Tamiya D.520 – Part II: Paint and decals

In our last article, I assembled the Tamiya D.520 with some Eduard photoetch bits. Now, it’s time to talk about painting and finishing the model, which, given my preference for paint, is surely going to be the easy part.

Yeah, about that…

The paint scheme

I chose to keep things simple and go with the box scheme. I didn’t want to ruin my model with the garish red and yellow stripes of the Vichy version, and I also didn’t feel like doing a lot of research, so box scheme seemed simple enough.

Why would you ruin a perfectly good plane like that?

The D.520 has a tritone camouflage scheme on the upper surfaces of cool grey and desaturated browns and greens. On the underside, it is a light sea grey. Fortunately, all of these are colours that can be effectively shaded with blues or blue-blacks, which would not only make the shading easier but would unify the model with consistent shadow and highlight colours.

An interlude on lighting

Speaking of shadows and highlights, I need to do a brief interlude on some stylistic choices that were influenced by my background in figures. I think this background gives me a perspective on things that most people who build aircraft don’t have. As an example, someone on facebook asked me what colour I used on the blue of the markings and how accurate it was. I didn’t really have a great answer because I used at least four different paints to highlight and shade it, and I don’t care all that much about accuracy in colours.

Consider painting red. The traditional scale model approach would be to find the red that is closest to the real thing and spray it on in a uniform, opaque coat to simulate the real thing.

Whereas, my approach is going to be very different. I’m going to use colour theory to figure out what colours I want to use to highlight and shade the model. With reds, I like to go with a coal black to start as my deepest shadow. I might undercoat from coal black to ivory, from shadow to highlight. Then from there, I’ll go from crimson in the shadows to a brighter red in the highlights, and maybe even into a desaturated orange before pulling it all back together with a glaze of red ink. This adds shadows and highlights, making the model pop, accentuating the lines, and adding visual interest.

This approach doesn’t really take accuracy into account too much, because I’m using five different shades of red to paint one red item, and the goal is to get a gradient from shadowed to highlighted surfaces and accentuate shape. Even if I knew exactly what shade of red was used on the real thing and had that exact match, I’m still going to be using other colours to shade and highlight that tone. So to me, it’s kind of absurd to try to precisely match colours when a simple red consists of paints from coal black to ivory with crimsons and bright reds and oranges in between.

I know this approach isn’t quite traditional, and I feel like it is very different from what I usually see on the tables at model shows. This is an approach more informed by artistry than pure craftsmanship and historical fidelity. That’s not to to rehash the pestilential “are models art?” debate, and definitely not to lord over mere craftsman with my artistic snobbery. After all, one can respect both artistry and craftsmanship and everything in between, and just because something is artistic doesn’t mean it is good — good craftsmanship can be more impressive than bad art.

But, I think this is an approach that gives my models a relatively unique style; I’ve had someone comment before that he could tell that my 109 was done by a figure painter. It also makes the model stand out from a distance, which I think has some advantages to it — I feel like a great model is one that can pull your attention at several feet away, and then bring you in closer to discover all the details.

Where things started to go wrong…

I primed the model, no problem. I went with a zenithal prime, as you do when you learned everything you know from painting figures, then started to paint the kit. The bottom sea grey colour went on nicely, but then it came time to get serious about the camo pattern…

Primed, and with all the little sub-assemblies ready to go

My first thought was to use silly putty for masking. After all, I’ve seen people use putty for masking soft-edged camo, they just lay it down in round snakes instead of trying to flatten it and get hard edges. Yeah, that did not turn out great. The colour transitions were an inconsistent mix of hard and soft edges, and it was just a messy paint job. Also, I varnished in between colours, but the varnish went on too thick and gave a weird texture, and there were steps along the paint lines. It was just a really crappy looking paint job, completely unsalvageable, and the sort that had me worried that it was completely ruined. But, not giving up, I bit the bullet and stripped it completely before going at it again.

Oh, and while I’m at it, I think I’m done with Vallejo varnishes. I generally use Reaper’s brush-on sealer as my varnish of choice as I find it sprays better than anything I’ve tried from Vallejo. The only downside is that nobody stocks Reaper paints locally, so I have to order it direct from the manufacturer. Fortunately, Reaper offers free shipping to Canada if you spend $75 on their website, and I’ve never ever had a problem with finding a way to spend $75 on the Reaper website.

Second time’s the charm

So, when my attempt at masking a soft-edge camo pattern went south, I remembered a saying that has helped me in times of modelling trouble, when things didn’t quite go right with the finish or when I don’t have the right decals. That saying is “fuck it, I’m painting it freehand.”

After re-priming the model in the zenithal style, I used some very thin inks to brush on some general outlines for the camo pattern, just slightly tinting it to make myself a map for airbrushing. Then, I went at it freehand with my airbrush, gradually building up the colour from dark to light. I started on the bottom, and the only things I masked were the canopy and the bottoms of the wings and horizontal stabilizer when I went to do the upper surfaces.

I generally work from dark to light when I’m doing this, working with thinner paints as I go lighter, as it’s easier to add multiple layers with an airbrush than take them off. Also, with thin paints, you get a smoother gradient and can avoid that misty, airbrushed look. To place my highlights, I followed the zenithal prime, and focused my highlights in two ways. First, on a macro level, I wanted to highlight the upper surfaces, leading edges, and other areas that are highlighted based on the shape of the plane. Within that paradigm, I also wanted to add some modulation by higlighting the middles of the panels and leaving the panel lines a little more shaded. Of course, I also intentionally worked in some stippling and tonal variation, making sure not to apply a smooth, even coat, but rather something with a bit of visual interest.

See the subtle mottling and tonal variation on the underside

I did this one colour at a time, starting with the grey then moving into the greens and blacks. I did have to do some cleanup where the colours met, so it wasn’t quite as simple as 1-2-3, more like 1-2-3-1-3-2-1-2-1, but it eventually came out nicely. Finally, some Drakenhof Nightshade from GW was sprayed into the shadows and in the area of the panel lines to reinforce them and unify the scheme. A quick clear coat and I was in the home stretch, all I needed to do was apply some decals!

Mo’ decals, mo’ problems

The initial plan was that I would paint the stripes on the tail using a simple mask, then rely on decals for the remainder of the markings. Unfortunately, what no one told me was that the Tamiya decals from that time period were crap.

I applied the decals using all the best practices I could find online, and nothing I could do would get them to stick to the model and stay there. I had roundels coming unstuck and curling up, and my attempts to get them to stick just made things worse. And on top of everything, the roundels on the fuselage were applied over the white stripe on the arrow, but since the white wasn’t completely opaque, you could see the arrow running underneath the roundel. After struggling with it for several hours, I gave up on these craptastic decals and decided to use good old-fashioned paint instead.

Fortunately, the fact that these decals wouldn’t stick to the model meant they were easy to remove. About 95% of the decals would come off with a bit of masking tape, pressing it down over the decal and pulling it back up, and the other 5% could be removed with some gentle sanding using fine sanding pads.

The arrows and stripes were easy; they were simply a bunch of straight lines that could be easily masked. The roundels were a little harder, and I picked up a circle cutter and a template from a local art store to make a series of circular masks. As for the numbers… well, “fuck it, I’m doing it freehand” has been kind of a theme with this model, so out came the trusty Raphael 8404s.

Using liquid decals for the arrows…

Maybe it’s just that I had a bad experience, but I’m still suspicious of decals and would prefer to avoid them whenever possible. Even when they aren’t a god damn dumpster fire as in this case, it feels like there is just a lot that can go wrong even if you do everything right — they can silver, or you can get visible decal film, or they won’t settle properly. The decals could be old, or they could be crappy, or yellowed, or not quite opaque, or they could disintegrate the second they touch water. Maybe there is something I am missing, or maybe it is my inexperience with decals and strong background in painting, but it seems very much like to some extent, you are rolling the dice and taking your chances with decals while paint is more predictable.

The other thing for decals is that for all that, I’d still have to go over them to bring in highlights, shades, and tonal variations. Decals are generally flat and uniform in colour and my figure painting background means I can’t paint any single surface without using at least three different colours to highlight and shade it. It would look off to me to have all this tonal variation and weathering on everywhere on my model except for the markings, and things like white stripes are too stark for my tastes if they are pure white.

“I could just give up now and say it was captured by the Japanese…”

Weathering & Final Touches

Some light weathering was applied with the sponge technique. I did two-tone chipping, using the highlight colour of the paint (which was, of course, four different colours, depending on where on the camo the chips lay) and some grey metallic, applied mostly to areas such as the leading edge of the wings. The highlight colour chips were done first, while I saved my metallic chips for the end because, as I’ve said many times before, applying a matte varnish over a metallic paint kind of ruins the entire purpose of using a metallic paint in the first place.

To shade the panel lines, I mixed up an oil wash using white spirits and some black and blue oil paints to make it a blue-black. This was applied carefully over a coat of varnish, trying to keep it in the recesses only, then left to dry for a day before giving it another coat of varnish.

With the oil wash done and sealed in and my final coat of varnish down, I could finally pick out the metallic bits such as the exhaust, which was done with a mixture of Vallejo Metal Color and black ink. Exhaust staining was laid down with a mix of black and brown inks, ultra matte varnish, and flow improver, to create a transparent mix that avoids the glossiness and fragility sometimes associated with inks.

Finally, I could pop on the little fiddly bits like the pitot tube, antenna, and propeller, as well as remove the canopy masks. A sigh of relief was breathed as I placed it on the picture frame I made into a base — while an enjoyable exercise, there were moments of complete and utter frustration that really tested my patience.

Final thoughts

This is a great kit of a beautiful aircraft, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone, so long as you are willing to either make your own masks or get some aftermarket decals. For $20 or so, it could be a nice weekend project. As for me, I’m happy with it and I’ll probably take it to the local model shows and see how it does, whenever the hell those start happening again because 2020 sucks.

Bonus Content: Jagd Doga

I won this kit at a Gunpla contest a couple years ago. It’s an MSN-03 Jagd Doga from Bandai’s RE/100 line. RE/100 models seem like a step down from their more mainstream 1/100 Master Grade models — perhaps the equivalent of a High Grade kit blown up to Master Grade scale.

Of course, the kit went together quite nicely, as expected for Bandai. This particular kit has a lot of nicely curved surfaces in line with the Zeon aesthetic. I find I prefer the Zeon mobile suits over the Gundams, as these curved surfaces are fun to highlight with an airbrush.

It was a fun build, larger than just about anything else I’ve done. I didn’t include the shield because I couldn’t find a way to attach it in a way that I felt didn’t look awkward or detract from the pose. I also left off the beam sword and didn’t use the clear rods to represent missiles in flight because I’m not a big fan of these sort of clear parts – I find they tend to detract from the realism, and there isn’t much you can do with paint to make them look right.

Finally, I chose to go with a paint scheme inspired by Quess Paraya’s version because… well, because I looked this thing up on the Gundam wiki and I thought it looked cool. And just for shits and giggles, I took a picture of it holding my airbrush.

Incidentally, while I was looking up reference material on the Gundam wiki, I had a good laugh at this guy’s name.

Tamiya D.520 – Part I: assembly and cockpit

If you ask five warbird nuts about what the best looking plane is, you will probably get about eight different responses. Some people love the classic shark-mouth P-40. Others like a clean, in-line engined plane like the 109. People who watched Baa Baa Black Sheep as a kid might have fascination with the Corsair. And this is all tinged by national pride, with Brits preferring the Spitfire and Americans leaning towards the P-51 Mustang. However, all these people are wrong because the Dewoitine D.520 is the best looking plane ever. Period. End of story.

Okay, I might be overstating my case a little, but I think you could make a strong argument that the underappreciated French fighter is objectively a very beautiful craft. With clean lines, a long nose, and a canopy that transitions smoothly into a triangular tail fin whose swept rear contour adds just a little character, it’s got a very nice airframe. On top of that, their tri-tone camouflage scheme of desatured browns, greens, and cool greys hits a lot of the right notes when it comes to colour theory. They even went so far as to paint parts of the interior in a beautiful midnight blue colour — truly, this aircraft is a testament to French elegance, at least so long as you don’t ruin it with the garish yellow and red scheme of the Vichy version.

23.jpg

The D.520 was basically the French equivalent of the Spitfire or 109 — a modern, all-metal, low-winged monoplane with an inline engine that was on the cutting edge early in the war. It came into service in early 1940, which was sadly too late to make much of a difference in the battle of France. However the story didn’t end there as production was continued under the Vichy regime, and the D.520 served in a number of air forces on both sides and on three continents in Europe, North Africa, and in the Syria-Lebanon campaign.

The kit

As I dabble somewhat in aircraft, this kit was strongly recommended to me by a friend who saw me fondling the box at a model show. Scalemates indicates a mid-1990s vintage, which may not be cutting edge but is a huge step up from some of the old kits kicking around at model shows. It sat in my stash for the better part of a year before I picked up some photoetch bling and then took it out. The local IPMS club is doing a French-themed contest for early 2021 (though who knows when we might actually be able to get together again, because 2020 is a dumpster fire), so it was only fitting that I went with this entry.

d520_boxWhen you open the box, you see that the kit is just two sprues and clocks in at a bit under 50 parts. There are no excessively small, fiddly, detailed parts — the smallest parts are things like the antennae, pitot tube, and control stick, which at 1:48 scale are not so small you need to get out magnifying glasses and tiny tweezers. There is no option for an exposed engine, which really cuts down on the parts count and makes for easy assembly on the front end. It does come with a seated pilot, which, although I didn’t make use of it, is a little touch that I like.

To kick the detail up a notch, I also got the Eduard photoetch set, which came with a photoetch fret and a piece of film for the instrument panel.

Assembling the office

Like most aircraft kits, you start from the cockpit and work your way out. The cockpit is also where the majority of the photoetch bits go if you want to go that route, which I did.

As I started to put the cockpit together, I quickly came to realize why people rave about Tamiya kits. It just went together right, and could probably almost have been just snapped together without glue. While more advanced modellers can fix problems, it’s a joy when a kit doesn’t have those problems to begin with. And remember, this kit is from the ’90s, so presumably Tamiya has only gotten better since then.

In the base kit, the only part of the cockpit that required more than the most basic of modelling skills to put together was the seat — there are a couple areas on the top corners that should be drilled out and cleaned up with a knife to properly represent the tube-and-fabric construction. I’m not going to complain about this because I suspect it would be tricky to mould the part that way to begin with, but it would be nice if this was called out on the instructions instead of forcing the modeller to figure it out on their own. There are also a couple of injector pin marks that could use cleaning up, but they probably aren’t very noticeable and that is to be expected on any model.

While I’m at it, cockpit assembly brings us into the wonderful world of photoetch bling. I went all out on this cockpit, using every piece provided on the fret. I’ve grumbled about photoetch before, but this was actually a much more pleasant experience than the last time I used it. I would have to credit that 100% to having the right tools for the job. A big part of that was due to a club member loaning me some proper photoetch tools, as well as me having upgraded my tweezers since my last photoetch project.

That said, while I went all out, I think you could easily get away with not doing so if you are so inclined. The catch with this and a lot of photoetch detail sets is that most of the details are in the cockpit, and they are generally hard to see unless you have an open cockpit and are specifically looking in there. The two parts that provide the biggest advantage to this kit are the instrument panel and the seat belts. The seat belts are one of the most visible cockpit details and do legitimately stand out with even a glance at the cockpit, so you would lose out by omitting those, unless you went with the included pilot. I’m not sure how visible the difference is, but the photoetch and film instrument panel also makes construction and painting so much easier than if you were to try to use the provided kit parts and decals.

IMG_2723.JPG

Look at all that photoetch…

Painting the office

The D.520 is unique compared to a lot of other aircraft from the era in that it has this really interesting midnight blue colour in the cockpit, which looks really neat once it is all together.

To start out, I primed with Synylrez black and worked up through some blue-blacks into P3 Exile Blue with the airbrush. From there, I gave it a quick dry brush of a lighter blue with a soft makeup brush, then went in with my detail brushes to pick out things like buttons and levers, and finished it all off with a thinned down blue-black wash to bring it all together and reinforce the shadows.

For the leather and fabric bits, the process was a little different as they will have a bit of texture and wear to them. To do this, I threw down a quick wet-blended base coat, with dark colours in the shadows and light colours in the highlights, then went in with techniques like stippling to bring in some texture. I finished it off with some ink glazes and washes, bringing it all back together and unifying the stippling and base coat.

Remainder of the assembly

With the two halves of the fuselage together, the remainder of the assembly went pretty quickly. Like I said, it had less than 50 parts. I left a few parts off for painting. The landing gear, propeller, and canopy were left off and painted separately; the fit was good enough that I would have no problems doing this. Also, the antennae and pitot tubes were left on the sprue until I was just about ready to attach them, as I didn’t trust myself to not lose them over the couple weeks to take the rest of the model from start to finish.

Apart from that, it was just a matter of following the instructions. I threw down some quick dark coats of paint on some difficult to reach areas like the oil cooler and radiator as I built, but apart from that there were no steps where I had to stop and paint.

You have the option of flaps up or down; I went with down, though I did break one of them off a couple times and have to glue them back on. Third time was the charm.

Overall, things went together very nicely. There were a couple minor issues, but they were probably my fault. The seam on the top of the nose is a little tricky — with the flat top of the nose, if you don’t line it up perfectly, it’s going to be a real problem to sand out the step. I would prioritize this joint when doing the fuselage join and work out from there, as I had to do a lot of putty, sanding, and rescribing to fix it after being a little too aggressive trying to sand out the step the first time. The air scoop on the bottom also didn’t quite go down right because I got it slightly warped when installing the radiator and oil cooler, so it needed some sanding and rescribing to make it work out.

Apart from those minor issues, assembly was perfect. Nice and simple, no major seams, the whole thing was a relaxing build and went together with the smallest amount of putty and sanding.

IMG_E2733

(Mostly) all together, with canopy masks applied

Final thoughts on assembly

In spite of the chaotic nature of the French aviation industry in the 1930s — a fascinating story that I may have to do some more reading on sometime — they put together a beautiful plane. And Tamiya did them justice by putting together a beautiful representation in 48th scale.

This was a nice kit. Fit was great, there were little to no frustrations, and it was simple enough that you could bash it out pretty quickly if you wanted. The Eduard photoetch bits were a nice touch and mostly went down well with the proper tools, but they ended up being barely noticeable, with one or two exceptions. There are two small bits in the wheel wells which were very frustrating, but those are not in a very noticeable place. There are some gunsights which would be a nice touch, but I chose to omit them after accidentally breaking them off two or three times, and I couldn’t find any pictures of the plane with these gunsights on them anyways. The rest of the photoetch parts are all in the cockpit, and while the seat belts are highly visible, you could easily get away with skipping the entire set, particularly if you are going with a closed cockpit.

Overall, this was a nice, relaxing build, and I’m sure this trend will continue into the paint and decals, because what could possibly go wrong with the decals that came in the box?

 

Bonus Content: Junior Commander Elizabeth Windsor

I got this bust for Christmas and decided to do it for a local model club’s blitz build a couple months ago. It is a 1/14 scale bust of Queen Elizabeth II in her ATS uniform circa 1945, from 9th Gate miniatures. The model comes in two parts — body and head — though it comes with two choices of head, with or without hat.

1/14 is a weird scale, noticeably smaller than I am used to for bust painting. Assembly was real nice, though. The cast was very clean and the two pieces keyed together so nicely you could paint them separately and avoid a lot of masking. If you looked very closely, you could see some striations from 3D printing the master, but they were so small they disappeared with a coat of paint.

I painted the two pieces separately, mainly using wet blending over a zenithal to lay down a quick, messy base coat, then smoothing it out with airbrush glazing. This makes getting smooth blends easy and avoids that misty airbrushed look. Since it came in two pieces, I could do the skin and the clothes separately without having to do any masking at all, which is very helpful in a blitz build. From there, I went back in with the brush to reinforce some highlights and shadows and paint the hair and all the little details.

I slapped it on a square black resin plinth and called it a day — finishing the blitz build with plenty of time to spare.

Reporting back from Torcan 2019

This past weekend was Torcan 2019, a large model show held in Brampton by Peel Scale Modelers. In terms of scale model shows, I would consider this to be one of the big three in the region. It’s not quite as big as HeritageCon or CapCon, and doesn’t have the same really cool venue as these other two, but it’s still a large show that is definitely worth the trip.

It was a long drive, and, after consuming more peameal bacon than I have ever seen in one place before in Oshawa, I made it to the show around 10:00. Parking was a challenge at the venue, but I managed to find a spot at a school next door. This proved to be problematic at the end of the day, when I had to run through torrential rain to retrieve my vehicle. Fortunately, I had the foresight to bring one more change of clothes than I thought I would need and I was able to dry myself off a little, so it wasn’t too bad.

The vendor hall was well stocked; it was basically a hockey rink with four rows of tables running the length of the rink. There were plenty of dealers selling models, as well as a few selling tools, shirts, and other modelling accessories. Since it was mostly focused on the traditional stuff and I’m trying to be good, I didn’t buy any models, however I did stop by the vendor that had all the Green Stuff World and Flex-i-file products and picked up the third set of GSW colour shift paints and the Goodman Models super sanding blocks.

I also liked how they did the awards ceremonies. During the show, they snapped photos of the models and quickly put pictures of the winners and a listing of the top three into the powerpoint presentation. While reading the judges’ handwriting was clearly the weak link in this process, it made the awards ceremonies a lot more entertaining when you get that visual reminder of the cool models on the table and get to see the winners again.

One thing that I did really appreciate was the growth in the figures category from last year. Competition was much fiercer, both in terms of the number of models on the table and the quality. There were about 45 entries, with particularly tough competition in busts and sci-fi/fantasy. With somewhere around 430 entries, figures represented 10% of the models on the table, which is actually pretty good as these sorts of shows are traditionally dominated by the three A’s – aircraft, armour, and automotive. Quality was also up there this year, with some very accomplished painters entering and a large portion of the models on the table being what I would consider to be seriously competitive.

I think the simplest way to illustrate my point would be to note that my entries this year were a lot better than my entries last year, but I didn’t take home as many shiny gold medals. While I was debating for a while whether to make the drive or not this year, the increase in participation in the figures category has really pushed this show from a maybe into an annual thing for me.

Things that caught my eye

Of course, there were a number of models in the show that caught my eye and deserve special attention. Starting with the juniors, there was one kid who was clearly a natural at car modelling; according to the sheet, this Chevy Nova with the yellow to black fade was his first model.

IMG_1610.JPG

In figures, this Cap’n Sapo bust beat me out for gold in the busts category, and took home best figure. It was a neat mix of texture, with the frog skin, leather, eyeballs, and a little bit of armour plate on the shoulders creating some nice contrast across the model, and all of these textures were rendered masterfully. It also bore an unfortunate resemblance to a certain popular nazi meme, but I’m assuming that was just a coincidence.

IMG_1601.JPG

In sci-fi, there was a really neat looking dieselpunk spacecraft thing. It was cool, it was yellow, and according to the sheet, it was all scratchbuilt. Which was awesome.

IMG_1685.JPG

The Nuka Cola building was my vote for the people’s choice award. Though it had no figures and no vehicles, it was very detailed and evocative of the world of Fallout. Or what I imagine the world of Fallout to be; my only real experience with Fallout is watching The Final Pam on Monster Factory.

I wasn’t the only person who did a Bf.109B. Someone also did one, using an older kit from a different manufacturer and painting it up in the more traditional colour scheme of the fascist forces in Spain.

IMG_1616.JPG

It’s often hard for me to pick out what stands out in the world of armour because tanks tend to be not very colourful and often splattered with the same colours of mud and dirt. But for my money, the little SU-18 assault gun, which looks like a 76mm gun slapped on an FT-17 tank, was just a neat subject and was very well done.

IMG_1687.JPG

For the Gundams, I spent a lot of time staring at a fellow club member’s ball. This extensively modified MG ball kit was painted with inspiration from the Watchmen, and was a great illustration of how far you can take a gundam kit with realistic weathering, battle damage, etc.

Finally, in space and sci fi, I saw someone brought one of those Warhammer 40K walkers. I don’t remember how well it did, but I just thought it was nice to see some stuff from the Warhammer universe on the tables, even if 90% of the models from 40K aren’t really my jam.

IMG_1675.JPG

Results

I think before I get into this section, it is important to note that these contests aren’t just about who brings home the hardware, and that sort of overly competitive mentality is something that we all need to consciously avoid in order to keep our hobby fun and welcoming.

That said, even though the competition in figures was a lot more intense this year, I still did fairly well. I took Silver and Bronze in the busts category, with Amy Johnson and Nancy Steelpunch, respectively, losing out to the aforementioned Cap’n Sapo and pushing my Sorscha bust out of the top three. In the regular sci-fi/fantasy category, little Sorscha won me a gold, edging out some sort of space marine. Further, I took home the theme award for figures, with Nancy representing the best “Bent, Broken and Wounded” model with her steampunk mechano-hand.

In the non-figure categories, my Spanish Republican captured Bf.109 took home a silver in the Out Of Box category, losing out to a fellow IPMS Ottawa member’s MiG-31. This was actually the entry that I was most interested in because I was curious as to what the reaction would be. It is very much an illustration of what happens when a figure painter tries out aircraft and very much outside of the predominant style for model aircraft.

My two Gundam entries, my Ball and my SD, also won golds in their categories. Again, these aren’t in the traditional style of gunpla builders, being simple, out of the box kits that were competently assembled, but with a lot of effort focused on the interaction of light and shadow and freehand painting, whereas most gunpla competitons heavily weigh modifications, kitbashing, and flashy LED lighting. However, the painting must have impressed the judges, because they both won their categories.

IMG_1668.JPG

For those of you keeping score, Ottawa balls actually did pretty well in the Gundam section, with two balls made by Gunpla Ottawa members winning their categories, and the other one winning best overall in the Gundam division.

Finally, I had some extra room in my case, and remembered someone brought an entire 15mm Roman army last year, so I decided to drag some pieces from my Khador and Cygnar warmachine armies to enter into the collections, and came away with a silver and a bronze, respectively.

I also did fairly well in the raffle department, coming home with a Tamiya motorcycle kit and a couple small ships. Neither of these are the sort of things that I would have actually bought given the option, however I think they will both make for interesting challenges in the future.

IMG_1696.JPG

Just so long as I don’t have to buy any 1:700 scale photoetch.

(for another review of the show, check out ModelAirplaneMaker’s report here)

Bonus: random photodump of cool models!

 

Paintlog: Ill-conceived conversions and fun with photoetch

It’s been about a month or two since my last paintlog, and if I had to give November a theme, it would be conversions and kitbashes. Possibly ill-conceived and overly-ambitious conversions and kitbashing, but conversions and kitbashing nonetheless.

Greylord Outriders

These are models that have been sitting on the shelf of shame for at least two years. I remember when I first got them, I quickly slapped three or so of them together, and did some conversion work on the other two, messing around with green stuff and alternate heads to add to the gender diversity of this unit. I also sculpted some snowball like things coming out of their hands to represent the magic spells that they cast. These were just paper clips with an extended teardrop shape sculpted in green stuff, then textured by dragging a hobby knife along the length of the item. Drill a hole in the hands, pop the paper clip in, and call it a day.

Then, they rested on my shelf for at least two years. When I resolved to clear off my shelf of shame (that is, my shelf where I put all my assembled but unpainted models), these guys were some of the last that I got to, mostly because I don’t really like painting cavalry, and partly because they don’t exactly fit my army tactics-wise.

When it came time to paint them, I decided to start by using the airbrush as much as I could to bang out the bulk of the actual horses, then paint the riders and details such as the saddles, harnesses, and mane with a brush. After applying black primer and a zenithal highlight, I got to work, initially starting with a mixture of a dark brown and Reaper’s Blue Liner, which is essentially a blue-black that seems to have been originally formulated for doing darklining on blue surfaces like the armour of a space marine. Of course, the blue was chosen over black because colour theory.

From there, I worked up to the  highlights, spraying from above and going from brown to a slightly reddish leather colour, and mixing in a touch of P3 Menoth White Highlight (one of my go-to off-whites) into the highest highlight. When I was satisfied with the horses, at least for a tabletop quality miniature that I wanted off my shelf and in my display case with the rest of my army, I moved on to brush painting everything else. Finally, I did bust out the airbrush again to do quick OSL effects on the magic spells and a couple other little things. I may have gone slightly overboard with the blue glow, but they’re spell-slinging cavalry, so who cares?

IMG_1049.JPG

Honestly, some of the green stuff work is a little rough and there are a couple places where the paint was a little quick and dirty and my blends weren’t perfect, but it’s good enough for tabletop and it’s got me closer to having a completely empty shelf of shame.

Vlatka Tzepesci, Great Princess of Umbrey

IMG_1085.JPGAnd, speaking of ill-conceived gender-bent cavalry models, I’ve decided to put my own spin on Vladimir Tzepesci, Great Prince of Umbrey (Vlad3) as well, kitbashing his horse and weaponry with Alexia’s body and head to make my own special version. The horse is basically stock, aside from some gap filling here and there.

As these were both metal models, this process involved a lot of filing to make Alexia fit on the horse designed for Vlad, and make sure that Vlad’s cape fits on her. It was a bit of a pain because cutting, filing and pinning metal models gets real obnoxious real fast. I did a little but of sculpting, using various epoxy putties to sculpt some transitions on places like the cape where the two pieces from two models not designed to ever go together met, and sculpted a cloth hanging down on one side of the saddle to cover up some rough areas where she didn’t quite fit that nicely on the horse. I also, of course, had to sculpt on some big shoulder pads because if there is one thing Vlad is notorious for, it’s oversized shoulder pads that put GW’s Space Marines to shame. I did keep it somewhat restrained though for both aesthetics and versimilitude, not that a model of someone riding a horse while simultaneously wielding a spear and a flail makes any sense on any level whatsoever. Finally, the weapons involved a lot of pinning with very tiny pins because they are small metal pieces that will break off if you breath on them the wrong way, and the shaft of the spear was replaced with a brass rod because leaving it in pewter is just asking for trouble.

In the end, between the reposing of the spear and the elevated base I constructed for this model, I think she is taller than a stock colossal. I know this is going to cause headaches if I ever bring her to a tournament, but that’s one thing that I almost never worry about.

Chibi Gundam

IMG_1078.JPG

I’ve also started on an SD Gundam, which is basically the Toon Tank of the Gundam universe. I’ve decided that with the deformed, cutesy shape, it would be interesting to contrast that with lots of weathering. I’ve started off with the hairspray technique in two layers. After priming with Synylrez, I started with the metal and rust layer. I sprayed the entire model with Vallejo Metal Color Steel, then sprayed, stippled and dry-brushed some various tones of brown and orange on there. I varnished that, then picked out a colour that roughly resembles the yellow primer you see on planes and other military equipment from the Army Painter rack at my FLGS. After applying the varnish and chipping medium, I chipped away at it, trying to get about half of the primer off. The idea is that when I chip the top coat, some of the chips will show primer, while some of the chips will go all the way to the metal.

I haven’t quite decided what colours I will paint this in yet, though I’m leaning towards a green and khaki scheme. I’d like to really push the weathering; in addition to doing the double layer chipping for the first time and using my usual techniques of sponging and painting on scratches, I was thinking of trying out oils, streaking products, and really play around with dry pigments.

Flag Statue

IMG_1079.JPGI also figured that for Warmachine, I need a third flag model to act as an objective now that three-flag scenarios are a thing again. However, I’ve already exhausted both Khador standard bearers, so it was time to do a conversion. I took a Kossite Woodsman leader, a flag from a Man-O-War, some pins and a brass tube and made myself a third unique flag. I also used the same Reaper base as my last ones, and will end up using the same painting tactic to make it look like an old bronze statue.

Fortunately, I remembered to take the picture halfway through brush priming with Reaper, so you can see the use of brass tube to replace the flagpole. Now that it’s all primed, he shouldn’t take more than a few minutes to paint through heavy use of dry-brushing and Citadel’s Nihilakh Oxide technical paint.

Me-109B

And now for something completely different, with the successful completion of my PZL 23 project, I’ve decided to embark on a more ambitious scale aircraft, AMG’s Me-109B in 1:48 scale. I don’t have a lot of recent experience with model aircraft kits, but this is definitely more complicated than my last work in that medium, as well as the model kits that I would build in my childhood.

This kit includes lots of advanced features in the box such as photo-etch parts, and is of a sufficiently obscure subject that I can’t imagine that very much aftermarket bling would be either necessary or even available for the more discerning modeller.

IMG_1073.JPG

Interior, just prior to joining the two halves of the fuselage

And speaking of photo-etch, that stuff can die in a fire. For the uninitiated, photo-etch are very tiny parts, made through the use of a photographic etching process on a thin brass sheet. This allows for smaller and more detailed parts than is possible with either plastic or resin, which can be both a blessing and a curse. Further, it is not uncommon to have to bend parts into the shape required, such as with the map case on the side of the cockpit. It’s not so bad when it’s just gluing a sheet to a flat piece of plastic, but when you start having to bend it and make complex shapes, it gets real obnoxious real fast.

Fortunately, most of the photoetch is cockpit detail, and now that I’ve got the cockpit in place and by some miracle the two halves of the fuselage actually went together fairly nicely. I think the plan is going to be work on filling seams for the time being, as well as getting some of the sub-assemblies together to glue on once that is done. I’m hoping to get it together fairly quickly, as I have a unique colour scheme in mind and I’m getting antsy to start airbrushing.

Secret project

I do have one more project on the go; though I shared some pictures with a few people, I’m keeping it under wraps for the moment until I’m done. Suffice it to say, it is a very expensive and very involved conversion that involves a lot of plasticard and milliput. And a lot of filing and sanding resin, which is always a task that requires care because that’s some stuff you really don’t want in your lungs.

Next Steps

Right now, I’ve eliminated my shelf of shame, however I have a lot of projects on the bench. I’ve been keeping them organized by using halves of boxes as trays, however it would be nice to clear off a couple and bring my WIP queue down to a more manageable level. But, on the other hand, a coworker is interested in a Warmachine demo, so I think I may pivot to that Cygnar battlebox I have kicking around. I know, it’s Cygnar, but someone has to be the bad guys.

 

 

Polishing a turd: The PZL.23 Karas

So, I’ve been dipping my toe a little bit into other forms of hobbying as of late. Aside from a couple gundam kits that I’ve bashed out, I decided to try my hand at model airplane building, partly to try something new and partly because it’s what all the cool kids at the IPMS were doing. So, with the idea of doing a quick weekend project to practice before I start on an $80 kit, I pulled out a box off the shelf and…

IMG_0974.JPG

Oh, dear.

The kit

The PZL.23 Karas is one of the more esoteric aircraft of World War II. A Polish single-engined ground attack plane, it was roughly equivalent to the Fairey Battle or the Breda Ba.65 in that it was a very advanced aircraft for its day, but it was a little outdated by the time the war rolled around and had been outpaced by more modern aircraft. Still, in the hands of the Polish, it put up what resistance it could against the German war machine. Notably, it was a PZL.23B which made the first bombing raid of the war within German territory, and captured examples would go on to be used in small numbers by the Romanians as well as in second-line duties with the Bulgarians.

As the title alludes to, this kit is kind of a turd by modern standards. Looking at Scalemates, I can see that this was a 1980s rebox of a kit originally produced in 1964. There are only about twenty parts and they are made from a cheap, crappy plastic. It has raised panel lines, and there are a lot of areas where details are extremely lacking. The interior detail is nonexistent, with only three seats (and no locating tabs to know where to put them), and no dashboards, controls, etc. Rivet counters could probably find dozens of inaccuracies from the profile of the plane to the number of panel lines; I know I inadvertently found some when I was looking up paint schemes. Fortunately, I’m not a rivet counter, so I don’t care.

And, just to add insult to injury, the instructions were in Polish. Because of course they were.

IMG_1035.JPG

Okay, got it

My approach

I’ve picked up a lot of techniques for model aircraft by hanging around the local IPMS crew. However, while I knew I could do research and suss out the internet arguments of pre-shading versus black-basing and which one is the superior, more realistic technique that serious modellers use, part of me wanted to remain willfully ignorant of this for a couple reasons. First, this was just a practice piece for another project and the kit was so crappy that I knew this wasn’t going to be a masterpiece regardless. Second, I wanted to see what I could apply with my figure painting techniques to the art of scale aircraft building. I felt like instead of just copying what everyone else was doing and doing a bit worse of a job on it, I could go into it without any preconceived notions and see how it turns out.

So, this is in some ways an experimental piece – give a figure guy a model plane and see what happens. Worst case scenario, you’re only out the two bucks that this turd of a kit cost.

Assembly

While the kit may have not been the greatest, there were a couple things which were working in my favour. The main wing was moulded in two pieces – an upper and a lower piece which both ran the entire span of both wings. The upper mated to the fuselage, which had a cutout on the bottom for these parts to go together. This meant that alignment wouldn’t be too much of an issue; it would be hard for me to mess up the dihedral with how the kit was engineered. Additionally, this plane has no visible struts and the landing gear is fixed with a big, thick fairing, so there isn’t going to be any futzing around with spindly little landing gear legs and worrying about getting them at the correct angle, not to mention painting all the details inside the landing gear bays.

I managed to get it all together in one evening while consuming a copious amount of beer (though not so much that I would mess up the kit even worse than it was messed up coming out of the factoty or stab myself with an x-acto knife), though I left the propeller able to spin for now to make painting the cowling easier. It took a couple layers of apply and sanding milliput to fill seams and sculpt something a fairing between the horizontal stabilizer and the fuselage. Even after the second layer, it wasn’t perfect, but it was good enough for government work and I was getting antsy to start painting.

Priming

As mentioned, I’m a figure guy. So, that means I’m relatively ignorant of the eternal internet struggle between pre-shaders and black-basers, and firmly on the side of a good zenithal prime. So, I loaded up my Patriot 105 with some Stynylrez black and sprayed the entire model down, getting a nice coat on both the top and the bottom. From there, I cleaned out my airbrush and pulled out the Stynylrez white and fired from above and from the front. I focused on parts that are in direct sunlight and the leading edge of the wings, letting the primer fade into black on the underside and near the trailing edges of the wings and control surfaces.

IMG_0989.JPG

Primed with Stynylrez black…

This technique does two things. First, it helps me understand where the highlights and shadows should be on a model, which is critical in figure painting. An airbrush loaded with white primer coming in from above actually does a decent job of representing the sun’s rays landing on the model and illuminating the highlights while avoiding the shadows. Second, it preshades it for you, which can be useful in later steps. This can be done roughly with a black and a white rattle can as well, though I prefer the airbrush for the control and ease of use in my small apartment. Personally, I tend to push things a little more towards the white side than most people when I do a zenithal because I figure it’s easier to darken something later than lighten it.

IMG_0991.JPG

…and followed up with white from above

 

Paint time!

Okay, here’s where I can really polish this turd. I sprayed the underside with a more or less uniform layer of Vallejo Light Sea Grey then masked it off. To be honest, there isn’t that much interesting on the underside, just that light sea grey and some mottling, so I’ll focus the rest of this article on the upper surfaces. Anyways, according to my sources, the closest colour to what these things were actually painted in in Polish service is Vallejo Green Brown. So, I loaded my airbrush up with… a mixture of P3 Coal Black and Reaper MSP Pure Black?

Sure.

Fear not, there is a method to my madness. With an airbrush, it’s easiest to work from your darkest shadow to the highest highlight, as we did with our zenithal prime. And when it comes to painting green, you don’t want to shade it with just black and white. You want cool shadows and warm highlights, so you want to have it move towards the blue end of the spectrum in addition to getting darker in the shadows, and towards the yellow end of the spectrum in addition to getting lighter in the highlights. And Coal Black is this wonderful blue-green black colour that is darker and cooler than most greens and makes an excellent shadow colour, among many other uses.

So, I mixed up a mixture of mostly Coal Black with a bit of Pure Black to darken it up a little (because I’m all about exact mixtures), making sure to get it on the underside and in all the shadowed areas where there was more black than white primer.

Next, I washed out the airbrush and loaded it up with the Vallejo Green Brown which would be my base colour. Similar to when I did the white on the zenithal prime, I sprayed mainly from above and in the areas that wouldn’t be shadowed, painting most of the plane in this colour but leaving some shadowed areas. Finally, I added some yellow to the base colour and added some highlights. The highlights were focused in a few places — near the leading edges of the wings and stabilizers, along the top of the fuselage, and in an area on the side to emphasize the transition from the convex surface of the round fuselage to the concave transition into the upper cockpit area. I also sprayed some into the middle of the panels, particularly on the wings, in order to create a bit of modulation.

IMG_1006.JPG

Airbrushed the top; note the colours used in the background.

That was all well and good, but I kind of wanted to shade the panel lines as well. And, since I’m a figure guy, what do I immediately reach for when it’s time to shade something?

shades.jpg

Good old liquid talent…

That’s right, GW’s washes, or shades as they call them. But we aren’t going to brush them on because that would leave so much nasty coffee staining. We’re going to airbrush it.

I made myself a mixture of Athonian Camoshade, which is their olive drab sort of wash, and a bit of Nuln Oil to darken it (again, very scientific and exact proportions) in the cup of my Badger Krome and got to spraying. When spraying these washes, a very light touch on the trigger is very important – you want just enough that it will build up in the recesses and tint the surrounding area, but not spray enough over the model that it will start beading and coffee staining. If you aren’t confident in your trigger control, this may be a very good time to try out a trigger stop. I sprayed some of this in a random, mottled pattern to add a little bit of visual interest to the model. Then, I followed up by tracing some of the panel lines, which reinforced the modulation and shaded the panel lines, giving me what I thought was a nice effect.

IMG_1015.JPG

Addition of the shade

At some point, I decided that I should do something creative with the cockpit. Between the missing clear piece and the complete lack of any interior detail, this is where an elite scale modeller would either scratchbuild a bunch of tiny parts or spend a lot of money on aftermarket pieces to bling it out. I am not an elite scale modeller. I was missing a clear piece, and given the amount of detail on the average 1960s era Polish model kits, I knew if I painted over the cockpit, you wouldn’t be missing much.

So, my idea was to adapt a technique I used on figures for painting gemstones to do an opaque cockpit. I started by spraying the entire thing in a blue-black. From there, I used the edge of a business card as a mask and sprayed some lighter, more saturated blues into one of the lower corners of each pane of glass. I followed that up with an even lighter blue, so I had a transition from a dark blue at the top into a light blue at the bottom where the light would filter out of the cockpit.

IMG_1019.JPG

Cockpit airbrushed, will follow up with a brush

Details and Weathering

There were some details remaining to be picked out with the brush. First was adding some glints of light to the top area of the windows, opposite the lighter area, just to kick up the artistic glass effect. This was done with some sky blue and some P3 frostbite, and as the windows were flat, I made the glints corner-shaped.

From there, the engine, exhaust pipes, propellors, canopy framing, etc., were all done with a brush. And when it got time to apply markings, because I can’t do things the easy way, I decided that instead of using the decals in the kit, I would bust out my trusty Raphael 8404 and brush paint those on, doing such detailed consultation of reference material as funding the first result on google image search that looked cool and easy to paint and running with it. I used panel lines for reference where I could to make sure that my markings somewhat approximated the proper scale and made sure to keep a steady hand. Most importantly, I double checked before putting down the red on the checkerboard roundels, because there is nothing worse than finishing a Polish roundel only to find that you’ve accidentally rotated it 90 degrees and now it’s all wrong. Also, I didn’t go all the way to white in the checkerboard patterns — a light grey is more than sufficient to make things read as white in this context, and it’s not as chalky and hard to apply as a pure white.

For weathering, it was important to keep it subtle. I did a little bit of sponge chipping in two layers; the first layer being some of the base colour mixed with white, and the second layer being some sort of midtone metallic silver. In this case, when you’re doing chipping, you need to think where to place your chips. And this is more than just where to cover your mistakes. Chipping on a plane is going to be concentrated in a few areas. It’s going to be on leading edges, on the front and underside of the cowling, and on the areas where the pilots are likely to step on as they climb into the plane. Weathering should tell a story, and these are the areas that are going to get beaten up the most.

Finally, I threw on a little Typhus Corrosion to represent dirt on the wheels and the spats, some light dry pigments to represent dust on the tires and landing gear, and some black dry pigment around and leading back from the exhaust pipe to represent soot. And with that, I was ready to sit back and enjoy the fruits of my labour because I had turned this old kit into something that didn’t look half bad, at least not from a distance.

IMG_1026

IMG_1027

IMG_1028

Final Thoughts

If you’re looking for a detailed representation of a PZL 23A Karas, don’t buy this kit. In fact, I think at $2, I probably overpaid. There is a Heller version of this plane in 1/72nd scale that has been reboxed a few times which is less than 50 years old and not made behind the Iron Curtain, so I would assume it would have to be better than this thing.

However, while the detail is lacking in some areas and there are some obvious inaccuracies that I was too lazy to fix, overall, I’m not dissatisfied with how it turned out. It’s not a masterpiece, and it’s not meant to be. It’s a cheap, simple kit, painted up to look nice from about three feet away – which is the distance from which it will be looked at that 99% of the time when it’s not being torn apart by a nitpicky IPMS judge. So, I would say that my efforts to apply figure painting techniques to scale model aircraft were mostly successful. I’m now feeling more confident in tackling the 109B I have in my stash… that is, I was until I saw the photoetch.

Bonus Content: Owlbear!

As I wrapped this thing up at a build day, I also worked on a quick speedpaint on a project a little closer to my roots: a Reaper Bones Owlbear in 30mm scale, with plenty of inks, washes and dry brushing to get it to a decent tabletop standard quickly. An Owlbear is exactly what it sounds like, and for the benefit of your sanity, try not to think of show that may have came to be. I’m using it for my Necromunda gang to represent a Khimerix, becuase when someone says “horrific gene-spliced abomination with sharp claws and a nasty bite,” I think Owlbear.

I call him Owl Dirty Bastard, leader of the Hoot Tang Clan.

IMG_1030.JPG

IMG_1031.JPG

IMG_1032.JPG

Hobby update — PZL P.11 (1:72)

Since childhood, when I would spend hours upon hours studying the aircraft of World War I, I’ve had a keen fascination with airplanes.  As a young child, I built model airplanes with all the skill and enthusiasm of my eleven year old self.  Fortunately, my workmanship at this sort of thing improved before my stint working at the largest aerospace company in the world, however that was a hobby that I sort of trailed off from by the time I hit high school.

IMG_2179.JPGAnyways, a couple years ago, I picked up a couple model airplanes on a whim, for about $5 at a comic con. Of course, because I’m kind of a hipster, instead of picking up the usual P-51 or Spitfire, I went for a PZL P.11. And then promptly forgot about it. A while later, as I was getting into airbrushing, I decided to quickly slap it together and use it as a target for my airbrush practice. I sprayed some green and sky blue on it, matching the historical colours with the closest Vallejo equivalent, and then… forgot about it again.

So, after moving across the country, I was left with this half-finished plane sitting on a shelf, staring at me. After attending CapCon, and hanging around with the local IPMS chapter, I was motivated to finally finish it off.

IMG_2218.JPG

I have more of these kicking around than I care to admit.

First off, apparently one of the rules of building model airplanes is that sometimes, you get what you pay for when it comes to kits. This kit had some issues, some of which went beyond my somewhat haphazard assembly. First, being a Polish plane, the instructions were naturally in Polish. Fortunately, there were enough pictures that I eventually figured out how to get it together, and used google images to figure out the paint scheme rather than trying to guess what colour “czerwony” is.

Next, the clear windscreen part was missing. To solve that, I figured I would try to scratchbuild something. Fortunately, the windscreen was all flat panels, and you can buy clear plastic from Privateer Press, which comes free with a miniature inside! I cut out a bit of plastic from an old blister pack I had lying around, scored it, and folded it into a shape approximating that of a windshield.

So, with the windscreen replaced, it came time to get my paint on. The base colour, which I had done a not so great job of airbrushing on a year prior, was Vallejo Model Colour Green Brown, with some Light Sea Grey on the underside.  There were some black bits, like the radiator, tires, and machine guns, and some brownish red, which I mixed up, around the cowling. Overall, nothing too challenging; no interior detail or anything like that on this kit, and I had no intention of browsing aftermarket bits suppliers to spruce that up. Anyways, once I finished that little bit of painting, it came time to do the decals. Easy peasy, right?

Unfortunately, that posed some problems as well. When a model kit has been sitting around for as long as this one has, there is bound to be some deterioration of the decal paper. So, when I placed the first decal in water and went to slide it off, it simply disintegrated.

img_21991.jpg

Decals? Those are for cheaters…

So, in a stroke of either genius or stupidity, I decided to go with Plan B. I’m pretty good at freehand, so I’ll just hand paint all the markings on!

While it was a little time consuming, this actually wasn’t that terrible. I started with the white squares, for what is perhaps obvious reasons, then did the red, careful not to do the Polish air force symbol backwards (red goes on top left!). Finally, I added in all the other markings like the number, stripe, and squadron insignia. For the squadron insignia, I did a whole bunch of historical research (by which I mean I google image searched it) and eventually chose to represent the squadron that I thought had the easiest insignia to draw.

Anyways, there are a few tricks to this sort of freehand.

  1. Use a wet palette. Trying to do something like this on a traditional palette would be close to impossible; the paint would dry out on you and you would just have a bad time.
  2. Use the right brush. People think that to do fine detail, you need a tiny, tiny, brush like a 10/0. Unfortunately, tiny, tiny brushes don’t hold a lot of paint. What you really need is a brush with a fine tip, but a bit of belly to it as well so it can hold paint. For this reason, I usually stick to size 0 and 1, and don’t go any smaller than an 00, though I do have a 10/0 rigger brush which, due to its longer bristles, can hold a lot more paint than a regular 10/0, and occasionally comes in handy.
  3. Thin your paints. Freehand requires thin paints in order to get the paints to flow off the brush nicely. Again, the wet palette comes in handy here. You don’t need too many fancy additives, however one trick I have found for painting colours like white is to use an artist acrylic ink instead of water for your thinning. The artist acrylic ink has the consistency of water, but a very high pigment density, so for colours that don’t have very good coverage, using it as a thinning medium allows you to get the consistency you want without sacrificing pigment density

I got a few comments on the decals at the build day at which I was working on this project, which I thought was kind of cute, before I brought it home and proceeded onto the final step: weathering.

Here, I decided to do it in three stages. First, I used the sponge technique with some dark metallic colours to simulate paint chipping, focusing on areas such as the leading edge of the wings and propellers, which would likely take the most beating. Then, I followed up with some washes, both to give the model some depth and visual interest, and with the goal of darkening it. I also added some GW Typhus Corrosion on and around the wheels to simulate mud and the like. Finally, to finish it off, I added some very dark grey dry pigment, focusing on areas such as around the exhaust and guns, which would be stained with soot and gunpowder residue and the like.

IMG_2202.JPG

A spritz of dullcote, and I had finished my first model airplane in 15 years. To be honest, I have some mixed feelings about this model. On the one hand, I think it has some problems with the paint. The washes, in particular, didn’t quite give the effect that I wanted to, pooling in a couple of places and showing off some imperfections. I really should have mixed up a glaze, or tried out an oil-based wash, rather than trying to use a GW shade for a purpose it wasn’t really suited for. The assembly wasn’t great, but again, I did it kind of haphazardly and didn’t do a great job on filling gaps and that sort of thing, and I also didn’t have all that much to work with, as shown by the missing windscreen. Finally, there were a couple of places where I think I may have overdid the weathering.

On the other hand, I think the freehand turned out pretty nice, and overall it looks pretty good as long as you don’t get too close. And it’s a unique subject; not many people spend a lot of time building Polish warbirds. I think my final assessment is that while I am happy to have it done, and while I think I didn’t do too bad considering it was my first model airplane in 15 years, this was more of a learning experience than a true exhibition of what I am capable of as a hobbyist.

And maybe sometime I will tackle that P.23 sitting on the shelf…