Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Progress Update

Wow...it has been awhile. Especially with all things considered, that there is so little left to do. Following the last post, what needed clear-coated was done, then washed, and reassembled. In other words, it is back two steps. Next up is to pastel, Dull cote, and call it complete.

So, where did the time go since my last post, in September? Too many trains, either collecting, restoring, repairing, assembling...

But there has always been the thought of getting back to this Tiger, that is 95% complete,and finish it. The next post, and it will be soon, will show some progress. I swear...

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Pigments (or, If At First You Don’t Succeed)



At one time, I would make my own pigment dust, by using a set of the soft chalk pastels that you get at an art supply store, and running the stick against some 150-grit sandpaper to make a dust. With these sets, you can make infinite colors and shades, depending on what you wanted. One thing about these too, is because of the way they powder, they are fairly coarse, compared to the ready-made pigments that are on the market now. What the coarser stuff gains is that when you Dullcote it after applying, it tends to stay more of a dust-dirt without fully going into solution, like the finer-ground ready-made product. The downside to using the ‘grind it yourself’ method is the mess that comes with it, as the dust does go everywhere.

For the Tiger, I decided to use some Tamiya Weathering Master Soot, and pigments from the MIG Productions “Fresh Mud” set. I have used these before, and they are okay, but do go into solution more readily than what the chalks will. The appearance is more of a subtle, stained, look, than the chalks. I applied the dirt liberally to the underside, the lower areas, wheels, tracks, and at the rear of the upper hull, around the engine grills and fuel fillers. I also applied it to the front mudguards and side fenders at the edges.

When I was done, I applied several light passes of Dullcote. Then the cussing began. I was satisfied with the roadwheels and tracks, but everywhere else had the appearance that it had been hit with a soot cannon, or a kindergartener with black finger paint.

I considered going back over the soot spots with a lighter pastel, and just hide it. Another part of me doubted that would look any better, so I decided repainting the sooty mess would be the best option.

I taped off all the areas that didn’t need repainting. This included the wheels and tracks, the bulk of the upper hull, and the turret with the exception of the end of the muzzle. Using my airbrush, I shot these over, and lightened as needed. Then I pulled off the tape, and shot these areas with Future, to get ready for washing…..again. That being said, if there are other areas where a touch-up would help, now is the time to do it.

More words of caution. Be careful when you tape, so that none of the little bits get knocked off. Also, I was fairly lucky, as the bulk of the detail painting was taped over, such as the tools, hull machine gun, cables, etc. The only detail piece that will need painted again is the jack on the rear, saving a lot of work.

The repainted sections look much better, and I was pleased with the result. It is significantly lighter than the areas that have been washed and clear coated, but this will even out once I wash the freshly painted touch-up sections. This is where remembering what paints and shades and ratios comes in handy.

Next up is to wash, detail paint, and drybrush to match the rest of the Tiger

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Drybrushing









Since the Olive Drab is a little lighter than what I normally paint, I only did one pass for highlighting. Typically, I will do up to three passes, going slightly lighter each time, until I hit a shade that is about 25% lighter than what I started with.

For the Olive Drab of this Tiger, I mixed 90% Model Master Acryl Olive Drab 4728 (my base color), with 5% Vallejo 913 Yellow Ochre, and 5% Flat White. Add a little water to this to retard the drying, and I got started. On something this big, it is important to remember the mix, as it will take a little longer than one sitting to get it all done.

Using a ¼” flat brush, I removed almost all paint from the brush onto a paper towel, and hit the high points, panel lines, bolt heads, rivets, etc. In some smaller areas I also used a 3/0 brush. Once all this was complete, I used a very light dry brush of Metallic Grey at spots where paint would get rubbed off, such as grab handles. A little of this goes a long way.

I also touched-up the metal bits on the cables and pioneer tools with a few different metallic shades to vary the color.

Once drybrushing was complete, I again shot a light coat of Dullcote over the Tiger. This will protect the work and get it ready for the next step, which is to apply a pastel dusting. I also put the tracks on at this point.

The Washes

One of the most tedious tasks is starting the weathering process with a wash of oil paint and thinner. The thinner that I use is Winsor and Newton Sansodor Low Odor Solvent. I use four oil paints, Burnt Umber, Crimson Red, French Ultramarine Blue, and Lemon Yellow Hue. To get this to work, the tank has to be fully coated with a clear gloss coat, and for this one, I have used Future Floor Polish shot though my airbrush. This needs to be fully dry, at least for 1-2 days, before starting.

I have adopted the technique of dot filters, which are now fairly popular, and seen in the modeling magazines with some frequency. I start with dotting the surface in irregular intervals using the four colors of oil paint that I have chosen. For the top and upper surfaces, I used about 50% Yellow, 30% Burnt Umber, and the balance in Ultramarine Blue and Crimson Red. The Red and Blue are so strong, that a little of them goes a long way. As I worked my way down the tank to the wheels and lower hull, I gradually shifted the ratio to where I was using almost all Burnt Umber, especially around the roadwheels and underneath the hull.

Once the dots were in place, I started to move the oil paint using a ¼” wide flat brush, dampened with clean solvent. This is important. For this to work, you need to frequently clean the brush that you are using. To move the paint, I would move and pull, especially on the vertical surfaces. In tighter areas, I would use the same technique, but would use a 3/0 brush. I worked my way around the entire kit, and then started over, using a slightly lighter technique for the second pass. The third pass was even lighter. Using this method, it took about four passes to get the effect that I liked. On some of the vertical surfaces, where the effect of rain and water could be seen, I left some slight streaking for effect.

In other areas where I wanted more of a dirty build-up look, I allowed a little more of the thinner to remain in the brush, and this will give the oil paint the ability to run into crevices and lines, such as the inside of the rim of the roadwheels. This will take the place of a pin wash so that I do not have to go around again to get into these panel lines. The other part that will help emphasize the panel line and detail will come a little later, after I apply the dustcoat pigments. I spray a sealant over the pigments, and this causes them to go slightly into solution, which makes them do the same thing as a pin wash. But, more details on that, later.

I have also used on other kits the method known as “Sludge Wash”. This works great too, but because of the amount of detail and fiddly parts on the Tiger, I didn’t want to break anything when rubbing off the excess sludge. So oil washes work best here.

Once I was happy with the oil wash, I let it dry overnight, and then sprayed a slight coat of Dullcote over the Tiger. This will protect the washes from being smeared during handling while I am dry brushing, which is the next step.

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Tracks

The tracks for the Tiger aren’t bad, and they assemble together easily. The only problem is the number of injection pin marks and numbers (??!!) on the inside of each track. With all the work to ensure accuracy through the build, you would think that this would be something that I would address. You would be wrong. At 5 spots to sand/file on each track, and a total of 73 tracks per side, it would be a huge task. Besides, these are on the inside, and because of the inter-woven road wheels, it is very difficult to see these marks once the tracks are installed.

I assembled per Step 24 of the instructions, and they do go together easily. The instructions call for 72 links per side, but I tested the fit, and added one more per side to get the sag appearance that I liked. The fit will also be influenced by the final position of the rear shaft (Step 4)

Once assembled, I cleaned the tracks with soap and water, and let them fully dry. The material these are made out of made me think that enamel paint would bite better than acrylic.

First step in painting was to prime with automotive spray can primer. This was followed by fully coating with Flat Black spray from a can. I let these dry for a full day. The first “real” coat of paint was a thin mix of 50/50 Flat Black and Tamiya Gun Metal, thinned to 50%. Once dry, I followed with a mixture of 50/50 Testors enamel Leather and Rust, and thinned this down to about 30% paint and 70% thinner. I shot this through my airbrush, and the idea is to get down into the crevices, slop this around, and not let it be uniform. The look I am trying to copy is that of random steel scaling. Before this coat had a chance to dry, I dusted with the spray can Flat Black, then quickly dusted with a shot of thinner through my airbrush.

From all of this mess, I had the appearance of unpolished iron; a little sheen in spots, black in others, with dirty rust in the crevices. Last step was to dry brush the high spots, where the tracks would get polished, with Testors enamel Aluminum. I don’t use Silver, because I think that it is a little too shiny. The outside of the tracks are easy, and on the inside, I only hit the guide horns and the outer edge. I didn’t want to dry brush where the pin marks and numbers are, as it would only call more attention to them.

One other tip: as the paint dries in each step, it will get down into the seams in each link, and start to stiffen. After every step, and a few spots in-between, you need to curl the track in each direction to keep this from happening. I did mine after each step in the painting process once it was dry to the touch. It also kept the paint from flaking, and if you have ever done a tank with rubber band style tracks that were painted with acrylics, you know exactly what I mean.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Details, Clear Coat, and Decals







After the Olive Drab was completed, I allowed a few days to dry, and worked on painting the detail items. The tow cables were painted with Tamiya XF-56, Metallic Grey. I think this works well, and looks more realistic after weathering, than a Gunmetal. I also painted the bolt cutter, and the heads of the axe and sledge using the same color. For the jack, I painted it with Flat Black, then hit a few highlights with the Metallic Grey. The wooden items-axe and sledge handles, the barrel cleaning rods, and the jack block, were first painted with Citadel Bestial Brown. I think that it gives a good base for a wood. I then took Model Master Acryl Burnt Umber, and using a pin, gave some light streaking to simulate wood grain and knots. This was followed by a dilute wash of Bestial Brown combined with Vallejo 70913, Yellow Ochre, to give it a slight patina. The bolt cutter and tool heads were also given a very dilute wash of Burnt Umber. The coaxial machine gun was first painted with a 50/50 mix of Flat Black and Gunmetal, then drybrushed with Metallic Grey. The last part of the detail painting was to paint the smoke grenades with Vallejo 70866 Grey Green. I allowed this to dry for a day.
To clear coat, I used Future floor polish, sprayed using my trusty Aztek airbrush, at a low psi setting. There is no need to dilute, and I first flipped upside-down, and applied a number of light coats until I had built up a gloss, then once it was dry to the touch, turned it over and did the top in the same manner. Now here is where the Tiger almost met it's demise. It has been incredibly hot and humid, which doesn't work with Future, since it will trap moisture and instead of being clear, it will dry in a milky haze. My thinking was that if I took it easy and sprayed light coats, that I could avoid this. (And I did leave it out in the same environment prior to spraying so that it would not tend to condensate) WRONG!!!! As I was finishing up on the top parts, I noticed it starting to haze. Thinking quickly, I ran like a maniac with the tank on a board, to the basement, where I set it in front of the dehumidifier that runs to help dry the air. Added is that the house has central A/C, in the basement as well, so I instantly got it to 40% humidity and 74 degrees. As luck would have it, the hazing stopped immediately, and where it had started to haze, it disappeared, leaving a beautiful clear coat. PHEW!
Two days later, I moved on to decals. I did have a sheet from the Tamiya 1/25 Tiger set, but this was fairly yellowed from aging. I did put it in a sunny window for a few weeks, which will get rid of the yellowing, but unfortunately, it didn't completely clean them up. The unit insignia of a prowling cat was usable, but the numbers have a white edge, as do the crosses, and these were just a little too yellow. Digging in the spares box, I found a sheet from an old Italeri Tiger, and to my surprise, I had the exact numbers, and these were the same size as the numbers on the Tamiya 1/25 scale set. I trimmed these down as much as possible to eliminate carrier film silvering, and put them in place. Once dry, they were spot coated with clear gloss to protect them from the next round, which is weathering and washing.



Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Painting the Turret


Once Turret construction was completed, it was sprayed using black automotive primer from a can. I flipped it, upside-down, and hit the bottom of the barrel, turret ring, etc. I allowed a full 24 hours drying time before spraying the cover coat.
I used the same paint for the Turret as for the Hull, Model Master Acryl 4728 Olive Drab, with about 20% distilled water added for thinning. Again, I started on the underside, and then hit the top. Once this was dry, I then placed the Turret into the Hull, and prepared to do a lightening mist.
First, I taped-off the entire lower Hull, making sure that nothing could hit the painted roadwheels and tires. 3M painters tape, and paper towels, worked great for this. I then mixed the olive drab with about 10% flat white. I really didn't want to overdo the fading. (We've all seen these great kits that are overdone in the fading area, where they look like they are two-toned)
Spraying from a steep angle, I then misted this over the top surfaces only. The idea is for a subtle effect, so I went very light, and not allowing the paint to wet out. Once this was done, the masking/towels were removed, and the Tiger set aside for a few days to dry before beginning to detail paint.