Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Other Side of the House - Project Thunderbolt

I've been working on a my thunderbolt since I got back from vacation - so, about 3ish weeks. It's been slow going due to my schedule. You see, I can't use my air-compressor after 10pm due to some noise rules for my apartment complex. I get home at 7:30pm, I then have to eat dinner. Add to that the fact that i like to give any paint i lay down with the airbrush about 2 hours to dry, I get 1, maybe 2 sessions a night with the airbrush until the weekends.

Unfortunately, most of my painting during the week has been touch ups,second coats and general mistake corrections. I've made progress, but it doesn't feel like much. At this point, I've got the base colors laid down and everything's blocked out. But, I'm coming up on needing to pull the trigger on markings (decals, custom stencils or both?)and basic weathering (time consuming do to oil paints). I just don't want to work on this right now. I don't think I could handle having to retouch the camouflage one more time right now. Plus, my Space Marines are pretty far behind right now. So, I sealed the plane, cleaned off my cutting mat and shelved the Thunderbolt for a rainy day.

Despite all this grumpiness, there is a lot of good that came out of all this" practice and experience.

So, without further wiener-angst, here are some more things I've learned about my airbrush.

1) Spray a little paint on something you don't care about BEFORE you start on the model. This way, there will be less chance for splatter when the paint suddenly starts flowing through the tip. I ended up having to some touch up work when I forgot this.

2) Familiarize yourself with the instruction manual that came with your airbrush. I had to strip mine down and give the needle a good cleaning due to some white paint. The instructions were super handy when the trigger fell out and I wasn't sure how to put it back together. Always good to know how your tool works.

3) Keep a brush and some water handy to quickly smooth out overspray. In a few sessions, the tip of the airbrush would collect dried paint and restrict the airflow. Sometimes, when it cleared itself, I'd get a patch of overly thick paint. If you let this dry, then congratulations - you've just added texture to your model. If you have the brush handy, you can smooth it out really quickly and respray over it to hide any streaking.

4) Seal your work. When you get to a point where you need to mask over a surface, it can often be useful to seal the paint before hand. Especially if it's going to be masked for a while. I ran into a couple spots where the masking tape pealed off the paint. BOOOOO. But, the one thing I did seal, never pealed. Sealing the paint will also help prevent handling damaging the paint as well. remember, the airbrush puts very thin layers of paint - it's much more prone to damage.

5) Yellow is an asshole to airbrush. Always paint it over white. Even if this means re-priming part of the model.

6) When working on the model, make sure the work area is fairly clean. I had to touch up the blue areas more than once because it got dirt on it. I ended up cleaning my work mat.

7) Pipettes are a totally boss. This makes mixing colors in the airbrush pot mega easy. It also allows you to make rudimentary measurements for recipes. I can't tell you how much trouble this saved me on mixing a very particular shade of yellow.

8) A thin and straight piece of paper held against a line or some such an be an amazing tool for touching up camo without having to re-mask.

Other than these things, I was playing a bit with color modulation (I think), pre-shading and/or scale color. You can kinda see the results in the pics above. Most clearly on the green bands of camo.

So, the whole process of airbrushing has been a frustrating learning process, but very rewarding. I'll share more when I figure it out.

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