4th October 2015
It’s been an interesting week on the F-16 cockpit, one of those weeks where you hit a bit of a tricky patch, stop and re-group and come out of the other side with new skills and a renewed enthusiasm for what was once a slightly annoying aspect of the hobby. More on that later though 😉
I always know I have a build near to completion when I am left with those fiddly little components left to paint and install. For an aircraft build I know when I’ve reached that point because my next job is the undercarriage. For the Viper cockpit the indicator is that I am left with a pile of knobs and switches left to install.
First component to install is the base for the side stick.
Next it was time to sort out the standby magnetic compass that I forgot to do last time.
A coat of Tamiya Flat Black for this (usually I’d use Nato black but I chose flat black here to add a bit of variety to the tones in the cockpit), followed by a coat of Klear.
And then the decal that I had inadvertently floated off last time. This was retrieved from its bag and placed into the compass housing. A dab of Solvaset soon had this re-hydrated and settling into position.
And onto the knobs…
Here’s a forest of small items to be sorted out. They all received a thin coat of Klear, and then a coat of Flory dark dirt wash. Once the wash was dry it was removed with a cotton bud and damp paint brush.
Some of the knobs have an engraved marking on them. For these I left the was in the groove so that it would create a black line.
With the weathering to my taste they received a final coat of Klear to seal it all in.
I’m at the stage of painting the details onto the tub side panels now. Here you can see that the black panels look a bit too glossy after having been coated with Klear.
The side panels were dulled down with a light coat of Tamiya Flat Clear (XF-86). This gives them a slightly satin finish which is about right – they don’t want to be totally flat.
Starting at the top left section of the instrument panels, the Emergency Stores Jettison button and the Landing Gear Downlock Release button have yellow hatched areas surrounding them, but the kit doesn’t include decals for this…
This is one of my minor gripes with this kit, they went to a lot of trouble to produce a detailed (and mostly accurate) F-16 cockpit but didn’t bother to include legend decals for the instrument panels. Some of the legends are decaled but most aren’t. Ok it would be a fiddly job to produce and apply decals as small as this, but if they had taken the trouble it would have propelled the detail levels of this kit to a whole new level.
Anyway, here’s a photo of the aforementioned danger zones having been masked off ready for a coat of Tamiya flat yellow.
As you can see below, the arrestor hook switch (top right) has a decal. Shame it was the only one.
The black hatched lines were painted in freehand using Humbrol black enamel.
They’re a bit wonky if you zoom in but they will look OK in the context of the entire cockpit.
Now this leads me onto the dilemma I mentioned at the start of this update. I usually use enamels for fine brush work because it brushes nicely and stays wet for long enough to get the paint onto the model. My trusty old pot of black enamel that I’ve had for 20 years man and boy, (well 20 years man and slightly younger man) has pretty much dried up so I bought a new pot. Well, the new black enamel has the consistency of Hammerite. So I found myself faffing around with trying to thin it enough to give me good coverage whilst not drying before the brush reaches the model.
It was frustrating at best so I decided to pause the detail painting while I hit the web to see what alternatives there were…
Incidentally, while I was having a research break from the detail painting I got the rudder pedal assembly installed.
Gotta love the chrominess of that Alclad 2!
Ok, back to the detail painting.
I got onto a few forums and watched a good many YouTube video tutorials, and the general consensus when it comes to detail painting (mainly according to the figure painters) is that the trick is to use Acrylics with a wet palette.
I’d heard of wet palettes a number of times, but never really understood the relevance of them to be honest. You know what it’s like, someone says to you a million times that you really need to watch a certain TV series but you don’t really listen. Then one evening you actually sit down and watch it, and spend the whole of the next day telling said friend how great the series is!
There is a great video on YouTube by a guy named tabletopminions entitled “Wet Palette: What Is It? Make Your Own” where the guy almost evangelises about wet palettes. Well after making and using one myself I have to say “Hallelujah”. Seriously if you have ever found detail painting a pain, and get fed up with gloopy paint with the texture of bogies that dries as son as you touch the brush on the model, make yourself a wet palette and it will *transform* your detail work.
Also a thanks to Hans Pennink over at Flory Models for his valuable advice on the art of painting titchy things.
Here’s a quick run down on how I made my wet palette (hop onto YouTube if you want to see some great vids on the subject).
The most simple construction of a wet palette for Acrylics is to take a plate, fold up a piece of kitchen towel into a pad and put it on the plate. Then moisten the paper towel, place a sheet of baking parchment over it and use it as a palette. The moisture will wick through the paper through Osmosis and will keep your paint wet for hours.
Taking this a stage further you can easily make a more permanent wet palette for under £10.
First you will need Baking Parchment. This is available in the USA under the brand name Reynolds. In the UK (where I am) Baking Parchment is harder to find, but I eventually tracked some down in my local Waitrose. I understand that larger Morrisons do their own brand of Baking Parchment that works well.
Note: You can use Greaseproof Paper that is readily available in the UK but before it will work you will need to soak it in near boiling water in order to break down the wax coating on it. This can be a bit hit and miss so rather than risk messing up a palette of paint it’s better if you can get proper Baking Parchment which has a silicone coating that doesn’t require processing before use.
For the damp underlayer I bought a pack of sponge cloths from Robert Dyas (hardware shop). As I mentioned you could use paper towels for this layer, but sponges give a flatter surface to your palette.
Also in Robert Dyas I managed to pick up a good sized sandwich box in which to make my wet palette. This one is nice and shallow (easier to get your brush into) and has a rubber seal which will stop it drying out.
As you can see below I cut the sponge to fit in the tub, and placed two layers of sponge in the bottom. One layer of sponge would do the trick.
On top of that is a square of Baking Parchment.
That’s it – wet palette complete and ready to use.
Here’s my wet palette in action. This photo was taken about 24 hours after the paint was put in there and it’s still nice and wet and ready to use.
The paints here are (top left) Revell Aqua grey, (top right) Citadel black, (bottom left) Citadel Silver (Lead belcher or something like that).
Left over night the paints may separate a bit, but a quick swirl with a brush and you’re back in business.
Again, I can’t say how much using Acrylics on a wet palette has transformed detail painting from a bit of a pain, to an totally enjoyable job. The paint stays wet on the palette for days, and is always the right consistency on the brush and doesn’t dry or go gloopy before you reach the model. If you have never tried one go grab a plate, stick some damp kitchen roll on it, boil up some greaseproof paper and give it a go – you will not be disappointed!
Ok, that’s enough evangelising 😉
Here’s the tub complete with painted knobs and switches.
A handy technique for painting fiddly bits like this is to paint a knob as well as you can, and if you slip a bit and overpaint onto the black areas, simply let it dry and then come back in with a little black on a fine brush and paint over the overpainted grey. You can go back and forth like this, touching in with black and grey until you get the line you want.
With the controls all painted, it was time to fit the loose knobs and switches.
The panels are really coming to life now!
Nearing the end of this build, one of the last jobs to do is to assemble and paint the pilots helmet.
The internals of the bone dome lid are a bit rough to be honest and I had to consider what to do with them. They won’t be very visible with the sun visor and oxygen mask in place, and to be honest a real helmet is probably a bit basic inside…
But I’ve come this far so I don’t want to spoil the ship for a ‘hapeth of tar.
I chose to create a helmet liner using Milliput.
Milliput is great for this kind of job, you just tear off equal amounts of the resin putty and hardener putty and mix them together.
After about 5 minutes of kneading and rolling the putty was soft and sticky and could be squidged into the helmet.
From here it was a case of squeezing the Milliput into place, getting it to the required thickness. As the Milliput squeezed out around the edges it was trimmed back with a small palette knife.
Here it is still a bit thick, so I’ll squidge it in to thin it out a bit more, and trim off what squidges out.
Here we are with the Milliput at the correct thickness.
The edges have been smoothed and shaped with the palette knife.
It’s best to use a wet palette knife (no I’m not evangelising about wet palettes again – I mean you dip the palette knife in water), this stops the Milliput sticking to the knife and tearing.
The instructions call for the bone dome to be white, but I decided to do it yellow – just a bit of artistic license.
Here the bone dome and visor housing have been sprayed with Tamiya flat yellow and flat blue respectively.
My apologies that the photo is a bit blurry, but I didn’t realise that the image stabilisation on my smartphone (Nokia Lumia 1020) had failed and I was getting a bit of camera shake. It’s a sad occasion actually because my Lumia is well out of warranty and the camera in it is absolutely awesome (I take all my build log photos with it). I’m going to use the DSLR for now, but I find the Lumia takes better photos on the fly. Luckily my phone contract is up for renewal so I will get a new phone, but the Lumia 1020 along with its 41 megapixel camera is no longer in production, so I’ll have to see what the new Lumia 950 25 MP camera is like when I get one.
Anyway, enough mourning about my Lumia :'(
Here’s the bone dome parts after receiving a coat of Alclad Aqua Gloss in preparation for decals. Again, sorry for the blurry photo!
Ok, moving over the Canon EOS60D for a (hopefully) in focus shot…
Here’s the helmet parts complete with decals.
They will receive about 4 coats of Aqua Gloss before being polished with Micromesh and Tamiya finishing compound to achieve a mirror finish to the gloss.
I’ll pick out the details after polishing (did I tell you about my new wet palette?) 😉
Next Update: Finishing off the last few parts (air hoses, throttle quadrant, side stick), bringing it all together and doing the final weathering.