Sunday 7 June 2015

Better pictures

I'm getting (slightly) better at taking pictures of my models. Bear in mind, when reading the following, I'm an absolute photography noob. Feel free to weigh in (semi-)expert opinions :-).
I use a simple compact camera, but have been playing around with the following parameters:

  • No more handheld photos. I bought a cheap tripod (€4.50), about 15cm high.
  • Remove all artificial light sources. They gave me unrealistic shadows anyway. I shot the pictures below on the floor of the spare bedroom, on a big white sheet of wallpaper. The only light source was indirect sunlight, the lights were turned off.
  • Play around with camera settings on manual. Mine has an M-mode ("manual"), allowing to control diaphragm (lens opening) and shutter speed (i.e. exposure time = time the lens is open).
    • put diaphragm as high as it goes, so you have focus in the front AND in the back (and not just on one point of the model), or at least as much as you're camera will allow (mine goes from 5.4 to 8.0, not a wide range)
    • increase exposure time as high as needed, until the picture is clear enough. Normally this will be around 1/30 or 1/80 or much lower (the higher the fraction number, the lower the exposure time) for well-lit scenes. I set it to 1/1, i.e. 1 second. This is where the tripod is an absolute must-have.

Chinook - Finished

This one was as good as finished in september 2014, but kept sitting on the bench, because I wanted to add some finishing touches. I wanted to tone down the overall colours with some fine dusting and also add some staining behind the exhausts.

I used AK Interactive "Dust effects", diluted with white spirit and applied with the airbrush. It could have been more carefully applied, and managed to creep under some of the decals, actually accentuating the carrier film. Oh well ...
For the exhaust stains I used black oil paint and earth-coloured pigments. Not entirely to my satisfaction, but if you don't go too close, it looks as intended.

Kit : CH-47D Chinook HC.Mk1
Scale : 1/72
Manufacturer : Revell
Price : around €10 (second-hand)
Number of parts : 126
Time spent : 32.5 hours
Project completion time : 14 months
Paint : (Vallejo)
  • Black primer
  • Pale grey blue (71.046) - Base coat
  • Gunship green (71.014) - Green "stripes"
  • US Grey (71.046) - Interior
  • Scarlet red (71.003) - Outside + seats
  • Black grey (71.056) - Rotor blades (better than black)
Other products :
  • Alclad II klear kote (semi-matte) as varnish
  • AK Interactive "Dust effects"
  • AK Interactive "Dark earth" & "European earth" pigments
  • Mig productions Abteilung 502 "Starship filth"
  • Evergreen styrene strips and rods, Tamiya masking tape for scratch-building the interior seats.
Findings or issues?

A beautiful model of an impressive machine. Fit issues when closing the hull and later the bottom, but nothing a modeller with a few models under his belt shouldn't be able to solve through patient filling and sanding. The cockpit needed major surgery to close.
I didn't dare use the provided decals for the large black&red strips, so painted them instead.

AB cleaner eats Future

I've made a small discovery. Well, "discovery" is the wrong word, because it's actually completely logical, but let's stick with that word.

I've been trying to paint this mini Rubik's cube for years (literally!). It's been a pain cleaning it's surface of whatever dirty glue they used to keep the stickers on and when I finally got it clean enough, no paint would stick to it. In fact, the paint just peels of again.

Anyhow. Once every few months, I manage to build up the courage to paint ONE side, then let dry and treat it with multiple layers of "Future" (Currently: Pledge's "Floor care - Tile & Vinyl Floor finish"). It's the only product so far that keeps the paint on the plastic.

So, what did you discover !?
I had just painted the third side bright red. After removing the masking tape, I saw some of the red paint had creeped under the tape and stained the blue side. I would normally clean up with thinner, but couldn't find the thinner right away, so opted for Vallejo's Airbrush cleaner. I though it'd be safe, since the blue was already under multiple layers of Future.

Guess again! The cleaner ate the future AND the blue paint. Now, this shouldn't be THAT surprising, since Future is also an acrylic and therefor a bad protection against an acrylic product cleaner.

It immediately made me think of a technique I recently read, namely Mike Rinaldi's alternative for the hairspray technique (or chipping fluid). He calls it "Lacquer thinner dry-brushing".
Basically, once you have multiple layers of paint on your model (like camouflage on top of red primer, or just several different shades of Olive Drab), you wet a fine brush with lacquer thinner (only slightly moist) and softly start working on the surface. Little flakes (let's call them "chips"?) of the paint will start to come loose, just like when you're using the hairspray technique, except that this does not depend on any intermediate product to be applied beforehand.

In my case, I went all the way to he plastic of course - which isn't how this technique is intended - but I'm considering giving this one a go in favour of my not-so-successful attempts at the hairspray technique so far. (mostly undocumented yet, so you haven't read much about it)
An in-between layer (e.g. varnish) that does not respond to the cleaner might solve the problem of "going to deep", but Mister Rinaldi is no fan of varnishes. I am however, but it's safe to say his experience and skill outweighs mine by a huge factor.

I'd say "stay tuned for test results", but at the rate I'm currently going, that'll be sometime next year.

Stay tuned anyway, I'm intending to actually finish a few projects rather soon(-ish).