Painting wise it is a 3-colour camouflage pattern with RAF Medium Sea Grey (RC289) on the belly and RAF Ocean Grey (RC288) and RAF Dark Green (RC286) on the top. Additionally there is Red (X-7) spinner and Yellow (RC007) band at the leading edge of each wing which extends for 1.5 inch above and below the centerline, running from just outboard of the outer wing cannon to the edge of the tip light.
For the first time I decided to try free hand camouflage painting except for the Yellow bands and the demarcation line low down on the rear fuselage sides. Both mentioned areas have straight lines and semi-hard / hard edges so I decided to use here some kind of masking - more on that later on.
With this build I decided to mainly use pre/post shading painting technique of panel lines/panels with an aim to get better at this and check what effects can be achieved. It turned out that there is a long way to go for me to get proficient with it!
I started with underside of the fuselage. I decided to use 3 different colours for preshading of panel lines. Darker one was Rubber Black (XF-85), medium mix of Rubber Black (XF-85) and Medium Blue (XF-18) and the lighter one was mix of Medium Blue (XF-18) and Flat White (XF-2). Dark colour was used to pre-shade connections of ailerons and elevators to the fuselage. Medium colour was for all the other panel lines and light one to enhance visually raised elements and some of the hatches. Next I airbrushed a few thin layers of RAF Medium Sea Grey base colour being careful not to entirely cover pre -shaded panel lines.
As the next step a mixed (1:1) base colour with White (RC004) and airbrushed it towards the center of some of the panels. To bring everything together I airbrushed another thin layer of Medium Sea Grey.
At this stage I could stop but I was not entirely satisficed by the final effect - I covered my pre shading too much and the finish seemed to be too boring so I decided to introduce some discolorations to the paint by mixing two shades, one darker Medium Sea Grey + Black (RC001) and one lighter Medium Sea Grey + White (RC004) which then were airbrushed via Uschi van der Rosten stencils set. Unfortunately it turned out that the darker shade was too dark and I had to use again base colour to blend it, this led to another unwanted effect - to cover darker shade of paint I hade to spray quite a few layers of base color over that areas which ended up creating a bit different shade than I had on the rest of the belly surfaces - that probably happened because of additional layers of paint and a bit thicker mix than before which saturated the color more in those areas. I did not like that finish at all...
After a while I decided I would overpaint what I already had to make it better. I did not have to strip the paint due to application of very thin layers before. I did pre shading once more which I then airbrushed with thin layer of base paint, just after that I used two aforementioned mixes and stencil set to simulate discolorations and next airbrushed additional few layers of Medium Sea Grey.
At that moment I decided that final effect is good enough.
I must say that it was hell of a painting lesson for me! Main conclusions for the future when using pre / post shading technique:
be more bold with pre shading and do not be afraid to leave it to show through more. It will be covered later on by weathering
try to keep consistent paint density - this is really important when airbrushing thin layers of paint
If mixing in other techniques figure out when to apply them during the whole process so that additional blending layers do not cover preshading in the end
When mixing lighter and darker shades do it carefully so that the resulting mix is not too far away from the original color.
think ahead about entire painting process to get a mental picture of all the steps
Now it was time for the top camouflage colours - as it was first time for me to do it free had I was not sure how to approach it. After thinking it through I decided to start with kind of base layer which was created by airbrushing thin layer of Ocean Grey and Dark green. There were couple of reasons of doing so:
I wanted to see where each colour is so that I know what colours to use for preshading of panel lines and discolorations
lessons learned after painting of the bottom of the fuselage I thought that having a layer of colours already there might help with the preshading technique - I will be able to airbrush more layers of paint and pre shading will be still visible
To create base layer I first draw demarcation lines with the pencil and then airbrushed first colour (Ocean Grey) at marked areas. Next I prepared second colour of Dark Green by diluting it quite heavily - to create demarcation lines between colors with an airbrush I wanted to spray close to the surface so that transition between colours is not too soft. Although being close to the surface helps with nice transitions and diluted paint allows to airbrush nice thin layers, it also increases the possibility of dreaded spider webs, so a lot of attention is required during the process. To have as much control as possible I used for it Harder & Steenbeck airbrush with 0.15mm needle. Having demarcation lines in place I switched to Iwata HP-CH with 0.3mm to fill in the colour. Formula for success here is quite simple - always try to keep an airbrush nozzle directed into the area to be filled in, as this way the probability of over spraying another colour is almost non existent.
Next step was to pre shade panel lines. I started with the Ocean Grey - here I used black and brownish colours. Next I sprayed one or two thin layers of base colour and then prepared mix of darker and lighter shades which were then used with stencil set to introduce discolouration - exactly the same process as on the belly. Next I airbrushed again few thin layers of base colour of Ocean Grey. I repeated same steps for the Dark Green except different colours were used for preshading.
To expose a bit better raised details of the rudder, after applying a base coat I used darker mix of Ocean Grey and Dark Green to simulate shadowed areas - masking type was very helpful here. After application of darker shades I airbrushed thin layer of original base colours to blend everything in.
I mentioned at the beginning that not all transitions where painted free hand - the one which is low down on the rear fuselage sides was airbrushed with the help of 2mm cardboard which allowed me to create nice semi-hard starlight demarcation lines. Yellow bands where painted with hard edges - I used here Tamiya masking tape for curves. To be on a safe side that other parts of the fuselage close to the area to be painted will not be affected I additionally covered them with the kitchen foil. Next I airbrushed layer of White (GX1) and then applied Yellow (RC007) - as soon as it was dry to the touch I removed all the masking.
Next step was to create walkways. First I had to figure out how to mask those surfaces - I had ready masks from Eduard set but those were masks for the walkways themselves - it would work if I first painted are black, then masked it and painted the camouflage colours - not the other way around. Additionally surfaces near the root of the wings are rather not very pleasant to work with. I had a couple of ideas and in the end I decided that I will first use masks from Eduard and apply them where the walkways should be. Next I used Tamiya masking tape for curves again - having Eduard mask in place I just carefully applied masking tape around it - it worked perfectly. Having area secured I could remove the original mask and move to the next stage. To imitate rougher surfaces of the walkways I used Mr. Surfacer 500 - I applied it little by little with a brush. As soon as it was dry I airbrushed it with Nato Black (RC082) and then I added a few spots of Black (RC001). Lastly I did slight post shading of the panel lines (especially on the horizontal surfaces) and the painting was done.
Before I started to apply decals I checked the surface of the model and cleaned it by polishing in a few spots. Next whole model was airbrushed with layer of gloss varnish - GX112. As soon as it was dry I had it ready for next steps.
I started with the stencils on the top of the fuselage and then markings followed - same procedure for the underbelly. In general decals behaved nicely though I rushed a bit and some of the stencils show some sings of silvering - probably due to deficient removal of the water from under the decal. Microsol and Microset was used as always to help with the application. There was quite a bit of work to apply all the "AMAL" stencils - there is a lot of them as they should be added around each of the fasteners - I think that final result is worth the effort. Next day after application I polished all the markings with 2400 grid polishing pad to further smoothen the surface and then airbrushed protective gloss layer of Tamiya X-22.
That is all for this one folks. In the next entry I will probably cover weathering of the fuselage as well as painting and weathering of different subassemblies. Till then!