Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Using Metallic Markers in Modeling

There are countless instances where we need to make something look like metal in scale modeling. In the past we have had to resort to using metallic paints. This can work fine in many situations, but in some the paint is too thick. One of the easiest, and fastest, ways to apply some metallic coloring is using Sharpie markers. They come in a few shades, gold , silver and copper. 

1- One of my favorite uses is to apply the silver marker to a vehicle to create patches where paint has peeled. Simply dab the marker on the vehicle, almost like the pattern of spots on a cow. Then follow up with either some rust colored chalk or artists oils burnt umber or raw sienna. You can apply the same technique to locomotive bodies as well as smaller objects like gas pumps.

2- Guy wires that hold up smoke stacks are often black metal or galvanized metal. Simply color them with a black sharpie marker and follow up with silver randomly, or color them silver all together.

3- When creating copper flashing for a roof ridge, color a strip of grey or black paper with the copper colored Sharpie . Then create a green copper patina finish by dry brushing the strip with a mint green acrylic paint.

4- If you are working on a structure with more fanciful details, like a gold leafed finial, use the gold color Sharpie directly on a finial casting.

As you model more with metallic Sharpies at your workbench, more and more uses will presents them selves. Give it a try.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Another Scale

Every now and then I like to work in a different scale - while 99% of my modeling lives in HO scale, it's interesting and challenging to work in another scale like O, or bigger. I'm off and on with a side project that is 1 1/2" =1" .  It's a series of background flats more or less, mostly just fronts with some sides. The model in the pics below is 18" wide.

What's intriguing about working in a scale you're not used to is that it highlights weaknesses in your modeling. It's a similar effect of enlarging a photograph of your smaller scale modeling and realizing some areas you've modeled aren't so great when you zoom in. Such is the case for my modeling in this larger scale. While many of the same HO techniques can be used, some modification is required. In making the wide boards for the structures siding (actual width is 1.35" wide") more grain and distressing of the wood was required. As I continue with this project I'm noticing that more and more, far more layering of detailing and weathering are required. So that's a challenge, but no doubt it will help my HO modeling to rise above my usual techniques. It's a learning vacation from HO. 

Monday, July 18, 2016

Making Waves; Silicon & Gel

There are dozens of methods for modeling water, and there's always a new way to try.  Recently we've been using a few new materials. They can be used individually or together for different effects. 

In the past, I've used GE silicon for waves. It's applied in a bead from the tube, then shaped into a wave form with a popsicle stick. This works well, but the GE silicon drys with a  frosty clear look. Fortunately there is a different version GE Crystal Clear - and it dries as such, making for a better look. Again we apply it in a bead against our shoreline and rocks. 

If you're looking for some medium size waves, you'll have to let the silicon dry and add a second layer. If your'e looking for even larger waves, at that point you'll have to cut out an acetate former. Cut it to the shape and size of your wave and glue it in place with some Mod Podge. Once it's dry apply a coat of Mod Podge to it, maybe even a few coats. Then add the silicon to the base of the wave to give it some body.

Another product that can be used for wave making is Golden Glass Bead Gel. This is a clear gel base mixed with tiny glass beads. When applied with a  brush to your shoreline and against rocks, it looks like a very refreshing, frothy wave. You can leave it as is or apply some Mod Podge or silicon to it once it dries.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Designing Dead Horse Bay

Each year a good portion of kit development is spent on designing our Limited Run release. It starts by honing in on a theme, or parti. Parti is a term we learned in architectural school, it means a departure point. And from this point all else can be hung and sprung. In this case, the singular theme was a ascending elevation, from as low a point as could be made, to the highest. The total elevation is determined by what a reasonable sized structure can be within the world of kit building. So now reading this and looking at the sketch, you can see the parti - you can see the low point of the storefront, then your eyes go for a ride up, all the way to the top of the mill tower.

The next step is to craft the main masses or anchors; in this case the anchor is the main mill structure. This is followed by all the ins and outs - the details that we encounter along the way from left to right. Some are used as traditional elements to connect one structure to another. To give the mass of the mill some scale, and at the same time connect it to the neighboring structure, the fire escape was created. The steps give it scale, as the eye recognizes immediately the size of a step. Then the overlap where the fire escape borrows some air rights of the neighboring roof connects it in a way behind just butting them together.

Now we modeled this part of the kit on a hill, but it can easily be modeled flat, just leave the hill out. We simply created a concrete foundation using the rigid foam used for the scenery base.

So if you plan on building this kit, explore as many different layout options as you can.
The kit is selling quickly, so please don't miss out on this Limited Run - only 150 will be made.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Rock Work, Starting & Stopping

As I've posted many times here or demonstrated in clinics, carving your own rock work has lots of benefits. For one thing, your don't need to buy molds. You'll also avoid step and repeat issues when reusing the same rock mold and you'll get exactly the shape and type of rock you want.

In the case above you can see that a section of rock was finished to near completion, and then another section was added. So another advantage is that you can start and stop your work as needed. You can go back to it in an hour, or a month - which ever. Blending the new with the old is easy; when you carve the new stuff carry over some of the original lines and masses. Continue cracks and fractures into the new plaster. Once it's dry and ready to be colored, just reuse the same pallet of coloring you used before and seamlessly blend it together. This is where dry brushing helps a lot, overlap some of the old and new and the viewer will never know where you started and stopped.

I'll post pics of the finished area soon.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Planting Structures

It's easy to plant a structure so that it looks like it's actually sitting on a foundation that's buried in the ground. Firstly, it helps to use real dirt as a ground cover. Dirt can be applied as you would ballast; spray with alcohol, then apply with a ear syringe, white glue mixed with water (50:50).Most structures and kits should shave some kind of foundation. It can be as simple as 1/16" mat board, or wood trim of varying heights of 1/8" to 1/4", painted a concrete color. You can also use stone.

What we want is for the dirt to go right up to the foundation wall. You could plant the structure than add the dirt, but it's difficult. Mainly, you'll have to shield the the structure while you apply  and secure the dirt. Instead, trace out the footprint of the structure. Than, tape off the area on your base with masking tape. 

Now you can safely add the dirt, soaking it with alcohol , then your glue/ water mixture. You can remove the tape immediately, leaving behind a clean surface for your structure. 

And, while your dirt application is still wet, glue down your structure. Now the structure can settle into the dirt with a natural look.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Real Dirt, Realism

It's tough to beat real dirt to represent dirt. Even if you're modeling a lush, green scene dirt should be applied as a bottom layer. Even if only for a few visible patches, seeing dirt versus green paint or some other texture spoils the realism.

Dirt is secured to your scene the same way ballast is. I first paint the area black, while that's wet I sprinkle on dirt. This helps with a first wave of securing it to the surface, and lessens the chance of seeing white show through your scenery. Then, apply some water with white glue, with an ear syringe or spray bottle and let dry.

Where dirt is visible, mainly dirt roads and lots, it can be made even better by sanding it with a fine grit sand paper (150 grit). Once dry, sand the section where vehicles and/ or people would wear down a path.  Once that's done, try dry brushing the dirt with white paint, very lightly. Both sanding and dry brushing will add layers of depth - and scale to your scene.  By sanding the dirt, you create two varieties of dirt - high dirt and worn dirt. Dry brushing highlights and blends in all the texture. This is all part of what I refer to as Layering - creating as many layers of what exists in the real world as possible; the more layers, the more your eyes are fooled into what is real or not.