Category: Tutorial

As I said in the previous post, I am not entirely satisfied with this kit. And bringing it close to painting stage showed its faults even more. The plastic is very soft, panel lines rather shallow and there’s way too many sprue gates. In practice, this means, there’s gonna be a lot of clean up work, which will sooner than later lead to some lost detail, while sanding will create dents in the soft plastic, which will need puttying, sanding and rescribing to complete the circle. And this is the work I hate the most at modelling. But anyway, I have managed to bring the model somehow to this point, where I could start painting the engine/exhaust parts, so characteristic of the Flankers.

Here is how I do it.


The parts are first primed with Alclad Grey Primer.


Followed by Alclad Magnesium – you can use any other darker shade like Steel or Titanium for example.


Panels were then brush painted using ModelMaster Stainless Steel (any light metallic paint will do for this part).


Whole area was then lightly randomly airbrushed with Alclad Pale Burnt Metal.


Followed by Random strokes of Alclad Jet Exhaust. Procedure for the bottom part is the same.


Picture of the whole airframe with dryfitted exhausts. Later in the build, heat staining will be added to finish.



Oil-dot weathering

Recently I’ve read quite a lot about this weathering technique and I said I wanted to try it myself. There’s a few different approaches and here’s my way of doing it. I don’t say it’s the correct one – only that it is the easiest and most effective.

Test subject was Hasegawa 1:72 F-4D Phantom II in Iranian markings. I suspect desert camouflages are prone to some fading and the paint fading so it was a perfect test model to try the technique out.

First we need a good coat of acrylic gloss varnish on the model to protect the underlaying paint. You will need a few basic colours – luckily oil paints are not expencive and since you will be using only small amounts of them, they will last for years!


First step is to apply a number of little oil dots over the model of different colours – I tend to use darker tones on light coloured base and vice versa. Remember to work a piece at the time – wings separate, fuselage separate and so on.


Next step is to blend the colours together. I use an old paintbrush for this step – when the paints are well blended, I start removing them, first by paper tissue to remove the majority of paint.


Next step is fine removal by paintbrush – it takes some time and if the result doesn’t show, damp your paintbrush with white spirit a bit and repeatedly clean it to remove the paint.


The end result is nicely faded paintjob and what I like the most – finely visible panel lines and rivets. I hate to see great looking models ruined by poor application of panel wash, especially if they use black for it. Here, due to the blending of different shades, you’ll get nice looking panel lines, that will show on lighter and darker patches of camouflage. Also the camouflage colours will be blended together and decals faded – look at the difference between wing and fuselage roundel in the last photo. Always remember to work front to back on the wings, simulating the airflow and top to bottom on the sides, simulating the rain streaks.

When I’m done with weathering, I leave the model to dry overnight and the next day correct any possible blemishes or add additional streaking. I usually then leave the model to dry for a couple more days before coating it with appopriate varnish.

Finished results:



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.



(photo copyright

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.


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
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
Colours are terrible but there are no overexposed areas on the model and the shadows are very soft.

Automatic mode with White Balance set
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
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

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

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