Anyhow; aside from painting gemstones (which I will do as I paint the odd WH40k figure here and there), I was interested in how these paints function for lamps and warning lights. I’ve used the SU-122‘s interior light and the Electric Mule‘s warning light to test them.
I’ve simply painted the base of the transparent light fixture with silver, and applied the Citadel paint on the top of the light. The paint flowed around the raised details depicting the protective wires, so I did not have to paint them separately, and also gave a nice, blue glass finish. It’s a perfectly good way to stain transparent light fixtures if the surface is not too large. Even with dedicated, transparent paints it’s a pain to achieve uniform coverage, so don’t expect perfectly even finish on large transparent parts. Since the depth of color of any glass object (such as a headlight lens) depends on the thickness, this uneven coverage actually produces quite a realistic effect.
In this instance I’ve used a yellow base color with the red technical paint applied. The effect, again, is pretty good, since the yellow + red gives a nice, uneven orange, which looks quite realistic as a translucent warning light.
In short: if you have these paints lying around, they are perfectly good for colored glass lenses, screens and warning lights. I’m sure Tamiya’s and other manufacturers’ transparent paints do the job similarly well, though.
You can find the review I wrote of this model on armorama, and another review of a simplified version of the same kit here. In this last post we’ll finish up the vehicle.
Once the tracks were ready, I painted the sides of the lower hull olive green (Tamiya), then heavily dabbed on a dark brown/black/greenish mix of oil colors to simulate the color of dirty snowmelt; the reference I used was how buses look during the winter after a heavy snow… The same color went onto the road wheels as well, and once everything was dry, I installed the tracks. (I suggest leaving the return roller in a movable state so that you can do small adjustments if the tracks are a bit loose/tight.)
I masked everything with tape (the back of the engine compartment, the top of the fighting compartment, the tracks), and sprayed olive green onto the vehicle. The exact color does not really matter as it will be covered by white-wash (and the wartime “Russian green” was far from a standardized color in any way).
I gave the paint a couple of hours to dry, and covered the model with a semi-gloss varnish to have a surface for the decals to stick to. Since I wanted to go with the unique festive Christmas camo, I decided to use the large red dot decal that goes on top of the superstructure. (In retrospect it would have been better if I added the decal after I applied the whitewash.)
Since the red dot decal needs to conform a somewhat difficult topology (it goes over the fume extractor’s cover, the hatch and the armored observation hatches), it is given in three parts. Normally I would have elected to simply mask the area and spray the color, but since it’s a review I went with the decal option. There are some issues with this option. For one, it’s not going to be easy to pose the hatches open, unless you cut the decal up. (Difficult to do accurately.) The largest part went on relatively well, although the hinges of the crew hatch did present some problems. A generous application of decal setting solution immensely helped, but it was still not easy. I did manage to damage the decal with the brush trying to smooth it out and make it conform the raised details.
The part going over the extractor cover went on fine; the decal part going over the observation hatch, however was not that easy to apply. I could not put it on without forming a small fold at the corner. I trimmed it once the decal dried, and touched it up with some paint. Weathering also will help making these mistakes disappear. The decal is thin and of good quality otherwise; the casting texture is clearly visible underneath. All things considered it’s probably simpler just to mask the circle and paint it on using an airbrush.
Once the decals were dry I applied another layer of varnish in preparation for the whitewash.
I have applied AK Interactive’s chipping fluid slightly diluted with an airbrush for the “hairspray technique”, and once it was dry, I went over with Tamiya’s flat white (also very slightly diluted). It was dry to the touch in about twenty or so minute, so I started on chipping. Wet the surface and with a toothpick I made small nicks on the paint. These were gently extended using a wet brush. As a second round of chipping I waited about a day- enough time for the AK Interactive product to become “less active”. (As you wait, it becomes more and more difficult to create chips.) I’ve prepared an approx 1% ammonia solution using an ammonia containing cleaning product (Windex is fine), and used this over the surface of the model. (Ammonia dissolves Tamiya paints.) With a bit more vigorous brushwork I was able to create smaller, finer chips and scratches. This method (Windex chipping) is very suitable for making subtly worn surfaces, and complements the larger chips created by the “hairspray” technique.
This is the step where I installed the back of the engine compartment. I noticed that the bolt holes are not drilled in, which was odd, since MiniArt was very careful to add other details which would not be visible once the model is completed, so I quickly drilled the holes myself.
Once everything dried, I applied yet another layer of varnish to protect the work so far, and sprayed over a very light “washable white” from Mig. (I’ve tried a lot of off-the-shelf weathering products in this build.) Most of this layer was removed using a wet brush; the purpose applying it was to create a light white, transparent layer over the green paint showing through the whitewash.
After THIS dried, you guessed correctly, yet another layer of varnish was added, and I went on painting the branches, and adding the decals. Which were -for the last time- sealed with varnish.
Once this was all done I dirtied up the chassis a bit using oil paints (some light filters of burned sienna, and blending in small quantities of different shades of brown), adding oil washes, and applying a thick layer of dirty snow slush made from dark browns, black and a tiny bit of green to the lower chassis and the running gear. I added some oil stains to the engine deck and the folded-down armor plate on the back (AK Interactive’s product diluted in white spirit applied in several steps), and some diesel stains to the external tanks (Vallejo’s product- as I said, I stocked up on weathering products lately…)
As a last step I glued the top of the fighting compartment on in an “opened” position, so that the interior is actually visible.
That’s pretty much it.
Overall the building was enjoyable, although I did run into some problems of the kit (and of my own making). Nothing is really deal-breaking; most of the problems can be either fixed or circumvent if you have a little experience in model building. If you like to be challenged -and not because you’re building a dog of a kit- this model will be perfect for you; however I don’t think it’s suitable for beginners. It’s also a considerable investment of time and effort; it is certainly possible to burn out, and just shelve it for a time. If you don’t feel like including much of the interior, go for the “light” version which has less parts and is considerably cheaper, too. My fiancee said I was nuts for building and painting this much detail (and enjoying it), so take my words with a grain of salt. One thing is for sure: I’m proud of this kit, treasure it for the achievement I feel it was building it, and I’m ready to move on to a simpler model (or two) -until the next one. (Which, I suspect, is going to be a T-54 version with over a thousand parts…)
As a last step (well, series of steps) I added mud and dust to the tank. I did not want to make it look extremely muddy -probably not very realistic, and certainly not very appealing to the eyes. (Well, it’s a personal opinion.)
The other reason is that I’m not good with mud. I know. It’s horrible, but there you go: as far as mud goes I’m a noobie.
I’ll detail the process of mud-making, but unfortunately I have not made photos of the stages.
As a first step I mixed up earth colored pigments (from a railway model supply company), static grass and plaster in equal amounts. I added some water, and used this mixture on the wheels, the mudguards, and the lower part of the chassis.
(Instead of water you can use white spirit, enamel thinner or even earth colored enamel/acrylic paints, or other products. I think. I’ll experiment with these.) I also used the thinner part of this mixture to create splashes on top and on the side of the chassis.
All looked well until it dried… due to the plaster the color shifted to a much lighter complexion. (You can see it on the photos that show the splashes near the driver’s hatch.)
Well, I did not get a heart attack despite of this; the review for Armorama was finished, so I was free to experiment.
I took a stiff brush, and started rubbing some of the mud mixture off on the sloping front and on the back; it made it look like it was washed off over time. So far so good.
The color issue I solved with burned umber washes (this color is the best friend of every model builder…). I dabbed a loaded brush on the lower parts, and let the capillary action draw the paint upwards. Repeated a couple of times, and the results are not half bad: the top is still faded, light color, representing very dry mud; while it gets darker to the bottom, representing the still wet, fresher mud. The fact that the wash and the original mud application left some “tide marks” actually works in my favor now -it looks pretty damn authentic. Real mud leaves these marks as it dries, too. I successfully turned a lemon into lemonade I think. (The application was more of an experimental one -let’s see if it works- rather than a conscientious application of skills…)
I did the same with the wheels. The static grass gives a nice volume, and some hint for vegetation caught up in the mud; I have to say I’m pleased how it turned out, and feel pretty silly for not using this before. (I bought the static grass back in the US in 2008… It spent some time in my mother’s attic since then, but still. It is a very useful addition for any modeller’s toolset.)
The exhaust was treated with rust colored pigments mixed in enamel thinner. Once it tried different dark washes were added: simply loaded the brush and dabbed it onto the surface at random. The capillary action did the rest, creatinga nice-looking rusted look.
I’ve used light brown pigments on top of the turret and the chassis both dry (just dabbed on with a brush), and mixed with enamel thinner. In this case I used a clean brush to carefully blend in the spots. Some remained a tad darker -as if it was still wet a bit. The reasons I’m not sure about yet, but it does kind of look good, so I’ll take it. Again: the result of a happy accident. (Perhaps I should have said it was pure skill… next time.)
Parts of the tank were rubbed with dark steel pigment giving them a metallic shine.
For oil and fuel stains I used AK Interactive’s engine oil and fuel stain products. (I try to mix most of my stuff, but some are really useful.) First I created a very diluted solution, and made larger spots. Once dry I used a less diluted solution in the middle.This, with the dust layer underneath makes it look pretty good I think. (Second try on these products; and the first try I diluted them… The first try was not as convincing.)
Oh, the engine. Let’s not forget about the engine. I’m planning to display it just as I did with the T-34/85 – in front of the tank.
The engine block received the same bluish base color as the interior (I’m fairly certain the engine was bare metal, but I liked the color). The top was painted anthracite, and was rubbed with dark steel pigment -it gave it a nice, metallic sheen. (The same effect can be achieved with ground up graphite.)
The exhaust pipes were first painted with anthracite, same as the engineblock’s top. I mixed rust colored pigments with enamel thinner, and used this mixture to add a basic rust color and some texture to them. I’ve used soldering wire for the wiring. I’ve seen some amazing works which shows the ignition wires yellow, but watching this video of an ISU-152 I think it’s safe to go with silver.
Well, here it is. The deed is done. I need to attach the antenna, and mount it in a display box. Just in time for the MiniArt SU-122 with complete interior and the T-44M I’m reviewing… Keep tuned in; I have several interesting models from MiniArt and OKB to review.
I thought about writing up a short summary of the potential dangers lurking in our hobby as I’m not sure all of them are widely known. Let’s hope it’s something of use for everyone.
So here it goes.
Well, that’s a no-brainer. We cut with scalpels, saws and other sharp instruments. Common sense (and really sharp blades) are a must. Seriously: don’t try to work with a dull scalpel; it’s more dangerous than a sharp one.
Well, if we’re at the cutting stage… Resin is dangerous. I’m not kidding. It’s toxic when in liquid form (the fumes and the resin itself), so keep this in mind if you DO work with liquid resin, but you can basically eat it once solidified. However, cutting resin with a fine saw, or sanding it releases very fine dust. And this fine dust is a carcinogen -in other words, it’ll increase your chances of developing (mainly) lung cancer. It also stays airborne for a long-long time, giving a chance for everyone sharing the room with you to enjoy the health effects.
You should either wear a mask and work in a fume hood when your are producing resin dust, or, a simpler -and safer- solution is simply to use wet sawing/wet sanding techniques. In practice it means you should be working with resin under running water (or a constantly wetted saw/drill/sandpaper), so that the dust is immediately absorbed. This way you are not endangering yourself or your loved ones. (This is a thing to keep in mind for any activities that create fine dust- even carpentry. If you sand your model, use wet sanding techniques, period.)
Dangerous chemicals: glues, paints and fumes
Well, yeah. A lot of the stuff we use have organic solvents. Adhesives, paints, glues… and organic solvents, such as turpentine, white spirit, benzene (I believe this one is not in any of our stuff, though), toluene, etc. are NOT good for you. At all.
When you use glue, have proper ventilation. You can also use special glues that are less toxic, such as Tamiya’s Limonene. Sometimes you can consider using simple white glue; surprisingly, it can have multiple uses. As a turpentine/white spirit alternative you can get ZestIt, which is a much more gentle alternative. (I’m trying to avoid doing product endorsements, but in these cases I did not find any other alternatives.)
Superglue is a separate issue altogether. It was used to glue wounds together on the field in Vietnam, until the injured could be evacuated to proper medical facilities, so no surprise here that it’s perfectly capable of gluing fingers together. Pulling will only tear the skin off – use debonder, or acetone to release your fingers. The fumes of the glue are not very safe to inhale either, so, again- ventilation. (The fumes are also perfectly capable of “frosting” any clear parts or finished paintwork, so ventilation is also quite important to avoid ruining the model if you add parts after the painting phase.
Painting… there are several types used in modelling, as we know. I will not go into all the different types; there are several detailed explanations online what paints are available for an average modeller. Just a short (and somewhat incorrect) introduction from the point of health and safety. The so-called enamel paints have nasty organic solvents, but have better properties; many people prefer to use these for their work. The solvents used in acrylic ones are less dangerous but you make trade-offs with the durability and coverage. (Personally I don’t use enamels at all.) When you brush any model paints, ventilation is, again, a must.
Solvents are only one side of the equation, though. Airbrushing paint creates small particles of paint in the air… and as we know, small airborne particles are not good for you. When you use your airbrush, it is imperative that you either are in a very, very well ventilated area (such as outside of your house – I sometimes paint on the patio), or, better yet, you use a spray booth. I cannot stress this part enough: if you use an airbrush, get yourself a paint booth. You can either buy one (the price ranges from expensive to very, very, very expensive), or you can make one using stuff you can get from any DIY store.
If you go with the buying option, there are affordable, folding versions available; I can wholeheartedly recommend those. (They save on space, if you don’t live in a mansion.)
If you make one, just get a large plastic box, a brushless fume extractor (this can be important, as organic fumes and electric sparks are not very good together), some HePa filters, and ducting – even with mediocre skills one can build a pretty functional fume hood. I went this way when I was in Florida, but had to leave it behind when I moved across the ocean. It cost about 50 dollars altogether, and took about 3 hours to construct. (Test it with a scented candle or something of that sort: if the smell/scent does not come out of the hood, you’re fine.)