Scratching the Surface

Dealing with natural metal finishes is one of the trickier tasks with which we are faced from time to time. Although there are lots of different color brands available, weathering it all down can be somewhat of a chore.

I recently tried to achieve a rather beaten up and dull finish on the exhausts of a F-14 Tomcat and found that working with pastels gave me a lot of control over how the finished piece would look like. So here it goes.

First, airbrush the surface with your favourite brand of metalizer. I use Testors Metalizer as I find it very easy to work with and more forgiving than Alclad. After polising it up a bit, I use Testor’s Sealer, as it creates a tough finish without altering the color’s sheen.

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Now comes the fun part. What we need is pastels (dark grey or black work very well) and a pigment fixer. I have the strong suspicion that these fixers are nothing more than odourless turpentine with some additives, but they do work and do not attack our base color.

With a wide flat brush, cover the entire surface with fixer. You don’t have to go overboard here, we just want it to be moist.

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While it is still wet, start applying your pastels. It will look awful at the beginning, so don’t panic!

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Next, take a large soft brush and start stippling the pastels into the surface. You might want to wipe off your brush in between to remove excess pastels. At the same time, you can add some other colors, like browns and oranges, to add variety. By changing between a stippling motion and actually brushing in one direction, you can achieve different effects on the surface.

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When you are happy, leave everything to dry. You can speed up the process by blowing air from your airbrush – at this point the pigments will already be fixed in place.

Finally, the most important step – roughing it up. With a rather stiff brush, start scrubbing the surface. Start lightly and see how the surface reacts. Try different movements, circling and brushing as you go. I used a very stiff brush and although I gave it a good scrub, I did not damage the metal surface.

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That’s it! By varying your metalizer paints and pastels, you are able to create a variety of different finishes and amounts of weathering.

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On the Bench – Week 42, 2014

So I decided to finally start on the Hobby Boss F-14A Tomcat. The kit has been in my stash for almost two years now, together with an Aires cockpit and burner cans, Wheeliant wheels and a very nice FCM decal set – alas, I felt a bit intimidated by what to me is *the* icon of military jet aviation. Only so much space being available in the display cabinet, I know that this will be the only Turkey for a very long time. and we don’t want to cock that up, do we.

After going through reference photos, videos and books for the n-th time, I just couldn’t resist any longer. I know that this will be a rather long build, as there are quite some areas that need to be addressed. The list is by no means complete and reads as follows:

  • Fix intake angles
  • Shorten tail hook
  • Fill rivets on wings and stabilisers
  • Modify flap mechanism
  • Change angle of slats

Anyway, one has to start somewhere. I did by assembling all the two-part pieces which will need filling and sanding, modifying the flap doors and hinges, and fitting the Aires cockpit. This is how it looks after painting, some small mistakes still need ironing out.

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… and the M916 LET is still in progress. But after breaking the bonnet in a dozen pieces while trying to fix warpage, things slowed down a bit.

Done: Italeri 1/48 OH-58D Kiowa

So this one falls in the category “less than perfect”. Started as a quick build to get something done while being stuck in some rather involved projects, I soon noticed it would need some tender love and care – especially the cockpit, general fuselage seams and fit of the glass parts.

I picked that kit because of two reasons. First, I have Italeri’s SH-60B in the stash, and as its fit issues are plenty, I thought it would be a good idea to practice on another Italeri helo kit. Second, I needed a proper canvas for painting FS 34031 (also known as “US Helo Drab”).

After detailing the cockpit, nose section and main rotor base area, I spent a couple of days sanding, test-fitting and filling all the major components. the glass part for the nose did fit quite well, the canopy is a different beast – but it turned out good enough.

Helo Drab is a suprisingly underrepresented color, the only company supplying it being Testors. As I am not a fan of painting with enamels, I tried to come up with an acrylic mix. In the end, a 50:50 mix of Tamiya XF-51 Khaki Drab and XF-61 Dark Green did the trick. This was applied to a black base coat – if your base is lighter (let’s say grey), it might be a neat idea to add a little black to the mix.

Maybe, one of these days I can be bothered to add wiring to the rocket launchers…

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On the Bench – Week 40, 2014

Following up on last week’s WIP – interrupted, I made some progress on the M916. Not as much as I would have wanted, but with designing new products for the shop (yes, that’s right, it’s opened!), finishing a quick build (ish) and sanding away on Eduard’s P-38 Pacific Lightning, time was in short supply.

Nonetheless, the cabin is finished. The kit’s instructions are good enough – and what would a resin kit be without a bit of guesswork anyway? Some wires and levers were added to the dashboard, the gauges filled with Kristal Klear (still wet in the pictures, hence the white sheen), the whole lot painted with Tamiya XF-65 “Field Gray”, which I find is a fair match for weathered Forest Green. The seats were painted with Life Color OD 319 and OD Light Mustard.

Oh, and I started the weathering process on the tires. With eleven of them to go, I thought it best to start rather sooner than later…

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WIP, interrupted

How many half-built kits do you have? What’s the oldest of your shelf queens? And why do you have to confront yourself with such inconvenient questions?

Maybe the last one is the easiest to answer. I like to have a clear view on things. I like to know what lies ahead of me, and I somehow even like to plan my next steps. Do I hear shouts of “OCD!”? Anyone? Go ahead, I don’t mind. Fact is, I don’t like to leave things unfinished.

Sooo… I decided to introduce a new segment to this blog of mine. And thou shalt call it “WIP, interrupted”. Plan is (of course, I have a plan. Silly me.) to dig up my dearest shelf queens, blow the dust off and achieve some progress on them – maybe even finish them! Who knows…

To start things off, here’s where I am with Minimanfactory’s M916 Light Equipment Tractor. Beautiful kit, has been stashed away for almost two years now.

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And by the way: The answers to the other questions are of course “don’t ask” and “no idea, but I’m sure I payed for it in a currency that no longer exists”.