Thursday, 28 April 2016

A better portable workbench

While my attic 'man cave' continues to be unavailable to me - due to it having been relegated to the house junk store - I have been instead using my portable modeling tray for kit building and painting. However, it looks like this ‘temporary’ solution has developed into the norm  and will be for the foreseeable future, so I decided some modifications to the tray were in order.

My trusty old Progen Paintsation, which now looks a little worse for wear. The main
issue is lack of space once I have all my tools, glues an brushes and what-not on it.
Once, loaded with tools there's actually not much room left to build/paint on!
The 'tray' - which is actually Progen's laser cut MDF Paintstation - is OK but lacks the additional storage space I need, as this is now my main modeling table. Of course, Progen's design was never intended to be a primary work area, just a makeshift portable work surface, so storage was kept to a minimum.

So, the problem was - how to add a reasonable amount of extra storage space to my Paintstation while still keeping it manageable as a tray I could move about? (I work, mainly, in our lounge and so, every so often, the wife insists I remove all clues of my ‘toys’ when we have guests.)

After a few rough sketch ideas, I settled on an under-tray draw storage solution. A simple 'bolt on' box that I could attach to the bottom of my tray...

My sketch of how I would like the bolt-on draw section to attach to my
workstation top. This also shows how I would like the draws to be.
The benefit of this was that I could have it made while still using my current tray and then quickly screw it on without having to take apart or put my Paintstation out of action.

Being a complete DIY clutz, I sent my designs up to my very talented big brother and he quickly worked out how my design could be made using MDF and wood. Well, the task is near complete and Ian has sent me the first preview of my under-tray storage draw...

(Note: the actual bit about the workbench starts about a minute in - Ian starts with a look at his new action camera that we have been talking about!) :)

Nifty eh? There's more than enough storage there to keep my tray uncluttered, yet it will still keep the whole unit portable.

The complete add-on draw unit ready to slip onto the bottom of my Paintstation.
While my brother puts the finishing touches to the draws I have to figure out how to get the thing down to my home in Yorkshire from darkest Scotland!

Can’t wait for it to arrive. Big thanks to my brovver.

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Minairons 1937 Chevrolet 1.5ton truck - part 8

I'll start this episode by taking a step back. In Part 7 of this project, I was left feeling quite unhappy with the colours I painted my Chevy. They just weren't right - so I had to do some tinkering!

Now, this can be a gamble, as over-painting unsatisfactory paint coats (rather than stripping them back and starting again) has all sorts of pit-falls. But, primarily, slapping on an additional coat is bad in that - obviously - it thickens the amount of paint you have on your model...

Well, it doesn't look too bad (from a distance) but you can make out a bit of streakiness. This is because I attempted to off-set the paint thickness issue but using a thinned (near wash) consistency of the paint I used to rectify my colours. Close-up, it is a little 'bumpy' in places, but hopefully the varnish coat - which I will apply next - will smooth this effect out a little.

There's very little to see on the underside of the model - Minairons keeping this very simple - and so I didn't bother too much with painting and weathering. I just applied a couple of dark and muddy looking layers, after all, it's underneath and will be hidden once mounted on its base...

Weathering the Chevy
Before weathering, you have to decide what look you are going for. This entails you - the modeller - giving your model a back story. Is your truck old or new, what were the conditions in which it served, what was the weather like, etc, etc. This will dictate just what kind of state the truck would be in.

I decided that - by 1944 - my 1937 Chevy would have been a little beaten up. But I wanted it to be more dirty than neglected, so less rust and chips and more grime and dust!

The first part of this process was to apply the base dirt layer, and for this started with a dusting of Humbrol's 'Smoke' pigment (I could have used charcoal powder as an alternative)...

This gives a nice 'grubby' effect, and tones down the pristine camo scheme a bit.

The next phase in the weathering is my oil paint 'staining and bleaching' work. The usual process where I dab the model in a variety of 'dots' of oil colours, then I smear them into streaks using a wide brush which has been wetted with some thinners.

Going dotty! Yeah, a bit over the top here.
The above picture gives you and idea how I begin my oil streaking and staining - by applying a multitude of colored dabs of oil paint. I've probably gone a bit over the top here (I normally just do a few dots at a time) but I wanted to experiment with a multi-tonal effect.

The great thing about staining with oils is that you can more or less scrap the whole thing and start again if you are unhappy. So long as you have a good underlying varnish layer to protect the work that has gone before, you can wipe off your oils with a tissue which is damp with thinners.

You then just streak your dots in the pattern you want with a broad brush which is damp with thinners...

You dirty, dirty truck!
Oils give a nice greasy and oily stain (naturally enough) which looks particularly nice on tarpaulins. Overall, this truck is as dismal and filthy as I imagined I would like it now. The Finns actually took very good car of their vehicles (as getting new ones was nigh on impossible for them), but as a frontline vehicle I guess there wasn't a lot of time for a wash and scrub up!

Next: Chipping and pin-washing stage (plus, I make a start on the base).

Monday, 11 April 2016

Minairons 1937 Chevrolet 1.5ton truck - part 7

After the usual primer coat of Hycote Black Matt aerosol, I brush painted on a coat of my 'Finnish Green' (50/50 mix of Vallejo 'German Cam. Dark Green' and 'Yellow Olive').  I'm beginning to like brush painting, it's not only a lot less fuss than airbrushing, but it has a texture and variability of coverage that I think looks a little less clinical as airbrushing does. But, that's a matter of opinion.

Next, I prepared for the application of my Finnish 'Beige-Grey' by marking out these patches using a white pencil...

As it turned out, my beige-grey mix was far too grey (and not enough beige). In fact, my camera's flash even made the grey look snow-white!

It looks a rather attractive winter camouflage scheme (must remember that)! But, for my purposes, the beige is a bit of a fail and will have to be rectified (replace Vallejo's 'Blue Grey' with their 'Stone Grey' paint).

Still, let's get the third colour of the Finnish camo scheme on first before I tinker with the 'beige'...

It's obviously not my day, as the dark brown came out a bit too light and red! Again, that is easily rectified with a light wash of darker brown. However, in a way, using lighter paints is a bit of a tactic I have been thinking of employing as I am finding that once I introduce weathering this darkens the base paint scheme anyway.

Well, that's the progress on the '37 Chevy. Even at this stage, it's quite a handsome looking kit, despite its simplicity.

Next: Rectifying my dodgy camo scheme, and painting the tilt canvas!

Friday, 8 April 2016

PSC 1/72 T-34/85, Finnish Armoured Brigade 1944.

Hoorah! Finished - and about time too (my enthusiasm was beginning to wane).

The Plastic Soldier Company kit is - in my opinion - one of the best 'easy build' plastic T-34/85 kits made for wargamers in 1/72 scale. I think it just pips the Pegasus model to the winning post, purely because it has the better tracks.

Although I did tinker around with this kit and made some 'improvements' I didn't go completely mad and did not add any PE refinements. The engine deck is just as PSC designed it and although the 'mesh grills' look a bit derpy I decided to settle for them as they were.

You can tell, from the chunky road wheels, that the track sections are simplified (3-piece components), but I did my best with them.

The one let down with this completion is the photography, as I struggle to get to grips with my new camera (and lighting). Hence, I have not as many finished photos as I normally have. But, on a positive note, I think I have progressed enough to start thinking about taking on a 'premium kit' (like Dragon). I'll just finish off the other two 'wargame quality' T-34/85 kits I have and I have a really nice model waiting!