finished, you will only see it sideways, but it's much better than a flat black surface.

Saturday 10 August 2013

Product experiment - Microscale Kristal Klear

I haven't done much, modelling-wise, the last 10 days. I was waiting for new paint for the Mustang. 
I added a new product to my order : Microscale's Kristal Klear. From the same company that makes MicroSol and MicroSet for treating decals, this product is used to create lenses and (small) windows.

Basically it's a kind of glue that dries completely colourless and transparent. It can be used to glue clear parts (e.g. canopy, lenses, ...) as it dries clear and doesn't fog the clear part like super glue ("CA glue") does. I've read you need to apply constant pressure, though, or it doesn't really stick. Just a matter of keeping some clamps nearby.

On the picture below, a fresh wet puddle, which is still white and a dry patch beside it. When completely dry, it feels rubbery. I could peel it off the metal dish and it has the same feel as dried Latex, except for being completely transparent.

When applied to a small opening - windows on a model airliner for instance - it can be used to "bridge the gap". I made an impromptu window with some left-over sprue below. Once dry, it's as transparent as a glass window. Well, maybe not perfectly like glass, and I also got an airbubble trapped inside the window, but practice makes perfect.

Besides creating windows from openings, it can also be used to make lenses or whatever you want to have transparent. For the Ford Shelby's side mirrors, I placed a tiny piece of aluminum foil inside the part and covered it (liberally) with the Kristal Klear. Once dry, it was completely transparent again.

(In the future, I will be more careful to get the foil straight and flat, because now it looks rather ugly.)

Thursday 8 August 2013

Sprue Cutters Union #3: Playing Favorites

Our third assignment, and not an easy one : "What is your favourite model?"

This was actually a very tough one to crack. I pondered on it a few days, looked at the list of all my models and I've come to a decision : it's impossible for me to pick a favourite. 

It's like asking someone "Who's your favourite child?".
I only have one, but I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be able to answer that one either.

I consider my collection rather modest, compared to some I've seen around the net. Then again, I'm only 35. Unless my hands or eyesight fail me too soon, I have at least 30-40 years left to expand my skills and collection.
I have 45 models that I call my "old models", all finished between 10 and 20 years ago. 
Since coming back to this hobby 1 year ago, I've finished 4, have 3 or 4 works-in-progress and a very modest stash of only 3 kits. Progress is sometimes a bit slow, because I'm trying to figure out a new tool or technique, waiting for a particular paint or product I ordered in the hobby shop or just not finding enough time to sit behind the workbench.

I have a few (older) models that I'm not so proud of. Shabby paintjob, rushed construction, silvered decals, ... but among the rest I cannot choose a favourite between any 2 given models.

Ask me this question again in a few years. Maybe I'll be able to point to a model without needing to think, considering it my proudest achievement. 
For now, all I can say is that all my models have provided my with many hours of joy. There was often also frustration, but it's all part of the hobby.

If I were to give you a top 3, I would list the following, in no particular order, all tied in first place :

F-117A Nighthawk
My very first model and what got me hooked for many years.

I have since learned not to follow the instruction booklet blindly, but think about the best assembly order and consider what and what not to paint before putting everything together.
The Millenium Falcon
My biggest Star Wars model, with exposable interior 
The Enterprise, NCC-1701-D
My very first Star trek model with a brushpainted aztec-pattern on which I spend many, many hours.

I guess this model mostly tought me patience.
What other members of the Sprue Cutters Union have to say about this :

Friday 2 August 2013

Ford Shelby - priming

I primed the red plastic with Vallejo white primer, which went decent. 
When dry, I added a first layer of 50% white, 50% gloss varnish. Thinned a little to promote a better paintflow, it still wouldn't spray very well, resulting in a not-so-smooth paintjob. You'll just have to forgive me.

I'm thinking of giving up on the Vallejo varnish, as it is only giving me trouble. Maybe it's coincidence, but I always have airbrush-problems as soon as I try this gloss varnish.
I'll try the next layer with Tamiya gloss, although I've heard it has an insane drying time. We'll see.

The inside was primed black, to hide all the red plastic, but there's a lot of overspray from doing the outside. Most of it will be hidden by the interior parts, so only a few spots will need to be handbrushed black.

The inside and underside are primed in black. They actually look better painted black than just the bare black plastic. I left a few parts unpainted, namely those that are carbon on the real model as well. We'll just see which parts look better, painted or not.

I like black leather seats and dark interiors, so I'm not going to do too much inside, except maybe for the dashboard.

The chrome wheels look nice. The tires fit excellent and require no glue. As a detail, I painted the break calipers red, as on the real car.

Warning : remember which wheel goes where! The rear wheels are slightly bigger and there's a difference in the left and right break disc and tire threads, so make sure you don't switch them around.

The dashboard was left unprimed, because I misplaced it, but I've got it back in the meantime. I don't know which model Shelby this is supposed to be, because the dashboard matches none of my reference photos. I'll be trying to add a very small picture of the navigation screen, to liven it up a little.