Wednesday, 15 May 2019

HQ12-02 Race Queen [WIP - Mixing Pantone Color of the Year 2016 and Painting Basecoats for Racing Attire]

At this early stage of the Race Queen attire I sought only to apply the mid-tones of the clothing's color scheme, which in my way of doing things is synonymous with the basecoat layer. As to the colors themselves, I went for a previously used combination namely the Pantone Color of the Year 2016 comprising Rose Quartz and Serenity. The Vallejo Model Color rough equivalents are 70.944 Old Rose and 70.902 Azure respectively (both tinted with 70.951 White).  

atelier iT 1/12 scale Race Queen work-in-progress: Preliminary basecoats for her racing attire
At this stage the racing attire basecoat colors have yet to painted with their shadows and highlight

Shadows for the mid-tones will play a big part in the added accuracy as well as an even closer match to the Pantone Color of the Year 2016. Such shading can be created by adding either small amounts of 70.958 Pink to 70.944 Old Rose and/or an Old Rose/White mixture; and 70.839 Ultramarine to 70.902 Azure and/or an Azure/White mixture. I'll expound on this in the next Race Queen update. At this point in time I applied the mid-tones to see if the general color scheme fits her skin tone. 

A trial and error process towards achieving a close match for the Pantone Color of the Year 2016 

Because of her fairly large size, the 1/12 scale Race Queen tends to react with light much more naturally when compared to the tinier 1/60 or even 1/144 scale figurines I've worked with before. What this essentially means is that the Race Queen will require less contrasting of hues i.e. lighter shadows and darker highlights, and let natural lighting effects take care of the rest. Of course adding different hues to the basecoat colors will make the color scheme more aesthetically pleasing. However care must be taken not to overdo the contrasting, especially in larger scale figurines.     

Pantone Color of the Year 2016 - Rose Quartz and Serenity

As alluded to earlier, I had used this color combination before on an earlier project. But back then I wasn't too particular about how close a match the painted colors were to the real thing. This time I did so I tried my best to get as close to the actual Pantone colors as I could.

All important mid-tone of the Race Queen's attire is now done and it awaits shadows and highlights

Sadly the photos above don't really do justice to how close the painted basecoat colors do indeed match the Pantone Rose Quartz and Serenity hues, to the naked eye. There are just too many variables involved, some controllable some not, ranging from photography lighting to camera settings to PC/laptop color display settings and monitor quality. Even if every aforementioned variable is set to perfection the colors still might not look right to an observer with an uncalibrated electronic display incapable of handling high color accuracy. So you will just have to take my word for it.      

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Saturday, 11 May 2019

Transformers Bumblebee in Volkswagen Beetle form [WIP - Finding a Close Match of the Bumblebee Yellow]

In this latest stage of my work on the Volkswagen Beetle form of Transformers Bumblebee, no assembly of parts was carried out at all. Instead, I began looking for a close approximation of the iconic Bumblebee Yellow using the paints I had in my possession. The closest I had was a yellow lacquer paint from the Mr. Color GX series which is supposed to be brighter in tone, stronger in coating and greater in coverage. It can be argued that a lighter shade of yellow wouldn't have been out of place too but it's this particular tone of yellow (see below) I decided to go with.

Tamiya 1/24 Volkswagen 1300 Beetle (1966 Model) work-in-progress: First layer of Bumblebee Yellow

Any online research for colors can never rally be 100% accurate. There are too many uncontrollable variables at play such as the image might have been edited, the display monitor may have low color space (sRGB/Adobe RGB) accuracy, etc. So short of being physically next to the actual vehicle used in the movie set, you just never know for sure. So after a fair bit of research, I came across three reasonably consistent images of the Bumblebee Beetle under three different lighting conditions namely cloudy, sunny and artificial light (see below). The yellow in question is both bright and light.

A Volkswagen Beetle on the Bumblebee film set during what looks like a cloudy day
Said Volkswagen Beetle, this time located in arid conditions on a sunny day
Last but not least, the Bumblebee Volkswagen Beetle indoors under artificial lighting

For variations in the yellow I decided to play around with the underlying primer coat instead of mixing different tints of the hue. With this objective in mind, I used the Mr. Finishing Surfacer 1500 (Black), Tamiya Fine Surface Primer (Light Gray) and Tamiya Fine Surface Primer (White).

Primers used in  color test: Mr Finishing Surfacer 1500 Black, Tamiya Fine Surface Primer Light Gray and White 
Color test using plastic spoons primed with the aforementioned primer spray cans (see photo above)

Meanwhile as to the yellow itself, I used the Mr. Color GX 4 Chiara Yellow thinned with Mr. Color Leveling Thinner at a ratio of 1:1. This was subsequently sprayed onto the spoons with different colored primer coats. As expected, the spoon with the white primer coat had the brightest yellow while the one with the black primer coat had the most muted yellow. On the spoon with a light gray prime coat, the yellow had a mid-range brightness but seem to be the most light. It seemed closest to the Bumblebee Yellow I was after. It made sense too as most real-life cars are primed in gray.

Closet hue to the Bumble Yellow I had was the Mr Color GX4 Chiara Yellow
Chiara Yellow painted on top of plastic spoons with (from left to right) black, light gray and white primer

One disadvantage to airbrushing is the tedious need to mask areas that require or have been painted with other colors. For this I used Tamiya masking tapes and some cheap cling wrap.

Masking of the assembled part thus far using a combination of masking tape and cling wrap
Only this half-hexagonal shaped flat surface will received a coat of Mr.Color GX Chiara Yellow

To be frank I suck at masking, at least for now. It would seem like a no-brainer task but like all techniques they require some trial and error as well as experience to get right. I'm not there yet. Even after covering up everything with cling wrap and masking tape, some holes still inexplicably existed that allowed the paint to get in as far as to the engine at the back. Luckily the damage caused by the paint overspray wasn't overly bad. I managed to fix the issues with some brush painting by hand. 

A light gray version of the Tamiya Fine Surface Primer was chosen as the primer coat
Despite my best efforts at masking, some overspray of paint unfortunately seeped inside to the parts
Light reflecting of the yellows seem to give the surrounding background surface a yellowish green tint
Despite my best efforts at masking, paint overspray unfortunately still seeped inside
Thankfully effects of the paint overpsray wasn't too bad and I could hand paint over the resulting damage
First section of the Volkswagen Beetle painted with yellow and now awaiting weathering
So the first yellows have been laid down. And things are only going to get tougher from here on out as Bumblebee in Beetle form slowly takes shape. But challenges should be relished if we are to enjoy our hobby and I definitely intend to. So much so that I plan to pile even more projects onto my already cluttered worktable. The rationale being to keep myself so busy that I don't have the time to think and unnecessarily fuss over minute details like only a silly perfectionist can. Anyway, the weekend is here so here's wishing you get to spend it the way you want it. Cheers!

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Friday, 3 May 2019

HQ12-02 Race Queen [WIP - Hair & Early Work on Face]

What is past is prologue ... so goes the oft quoted Shakespearean line from The Tempest. While in modern times this phrase has frequently taken on a meaning different from that intended in the play, it is the original interpretation which applies in my case. For it seems whatever technique I had learned and applied in the past had almost no bearing on the painting of the Race Queen's skin tone. I say almost because her eyes, lips, teeth and fingernails will still see the application of old acrylic painting methods. But hitherto the rest of her skin tone had been largely painted using new techniques like airbrushing of lacquer paints; dry-brushing of pastel hues; and hand painting of oil paints.          

1/12 scale Race Queen work-in-progress: Her hair and early stages of her face
Skin tone is on the fair side, exaggerated black hair, dark background and unpainted clothes ...
... but her skin tone should look relatively less fair once her facial features and clothes are painted in

Building on earlier firsts with lacquers and pastels, this session saw oil paints added to my existing repertoire of skin tone painting techniques. In the past, I usually used acrylic paints to paint the blush hues on a female figurine's cheekbones. But because acrylic paint dries extremely fast it's difficult to correct mistakes. Alternatively, I found the use of oil paints more flexible due to its slower drying time and the ease in which mistakes can be corrected with careful use of white spirit. Blush hues on the Race Queen's face comprised a mix of Winton Oil Color Flesh Tint and Permanent Rose

For her blush, a Winton Oil Color mixture of Flesh Tint and Permanent Rose was used
For her lips a mix of Vallejo Carmine Red and Salmon Pink was used; for her eye sclera and teeth Reaper Leather White
For her hair, various layers of Vallejo Model Color Black, German Camouflage Black Brown and Burnt Umber was used

A previous attempt at painting black hair gave rise to plenty of misgivings as I wasn't entirely happy with the final outcome. This time around aided by both an arguably better sculpt of a head of hair and the use of black paint as a basecoat (versus a lighter black brown in the earlier attempt). The former allows the contrast in colors to stand out more while the latter prevents the black hair from becoming too brownish. Acrylic paints used for her hair comprised Vallejo Model Color 70.950 Black, 70.822 German Camouflage Black Brown and 70.941 Burnt Umber.

Random strands of the Race Queen's black hair received extra highlights ...  
... which help to create a sense of volume in her hair
Contrast between the hair and clothes will lessen once her outfit is painted
Hair on top of her head received the least highlights ...
... which essentially means the main source of light isn't from above but instead it's coming from the sides

As you can see from the photos above and below, the Race Queen has an extremely fair complexion. Now there's a reason for this. I needed her skin to be fair in order to suitably contrast against the color scheme of her clothes, which odds-on should be light pastel hues incorporating skin-like hues.  

As this is still early stages of her face, some red from her lips had bled into the teeth
While there is more work to be done on her lips, I'm happy with the color of her lipstick
A light pink blush seems suited to her fair facial skin tone, for now

As much as I enjoy working on sci-fi and military vehicles, it's the time I spent on figurines that most invigorates me. On that note I hope to add more miniature figurines into my project pipeline in the near future. For reasons I'll explain later, there is a high likelihood that I'll add up to five new projects (two anime figurines and three anime mechas) to the existing five on my work table. It seems crazy if you think about it but there is a method to my madness. All will be made clear, eventually. For now it's good bye and thanks for checking out my progress on the Race Queen. Cheers! 

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Friday, 26 April 2019

Transformers Bumblebee in Volkswagen Beetle form [WIP - Fan Housing & Engine Installation]

To paraphrase Colonel John "Hannibal" Smith, I love it when a kit slowly comes together. Sometimes to prevent hobby malaise from settling in, one must meander through relatively tedious bits which largely occur when assembling and painting individual parts of a greater sum you can not yet see. But when a part of the bigger picture starts to take shape, the feeling of accomplishment is a tangible one. It further fuels the desire to continue work on the kit therefore keeping any hobby malaise in check. And so it is with the Volkswagen Beetle 1300 engine as it gradually unfolds before my very eyes.

Bottom view (from left) shows muffler connected to exhaust manifold heat exchangers located on either side of the oil strainer while what seems to be the rear suspension/brakes link the undercarriage to the engine
Top view (from left) shows the fan housing and belt on the engine with the heat exchangers, rear suspension/brakes and transmission located between the engine and the upper part of the undercarriage onto which interior parts will attach

What you see above is the actually the results of Steps 3 and 4 of the Tamiya 1/24 scale Volkswagen Beetle 1300 (1966) kit. As with the earlier steps, I had decided to paint up the individual parts first before assembling them all together. Up to this point, the color scheme is pretty much a black and metallic combo with a smattering of engine grime and oil to up the realism factor.

Instructions for the Volkswagen 1300 Beetle fan housing and engine installation
Undercarriage, fan housing, fan belt, muffler, exhaust manifold heat exchangers, etc. were painted before assembly
Only new material used from previous step was the Tamiya X-11 Chrome Silver acrylic paint in lacquer thinner

Other than the paints and weathering materials in the previous steps, only one new paint was used namely the Tamiya X-11 Chrome Silver thinned using lacquer thinner instead of the Tamiya X-20A acrylic paint thinner. This is possible because Tamiya acrylic paints are formulated such that they work equally well with lacquer thinner. One advantage of using lacquer thinner to thin Tamiya acrylic paints is that the resulting coat is supposedly stronger. Personally I did it just to test out whether there was any truth to the claim that Tamiya acrylics could mix with lacquer thinner.

Front view: engine as it stands now prominently shows the muffler, fan belt/housing, intake manifold, ignition coil, etc.
In an angled view, the exhaust manifold heat exchangers (running from the muffler to undercarriage) becomes visible
Nestled in the middle, between the engine and undercarriage, is the transmission

Only at extreme closeups does one begin to truly appreciate the details inherent in this Tamiya kit. To achieve this I dusted off my dedicated macro lens and snapped most of the photos on this blog post. 

Viewing angle above affords a better of the VW Beetle transmission
Back of fan housing lacks detail, presumably becomes it will be glued/attached to another part
Wheel-like contraptions attached to the rear axle are the rear brakes
A huge part of what can be seen now may not be visible after additional assembly steps
Can you spot the difference between the flat aluminum and chrome silver? The latter is shinier

With the undercarriage attached to the engine, the platform upon which the Volkswagen Beetle will be built is now set. It's unlikely that the undercarriage will remain in its current state i.e. semigloss black finish with minimal wash effects. Final weathering plans isn't set in stone. But based on the Bumblebee movie, chances are it will involve addition of brown or ocherish dry mud and dirt.  

Undercarriage was primed in black, coated in semigloss clear coat and given a black wash; weathering comes later
Oil strainer is surrounded by the muffler, exhaust manifold heat exchangers and transmission
Look closely at the oil strainer and you can see some spilled oil effects
Undercarriage protrusions fit snugly enough atop the transmission and to the side of the oil strainer
For an assembly consisting of many tiny parts, the assembled whole is surprisingly sturdy

Painting up the parts first before assembling them together certainly has its pros and cons. Pros - it makes color separation easier while livening up the assembly process. Cons - it can make the assembly process harder by coating joints in paint or result in damage to the paint while the parts are being forced together. In the case of the Beetle, both pros and cons have occurred. That being said, I wouldn't have it any other way as the pros largely outweigh the cons, for this kit anyway.

Color scheme so far comprises all manner of blacks and metallics covered with engine grime and oil
Flat aluminum surfaces look more realistic after being weathered with engine grime
Black surfaces take on either a gloss, semigloss or flat look to offer variation to the monotone scheme
Only uncertainty thus far is whether I've attached the muffler correctly to the exhaust manifold; time will tell
Undercarriage factory-new look will likely undergo further dry mud and dirt weathering

Next two steps will involve the Beetle's front uprights and suspensions, on the other end of the undercarriage. So there's still much work to be done before the more visible car interior and body is even touched upon. Slow and steady, I always say. For I know no other approach to this hobby.

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