Saturday, 26 January 2019

MENG Model Sd.Kfz.182 King Tiger [WIP - Oil Paint Rendering and/or Oil Dot Filter Weathering]

With so many terms being bandied about by modelers to label the oil paint weathering techniques used on scale model AFVs (armored fighting vehicles), it's no surprise confusion reigns as to what's what. Two techniques which stood out were the macro approach of Oil Dot Filter Weathering and Michael Rinaldi's Oil Paint Rendering which 'micro-manages' colors. What started out as a straightforward try at the former slowly morphed into a considered attempt of the latter. End results were a mash-up of both techniques and a pure application of either on sections of the King Tiger.    

Work-in-progress: King Tiger turret and upper hull after oil paints

To modulate/weather the German WW2 three tone camouflage pattern, Abteilung 502 scale modeling oil paints - namely Snow White, Black, Magenta, Yellow, Payne's Grey, Intense Blue, Olive Green, Raw Umber and Neutral Grey - were used. Experience garnered from the initial test run was critical in avoiding a dull monotone look. One way was to reduce usage of pure black in the oil painting process. But more than that, it also involved finding out through trial and error what combination of oil hues on which camouflage color (i.e. green, brown or yellow) worked best. A random placement of oil paints before blending with white spirit doesn't quite cut it as I found out during the test run.

Oil paint rendering/dot filter weathering produces tonal and hue variations on the three-tone camouflage
Rendering/Weathering with oil paint is much easier on non-zimmerit areas
When blended on yellow sections of the gun mantlet, the white oil paint simulates a faded, weathered look 
When rendering/weathering on surfaces with zimmerit, care is taken to prevent oil paint from pooling in the crevices
Decals held up to some rough work during the oil paint rendering process

If I hadn't come across this oil paint technique, I would've probably been stuck doing simple black or dark brown washes (not pin washes; see next paragraph for clarification) over the entire tank. It's only after I had done oil paint rendering and oil dot filter weathering that I realized the limitations of using just black or dark brown as your weathering go-to hues. Having better tonal/hue variation makes the whole piece look that more interesting, not to mention much more realistic. 

It's a bit trickier to perform oil paint rendering/weathering on the gun barrel's small surface area ...
... but end results make it worthwhile as every little tonal/hue variation makes the piece look better

At this stage, it should be pointed out that no outlines (or pin washes) have been done on the King Tiger. As opposed to a general wash, pin washes are more specific in application and bring out details such as rivets and weld lines in a tank. Pin washes tend to have a consistency (or surface tension) which allows them flow easily into the nook and crannies of a tank's surface area be it turret, hull or wheels. What this will do is to create depth in the overall look of the scale model. For now, nada.

Oil paints give the surface area of the King Tiger's hull a weathered look
Tools on the front section of the hull such as the axe (left) and hammer (right) will be painted soon
Front glacis of the King Tiger looks less bland after oil paints have been applied and blended in
Oil rendering/weathering wasn't applied to sections of the hull where the road wheels attach ...

Meanwhile, no oil paint rendering and oil dot filter weathering was carried out in the lower section of the hull side where the roads are to be attached. The reason for this is that that section will likely undergo an extensive yet different type of weathering e.g. mud and dirt which would've covered up any tonal/hue variations that was created. As such, that section was left untouched.

... reason being that a different kind of weathering will be applied to the hull side's lower section
At this stage, a lack of depth is to be expected as pin washes (outlines) have yet to be carried out
Tonal and hue variation afforded by oils isn't as critical on the rear seeing there's a lot of details yet to be painted
Another angle of the results of the oil paint rendering/weathering on the King Tiger's hull

Next up will be to create a sense of depth to the whole piece. That as mentioned above woud entail the use of pin washes in an outlining step. Also if I can find the time, I would also like to paint up the accessory details on the King Tiger such as its pioneer tools, exhaust pipes, tow hooks and cables. I find myself looking forward to working on the tank, the more it takes shape. It's a great feeling versus the hobby malaise I found myself in during the last quarter of 2018. Long may it continue!

Sunday, 20 January 2019

Tamiya 1/24 Scale Volkswagen 1300 Beetle, 1966 Model [Unboxing & Pre-Assembly Review]

My earliest memory of a car ride was that of a hot, sunny day and how much havoc it was wrecking on my five-year-old tushy. For you see, my cousins and I had been bundled onto the PVC-covered backseat of a Volkswagen Beetle. So there we were, bouncing up and down, trying hard to minimize contact with the uncomfortably warm plastic seats as my aunt's beige-colored Beetle pulled slowly away from the driveway. Fast forward forty odd years later, I finally get to build and paint up a car I'm overly fond of; by using the Tamiya 1/24 scale Volkswagen 1300 Beetle (1966 Model)

Tamiya 1/24 scale Volkswagen 1300 Beetle (1966 Model)
Side box art showing the exterior and interior of a Volkswagen Beetle in Bahama Blue colors
This Tamiya 1/24 scale model car kit has the item code number 24136 

Even at 1/24 scale, the box containing the Volkswagen Beetle model kit is much smaller than most 1/35 scale model tank kits. That's to be expected as heavy tanks found during World War II easily dwarfed your average car in both size and presence. Inside the box, sprues and parts were kept in plastic bags which Tamiya has traditionally kept 'sealed' using just a few staples. Enclosed info sheet and assembly instructions came in four languages namely English, Japanese, German and French.

Unboxed and ready for a pre-assembly inspection of the parts and sprues
Info sheet and assembly instructions for the Volkswagen 1300 Beetle

Straight off the bat upon opening the box, my eye was drawn to the iconic round shape body of the Beetle (see below). You can't miss it. Details of the exterior and interior parts are excellent. Just looking at them brings back childhood memories of time spent fiddling with the dashboard and steering wheel in a make believe playtime drive-around. Also included are chrome parts for modelers who aren't inclined to paint a fully built up model. However, for those of use who plan to paint and weather the final build, these shiny parts - bumpers/fenders, hubcabs, rear and side view mirrors, etc. - will eventually be primed and painted over. So the fact they're shiny is largely irrelevant. 

Main car body of the Volkswagen Beetle and its distinctively rounded shape
Sprue A: Bonnets/hoods, interior parts, running boards, etc.
Sprue B: Chrome parts such as the front and rear fenders, hubcaps, side mirrors, etc.

Sufficient parts are provided to built a fairly detailed engine. And it will be worthwhile doing so as the rear bonnet/hood, once assembled, can still be opened up to reveal the engine inside. Having the engine located at the rear means the front bonnet/hood, which also can be opened and closed after assembly, will house the spare tyre. Little details like this is a dream for scale modelers like myself.

Sprue C: Chassis and engine parts, seats, wheel rims, etc.
Sprue D: Clear parts such as headlights, tail lights, signal lights, windshield, rear and door windows

Decal-wise it is pretty sparse offerings. Only two but that's all you really need. To be located at the rear bonnet/hood, the 1300 symbol is as how I remembered it with the unique joining together of all the numbers. Meanwhile, the front bonnet/hood will sport Volkswagen logo decal. Last but not least are the tyres, four plus a spare, and poly-caps for the wheels. A poly-cap is a small tubular cylinder used to create smooth joints, or to keep something in place without glue in scale-models. Sporting detailed grooves, the tyres are molded to look like they're fully inflated. That suits me just fine.

Decals provided in the Volkswagen 1300 Beetle scale model kit
Tyres and poly-caps for the Beetle's wheels  

What is this Beetle going to be a proxy for, you might wonder. Well, with my penchant to undertake scale model projects with scif-fi or fantasy connotations, it can only be Bumblebee in car form (see below) as found in the latest movie of arguably the most beloved autobot among that lot of do-gooders. Moreover, the yellow Volkswagen Beetle displays enough weathering to make the project much more interesting to tackle than a straightforward monotone paint job. 

Bumblebee in its classic Volkswagen Beetle form, with Hailee Steinfeld (as Charlie Watson)

I can't think of a better subject to begin my journey into car scale modeling than the iconic 1966 Volkswagen 1300 Beetle. I think I'm going to have a lot of fun with this one. A lot of fun.

Sunday, 13 January 2019

MENG Model Sd.Kfz.182 King Tiger with Henschel Turret [WIP - Decals, a Clear Coat & Oil Painting Begins]

Moving on from boring test sessions, I finally resumed work on the Meng King Tiger proper. But before any oil paint filter/render techniques could be attempted, there was the matter of applying decals on the tank to mark it out as Tank No.124 of the Schwere Panzer-Abteilung 505 or the 505th German Heavy Tank Battalion. Even so, I did get a start on the oil painting process albeit on a small scale i.e. the left front skirt of the German Heavy Tank Sd.Kfz.182 King Tiger (Henschel Turret).    

Meng Model King Tiger work-in-progress: Decals and a clear matt coat
Markings on the original Tank 124 as it was found in the war

With this being my first use of Meng decals, I wasn't too sure about the quality and how they would hold up under the stress of my clumsy hands. And true to form I did encounter problems, initially at least. On my first attempt at applying the 'charging knight' decal, the plume on the knight's helmet tore off and the tip of his lance bend in on itself. Luckily I was in one of my 'in the zone' moments and retained enough patience to more or less fix things (see 'charging knight' symbol on the left side of the turret; eighth photo from the top). Soon enough though, I got used to the decals' firmness and my hands' muscle memory adapted accordingly. As such, no further decal problems arose.     

Charging knight symbol of the Schwere Panzer-Abteilung 505 (s.Pz.Abt.505) tank unit
Zoomed out view of the charging knight symbol on the tank turret
Decals denoting this as Tank 124 of the s.Pz.Abt.505

Decals have a tendency to stand out in unwanted ways. This is due to their glossy nature as well as visibility of a semi-visible demarcation between the decal material and the surface area sans decal. To improve realism so that decals look like they were painted, I decided to apply a lacquer-based clear matt coat i.e. the Mr Hobby Mr Super Clear. A note of caution: the Mr Hobby website warns that usage of this lacquer-based clear coat over decals may damage them. Thankfully, this wasn't the case for me. I went ahead despite the warning out of necessity and an analytical guesstimate.

Decals adhered to the zimmerit layer without any problems
Clear matt coat reduces the shine of the decals thus ...
... making the decals look more like it was painted onto the turret

Firstly, it was a necessity because usage of water-based clear coats can be a hit-and-miss affair for me. There have been occasions when white spots formed if the spray can of clear coat was too old or if the weather was too humid. I've found this becomes a non-issue if I use lacquer-based clear coats. Secondly, it's my guesstimate that if I apply clear coats in a thin enough layer, then the hot weather would evaporate most of the clear coat's solvent (which would damage the decals) before it hits the surface of the model kit. In the conditions that I work in, which is fairly hot and humid, I can safely conclude that usage of the Mr Super Clear on top of Meng decals did not damage the latter.

Oil Paint Filter and/or Rendering Process Begins

Having applied the clear coat, I wanted to give the protective layer a few days or even a week to dry in order for it to sufficiently strengthen. This meant I couldn't start the oil dot filter weathering or oil paint rendering process on the tank proper. However, I already had a piece of front skirt clear coated much earlier so I could at least begin the oil painting techniques on that part (see photos below).

Results of an oil paint filter/rendering session on the matt surface of the tank's front left skirt

A previous foray into this technique didn't yield good results. So something had to change. What I did differently here was threefold namely be more patient; be more particular in the placement of specific hues and be more judicious in the use of white spirit (less is more). A disregard for all three in my previous attempt had resulted in a messy mono-hued filter look. It's actually good I got to start on a small part of the tank first as I'm still unhappy with the results. But with every attempt I am beginning to better understand the oil dot filter weathering and/or oil paint rendering technique.

Step 01: Part primed with Tamiya Fine Surface Primer (Light Gray) and basecoated with Tamiya TS-3 Dark Yellow 
Step 02: Oil paints applied as dots onto the part
Step 03: Oil paints blended with white spirit
Step 04: Results of the oil dot filter weathering / oil paint rendering after a few cycles of steps one through three

In addition to the three new approaches I used, I also changed the number of times I would apply this procedure. Previously, I would just place the the oil paints, blend it once and then consider my task finished. Now though, I'm doing up to three passes (Steps 01 to 03 above) of oil dot filter weathering and/or oil paint rendering - one on top of the other - until I'm satisfied with the final results.

Extreme closeups of the before and after oil dot filter weathering / oil paint rendering process

So then, it's now on to the rest of the tank for the oil dot filter weathering and/or oil paint rendering process. I'm slowly getting a hang of the technique and I'm fairly confident results will be better when I apply this technique on the tank hull and turret, decals and all. And as I make good progress on the Meng King Tiger, I feel confident enough to start a new project in addition to the two I'm working on (the other being the atelier iT Race Queen). All I'll say at this stage is the new project involves a car and it's one of my top two favorite cars ever. Do enjoy what's left of your weekend and see you soon.

Thursday, 3 January 2019

A Look Back At 2018

Ever since I began my journey in this hobby, I've never had as lean a year as 2018 in terms of miniatures or scale models completed. Two was the measly number of projects I had managed to see over the finish line. There were mitigating factors but it's all still a pretty sad state of affairs.

Nocturna Models 70 mm resin figurine Soum 13 Moons, painted as DC Suicide Squad's Katana

What I did complete, I was fairly proud of. Firstly, there is the 70 mm resin figurine from Nocturna Models namely Soum 13 Moons which I painted as DC Suicide Squad's Katana (see above). And then there is the Bandai Star Wars 1/48 scale model of an Imperial AT-ST Walker (see below).

Bandai Star Wars 1/48 scale Imperial AT-ST Walker

Surely I can do no worse this year than what I had done in 2018. That's the plan anyway and we all know no plan ever survives contact with real life. But I'm going to try and that in a nutshell is my simple 2019 resolution for the hobby. With that, here's wishing a great year ahead!

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