Archive for January, 2013


28th January 2013

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Finally some progress that shows! Both MiGs were first coated with Alclad Aqua Gloss (GREAT STUFF!), and got decalled later. Not a lot of decals thankfully so a job quickly done. Only black border lines for the orange areas gave me some work, but luckily decals performed well. I masked the metal areas on the Flanker and attached the ventral and tail fins. I used Mr Surfacer to fill the little crevices around canopy and tail fins and will hopefully prepare it for primer by the end of the week.

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I just talked to a friend via Skype and he ignited a spark in me to build the MiG-31. This massive Russian interceptor was the first aircraft in the world to feature a modern AESA radar and has successfully intercepted SR-71s over flying the Russia without their pilots knowing how close to a shoot down they were. Interceptors were controlled by GCI (Ground Control Intercept radarists) and thus not giving their presence away, came to as close as 6km lateral and 2km vertical to the famed American spy plane. It was the Swedes, who monitored these intercepts, who told the US what they were observing with each Blackbird flight and the result was cancellation of Blackbird ops over the Russian European part and early retirement of the SR-71. I have to MiG-31 kits in my stash and a beautiful Begemot sheet to go with them and I am wondering why not? The only obstacle at this moment is the vast number of review samples I HAVE to build first. Well hopefully there will be a break in the schedule to squeeze one Foxhound in. I took the above photo at MAKS 2011, in Zhukovski.

Here’s also an interesting movie about the young Russian pilots training to be the Foxhound pilots – a position once reserved only for most experienced VVS pilots.

 

24th January 2013

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I love the smell of Alclad in the morning 😀 or was it napalm? Doesn’t matter really as the work was done actually last evening. 4 Alclad shades, one ModelMaster metalizer and the result is NMF bussiness end of Flanker’s mighty Saturn AL-31F engines. Anyhow the whole process was documented step by step and will be hopefully published in the Scale Aircraft Modelling magazine article. While I was at it, MiG-21s also got the exhausts painted and Steel was used for R-27 ‘Alamo’ fins – many modellers mistakenly paint them with black colour, which is incorrect.

21st January 2013

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Have you ever had that feeling, that you were working for hours but had nothing to show? It strike me today as I was modelling almost every day since my last post, yet not a lot can be shown, really. Slovak MiG finally got camouflage; I hope this time without any problems – truth will be revealed tomorrow evening. Also orange identification panels were painted on the Egyptian Fishbed. If everything is well with these two builds after unmasking them, they will get exhaust metal parts painted… If there’s enough time, maybe even the green dielectric panels. Flanker is also scheduled for tomorrow’s Alclad session – can’t wait for it. If you look closely at the photo (clicking on it will enlarge it a bit as well), you’ll see quite some ordnance on my table – 2x R-27R, 4x R-73, 2x KAB-500KR and 2x Kh-29T for the UBM2… Since I don’t have a Lightening pod at home and I didn’t receive any reply from Dr.Pepper’s resin, I was forced to order Hasegawa weapons set IX for it. Hopefully it will arrive shortly – and it contains wepons for one of my future projects – A-10C conversion.

I also received Modelsvit Su-7BM ‘Fitter’ model the other day. I can say I’m glad I got this review kit due to my personal connection with the aircraft; and since BKL version is also announced, I’ll build that in the markings of the Fitter I was taking care of. What can I say so far about it? It’s a typical short-run kit without locating pins or tabs. Dryfit of the fuselage showed there’s gonna be some persuasion needed to put it together. But on the other hand, the kit boasts nice details and the guys at Modelsvit supposedly went out and measured the real deal instead of relying on some blueprints of questionable quality. Hats off and I can’t wait to start her… Most likely in February.

Till next time!

17th January 2013

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As you can see, my modelling desk is getting cluttered. It’s my way of modelling – start clean and then leave stuff from the current projects on the table until they’re finished. May seem to be disorganized but it is more like organized chaos really. I have to admit, since my last post, I have hit a modelling block, really. And this time I know what caused it. I’ve had my Slovak MiG painted with all three basic colours when I went unmasking and large areas of Grey colour just peeled off. I’m not sure really what to do now but I hope I can salvage it somehow. At least Egyptian machine is now painted up and will receive orange recognition markings tomorrow. Second thing that went wrong was Flanker’s IRST. I cut it off, made a new one from scratch and attached it offset to the right side. But after examining more reference photos, I’ve noticed I was a victim of optical illusion and the device is indeed mounted central to the windshield like with most Flankers. But there’s something good in this at least – Trumpeters part is a bit too small, so I’ll be using mine to correct this flaw. And I know it’s not hard to modify to the offset when I’ll try to convert some Flanker to Su-35S for example. Anyway wingtip pods were attached and so were the scratchbuild ECM pods that form the part of the outmost underwing pylons – others will be added later. Also flaperons and slats were attached and I’m just about to start painting engine/exhaust areas.

Enjoy the nice vid I found today:

Model photography

People often ask me how to take photos of their models so that they would look great on the screen.

A key to good photography lies in several steps which I’ll try to explain along the way. Also be aware, that it doesn’t matter if you use compact camera, DSLR or even cell phone for taking photos – same rules apply here.

First the background. As I work for SAM, editor’s policy is to use white background for photos to help graphical editor with magazine design. Unless you know what you are doing, I would personally discourage you from using White as it is quite hard to get the right colours with it and sometimes, more often than not, people tend to wash out details because of uncalibrated monitors and light things, like canopies tend to disappear in the background. My advice is to use a neutral colours, Grey or Light Blue, while Black is perfect for Natural Metal Finish (NMF) models – it gives a certain depth to the metallic colours.

Lightning

tent

(photo copyright http://www.eaglecool.com)

The goal is to have a nice diffused lightning so the shadows on the model (and a photo of course) are few and soft. There are a few options – either you buy a so called “light-tent” as seen on the photo above (could be from the same retailer, but you can find a bargain price on Ebay as well) or create one by yourself.

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You can see my old “studio” at the above photo. I made it out of a cardboard TV box. I cut a whole at the top and cut out the downward opening flaps at the sides. All the openings were then covered with semi transparent tracing paper. Flaps were further wrapped in wrinkled aluminium kitchen foil to further diffuse the reflected light. Difussin a direct light is very important and even if you don’t want to use such a set-up, just use some tracing paper or even some baking paper you find in the kitchen, cut a piece of it and hold it over a model when taking photos.

As you can see, I am using 3 light reflectors for shooting – the contain 60W light bulbs, though recently I switched to more powerful 150W construction reflectors, similar as in the first photo above. I usually set one at the top, facing downwards and two on the sides. During each photoshoot I slightly adjust those, to achieve the best possible lightning on the model. Sometimes I use just the ceiling mounted lamp and the results are very good as well – just remember to diffuse the light (I’ve started repeating myself, haven’t I ;)) Oh and no matter how powerful the lights are, the exposure times will always be a bit long so the use of tripod is mandatory – the one you see on the photo is good enough for indoor photography and costs just around 10EUR but you can get even smaller ones for compact cameras in the same price range.

 

Camera settings

I will try to explain and show you the difference the settings made on an example. Test subject will be Sea Fury in 1:72 scale.

Automatic setting
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Hard edged and pronounced shadows, overexposed parts of the model, strange colour of the background (supposed to be white), camouflage colours washed out. I don’t recommend ever using this setting. You achieve quite similar effect if you’re taking photos outside in the direct sun – if you do take an outside photos, then take them in the shadow or when cloudy – the results will be much better.

 

Automatic setting without flash
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Colours are terrible but there are no overexposed areas on the model and the shadows are very soft.

Automatic mode with White Balance set
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White Balance has to be a setting which most modellers forget to set yet it is one of the most important. Most if not all digital cameras have trouble auto-setting the correct WB values when used under artificial lightning. Set the WB on your camera to incadescent or similar (depending on the type of lights you use) and the result will be there. Even better is to manually set the white balance for specific condition which advanced cameras offer – check your camera manuals on how to do that.
setting, koji najvise maketara zaboravlja da nastavi – WHITE BALANCE. Kamere ne znaju da dobro avtomatski nastave WB, pa jim moramo mi pomoci. Jedna opcija je, da izaberete jednu od nastavitava za zarulje, koje sve kamere imaju. Jos bolja opcija pa je, da rucno nastavite white balance – procitajte malo manuale vasih kamera kako to napravit.

Automatic mode with White Balance set + Exposure Compensation
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The settings are the same as before but I additionaly encreased Exposure Compensation to EV+1.0; When you’re taking photos on lighter background than the model, you have to compensate. If you will shoot a light model on a dark background, you’ll have to decrease the EV to minus values.
Aperture mode with White Balance set + Exposure Compensation
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Automatic settings try to use the minimal time of exposure which leads to low f-stops and the model on your photo will be sharp only at the focus point. To improve that, switch to aperture priority mode on your camera (A for Nikon, Av for Canon) and set the f-stop as high as it can go (depends on the lens you are using). Compact cameras are usually limited to max. f8. Take the photo and you’ll see the model will be sharp from tail to nose. Also avoid wide angle shots as you’re gonna distort the shapes – I never shoot any closer than at least 50cm from the model, sometimes even more.

To summarize:

  • tripod
  • diffuse light
  • Aperture priority – high f-stop
  • Exposure compensation
  • WHITE BALANCE!

If you have any additional questions, I am happy to answer to them.

5th January 2013

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All the fuzz around New Year celebration is finally calming down and a bit more time was found for modelling today.

Fishbeds have finally entered my favorite stage – painting and weathering. They were given a coat of Alclad White Primer. I just love this stuff – you apply it in thin layers and it builds up really nice. In the case of Slovak bird, it’s also gonna serve for off-white colour, while it will give a good base for the Egyptian.

Flanker’s clear parts were given a good sanding and polishing treatment today using 600-grit sandpaper followed by Micromesh pads from 3200-12000 grit. A dip in Future floor polish was a must at the end. I planned to make the seatbelts to spice up the seats today but something else took most of my time away. I don’t recall I have ever seen a Su-27UB model that would have a front pit curtain construction included in the kit. Trumpeter kit also lacks this prominent feature and so I was cutting steel wire and plasticart trying to construct something that would at least vaguely resemble the real deal. The construction is still in progress and I hope I will finish it tomorrow.

I also got news, I’ll be soon receiving a new model for SAM build review – a Modelsvit Su-7BM in 1:72 scale. This jet fighter has a special place in my heart. A few years ago I was a member of Czech air museum in Vyskov and took care of one Su-7BM and a Su-7BKL. Here’s the pic of it and as you can see I had a special parking place reserved 😉

su7

Anyhow more on that when I get the kit.

Today’s musical background was courtesy of Joe Bonamassa – a truly talented blues musician!

2nd January 2013

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And we finally stepped into 2013! Hope you all had a blast celebrating. Unfortunately a 86-years old lady crashed into my girlfriends car on the morning of 31st (and 5 other parked cars as well) on a parking lot, preventing us a relaxed evening in the anticipation of the New Year. Heavy fog that covered most of our country on that day also prevented us enjoying the views of fireworks displays so the remainder of the night was spent with our brother and sister. Early morning 10 hour shift on the 1st also didn’t help with my modelling 🙂 Today I finally managed to snap a couple of hours behind the desk and some progress was made – not a lot can be seen but it was significant nonetheless.

Little MiGs had some parts attached, canopies masked (they are TINY!!!!) and are basically at the priming stage – I only have to figure it out how to mask the open cockpit of one of them without damaging tiny parts inside. I’ve also decided on the paint schemes. The closed one will be a Slovak Air Force example

MiG-21 mf 7713 5

Copyright: http://frantisek.valka.cz

while the open one will be Egyptian

Egypt Daily News mig-21-1[1]

Copyright: http://www.egyptdailynews.com/egyptian%20airforce.htm

Work has also continued on the mighty Flanker. Most of it was messy sanding of the puttied parts, nothing major but lots of minor gap fillings and blending in the lower part of the nose. I was also trying to recreate a new offset IRST from a piece of clear plastic sprue and I think I got it pretty good. I’ll attach it to the windshield soon, but first I have to remove the mould line from the clear parts. Many modellers think that is some moulding flaw but in reality, mould lines on the canopies usually mean that they’re of right shape (looks like greek letter OMEGA if you look at the canopy from the front). Luckily it can be removed quite easily with some sanding and polishing and a dip or two in Future floor polish. As you can see, exhausts were also attached and I will start with Alclad treatment of the engine area in the next few days. Till then…

oh and by the way – my girlfriend just started a new blog, mainly dedicated to cooking and baking but also some other daily stuff – if you’re interested, please give it a look – she will be very happy! 😉 here’s the link: http://irenasdots.wordpress.com/