Saturday 29 November 2014

Photo-etch - Part 3

One of the advantages (or maybe disadvantages?) of having a blog, is that you can retrace your progress, or lack thereof. Turns out I haven't seen the airbrush in at least 2 months. My head is full of ideas on how to proceed on multiple ongoing projects, but somehow I'm stuck in the idea phase and not actually doing anything. I should add procrastination as a major skill.

I attached the last PE parts that required soldering and am now slowly adding all the minute details with CA glue. I clearly have a misconception on how long it takes for CA glue to cure. "Mere seconds" - as is described on the bottle - should be interpreted as "several minutes". I just made it a new habit to browse the web or catch up on mail and Facebook after attaching a part, so I do not mess things up because it's still wet.

Below the as-good-as-final result, next to the plastic version.

If I say tiny, I mean TINY!

There are 20 large rivets and 60 little ones. They are supposed to go over all the indentations in the larger PE-parts, but I think I'll only place the large ones. (The smalle ones are all on the inside of the ring anyway, so much less visible.

Picking up small PE-parts (or plastic ones for that matter) is a hassle. If you dare to use tweezers, they are bound to fly away, never to be seen again. A wet finger seems to be the general way modellers pick up the tiniest parts, but I wanted to try something else.

I've read about these little sticks with low-tack surface for exactly this purpose, but it seems like a waste of money. I tried making one myself by cutting the point of a cocktail stick and dipping it in Humbrol Maskoll (or any other latex-based product). Repeat after 5 minutes and again and again until it looks like a teardrop. It's tacky enough to pick up small PE parts, but not too much, so you can position the picked up part into a small drop of glue on it's intended destination.

Tuesday 11 November 2014

Photo-etch soldering - Part 2

Last february, I did my very first attempt at soldering photo-etch parts on some scrap photo-etch. I reported that it was fairly easy and that I would "experiment more later and report my findings".

Well, 9 months definitely counts as "later" as we go into round 2 of the experiment. I decided to up the ante and go from scrap to actual photo-etch parts. Nothing like actual, ruined-of-you-mess-up parts to raise the stress levels a bit.

Finally time to break out the photo-etch bending tool that's been sitting on my desk for over a year. I must say, this tool is fantastic and provides precise and controlled bends. It was a bit pricey, but cheaper alternatives are available, for as low as €15.

The soldering itself is a technique to be practiced a lot, so it should go better the more I do it.
Not all photo-etch parts require this. In fact, more often than not, the photo-etch for your model kit wil be stand-alone pieces, to be bent and attached to the plastic model with CA glue. This kit, however, has an entire photo-etch assembly, consisting of over 50 parts, which stand to benefit greatly from the super-strong bond that soldering provides. It ain't always easy though ...

Below are a few pictures of the result of about 3 hours trial and error, swearing and rejoicing. I assembled the plastic counterpart in a few minutes and used it to check positioning and get the curve right for some of the larger parts. Just like any other new technique, there's a learning curve to this. Not burning your fingers, was a quick, easy lesson.
The larger parts are actually rather easy to join. The fact that the bond is strong as soon as you withdraw the iron is almost amazing. The smallest details however really tested the limit of my patience.

In the second picture below, you can see the 4 tiny hinges with which the panels are connected to eachother. Each is about 1 by 3 mm (roughly 3/64" by 1/8" unless my math is off) and a real pain to handle, let alone attach. I must have attached and removed them at least 10 times, before giving up and resorting to CA glue. When that ALSO failed to succesfully bond the parts, I considered leaving them off, but I pushed through with a last attempt to solder them and in the end settled for a mediocre result.

I punched 2 holes through the front part (with a hammer and a small nail), which should line up with the larger damage on the turret. It's basically 2 places where the paint chipping got out of hand because I used too much chipping fluid and too much water (another technique I'm just starting to get the hang of). I'm hoping the holes in the armour will create the illusion of several hard hits and look realistic.
Another advantage of photo-etch thus seems to be it's easier to make it look like damage metal, because it IS metal.

The thing I'm really looking forward to is getting both the plastic and photo-etch parts primed and painted. The paint should hide all the discoloration and scratches (from filing away excess tin). The whole idea of this longer-than-intended experiment is to see if all that trouble is worth it in the end. Will that photo-etch assembly look better than the plastic one or only marginally so?

Next time I will attach both pieces together. Again this requires 4 hinges, so wish me (and my fickle nerves) a lot of luck.

Sunday 2 November 2014

First time oil paints

I recently became quite intrigued by the use of oil paints for adding filters, streaking and what-not. I have read about these techniques often, but was hesitant to take the plunge.
The main incentive came from Foxx's video from, you can find it here.
He was building and weathering the Colonial Viper which I also happen to be building and his explanations are very thorough.

I found a webshop in the Netherlands (not so easily actually) that sold Mig's Abteilung 502 oil paints and ordered a variety of colours. Today I decided to try and add some streaking to the castle's raised walkway. It's still drying and will probably change somewhat when a matte layer is added later.

Castle progress and future

After all the washes and wooden parts and more washes, here are the intermediate results. The gatehouse and the main keep are as good as done, except for some 20 more window shutters.

When my good friend and colleague, loyal blog-follower and fellow AD&D-player Nick announced he was taking a roadtrip through the US, an idea started to develop in the back of my head. It took a few days before I realized the potential and I asked him to see if he could find a Walmart and bring me some "Future" (currently known as "Pledge Multi-Surface Floor Finish") as it is unobtainable in Europe and costs way too much to have it shipped over.

If you have no idea what future is, you must not be a modeller, but suffice to say it's one of the most widely used products for glossy finish or general varnish in the modelling world.
Main reasons for using it are it's excellent levelling qualities (no brushstrokes), as a protective layer before (and after!) decals and the fact that it's many times cheaper than the Alclad varnishes I've been using so far.

Flash forward a few months, upon Nick's return, a shiny bottle was sitting on my desk. The bottle says "Tile & Vinyl floor finish", but some research and inquiry tought us this is the 2011-incarnation of the same product. The bottle must have been sitting on the shelves for some time, but it has no expiration date and this quantity should easily last the remainder of my modelling career.

Some people airbrush future, some swear by handbrushing it. A little hesitant to put this in my airbrush, I decided to do some first applications with a normal brush. Below is the front and back of the raised walkway as a before-and-after.
Applying the future was super-easy and it indeed levels very nicely. The finish is very glossy, but that's a good thing if you want to apply panel-line washes (the glossier the finish, the easier the wash finds the little details). Gloss can be removed afterwards with a matte varnish or dullcoat.