Tuesday 31 December 2013

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.

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