Friday 25 October 2013

Bismarck & Missouri - Double WIP

I decided to report these together, as I always seem to be working on them in tandem, always masking them up together and spraying the next layer in one session. There's a gap of at least one day between every colour. While painting, these acrylics are dry after several hours and you could probably go even sooner, but with  masking tape I'm not taking any risks and waiting 24 hours.

Both primed in black. I'm using the black more often than the grey now. It just sprays smoother and the primer colour doesn't seem to make much difference on the end result.

First layer on the side of the hull. "Light grey" for the Bismarck, with "US grey" on the front and aft. A mix of "hull red"(which is far too brown for my taste) and Revell's "Ferrari red" for the Missouri. I should have used more red, but "close enough" is my motto.
(I photoshopped the general view and close-up together each time, to reduce the amount of pictures.)

Masked up and ready for the second colour : the Bismarck's deck is a mix of "Panzer ochre" (which is greenish ochre) and "Tank brown" to get ... well, brownish-greenish ochre. The Missouri is "Intermediate blue" from the waterline up, which is more a blueish grey if you ask me.

Silly putty to the rescue for masking the Bismarck's superstructure. The Missouri is masked for 2 colours : "US grey" above the intermediate blue (everything above the lowest part of the deck) and black  grey (not yet applied) for the waterline.

The Bismarck's horizontal surfaces sprayed up in "Intermediate blue". A picture of the silly putty to prove how easily it is removed in one piece, leaving no residu on the model. The trick is to put it down rather thick.

The Bismarck with all masks removed. The Missouri will stay masked until the deck is done. I sprayed the last vertical part of the hull (and all vertical surfaces on the superstructure) in "US grey". I should maybe have gone with "Light grey", but it'll be okay anyway.

Side by side, for a size comparison (1/540 Missouri and 1/1200 Bismarck). Disregarding the scale difference (in the same scale, the Missouri would be about 10% longer than the Bismarck), this setup could never have happened in real life, as they were on opposing sides of the war and - more importantly - the Bismarck sank 3 years before the Missouri's commisioning.

The fiddly bits for the Bismarck in light grey. I forgot to paint one mast and the airplanes.

Thursday 24 October 2013

Starfury - First shot at weathering

The building instructions for the Starfury also contains a section on suggested weathering techniques. Bascially, you hold an index card against a panel line and lightly spray against it. Remove the card et voila!

I gave it a first shot (on the underside of the model), but the paint I chose (US grey) was way to dark in contrast to the basecoat (light grey). I kept working, just to get the hang of it. it was also the first time I tried the slightly finer nozzle (the black one) on my Aztek airbrush.

I'm going to go over it again with the basecoat and make the second attempt a lot more subtle, e.g. by mixing the colour I used in the first attempt 50/50 with the basecoat.

Just one problem : in order to have more control over the amount of colour you add to the model, it is suggested to heavily thin your paint. I did that, with a generous amount of the Vallejo thinner. Problem was that the paint was then too runny and created spiders on the model.
Do I need something else to thin the paint without making it run, add acrylic medium or something transparent like varnish or do I just need finer airbrush control? (suggestions welcome)

Wednesday 23 October 2013

Sprue Cutters Union #14: The Worst Part Is...

Now that the Spruecutter's Union has discussed methods, tools and preferred subjects, we move on to the parts of our hobby that we enjoy the least. Is it sniffing glue and paint fumes, locating small pieces on a thick carpet or trying to re-assemble broken decals?

- What do you think is the worst part of the hobby? -

If you asked me this question a couple of months ago, I'd say : Airbrushing!! If you've been reading my blog for a little longer than a few months (or want to catch up by reading everything labeled airbrush), you've read about my occasional battles with the airbrush. It wasn't my friend, at times it was my nemesis, but a necessary evil to overcome because the paintjob is soo much nicer than what I can achieve with handbrushing.

Now that I - somewhat unexpectedly - have a new airbrush, this relationship has changed. I no longer battle the tool, but can focus on the technique, which is a great relief. I can concentrate on playing with the paint, thinning ratio's and getting the hang of the dual-action trigger.

So, what DO I consider the worst part of the hobby?

Seams in hard-to-reach places
I don't mind filling and sanding, but I hate when it's in little nooks and crannies or on a part where sanding also removes little raised detail.

Broken or misbehaving decals
Broken decals can be fixed by just carefully sliding them in place. If you're very lucky, it's not (or hardly) noticable, but I *HATE* when the decal doesn't want to be put in it's place.
You place the decal on the tip of your hobby knife (or whatever you use) and carefully position it where it's needed. You pull back the knife, but he decal is stuck. You grab some tweezers or toothpick and try to slide it of the knife. Next comes the point where you wish you had 3 hands. You can feel a twitch coming in your arm, but you hold it steady because you know the consequences.
Now you've dragged the decal 1 millimeter too far, so you lift the damn thing up to start all over and THEN : it folds in on itself, sticking like it has permanent adhesive and will never come apart again. Trying to unfold it just breaks it apart and you throw the damn thing away.

If this was a "do not walk"-label on a modern fighter, chances are there's a few spare, or you can redistribute what you have left so nobody notices. It tends to happen to unique and very important pieces tough ....

Find out what other modellers fight with :

Tuesday 22 October 2013

Enterprise-C - Details

I've been handpainting some of the details on the Enteprise-C. I really need to practice holding my hands steady, assuming I'll ever learn.

I painted the escape pods in a colour that just felt right. I used flat yellow (Vallejo), added a tiny pinch of Ferrari red (Revell) to make it orange-ish, then added a lot of white to tone it down. It's really close to what I was aiming for.

The phaser banks are "black grey" (Vallejo model colour), slightly darker than intended, but happy with them anyway. I discovered black grey as a colour from a fellow modeller at a IPMS meeting. It's not as in-your-face as true black, which is rather shiny even when claimed to be matt.

I did not fancy painting all those little windows, so I used markers. I used Posca's PC-1MR, which has a 0.7mm tip. Still slightly on the wide side for the really small windows, but close enough.

In a close-up shot, with too much flash, the windows really stand out a little TOO much. My hope is it'll be less accentuated in normal light and with a layer of matt varnish. It's also easy to spot where my hand started shaking a bit.

Next up is finding more little details to paint - like maybe navigation lights - followed by a layer of varnish, the dreaded decals (which are very old, so fingers crossed) and then final assembly.

Thursday 17 October 2013

Sprue Cutters Union #13: Preparation

This week is all about prepping for the next build. Weeks of thorough research or just dive in the box, tube of glue and loaded paintbrush in hand?

- How do you prepare for your next build? -

Do you mean mentally or physically? Mentally, I need to be in a relatively relaxed state of mind for any modelling session. Building or painting does have a relaxing effect on me, but if I'm too stressed or tired before I begin, the tiniest problem or an encounter with the carpet monster can ruin my entire evening.

This is, of course, not what this week's question intended.

Because of my fairly relaxed way to choose new kits, I do not have to research a certain topic and find out which manufacturer has the most perfect version of the kit, browsing vendors and Ebay for weeks on end. I just have a number of appealing models in the stash and I pick whichever grabs my attention the first. I can imagine this is different for a builder that exclusively builds 1/35 scale Tiger tanks.

My actual preparation routine consists of a few simple steps :
  1. unboxing the kit (and taking pictures to blog about it)
  2. washing all the sprues in warm, soapy water to remove any possible oil remnants that might make it difficult to paint certain spots
  3. go over the instructions step by step
  4. go over the instructions step by step (yes, again!)
  5. check the paint requirements (more below)
  6. start building
Step 5 is a little more than just that. 
  • I start by writing down (in a new Excel-sheet, in a dedicated folder for this build) all the suggested colours from the building instructions, in a breakdown of colour and what it's used for. 
  • The colour callout is always Revell or some other brand I do not have, so I start matching the colours to what I have (mainly Vallejo). 
  • Of all the missing colours, I substitute for near-matches. Nobody will ever notice me using black grey instead of dark sea-grey, or silver instead of aluminium on one or more petite detail, especially if the subject will be weathered. (The one person that does, can count on a frown and a shrug)
  • Now I start googling pictures of the subject (or other people's reviews, including which paint they used) and try to find if the missing paint can be replaced by other colours in a "Yes, I know the boxart says darkgreen, but this picture I found has it in lightgreen and it looks neat" kind of way.
  • What's left missing and is not TOO exotic (so it has a decent chance of being needed in a later build), I purchase in the LHS, which is nowhere near local since the last one in Ghent closed. It's a 30-minute drive, in a direction I never have to travel. They don't have Vallejo anyway, so I usually purchase paint online.
While browsing reviews on the particular kit, I invariably find comments like "The tracks are wrong for this model" and "The turret is 3 millimeter too short, you should replace by this or that resin aftermarket part."
I don't care about such things. For all they know, I just happen to be modelling a Tiger tank, running on salvaged British tracks, because they happened to fit and it was that or stay stranded. (It could happen!)

So there you have it. It's a pretty basic prep, with most time spent on colour decisions, with a relaxed FICE attitude (Fuck It, Close Enough!)

How do other modellers prepare? Check it out yourself :

Saturday 12 October 2013

M60 - Base progress

I tried highlighting the higher parts of the base with a lighter colour. I used Vallejo "Iraqi sand". I tried this using the black nozzle on my new Aztek airbrush. It's meant for "detail work", whereas the white one I used earlier is meant for "high flow".

This smaller needle does indeed provide a lot more control over the amount of paint, but I'll be needing to thin the paint a little because straight from the bottle it doesn't flow nicely all the time.

The result is okay, as my intent was to make the overall impression a little lighter. There are some clearly defined streaks here and there, which I'll try to get rid of later.

I'm not sure how to proceed yet. I'll try some drybrushing (to make the lines blur more in the overall colour toning), a mud wash in certain area's and there's also pigments to experiment with further.

As requested by Nick, a picture of the base WITH the tank. The contrast is still very high, but there's enough work to be done on the tank itself :

  • add streaks to sloped and vertical surfaces
  • add (a lot of) mud to tracks, wheels and bulldozer blade
  • remove the glossy look

Ford Shelby - Finished

After ruining the roof's varnish during final assembly, I let it rest a month, before I masked it up again and gave the roof a (very heavy) layer of varnish. Some dust got into the varnish and the regular painter's tape I started using recently for bigger surfaces (to cut cost on the more expensive Tamiya tape) left some glue residue on the hood.

Because model cars were never my thing in the first place, I'm calling this one finished and gave it a place in my display case.

Price : € 9,95
Number of parts : 44
Time spent : 5.5 hours
Project completion time : 40 days

Paint : (Vallejo)
  • White primer
  • White
  • Black (skirts and details)
  • Insignia blue (stripes)
  • Aluminium (details on the underside)
  • (Revell) Ferrari red (taillight details)
Other :
  • Tamiya X-22 gloss varnish
  • Tamiya lacquer thinner (to thin the varnish)
  • MicroScale Kristal Klear
    I used this to simulate the glass in the rear view mirrors, over a little piece of aluminium foil. The result is not to my liking, which is why I didnt take a close-up shot of the mirrors. This has nothing to do with the product itself, tough.

Tuesday 8 October 2013

Sprue Cutters Union #12: What You Like

This week, the Sprue Cutters have a simple question for us, which may lead to a very straightforward answer, or something more complicated. As usual, really.

- What do you like to build? -

As a teen, I started with the stereotypical model airplanes. Fighter jets, to be more precise, with a few exceptions. Then I discovered Star Trek also had models and I started gathering every possible ship I could find from my favourite TV-show. The occasional Star Wars-model slipped in as well, but my main theme was obvious back then. You can find pictures of all these models on the Finished Models page.

Since my return to the hobby, I built 3 AFV, a submarine, a car and an airplane. It would be safe to say that I'll build anything that suits my fancy. There's the occasional model than I just have to have as soon as I discover it's existence (The M1070 truck and the Battlestar Galactica, for example), but besides that it's just a matter of finding a kit that appeals to me while browsing the hobbyshop shelves. I'm currently building 2 ships, an Enterprise (there's that Star Trek-theme again), a tank, ... and the stash contains more sci-fi, a truck and 10 airplanes (which I said I wouldn't be doing anymore, but a guy can change his mind right?). I will probably not be doing any more cars or 1/144 airplanes, but that's it.

In closing, this week's answer is pretty simple : just about anything!

Got a blog and a passion for scale models or miniatures? Join the Sprue Cutters Union. All you need to do is write your answer to this week's topic and provide us with a link to your post.

Saturday 5 October 2013

M60 - A muddy base

In the past, I've already said more than once I wouldn't be doing dioramas anytime soon, because I don't feel my skill as a modeller is good enough to tackle new areas of the hobby. Well, there really is only ONE way to improve skill, and that's by trying new things. Credit for this inspiration goes to my fellow bloggers Jon (The Combat Workshop) and Richard (Kermit's Bench) and to Matt's (Doogs' Models) "Words of wisdom" about stretching yourself and trying new things.

So, all of a sudden, I decided the best way to display a tank with a bulldozer blade is in a field of mud. Calling this a diorama would be too big a stretch, but if we just call it a "base" we're not sounding over-ambitious.

I took an unused picture frame (probably bought at Hema for less than  €1) that was about the right size and filled this with a mixture of diluted white glue and plaster. I added black paint to give it a grey colour, but I honestly don't know why I did that.

The idea was to use the actual model to make track-shaped indentations in the still-wet plaster, but that went rather sideways. The plaster was too sticky, so instead of making track-marks, I just pulled the plaster back up with the model, requiring me to scrape it all away again AND spend 15 minutes cleaning the model.

Instead, I just added dry plaster, made the track marks, than used a pipette to add diluted white glue to the dry mixture and let it all dry. The tracks aren't THAT visible, but will probably be emphasized with dry-brushing or a darker wash later. We'll just see how we handle that later.

The intended result is seen below.

A lot more mud needed to be added, but the plaster alone is too smooth, so in a second attempt I added sand to the mix and smeared that on the base.

As I was unhappy with the previous track marks, I used more of the plaster/sand-mix and did the same as before : apply dry, make track-marks, use pipette to add diluted glue.

Time for painting. I sprayed the entire base with black. I've already come to the conclusion that this wasn't the best choice and I maybe should have gone with something lighter.

Not having too big a choice in paint colours, I mixed and experimented with Tank brown and Dark Yellow to achieve a muddy look. The result for now is seen below. I'm not completely happy with it yet, but unsure what I'd like to do or see different. I have several pigments to experiment with, but for now I'll let it rest a while and work on something else.

Anybody reading this, feel free to comment with your thoughts on improving my little experiment. Thanks for reading.

Wednesday 2 October 2013

Aztek A470 - First trial run

After many weeks of not visiting the workbench, it is more than time to try out the new airbrush (Aztek A470) and compressor (Sparmax) I bought second-hand. I'll be honest, I was hesitant to try it out, given my experience with my first Revell airbrush, but I finally managed to force myself to give it a try (with a little nudge from my girlfriend).

The kit contains 6 nozzles, 2 of which (1 fine, 1 larger) are suitable for acrylics. I'll be experimenting with the other nozzles with acrylics anyway, but let's leave that for later. I really like the many paint cups provided, but I'll get to that later.

Connecting the brush to the compressor, firing it up and regulating the pressure was child's play. I had feared the brush wouldn't work right off the bat, because the trigger is rather loose. It can initially move 2 millimeter without moving any inner components. It has never been used, but after many unused years, some rubber component could have deteriorated. Anyway, a first spray of water revealed the brush working as intended. Dual-action takes some getting used to, but if the rest works fine, you won't hear me complaining about needing to learn a new skill.

I loaded one of the cups with Vallejo black (diluted 50/50) and tested on cardboard. Easy! I then started spraying the mud display base I'm attempting to make for the M60 and gradually built up a covering layer. After the third refill of the cup, it suddenly hit me that it hadn't stopped spraying, started sputtering or had to have the needle cleaned after at least 10 minutes of spraying. I was now spraying the paint straight from the bottle, as the Model Air is intended.

I decided to step it up a notch and switch to black primer. It's thicker and has troubled me in the past. Undiluted, it sprayed nice, but it would probably be smoother if I addded 10%-20% thinner. I filled the cup generously, closed the lid (which still has an opening, but it reduces the chance of spilling), and started priming the Bismarck. Without encountering any issues, I continued straight on with the U.S.S. Missouri (which is considerably larger) and completely primed that one as well.

In total, I spent 80 minutes actually spraying paint, without ANY issues. The big test, of course, will be the next time I try to use it, to see if it keeps working session after session, but those who remember reading about my first session with the Revell (almost a year ago) will notice the positive difference with the Aztek.

The thing I really like about the many paint cups is the following : when switching from the normal black to the black primer (or any colour switch, for that matter), I simply remove the dirty cup, replace it with a clean one, add water and spray until it sprays only clean water (to clean the nozzle). I then fill with the new colour and start painting again. The dirty cups, I clean with soapy water at the end of my airbrush session. This prevents dried flakes of paint accidentally entering the nozzle and other inner components. It also makes colour switches a lot faster.

In closing, I am cautiously excited about the new airbrush, anxious to see how the next session will go. Thanks for reading and wish me luck.

Sprue Cutters Union #11: Your Hang Outs

Obviously, all Union members have blogs to talk about their hobby and show off what they do. There's a few comments now and then, and through our posts we get to know a little about eachother, how we work and the occasional glimpse into our private lives.

This week, the Union wants to know if and where we actually meet other modellers. Do we "hang out", do we make an effort to get out of the house?

- Where do you gather? -

In my teen years, I was a lone modeller. I would just build and paint as a passtime, showing finished models to my parents and brother (when interested). I did not research techniques or try to do more than just painting. Models were all over my room, I was proud of them, but no more than 5 people probably ever saw them.

When I started university, I found some kindred spirits to share my interest (feel free to call it a passion) in Star Trek (and sci-fi in general). I joined a local chapter of Starfleet International and we had monthly meetings, where we would watch video's, play games and just "hang out".
Of course, several members were also modelling enthousiasts, with several Enterprises and other models to show. We were all beginners, and I only recall ONE person ever mentioning smearing his entire Enterprise with black oil paint and wiping it off again. I shuddered at the thought. This was close to the time I stopped modelling altogether, so I never got around to asking how it went or try it myself.

After a 10-year break, I started building again, but I went looking around if I could find a club of some kind. The shop owner at the LHS pointed me in the direction of IPMS and I quickly found a local chapter in Ghent. I contacted them and found out their meeting room was at a mere 7 kilometers from my home, where they met once a month. I was invited to come and have a look and soon after I signed up as the newest member. Few of the members are younger than me. Actually, few are younger than my father, but the experience and knowledge gathered at the tables is impressive.

Modelling is a solitary passtime, but I can highly recommend doing a little effort to meet other modellers. It's fun to show what you've built, even if it's still a work-in-progress. It's fun to see what others are doing and what they might be doing different or more efficient. They criticize my models, but in a constructive way. Their models inspire me (just like reading other blogs does) and they motivate me to do other, newer things.

Check out what the other Spruecutters had to say :