Now and again I post about my occasional hobby of model-making. It lets me enjoy the challenge of making stuff without having to have a workshop (although I have a growing collection of modelling tools and gubbins) and I think it's good for me to have an interest that teaches and rewards patience, care and precision. My aim is to be able one day to complete models to the sort of standard I saw at the IPMS Scale Modelworld exhibition I went to last year
or as seen in the posts in the 'Ready for Inspection' thread
on the Britmodeller.com site.
Something I picked up on very quickly when getting more interested in modelling is that many serious model-making enthusiasts don't use conventional painting techniques for models, preferring instead an airbrush. Certainly, there are a lot of painting techniques that are almost impossible without an airbrush, but even for more straightforward paint jobs it seemed that the quality of finish could be a lot higher. I was tempted to get an airbrush to try for myself, but put off by the worry that if I didn't know what I was doing it would be a waste of money. So, when I saw an advert at Modelworld for an airbrushing course
, it seemed the ideal opportunity to try and see if this was for me.
It was a bit of a trip down to the course venue in Lancing, on the Sussex coast, but when I got there I found a busy little industrial unit crammed with airbrush and painting supplies and a small studio set up for the eight of us on the course. The morning was mainly an introduction to airbrushes and ancillary equipment, including a lot of explanation of care and maintenance. Our first efforts were confined to doodling on paper to get the hang of airbrush use - too close, or too much ink, and you get a squashed-spider splatter, but with a bit of practice all of us were able to achieve both reasonably fine lines and broad, even coverage.
After lunch, we tried actual model-painting, via a boxful of parts that had been helpfully primed beforehand. A few swipes back and forth... OMG! Flat, even, smooth paint that shows the finest surface detail underneath! After brush-painting, this was a revelation. We were using water-based acrylic paints, so a quick blast with a hairdryer was enough to dry the first layer ready for another; the trick to airbrushing is to apply several thin layers rather than one thick one. I was sold, and the offer of a discount on any purchases made at the course was enough to tempt most of us. I picked up an Iwata Revolution CR
, very similar to the model we'd been using, together with a small compressor, a cleaning kit and some acrylic paints in shades suitable for some of the model work I wanted to try.
The pre-Xmas social whirl and the need to get hold of a small spray extractor meant that I didn't get around to trying anything serious with this until a few weeks ago. My first efforts were on sawn-off lengths of PVC drain pipe I'd picked up from a hardware store, and a bit of practice convinced me that I could at least get even paint cover on a non-flat surface. So, what to start on for an actual model?
At this point I recalled that swisstone
had, some while back, given me as a present a box set of five 1:72 models of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight's British fighters (four Spitfires and a Hurricane). These were all reasonably straightforward models, and with five of them I had the chance to work out any mistakes and try again with something similar. So I set to work assembling a Spitfire and the Hurricane and then having a go at painting them.
First was the Spitfire. For this one I was trying for a generic paint job rather than to replicate a particular aircraft. After priming with primer from a spray can (Halford's plastic primer works fine!) I went for a base layer of brown before masking it with plastic film as a prelude to spraying over in green. To my pleasant surprise the result wasn't too bad for a first attempt:( pictures of small planes )
That's enough WW2 stuff for now. I think my next project will be the 1:48 BAe Hawk in Red Arrows colour scheme that I got a while back, after which I may feel up to finishing off and painting the 1:48 TSR2 I've been working at on-and-off for the last year or so.