Monday, April 30, 2012

This is going to look great - Painting disappointment

Yes, back then I had hair
As someone who used to model and paint a lot in my youth I remember fondly cutting balsa into strips, carving things down carefully and shaving them to a hairsbreadth and patiently assembling. I'd then go to the uber thin tissue paper lather it in dope and lovingly apply it to the frame of the plane I'd worked so hard to assemble. Then, unbelievably I'd still be sitting up/seeing anything (since in the 80s proper ventilation meant open a window on the other side of the basement) I'd spray paint the whole thing carefully to make a "metal skin."

So what happened?

Ok, that's a bit different.
Of course carving and assembly took the better part of a week, but the skinning and painting took around a day. The next morning you would wake up and prep the pee-wee engine, dreaming of this plane taking off... Needless to say by the time you saw your workbench it really wasn't what you remember building yesterday. And then it hits you... I tried too much, too fast and something beautiful... just. isn't.

Well, first it's straight up youth. You're 12, you don't know what awesome is. You made it, it's awesome, but things aren't right and you know it. You did your best, but it's "meh" at best...

Now here you are x amount of years down the road, you bought a lot of expensive stuff and now it's time to use it. But that feeling of the Focke Wulf debacle stings true a quarter century later. How do you move on from calamity? How could you get the confidence to deal with a mistake on your paint job? As "stupid simple" as it sounds; just do it.

Get out that spray can, take a deep breath and just spray. Yes it's a $30 box of plastic, sure, that wash just washed your base coat away since you accidentally went and washed before the base coat was fully dry. (You know you did it...) But you know that you learned. You probably won't do it again, so keep at it, and keep practicing till you get what you want and the effect you want.

But what happens when you've been at this for a month, six months, a year and yet still you get wrinkles on your paint job, "spackling" from the spray can, or just can't seem to get an even coat? Well, these are techniques you may want to mess around with by spending money on a can of paint and giving the recycling man an exciting array of colors and finishes to toss in the truck. Grab that container you find in your recycling bin and spray. Experiment, you may find a new way that works for you, and looks amazing to boot. If you don't have $15 to "throw away" (I consider it an investment in my hobby skills, but not everyone is like that) then maybe your $15 would be better spent on a DVD/Digital video about how to base coat, and build up layers from there.

Now, your base coat may be fine, but it may be another technique that befuddles. Just last night I had one such befuddledment... Decals. I hate decals. Not a little bit... So, I grabbed a sprue and went to town. There's a smattering of decals all over a lot of sprue, I'm sure my cat will go to smell it and walk around with a decal sticking to her nose, and I'm more than certain I'll get the hard stare when my wife ends up finding them cemented to the bathroom sink, but that's all part of learning... Sometimes you make a few mistakes along the way. (Sometimes you end up buying dinner for your wife...)

So what's your weakness? As you go around on the hobby take a look at other people's models, when the time is appropriate ask them what they did to achieve a certain look/finish/quality. Perhaps it was their weakest point at one time, now becaming their specialty, perhaps they're gifted and it was fully formed from Zeus' brow. Either way I have yet to find someone in the hobby who has not been very helpful, including recommending, or in some instances letting me borrow, the tools they used.

If you're solo, what to do? Check the web, there's tons of resources and don't forget that you can buy some videos. There's also the exceptional "Using Citadel Paints" just released that help you in all areas of painting.

So, 1) Don't despair, it's not easy! 2) Keep experimenting, 3) Ask and seek knowledge, it's out there!

Good luck, and have fun!

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