Thursday 29 May 2014

Chinook - Progress report

Just a quick update on the Chinook. I finished 2 more sets of seats and primed them black, because I don't know how well the paint will stick to the Evergreen styrene without it. A first coat of Scarlet Red was too wet, so a second will be added later.

I also spend some time masking the canopy. Everybody loves canopy-masking, right?

Tuesday 27 May 2014

Sprue Cutters Union 29: While you are out

The Union is back! Just a small change : assignments will be monthly instead of weekly. Kudos to Jon for finding a way to bring the Union back, even though his work and modelling schedule were drastically changed (and reduced).

- How do you stay in the hobby when you're away from the bench? -

I'm not a super-active modeller. Sometimes weeks go by without a visit to the workbench and I do believe it's been over 2 months now. That's actually way too long if I ever hope to at least pretend to finish some of my stash, which is why I continued work on the Chinook a few days ago.

This is actually an important role of the Union (for me personally, at least) : triggering the urge to have something to write about and dragging me back to the workbench.

What do I do when away from the workbench?
When not playing or preparing for AD&D, playing Diablo or just catching up on NCIS or Hawaii Five-0, I do most of my modelling-related research and preparation a few minutes in-between stuff at work or in a spare moment.
  • Googling pictures of one of my current projects, either to make sure I'm going to use the right colours or finding inspiration for a paint-scheme.
  • Looking up articles on a new technique I want to try (currently : filters)
  • Reading all your blogs and watching a lot of pictures in general. Facebook is the easiest way as you just keep scrolling and model after model passes by. I keep finding inspiration, be it a technique, a tool, a kit or a setup. Not sure when I'll put it all in practice, but I have a lot scheduled for "one day".
  • Taking and replenishing inventory : tools, paint or whatever. Ordering Evergreen stuff online in preparation of some scratchbuilding I intend to do. I hate when you sit down at the bench, only to discover you're missing something or ran out of a specific colour.

Check out what fellow unionists wrote :

Sunday 25 May 2014

Scratchbuilding stuff

Ever since I started work on the Chinook, even though there hasn't been much progress, I've been thinking about and researching how to do the interior, if I want to leave the cargo hatch open.

Out-of-the-box, the kit is bare on the inside, but I'd like it to look more like this :

That means adding some detail on the sides of the hatch opening and find a way to make some seats in there. Both will require fiddling with styrene, something I've been meaning to do for a long time, but have been postponing. I finally decided to bite the bullet and purchase some Evergreen sheet, strips and rods.

Eduard has several nice interior sets, including seats and stretchers. At roughly €15, the price is acceptable in itself, but almost twice what I paid for the model. I try to steer clear of after-market as it's a slippery slope once you start buying upgrade sets. Also, buying photo-etch would completely defeat the purpose of trying to build something from scratch.

For the seats, I decided to go with (Tamiya) tape, instead of styrene sheet, because of 2 reasons : I'm hoping it will look convincingly enough like textile (styrene sheet would be too smooth) and it easily bends around the rods. I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.

Once the glue had set, I was eager to test-fit it inside the fuselage, to see if I got the dimensions right. At first glance, results look promising.

I'll have to make 5 more, but have not yet decided on the exact configuration. Existing configurations are 2 rows of seats, or 1 row of seats and 1 with stretchers for a medical evacuation, but any combination will probably have existed sómewhere for some practical purpose. I'm currently thinking of 3 seats (1 folded down, 2 up - easier to make :-)), 1 or 2 stretchers and 1 empty space with some cargo-crates.

Sunday 4 May 2014

M2A2 Terra Star model kit?

Does anybody know if this exists in kit form anywhere? It's an M2A2 Terra Star.

Free-hand airbrushing - hit and miss

Ever since I started airbrushing (a year and a half ago), my ambition was to try free-hand camouflage. My first airbrush (Revell) was not suitable for this, so I kept masking with silly putty and getting good results. It kept nagging at me though. Now that I have an Aztec, airbrush control has greatly improved, so I really wanted to try it again.

The trick to free-hand airbrushing is to set the pressure really low, get the tip of the airbrush really close to the model and go very slow. This has proven rather easy for post-shading panel centers in a lighter colour, but that's always with slightly lighter paint than the base coat, so overspray is invisible and you keep adding until the result is satisfying.

Camouflage colours tend to contrast highly with the base coat, and the overspray is very visible. I already demonstrated this last time, when I did the turret.

This time, I tried to go even slower and though I'd best achieve that by thinning the heck out of the paint. Basically I filled the airbrush with thinner and added 1 drop of brown paint. I experimented with thinner (both the old and new Vallejo thinner) but ended up settling for the matt varnish, which seemed less likely to make the paint too runny and create those beautiful spiders we all hate to see on our models.

Initial results where promising : because the paint is so thin, overspray is far less visible. You have to go over the same spot a dozen times, but it does feel more "in control".

The difficult part now is to find the sweet spot between "thin enough" and "not too thin". The airbrush is finicky and will occasionally stop spraying. The instinct to pull the trigger back further is hard to resist, because when you do and the paint starts flowing again, it will be too much and then you get the aforementioned spiders.

I ended up respraying the entire thing again with the base coat. I'll try again ... later.

Purely as an experiment, I have succeeded and made some clear progress, but again I find myself struggling to find the balance between all those different variables that make airbrushing not always as easy as you'd like.

No more Future

No, I'm not stepping away from my hobby, but if my 2 month absence and the not-so-subtle title of this post made you think that, I have succeeded. I'm an evil person :-).

I've been playing a lot of Diablo (and liking the expansion a lot more than the original game, for those who care), but that doesn't mean I haven't at least thought about my current projects or experimented a little.

On to the subject at hand : Future. I'm sure many of you use it or know someone who does. For some reason, a lot of modellers prefer this product (meant to clean and protect floors) as a clear coat, over specific products from various model brands, like Vallejo or Alclad. I've used Vallejo matt clear with some success, but the gloss simply baffles me. Alclad seemed like a good alternative, but it seems rather harsh on the airbrush, so I only use an old airbrush for this stuff.

Simply EVERY article about scale modelling mentions the use of Future as a gloss coat before decals and to subsequently seal in those decals. Because Future is not sold in Europe, many articles exist around the internet about either where to get it anyway or what alternative to use.

You can buy it in the States for $6 and have it shipped over for another $36. Uhm, no thanks. I found a reseller in Germany that sells small bottles of the stuff, for ridiculous prices, clearly profiting from a whole group of modellers that refuse to use anything else.

Some emails back and forth with the SC Johnson's divisions in Belgium and the Netherlands, convinced me that the product below is the closest thing available : Sols Plus.
An interesting (yet somewhat old) article lists the history of Future and some alternatives : The complete Future. ("Klir" no longer exists and is now "Sols plus")

While supposedly available in Colruyt and Carrefour, I had to go to a Match in Antwerp (not far from work, I'm not driving 2 hours for a €5 floor cleaner!) to find a bottle.

While I haven't had time to test airbrushing it as a clear coat, I have quickly tested it's recommended alternate use for cleaning and protecting transparent parts, like say : canopies and windows. It's supposed to make those parts shinier and more resistant to dust and fingerprints.

I dipped the entire transparent frame for the Revell Chinook in a glass jar with this stuff and slowly pulled it out again. Slowly, because if you do it too fast, you risk leaving droplets behind in corners, which are hard to clean up afterwards.  Leaving it to dry on some absorbent paper, should do the trick of removing any excess. I did it twice, after it had dried, just to be sure.

While the Chinook was on the bench, I proceeded to mask the interior, so I can get the cockpit and the cargo bay done and ready for a first test with airbrushing Future as a gloss coat for decals and/or weathering.