Archive for January, 2015

How to fix old bad decals and make them slide off the backing sheet paper

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IMG_6367In this tutorial I show you how I was able to reclaim some Tamiya decals that are no longer good for use. They have been subject to moisture or humidity previously, and now even after more than half an hour in water, they refuse to slide off the backing sheet.

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Posted by Greg - January 29, 2015 at 10:36 pm

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How to paint Realistic Wood Scale Ship Model Decks by Loren Perry

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**NOTE** – This article was written by Loren Perry many years ago, for another web site which unfortunately is no longer available. I was very glad to have found the article on an old floppy disc recently, and post it here now for the benefit of all.

Please visit Loren Perry and buy the best Ship Model Photo Etch parts at – Gold Medal Models

arizonaWooden deck on the fantail of Loren Perry’s 1934 Arizona, built from the Revell 1/429 kit

One of the three colors is a paint, the other two are from Floquil’s range of model “stains”. They are: 1. “Mud” (a model railroad weathering paint), 2. “Driftwood” (a light gray stain), and 3. “Walnut” (a brown stain.) The entire process can be boiled down to four simple steps:* 1. Airbrush the deck with Mud.
* 2. Streak the deck with Driftwood.
* 3. Streak the deck with Walnut.
* 4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 as necessary.

This method is, fortunately, very simple and very forgiving. First one must airbrush the deck with Mud and allow it to dry at least 24 hours. In fact, this will be the very first color painted on the entire model – the grays, blacks, and other colors come after the deck has been prepared first. Once the Mud paint has dried, select your smallest tipped brush and open the bottle of Driftwood. You then dip the brush into the stain and then wipe the tip of the brush lightly over a paper towel until only a small amount of wet stain remains in the bristles. Now use the brush to streak the stain in narrow strips lengthwise along the deck (or parallel to the planking). Use random strokes until the deck is evenly streaked over is entire surface. When finished (the stain dries very quickly), open the Walnut stain and repeat this step. If the deck appears too dark, repeat the streaking process with the Driftwood until the deck starts to lighten up. If you want the deck to return more to the shade of the Mud paint, streak the deck with Mud in the same manner as the stain. By alternating back and forth between these three colors, you’ll find you have great control over the final appearance of the model’s wooden decks. And so long as you keep the stains and paint nicely thinned, there will be no visible buildup of pigment to obscure detail. And remember to keep the brush strokes about the width of a plank, or no more than two planks.

Some advantages of this technique: A. no great artisitic skill is necessary, only the ability to apply random paint streaks in parallel lines; B. a damaged area can easily be blended into the rest of the deck by applying more strokes in alternating colors as above; C. the process goes quickly – one Arizona model had its deck fully painted and streaked in about an hour (after the original Mud application had dried, of course.) A tip: purchase an inexpensive kit to use as your “guinea pig”. Use this kit’s parts to test your technique and refine it before you move onto your main project. You’ll find, as I did, that the final appearance of your model’s planked deck looks exceptionally convincing, both in photographs and to the viewer seeing it on display.


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Posted by Greg - January 5, 2015 at 9:14 pm

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How to make Quick Easy Blast Bags for Scale Ship Models

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The revised 1/700 Tamiya Yamato has many corrections on the original release (Which I am building). One is that they have added blast bags to the 18″ guns. But for those of us with old stock, or building some other model without blast bags, there is a solution. It requires some Blu-Tack, skill, and believe me, much better results can be achieved than what I will show here (Instead of skill, I got Fat Fingers:-)

Here’ the two pieces that combined will form the gun.

t2Assembled, you can see the gapping holes around the barrels

t1Roll some Blu-Tack between your fingers and flatten it out into a tube-shape so its about 1 1/2 inches long, and wrap it around the base of the barrels.

t3Then pull the barrels through the turret. The Blu-Tack will hold the barrels in place, and a small amount will protrude through the turret. This can then be shaped with a toothpick to make a convincing enough looking blast bag. Blu-Tack can also be painted.

t4Blu-Tack is very forgiving, if you botch it, just pull it out and start over.

t5And here is the finished blast bag painted.

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Posted by Greg - January 5, 2015 at 8:54 pm

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Quick and Easy Barrel Upgrade for 1/350 Scale Ship Models

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In this article I will show you how I upgrade the big gun barrels on 1/350 scale ship models. More often than not, the barrels that come with the kit are not very realistic looking, and in some cases they can be hideously bad. This is obviously very disappointing, as the rest of the kit is quiet good quality. I have developed a very simple and quick way to make those barrels look a little bit better.

barrel_upgradecoverIn the “Scratch Building Supplies” section of your local hobby store, you will be able to find some brass tubing, which is perfect for replacing those solid chunks of plastic. Try to find some that is as close to the diameter of the molded plastic guns as possible. In this article I am replacing barrels on Tamiya’s 1/350 Prince Of Wales, and a length of 3/32 rod looks right for the job here.

barrel_upgrade4To get started I will use a set of vernier calipers, or some other device for measuring accurately to find out the length of the section I will be replacing.

barrel_upgrade01To cut the brass tubing, I used a “Jewelers Saw” that I purchased from my local hobby store. It has an extremely fine blade and is great for precision cutting.

sawI secured the brass tube into a soft jawed wooden hobby vise (so as not to crush it) and used the measurement I took from the plastic barrels to mark out the lengths of brass I needed to cut.

barrel_upgrade05Then it was time to get down to business and do some cutting.

barrel_upgrade06Once you have your new barrels cut, make sure you check their length and shape so they are all identical.

barrel_upgrade08To clean up the outside of the new barrels, simply twist/rotate them between your fingers while the tip is in contact with some fine grade sandpaper.

barrel_upgrade09The inside of the barrel can also be easily cleaned by using an X-acto knife or scalpel.

barrel_upgrade10Once your new brass barrels are cleaned up and ready to go, you can start to remove the old barrels. **IMPORTANT NOTE** – DO NOT remove the entire section, leave roughly 5mm of the old barrel in place as illustrated below. This is how we will mount the new barrels to the old frame.


barrel_upgrade03Take your X-acto knife/scalpel and start “Whittling” away at the 5mm section we left behind, so it fits snuggly inside the 3/32 replacement barrels.

barrel_upgrade04The trick here is to be slow, and patient. remove a little, then test fit, remove a little more, then test again. This is the best way to ensure a snug fit, and that the barrels sit perfectly parallel on the frame.

barrel_upgrade11Once you are happy with the fit, and that everything lines up correctly, take your preferred glue and apply it to the 5mm section you have just “whittled”.

barrel_upgrade12Once all barrels have been glued onto the frame, line everything parallel, and leave it to dry. Once it’s dry, you can spray your primer on the brass in preparation for the final color.


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Posted by Greg - January 5, 2015 at 8:34 pm

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How to make Real Realistic Looking Water Base for Ship Model Diorama

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Disclaimer – This article is reproduced here from IPMS Stockholm without permission – I know this is a really bad thing to do, but SO many good articles have disappeared from the internet over the years, and I couldn’t stand to lose this one, so I have saved a back up copy of it here.

PLEASE Visit IPMS Stockholms original article by Omami HERE.

tech_seawater_01Replicating elements of nature in miniature is one of the more tricky aspects of modelling, requiring not only the “engineering” knowledge of a subject but also a bit of artistic sense.

For ship model builders such as myself, water base can really make or break a good model. In this article I would like to show you how to produce a realistic sea base for ship model, with rough water surface, surf and wake. I have perfected these techniques during my own project of modelling the IJN Task Force, Carrier Division 1. The Task Force consists of  the aircraft carriers Kaga and Akagi steaming side-by-side on a single base.

Before we begin, let’s consider the qualities of our subject.

Despite of what we all know about water, deep water basins seldom look transparent, especially when seen from a distance. Rather than that, water has colour and forms a glossy, highly reflective surface. These qualities of water are especially appropriate to replicate in scale, particularly when dealing with ship models in smaller scales such as 1/700.

Having performed this most basic analysis, let’s move to a step-by-step description of how to produce a convincing sea base.

Step 1: Basics

First you will need to establish the composition and layout of your base. Most of the times this is simple: place the model on the sheet of paper of the same size as the intended base, and outline its hull along the waterline. If you have any other elements such as peers, shoreline etc, trace them on paper, too.

tech_seawater_base03tech_seawater_base04Now comes the fun part: making the sea surface. A piece of kitchen aluminium foil is wrinkled thoroughly, and then stretched on a flat surface. Then, a wooden frame the size of the base is placed on top of it. The frame and the foil together form a mould for the sea surface.


For moulding, I use fine-grade plaster of Paris. It is blended with water as per instructions and poured into the frame. As plaster is quite brittle, I usually reinforce the mould by adding a cotton gauze on top of the poured liquid. Adding an additional layer of plaster over it can help to blended the gauze invisibly into the moulding.

It takes about 30 minutes for the plaster to harden so that it can be removed from the frame.  However, it is necessary to wait additional 3 days before it is completely cured. Flipping the mould to its “right” side, you will see the effect that the wrinkled foil had on the surface. It will replicate the multitude of short irregular waves caused by wind blowing over sea surface.


Step 2: Bow wave et al.

Now it is time to replicate the prominent waves caused by the ship’s movement in the water: the bow wave, wave pattern along the hull and the wake. These waves can be sculpted from epoxy putty.

The highest white-crested wave will surround the bow, usually with overhang on its top part. To maintain strength, I first model the “body” part of the wave, adding the top 1/3rd only after it has hardened. The shape of the wave is first  formed with fingers, then the surface is sculpted using a spatula, see photos below.

tech_seawater_wave03tech_seawater_wave04The bow wave should be spreading into the fan shape towards the rear. The sides of the hull will also induce smaller waves along its length. It is helpful to draw the wave pattern on the plaster base with a pencil so that you ensure maintaining the uniform (but not symmetrical) look of the waves on both sides of the hull.

These waves can be modelled similarly to the bow wave, using the spatula to create crests and patches of foam. Be careful to work on a small area at a time – once the epoxy putty hardens, it becomes almost impossible to work with.

tech_seawater_wave05tech_seawater_wave06The following photo shows the completed waterline of Kaga, with in-progress waterline of Akagi in the background.


Step 3: The wake

The wake of the fast-going ship is different from other waves on our base in that it its area will be almost completely covered with white foam. Switching to the ordinary thinner-based modelling putty, I apply a generous  coat of it to the area behind the stern, and then mould the wake by poking it with toothpicks. Chances are that the surface structure obtained but this method is too rough, but it is easy to “soften” the effect by brushing thinner over it.

tech_seawater_wave09tech_seawater_wave10To complete the waves, a coat of Gunze Mr. Surfacer 500 liquid putty is applied in selected areas to smooth out the edges between the epoxy putty and plaster.

tech_seawater_wave12tech_seawater_wave13Step 4. Painting

First I coat the entire base with white primer. It allows me to discover any remaining joint marks, fingerprints and other blemishes. If found, these are treated with liquid putty. The completed base prior to painting looks like this:

tech_seawater_wave16Painting is a tricky problem. Replicating the softness of water in hard material is difficult, and it is all won or lost in the painting phase. Therefore I used to consider my options carefully and test all the steps before applying them “full-scale”. For the first attempt, it may be a good idea to produce a scrap plaster base alongside your main project to practice your painting  techniques safely.

I use Loquitex acrylic soft type artists’ colours. Loquitex acrylics are very suitable for the purpose because they retain a rich “moistened” look when dry. The colours I used for the Kaga/Akagi base were Titanium White, Phthalocyanine Blue and Emerald Green.

tech_seawater_colorsAnother principal decision was the choice of a brush rather than airbrush. Brush painting is able to produce colour depth which is simply unobtainable by airbrush application – a fact well known to figure builders.

For the base colour of the Carrier Division base I used a mixture of Phthalocyanine Blue and Emerald Green. The colours were applied by brush and mixed directly on the surface of the base to create uneven rather than uniform colour.

tech_seawater_nami01tech_seawater_nami02After covering the entire base, I returned to selected spots with more contrasting tones to add depth. First I went through trough (lowest) spots with the darker tone of blue. Then the  wave crests were brushed with progressively brighter shades, creating gentle gradation of colour from dark to light.

Loquitex acrylics dry to a matt finish, which is inappropriate for the glossy sea surface. Therefore the entire base was spray-painted with gloss clear varnish at this point.

Step 5. Finishing

At this point your sea should already look quite convincing . But bear with me, it can be made so much better by adding the final step – painting of the wave crests. It does just as much to enliven the sea surface as “weathering” does to models in general.

The idea is to suggest patches of white foam at the wave crests, and this is best done with dry-brushing. You should start with a mixture of your base colour and white, and progressively add more white in the consecutive dry-brushing passes. I have used four different shades for my base shown here. The result after the 4th shade of blue is shown on the second photo below.

tech_seawater_nami05tech_seawater_nami06The last touch is the application  of pure Titanium White on the brim of each wave. You should take care to vary the quantity of white depending on the size of each wave – the largest ones with pronounced brims should get more foam than the smaller waves. The effect is shown on the right photograph.

The massive amounts of white foam in the wake area should be emphasized even more. My method is to coat the wake area with diluted white glue and then sprinkle on the white snow powder used for diorama models.

Another few coats of clear gloss varnish and the base is finished. The complete item is shown below, with pre-drilled holes for screws attaching the models. I hope that you will agree that the result is a quite realistic rendition of an open sea swept by keen wind!




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Posted by Greg - January 2, 2015 at 7:06 pm

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