Hi, all... I'm progressing my Hurricane night fighter in black with red spinner and fuselage flash. Anyone care to offer any favorite techniques for bringing out the panel lines on a dead-black aircraft? It's the Hasegawa kit, so I've got nice engraved lines to work with. I reckon I can:
1) Wash the panel lines with a paler colour (Payne's grey?)
2) Airbrush the centre of the panels with a lighter colour (Panzer grey?) and dry brush the texture
3) Use chalk pastels on the lines
4) use chalk pastels on the panels
Any advice? She's glossy black at the moment, ready for decals, so probably now's the time for panel line washes or airbrushing. I guess the chalk pastels should wait for the flat coat to go on, to give them something to bite on?
And finally... What colour does exhaust staining from a Merlin look like on a black aircraft? I've got some photos of black B-26s with very pale exhaust staining, but IIRC that's to do with US versus British fuel formulation. Does a Merlin exhaust still look browny-black against a black paint job, or does it come out lighter, too?
Good question Matt, but I think you might not like my answer! But you can always wait for another one to come along. My first point is to say that gloss black is an excellent primer coat. Apart from silver nothing shows up irregularities so well. So it's not all wasted :)
My second point is to search for some black aircraft on the net - see
for example What you will notice is that on the highlighted upper areas such as the cowlings, the engine panel line gaps are clearly visible, as black. The surrounding areas must therefore be lighter - a very dark gray. Try saving the picture and zooming in to see the pixels used to make that effect in the image.
This is because true black as a colour doesn't exist - it's an absence of light. When light reflects off a 'black' surface it scatters the light and 'tints' the surface to a lighter 'tone'. The places where no light is reflected back from (i.e. from within the depths of the panel joints) still look true black. So won't this work on a model the same way? No, because the physical size of the model and the narrowness of your field of view will drastically reduce the effect to almost nothing, which is where we enter the realms of 'scale colour'. You have to artificially induce the effect of a large area on a much smaller one by artistic eye-trickery.
To finish then, you can use the grey to show panels on an 'overly black' airframe and end up with a kind of '3D diagram' effect, or redo the paintjob in a 'super' dark grey while still leaving some tonal leeway so that the black panel lines can show up against it. The difference in tone should be subtle enough to only be noticed on light reflecting surfaces, just like the photos. Hope this helps and apologies for the length (and glad it wasn't white you were asking about) Chek
I can not elaborate further on the points made by Chek, but I will offer this: My favorite "recipe" for scaling down black (in order to give you room to shade it, pick-out panel lines, etc.); is to *never* paint anything pure black. I usually mix in a good flesh/tan color into the black. This lightens it a little, without it becoming "gray", or "blue". It takes on a nice weathered and scaled-down tone. And it leaves you with the capability of using "true" black to accentuate the panel lines.
Also, go ahead and airbrush highlights into the center of each panel, using black plus a tad *more* of the flesh/tan. I would avoid the drybrushing altogether. While it looks good on things such as AFV's; on wings and fuselages, it usually looks like...drybrushing. Remember, the goal of drybrushing is to simulate the effect of natural sunlight being caught on a subject's "details". That is why it works so well on AFV's.
If your Hurricane is one in which the prototype had gloss surfaces, you might even want to make those afore-mentioned highlighted areas a bit less glossy; in order to add more variance.
Thanks Pauli - glad you liked it. I'm happy to pass on my humble struggles with colour! In the same vein as Greg's great practical advice in his post, pure white should be avoided just as much as pure black.
But the availability of those big acrylic rattle can sprays that can produce such flawless white finishes is tempting. I've used the method I'll describe to produce a well worn looking white finish Vulcan B1A bomber (oh, the ravages of industrial belt smoke drifting across the Lincolnshire airfields) and a newly-built looking TSR 2 first flight diorama and was happy with the results on both, and neither have yellowed with time (apart from nicotine). Here in the UK I now use car (auto) finish (paint) acrylic - the type safe to spray plastic bumpers with. About 2 litres for 5GBP (compare that to Humbrol or Tamiya for value!)
It's basically a pre-shading technique I use. I first apply a white coat, which I'll rub with 600, then
1000, then 1200 grit 'wet and dry' used with a few spots of washing-up liquid /dishwashing soap, until the surface is smooth and blemish free. After checking photos (clean white planes are notoriously hard to get well-detailed distant photos of) I work out where discolouration of the airframe happens (round undercarriages/ airbrakes/engine access panels etc. and apply various shades of blackish brown and extra dark earth type browns in those areas fairly randomly. You don't need to be too exact.
When that's thoroughly dried, I'll again rub it down and buff with a soft cloth to make sure no gritty texture remains from the matt enamel I normally use for that stage. Acrylic would be just as good, but ensure it fully cures before the next coat. Back to the rattle can, and mist on layers of white until you have a solid white finish again. About an hour after that's done, it's back to the wet sanding with soap and 1000 fine grit 'wet and dry' and gradually thinning the surface down till the undercolour shows through according to the amount of weathering required.
The result is to selectively make the white in the desired areas translucent, and allow the underlying colours to produce a discolouring effect, while having a smooth white top surface that happily looks different according to lighting conditions, much like the real things.
It may seem a bit nerve racking, but before the paint cures rock hard, (within a day) I'll then lightly scribe in panel detail with a scalpel, washing and wiping with a dark grey ink as I go. This gives nice fine lines that don't stand out like traintracks, but can be seen when looked for.
Finally a light coat of Future/Klear (with either a little, or up to 10% Tamiya flatting agent, depending on the type of finish) mixed 60/40 with isopropyl alcohol to seal the decals and give a wipe-clean surface.
It looks (again) like a lot of text for a fairly simple technique, but I've tried to be as clear as possible. Hope you find something you can use in it! All the best, Chek
A color I love to use as a base white, when painting figues, is a Jo-Sonja acrylic called "Opal". It is actually a light, grayish lavender! When painted on a figure, it really looks "white"....unless you put something that is "pure white" against it; and the difference is startling. It really illustrates how the brain and eye are "tricked" in the matter of color perception. It "looks" like white, but since it isn't really; it leaves plenty of room for highlighting. These "tricks" are nothing new; as classic artists throughout history have used them to "trick" the viewer into seeing things that "just aren't so".
If any of you can locate some Jo-Sonja acrylics, give them a try. I think you will like them; and they come in about a bazillion neat colors. Michaels' *used* to carry them; but they are getting kind of hard to locate.
Also, Chris Mrosko swears by the el-cheapo Delta acrylics. He has been using them on figures for over a decade, and finds them very similar to the Vallejos.
I'll use the 2 litre spray can to do as much model as possible. But sometimes you need to decant a little for touching up areas such as canopy frames and missed items etc. with the airbrush. I spray the paint into a plastic bag, let it collect at the bottom, snip a small area of the corner off, then drip it into a plastic camera film container. It's a good idea to let it stand a few minutes to let it de-gas also. It sprays easily through the airbrush with no need for more thinner.