Wednesday, 31 October 2018

HQ12-02 Race Queen [WIP - Skin Tone Test using Flesh Colored Tamiya Weathering Pastels]

Airbrushed skin tones are great, and I love the results I've gotten so far. But by itself, airbrushed skin tones are incomplete especially around facial features and hands. Such detailed areas require more finesse which is the purview of hand painting. In addition to applying acrylic, enamel or even lacquer colors by hand using the good old paint brush, I am also trying to learn new techniques involving the use of hard and/or soft pastels. This initial test seeks to discover how the pastel colors would look against a general light flesh hue as well as how Tamiya pastels would react to a lacquer varnish.

Tamiya Weathering Master G and H sets for figures

Before delving into the details of this quick test, I would first like to draw your attention to the final results as can be seen in the immediate photo below. From top to bottom, the pastel hues are salmon, caramel, chestnut, pale orange, ivory and lastly peach. All the pastel hues had been sealed onto the light flesh basecoat with a semi-gloss clear coat. These 'quickfire tests' are partly responsible for my lengthy project completion times. Sadly they are also a testament to my idiosyncrasy of trying to perfect techniques before the first drop of paint even hits a miniature figurine. While there is merit in learning as you do, I unfortunately tend to err on the side of caution. Not always but mostly.

Pastels applied on a basecoat of light flesh hue and sealed with semi-gloss clear coat

For the flesh colored weathering pastels test, a piece of Tamiya Pla Plate (essentially a white styrene sheet) was used in lieu of an actual resin figurine. The sheet was first primed with the Mr Hobby Mr Base White 1000 before being basecoated with a fairly light flesh color from Gaianotes. Just a quick note for those of you whom may wish to run similar tests. A recent visit to Gaianotes' website show that this particular flesh color is no longer in production anymore. But its a fairly standard light flesh color whose close equivalent can be easily sourced. In fact the basecoat color used will change depending on the subject matter at hand i.e. the specific skin tone look you are after.  

From left to right: the primer, paint thinner, flesh-colored paint and clear coat used in the skin tone test
Gaia color Ex-Flesh lacquer paint formed the basecoat onto which the pastels were applied

Tamiya Weathering Master sets are more widely known among the AFV scale model community, especially the earlier sets A to E. The flesh colored sets aren't new either but I have yet to see them in use by miniature painters. Instead, I've seen artist grade hard pastels like Primacolor NuPastel being used to create natural skin tone shadow on resin figurines. In running this test, I'm assuming that the Tamiya's weathering pastels work in a similar (or almost similar) fashion.      

Pastels from Tamiya's figure sets comprise salmon, caramel, chestnut, pale orange, ivory and peach colors
Tamiya Weathering Master sets look a lot like wet soft pastels
Latex eyeshadow applicators were used to transfer the pastels onto the paint

Texture is the one clear difference that sets the Tamiya pastels apart from its regular art counterparts. While the former has a consistency closely resembling eyeshadow makeup, the latter is hard and chalky. Both require different application techniques. In Tamiya's case, its just a matter of using any commercially available eyeshadow applicator (see above), preferably latex-based, to transfer the pastel hue from the set onto the intended surface area. Hard pastels require a different application technique akin to dry brushing in parts. Explaining it would require another blog tutorial entirely.

Comparisons of how each pastel flesh color looked against a light flesh basecoat

Due to the hot and humid conditions that I work in, I have a strong preference for lacquer-based varnishes because they tend to provide a better finish overall. This is not always possible as the underlying paint type might be too 'weak' to withstand a lacquer-based clear coat finish. To be sure, an additional test was required. After the pastel hues have had a few days to dry, they were then sealed in using a lacquer-based semi-gloss clear coat. I don't want to jinx it but early results seem to indicate the lacquer-based clear coat did not have any adverse effect on the Tamiya pastel colors.

Pastel colors were sealed in using Mr Hobby's Mr Super Clear lacquer-based varnish

So there you have it, a test to see how Tamiya flesh colored weathering pastels look on a light flesh basecoat after being sealed in with a semi-gloss lacquer clear coat. Now that's quite a mouthful. And before you think it, this is not my comeback to the hobby ... not yet. It's just more chronicling of past work I had done. And it's with little fanfare my hobby malaise enters its ninth week seeing that I didn't post anything at all last week. Alas it's the longest stretch of artistic inactivity I've ever had since I started this hobby. If only the solution as simple as the one provided by a character named Roy in the British comedy The IT Crowd ... "Hello, IT. Have you tried turning it off and on again?"

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Hobby malaise drags on into its seventh week

Once a feeling of inertia sets in, it rarely lets go of its ugly grip on me. This path of malaise is winding on and on with seemingly no end in sight. Sure, real life is throwing more than its fair share of issues to deal with which inevitably eats into any free time I've left for the hobby. But then again, even during those rare periods when I do have some free time to play with, they aren't being spent productively on the hobby at all. Therein lies the real problem. I'm starting to set goals of being productive at a hobby I'm supposed to just enjoy doing. Milestones to hit; targets to achieve.       

So what can I do to break out of this funk that I'm in? As with all things mental, thinking too much about it isn't much help. Taking a break from the hobby was the reason I'm in this funk in the first place. A change of scenery isn't an option when there's never any budget for a proper family holiday. Binge watching TV just made me lazier. Play PC games? Check! But as enjoyable as PC gaming can be, it's undeniably a huge time sink. So that leaves me with either doing some menial hobby tasks to get back into the groove or perhaps draw portraits again for a change of pace. Anyway I leave you now with a quote from Eeyore, We can’t all, and some of us don’t. That’s all there is to it.

Friday, 5 October 2018

MENG Model Sd.Kfz.182 King Tiger with Henschel Turret [WIP - Part 2 of 2: Three-tone camouflage]

To complete the King Tiger's three-tone camouflage (sans weathering), I had to touch up the overspray and paint splatters resulting from a less than ideal masking process. These fixes were carried out using Tamiya acrylic paint color equivalents (i.e. XF-60 Dark Yellow, XF-61 Dark Green and XF-64 Red Brown) of the lacquer spray paints I used earlier. Tamiya had just recently released lacquer paints in bottles (presumably with similar properties as their paint spray cans) but I didn't have the budget to get those so I made do with acrylic equivalents I already had in my possession.

MENG King Tiger work-in-progress: Part 2 of the three-tone camouflage process

Due to the rather fine camouflage patterns on the gun barrel, I decided to hand paint the lines rather than go through the hassle of masking then airbrushing them. Normally I wouldn't hand paint with Tamiya acrylics because they are more suited for airbrushing. But I had made an exception for the touch up process to ensure a better match of colors with the Tamiya lacquer spray paints I had used to paint the three-tone camouflage i.e. TS-1 Red Brown, TS-2 Dark Green and TS-3 Dark Yellow. Even then the acrylic hues came up much lighter in tonal quality versus their lacquer equivalents.     

Finer camouflage patterns on the gun barrel was painted by hand using Tamiya acrylics
Camouflage patterns on the gun barrel were meant to replicate those on Tank 124 of Pz.Abt. 505
Top down view of the camouflage patterns on the King Tiger gun barrel

In hindsight, there were perhaps some steps I could've taken to prevent having to fix the overspray and paint splatters. Chief among them would be to use a quality masking putty instead of a cheap rubber mastic adhesive (essentially a reusable adhesive putty). Coming close behind would be to apply the three-tone camouflage with an airbrush instead of using Tamiya lacquer paint spray cans. In reality though, I can do neither, even going forward. Firstly, a quality masking putty is not within my budget for now. And secondly, I've my existing inventory of Tamiya paint spray cans to clear first.

Imperfect masking resulted in some red brown and dark green paint overspray on the dunkelgelb basecoat
Tamiya acrylics was used to cover up the lacquer paint overspray/splatters

Use of acrylic paint used to fix the lacquer-based overspray and paint splatter gave rise to a slight tonal variation in the camouflage colors. As a rule of thumb, acrylic paints tend to look lighter in tone after drying. Here, the paints already looked lighter during application i.e. when it was still wet. One way to avoid this tonal variation could be to use Tamiya's recently released lacquer paints in a bottle. In the past, hobbyists had supposedly used Tamiya unique acrylics with lacquer thinners to good effect. So that could be the reason it took them so long to release their own bottled lacquer paints. Technically unnecessary perhaps but a good marketing move nonetheless.

Oversprays of dark greens over red browns and vice versa also occurred
Tamiya acrylic equivalents of the lacquer colors had a slightly lighter tonal qualities

However I'm actually not too worried about the differences in color tonal quality for the camouflage colors. Subsequent weathering processes will likely alter and vary the three base camouflage colors anyway. More so when applying weathering techniques such as oil dot filtering.

Certain sections of the hull wasn't painted fully and evenly e.g. dark green over dunkelgelb
Yet more fixes with the Tamiya acrylics over the sprayed on lacquer paints

At this stage the whole tank looks a bit flat. This is accentuated by the fact that tank accessories such as the pioneer tools, tow cables and hooks, exhaust pipes, etc. have yet to be painted. The King Tiger should look much better once all its exterior details are filled in with paint. 

Area with dark green overspray should be pure dunkelgelb as this area is supposes to have been covered by side skirts
Of the three colors, the tonal discrepancy between lacquer and acrylics is least noticeable on the dunkelgelb

Those eagle-eyed among would've noticed that a fair amount of overspray splatter still remain even after the touch up. But I'm not too worried about doing a perfect touch up job as the weathering process should cover up any leftover overspray and paint splatter. My primary aim was to fix the more glaring paint discrepancies which weathering would not be able to conceal.  

Existence of many accessory parts on the King Tiger's rear meant masking was least effective here
Rest of the leftover paint overspray/splatter discrepancies can be easily covered up by weathering
Paint splatters and overspray are still visible in places but all will be well after weathering

There is another reason why I haven't done any painting or assembling these past five weeks. I had surrendered my work table to my son so he could've a place to study for his year-end exams. Now that that's done and dusted, I have my table back and should be able to start painting again ... soon. I would've started already but for a disruption in my water supply. So I'm left twiddling my thumbs for a bit longer. Being a messy guy and cleanliness freak (an oxymoronic psyche?) means I spend a lot of time cleaning up. So no water supply equals hobby time coming to a halt. So soon then.

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