Tag Archives: mud

Gear Acquisition Syndrome

 

This post is the missing pair of the “Should you hoard?” post…

It’s about the well-known syndrome all hobbists suffer from regardless of their chosen hobby: the gear acquisition syndrome.

Simply put we are very much prone to buy newer and newer additions to our respective hobbies, even if we do not actually use them. This is more of a problem when you sink in thousands of dollars in new lenses you will use once or twice, than for model builders – our trinkets cost way less. But this also means we can buy them more often. An exciting, new product to stimulate rust? Sign me up even though I have not learned to use the previous new, exciting product yet! New line of acrylic paints? In with the new, even though I have similar colors still in their bottle! They will make all the difference, after all! Special filters to simulate aging? Bring it on! …And the list goes on. I think companies bank on this tendency when they roll out the newest and bestest(est) products which promise to help you achieve professional, award winning results with minimal effort on our part. More often than not I have been very disappointed in these products. In some cases I could not use them -no user’s guide is usually provided-, so the results were not as spectacular as I was led to believe, and often my old-school methods worked better. (Once learning to use them I usually found that the results were no better or worse than the techniques I used before.) Sometimes the product was simply not good – acrylic filters that jumped into small droplets even on the flattest surfaces, for example, or acrylic fillers that shrink and do not actually fill cavities. (Acrylic weathering products, in general, are somewhat difficult to use, due to the high surface tension of water. They do not spread as easily as the solvent-based products; the price you pay for being friendlier to your brain cells.) They might just cost more than the repurposed non-modelling product you have been using before – I’m thinking about odorless mineral spirit, for example, or, and I say this with great tepidation, acrylic pencils which you can buy in art stores; but artists’ oil paints are also on this list, among a million other items you used to go to artists’ stores before.

The truth is this: only practice will produce great results. Putting something out of the bottle onto the model will not achieve the expected effect, even though this is what you see on the label. (Many times what you see is the result of using multiple products -a very prominent issue with the different “mud” products*- ; an advertising technique I find somewhat dubious in morality.)

I am not saying you should not buy the special filter set for tonal modulation or a specific rust set with all sorts of colors (in fact, I do have a set of rust colored paints I really like); what I am trying to say is that do not buy everything that strikes your fancy (I also have a set of rust filters I do regret spending money on). Buyer’s remorse will be the result more often than not, and having stuff lying around you have forgotten to try. (I was really surprised the other day to find that I do have a couple of dust-products I did not have a recollection of buying.) Always think if you need something, always read reviews, watch youtube videos before buying. These products can make your life simpler and help you achieve great results, after all.

 

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*I was really excited when the first mud-in-the-bottle products arrived, especially seeing the labels with photos of muddy tracks and wheels (realistic dust and mud is still a holy grail for me), only to get a product that was a somewhat thick, greyish-brownish slush. When you apply it, it looks uniform and unrealistic. Then you learn you also need the resin beads, the special grass imitation, and three other tones of mud, plus the same tones in “splashed mud” configuration to produce the results you see on the photo -a significant investment, and not at all what was promised by the photo on the product. Using plaster, pigments, sand or even real soil will yield the same results; the only thing the ready-made product makes it easier for you -and this is a big thing I do admit- is that you don’t have to fret about the colors and tones.

MiniArt T-44 part.6 Finished at last

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Well, this has been a journey.

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.)

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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.

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The strap for the fuel tank was re-glued after the photo session

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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.)

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Parts of the tank were rubbed with dark steel pigment giving them a metallic shine. zyr6yyreszhgqr

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.)

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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.wwpg9nr

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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.

Beating up Trumpeter’s T-55

Phase two of the early experiments on scratches.

I used Trumpeter’s excellent T-55, and got on with the work. This time I had not used an airbrush simply because I did not have one yet in Europe. (The one I did have had been put in storage in the US.)

So: dark green base color first (painted the external fuel tanks in a slightly different green), then a very light green drybrush to mark the areas where wear and tear would scratch the paint off. At the deeper scratches I used an even lighter green, and in the middle of these scratches I went in with Vajello’s German Cam. Black Brown to simulate the exposed metal.

The whole tank then got a couple of layers of filters. I dabbed small amount of green, blue, yellow, and burnt umber oil paints onto the surface, and using a wet brush with downwards strokes I removed as much as I could, only leaving hints of the color on the tank. Then waited a couple of days for the paint to dry, and repeated it. The thing about tanks is that unlike airplane models, they actually look better if their surface is not uniform. (To my eyes, at least.)

 

The mud was done using ground up pastels, fixed with Mig’s Pigment Fixer solution.

On the lower chassis I wet the surface with the fixer, and then carefully sprinkled the pigments on from a brush. O the top of the chassis I mixed the two together, and used a brush to apply it. Before it dried I used a cotton swab to remove some of it with downward, streaking motion, to simulate the effect of weather on the splattered mud.