"Easy 3" Contrast and Desaturation Sets from Lifecolor

"Easy 3" Contrast and Desaturation Sets
Lifecolor
Catalogue # LC-MS03 (US Army) and LC-MS04 (Soviet AFV)
Available from The Airbrush Company for £8.45 each

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Introduction

If you build scale armor and pay any attention to goings on online, chances are you're at least familiar with the concept of color modulation. If you're not, put simply, it's a style of painting that is supposed to more accurately represent the way light and shadow interplay across a vehicle's various surfaces. To my mind, it's essentially the figure painting concept of midtones, highlights and shadows applied to armored vehicles, and as with figure painting, it's an effect I feel can be overdone.

Read more: "Easy 3" Contrast and Desaturation Sets from Lifecolor

Model Air Colour sets from Vallejo

Model Air colour sets:
RLM Colours (I)
#71165
RLM Colours (II) #71166
Metallic Colours #71176
Acrylicos Vallejo

Available from every good hobby shop

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I never had the opportunity to do a review on modelling paints so I gladly accepted Jim Hatch´s offer to do this with no less than three full sets all at once. Having used some sole colours from Vallejo here and there when doing delicate paint jobs as painting some details in a cockpit I was curious how these Model Air paints would perform being airbrushed on larger areas.

 

 

So, these are the individual colour sets we got from Vallejo:

  • RLM Colours (I), order no. 71165:
    RLM 02, RLM 65, RLM 70, RLM 71, RLM 79, RLM 80, Matt Varnish, Thinner Medium
  • RLM Colours (II), order No. 71166:
    RLM 74, RLM 75, RLM 76, RLM 78, RLM 81, RLM 82, Matt Varnish, Thinner Medium
  • Metallic Colours, order no. 71176:
    Silver, Steel, Gold, Bright Brass, Copper, Arctic Blue, Gun, Gun Metal Metalizer


Each set includes 8 bottles of 17ml. What I like on Vallejo´s bottles is the “eyedropper”, making it very easy to measure your individual paint to thinner ratio for the thinner, too, is in a bottle with this “eyedropper”! Very clever and comfortable!

Included in both of the RLM colour sets is an identical and very informative leaflet explaining what “RLM” stands for (Reichsluftfahrtministerium = Reich´s administration of aviation) followed by a survey of each RLM colour from RLM 00 to RLM 99(!) in Spanish, English and German. To each RLM colour we are given sometimes very detailed information about how this colour is called, what purpose it has been used for and in which combination with other colours, and where different shades have been noticed. The author of this survey I surely will keep with my other references is Rafael Navarro Mármol. This leaflet can be downloaded from Vallejo´s website here.

 

My first thought has been how on earth to do such a review on modelling paints? What I knew for sure was that I would have to spray each colour on a piece of white plastic sheet for three reasons:

  • to see how they would behave when airbrushed
  • to be able to judge their colour and levelling quality
  • to be able to compare them to my references


Now, after having bought a sufficiently big piece of white plastic sheet I drew a square for each colour on it, with each colour set I got to review in one row. I even drew a square for the Matt Varnish and the Thinner Medium, but needless to say I did not spray a sample of these transparent colours...


I spend a very lot of my Tamiya masking tape to mask each square, thus preventing overspray from the adjoining squares. This one is an expensive review...

I did the first two rows with RLM colours with my old but trusty Harder & Steenbeck Evolution fitted with the 0.2mm nozzle. As Vallejo recommends this on their website I decided to add two drops of Thinner Medium to 10 drops of colour, stirring this with a soft brush directly in the cup of my airbrush. Fire up the air compressor!

Pressure set to about 20psi I started to fill in each square carefully with light coats of paint. As usual when doing large areas I moved my airbrush from left to right then followed this application moving it from top to bottom.


Doing so it really started to annoy me that I had to clean my airbrush´s needle from paint accumulation after about 15 seconds, having just sprayed the horizontal direction! Same procedure after having done the vertical move! Now, I am used to clean my airbrush´s tip once in a while when spraying Gunze or Tamiya acrylic paints, but here I had to clean my airbrush´s tip at least 6 times to finish the single square for one colour. Not the most motivating experience to start with...

I leave it to you how frequently I had to clean the tip to get all 20 squares done. Oh well...

I thoroughly cleaned my airbrush when changing to the next colour with Vallejo´s Airbrush Cleaner. I made use of this great stuff in the past when using Gunze and Tamiya acrylics. This cleaner works like a breeze, effortlessly cleaning even colour that has dried in the cup while I sprayed the samples.

 

Switching over to the metallic paints I switched the airbrush, too. I always keep my Harder & Steenbeck airbrushes clean from any metallic paints because it is not too easy to get these colours completely out from the airbrush. So, for spraying metallic paints as Alclad or Testor´s Metalizer I once bought an Aero Pro 301, which performed flawlessly in the past.

Doing the first colour, Vallejo´s Silver, worked fine, irrespective of repeatedly cleaning the tip on this airbrush, too. Then, after having cleaned the airbrush to continue with the next colour I experienced more and more trouble not only by paint accumulation on the tip but by the paint starting to splatter and sometimes clogging the nozzle. So I stopped spraying and decided to re-clean the airbrush only to find small particles of agglutinated paint in the cup. This happened with most of the following metallic paints to follow.

Somehow I managed to finish doing the samples, but it was no real joyful experience due to permanently cleaning the tip and the problems I encountered.

Now, let´s have a look how at the sheet. I printed the respective colours name and number on paper and glued it to the sheet for you to identify the colours we have got:

CLICK ME TO SUPER ENLARGE!

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Clicking on the picture above gets you to a bigger image to better see the samples. You can download a much bigger file (TIF, 2501x1144 pixels, about 8MB) here.

All the colours look very rich and adhere very well to the bare plastic. Applying them in thin layers allows them to dry in seconds enabling you to add the next layer until the area you want to spray is covered. This is one of the points I like.

All of the colours level off very smooth, except the last three, Arctic Blue, Gun and Gun Metal Metalizer, which´s surface feels a little bit grainy. I really like the individual colour´s power, covering very well and even, drying to a nice semi-matte finish except for the metallic colours, of course, which dry to a more shiny finish.

I wanted to compare the RLM colours of our samples to some references I have, but after thinking about the feasibility I recognized that this would only work for me, having the real colour samples here on my table in front of me, but not for you, our valued readers, who only have your computer screens with all kinds of colour matching and calibrations (or not) in front of you. So, I want to show you instead what references I use to compare the samples to:

CLICK TO ENLARGE

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  • Both editions of “Luftwaffe Camouflage And Markings 1933-1945” from K.A. Merrick (with Jürgen Kiroff), 2004 and 2005
  • My good old example of the long out of print “The Official Monogram Painting Guide To German Aircraft 1935-1945”, from K.A. Merrick and Thomas H. Hitchcock, 1980



Having all these in front of me I will get you my impressions on the individual RLM colours from Vallejo, comparing them to the paint samples in the books above.

CLICK TO ENLARGE

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I would like to emphasize that what follows now are my impressions, having the colour samples from Vallejo sprayed on white plastic sheet, compared to paint chips matched to 1980s technology in “The Official Monogram Painting Guide To German Aircraft 1935-1945”, and the colour chips made from original paint formulas in the more modern “Luftwaffe Camouflage And Markings 1933-1945” books, looking at them under today’s daylight conditions (bright but cloudy sky).

So this is not authoritative for your individual sense of colour, just what I can see today. Let´s start:

Vallejo

Monogram Painting Guide 1980

Official Monogram Painting Guide 2004 & 2005

RLM 02

close, a little bit too warm (red) and dark

close, a little bit too warm (red) and dark

RLM 65

close, a little bit too bright and too blue

way too green, nowhere near the bright blue sample from the paint chip

RLM 70

close, a little bit too green

very close, if a tiny bit too bright

RLM 71

close, a little bit too warm (red)

too warm (red, yellow) and bright

RLM 79

close, a little bit too warm (red)

way too dark (red, blue)

RLM 80

close, a little bit too bright

close, a little bit too bright and green

RLM 74

too much red and blue, too dark

close, a little bit too dark and blue

RLM 75

close, a little bit too dark

good shade, only too dark

RLM 76

too neutral grey, blue shade missing

too neutral grey, blue shade missing

RLM 78

too neutral, missing a blue shade

way too neutral and bright. Blue shade missing.

RLM 81

good and close match to the brown version of this colour

no match due to sample chip being of the dark brown variation of this colour

RLM 82

good and close match to the dark green version of this colour

close, a little bit too blue and too dark

 


These are my impressions regarding different paint samples being applied on different substrates. This is not really academic for there are so many influencing factors coming along with any research on these RLM colours since 1945. In my opinion there never will be the last word on the subject of RLM colours, so I can live with what we have today.

With only a few exceptions I would not hesitate to get these colours of my models of German aircraft from WWII. Vallejo´s colours are close to what I think should match my references. The visual impression will be another one when getting these (and other!) colours on a model kit with all its shapes, nooks and crannies

 

So what do we think?
Vallejo has an impressive range of colours on offer for the modeller today. They adhere very well on bare plastic without the need to apply a primer before. They are tough and hard to damage once dry, and I surely will get them another try later, maybe with an airbrush of another design on needle and nozzle (my friend Jürgen told me about promising results with his Iwata airbrush).

I had some struggle when I switched from enamel based colours to acrylics some time ago, so maybe my problems spraying these samples is only for my inexperience with the behaviour of these Vallejo colours.

Overall: 5/10

Thanks to Acrylicos Vallejo for the review samples!

Thomas Mayer

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Acrylic-Polyurethane Surface Primers from Vallejo

Acrylic-Polyurethane Surface Primers ( 17mls and 60mls)
Acrylicos Vallejo
Available from Model Hobbies for around £1.79 and £4.58 respectively


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I’ve tried a great number of different primers over the last few years; some of them excellent, and some of them not so. Some of the latter types I do know people swear by, so dependent on how you apply your primer, and onto what you apply it, will determine how well you get on with it. For instance, I don’t get on well with Alclad Grey Primer. It seems to take an age to micromesh it to a finish whereby the Alclad colour won’t be sucked into it. On the other hand, I love Halfords Plastic Primer in rattle cans. Another of my favourites is Mr Surfacer, again, in aerosol form.


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Just prior at my contact with Vallejo, I had seen some talk of their new range of Acrylic-Polyurethane primers, and thought that may be worth testing out, so asked Vallejo if I could do this. My thanks to them for sending these over to try out.

Vallejo’s new range of primers comes in various colours and shades, and therefore is ideal for modellers who may well want to prime their subject in something more akin to the final colour, such as armour modellers. In this respect, this genre of subject is well catered for with this new range of primer. Having a base primer colour close to your intended colour will mean that you will find it less onerous in achieving the final colour you need, with obviously less paint needed to achieve that finish.


Vallejo’s Surface Primer is available, and has been sent to us in the following 60ml colours:

  • White #73600
  • Grey #73601
  • UK Bronze Green #73607
  • Dunkelgelb RAL7028
  • German Red-Brown RAL8012
  • US Olive Drab #73608

We have also received the following in the smaller 17ml bottle, here with their relevant codes:

  • White #70600
  • Grey #70601
  • Black #70602
  • UK Bronze Green 70607
  • German Panzer Grey RAL7021


As  you can see, two sizes of bottle are available for the Vallejo’s ‘Surface Primer’ range, and these are the typical 17ml bottle, more associated with the Model Air and brush paints within Vallejo’s range, and also the larger 60ml bottle, with a flip top opener. Both lids allow you to simply quirt this into the colour cup of your airbrush, with minimum fuss and mess. As is typical, and not recommended, I usually sniff things to get an idea of how noxious they are, and all of these paints, while they do have an odour, it is very, very low. Still wear your face mask though!


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There is no need to thin any of these paints as they are already formulated for spraying from an airbrush, despite them seeming a little thicker than I would be used to for this purpose. I can tell  you that they also so seem to work well when applied with a paintbrush, and they do level very well when you do this.

I used both a Harder & Steenbeck Evolution CR-Plus and an Iwata HP-CH to trial these colours, and for my purposes, I found they sprayed very well at between 12PSI to 15PSI. These primers do dry very quickly, and I found that my initial style of airbrushing wasn’t suited to well, as it left a slightly rough surface to the plastic, so to counteract this, I sprayed from a closer distance of around an inch from the surface, and ‘opened the throttle’ a little, making the flow of primer slightly heavier, while moving the airbrush slightly slower. This had the effect of ‘wetting’ the surface more, so a thicker coat was laid down before any was allowed to properly dry. This did give a much smoother coat, which to my delight, shrinks back a little like some of the Tamiya aerosol I’ve used, meaning that my panel lines and rivets were still clearly defined.


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I do think it can take a short while to adjust your technique to suit this primer, but the coverage was extremely good, and very similar to the Gunze paints I am used to using.

The reason for trying both airbrushes with this primer was to see how different types would work with this new primer. I find that some paint sprays better with my Iwata than the H&S, and vice-versa, so wanted to give these primers an fair chance. I can report that, for me, both airbrushes handled this formula as well as each other.

In test, I sprayed the interior of the fuselage of my Ta 152 project, in regular styrene, and also the fuselage/tail of my 1/32 Ju 88 Mistel project, combining resin, plastic and photo-etch brass. All materials covered in the same way.


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Ta 152 Fuselage and cockpit primed with 'Surface Primer' with some areas oversprayed in Alclad.



To clean my airbrush after use, I swilled the majority of the colour cup with water, and sprayed it through, before finishing off with Premi-Air Foaming Cleaner. This created a few ‘flecks’ which I managed to get rid of with some Lifecolor thinner. If I had some at hand, I think I would have done this with the proprietary Vallejo airbrush cleaner.

So what do we think?
I’m always after expanding my repertoire of primers, and find these to be superb. I’m pleased that this is an ‘easy-going’ primer with regards to application, and also to the flexibility of what you can actually spray it onto. Highly recommended in every respect!

Overall 9/10

Our sincere thanks to Acrylicos Vallejo for the review samples used here. To purchase these directly, click THIS link.


JH


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MODELMATES PRIMER

MODELMATES PRIMER

400ml Matt  Acrylic Spray in aerosol cans
Colours: Black, Dark Grey, Light Grey, White
Available from Modelmates Limited for £7.99 each

 

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I visited the Modelmates stand at the IPMS Telford show two or three times during the course of the weekend and watched in awe as some of the Modelmates products were demonstrated. How is it that these guys (and gels!) make it all look so easy? In most cases it has been my experience that the more practice you do, the easier it gets, but in the case of the Modelmates products I have encountered, the amount of practice is certainly reduced.

 

I will be talking about their ‘weathering’ products in a separate review, but in the case of the acrylic matt Primer aerosol spray cans, provided you have used them before (as most modellers have) there should be no problem at all.

 

Prior to using the Modelmates product, I have either been a Halfords aerosol plastic primer fan for large models, and/or,  Alclad Micro Primer through the airbrush for the smaller bits and pieces. Whichever type I use, I always follow up with a session of Micromesh 12000 and soapy water to smooth the primed surface. The result of spraying those products usually leaves a surface, albeit acceptably smooth to the naked eye, whereas a light touch would indicate the sprayed surface would benefit from a quick rub down.

 

So, how would the Modelmates primer perform in real time? I am building a couple of 1/32 Revell Arado Ar 196’s at the moment, and prior to gluing the top surfaces of the floats, I decide to try out the primer on one of the float tops. The colour I chose was Dark Grey. I also chose this time to try and get back into my wife’s ‘good books’, by dutifully taking the part and the spray can outside into the very inclement (cold and dampish!) early February weather - not ideal for aerosols, but a good pointer of how well, or not, the spray behaved.

 

It went on extremely well with a two or three quick passes and I very quickly returned inside the house putting on a big show for my wife to try and impress on her again how dutiful I was. It didn’t work though  – the showing off bit that is! What did work, and extremely well at that considering the temperature, was the Modelmates primer.

 

After putting the item aside for a couple hours while I attended to other domestic duties (creep!) I returned to inspect the sprayed float top to discover that the painted surface was indeed different to my usual results. It was definitely smoother to the naked eye and, more importantly, the touch. Not wishing to labour the point, or to get too romantic about it, it almost had a velvety feel to it. Photographs never seem to do things like this justice, I hope my pic will help but I really think I can get away without using my Micromesh and soapy water activities! What is similar to the Halfords spray can usage is the way the paint seems to shrink around the part as it dries which is very satisfying.

 

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I then picked a random piece of corrugated cardboard, and armed with a suitable mask, I did the same two to three light passes of each colour to give you an idea of the colours available. This was also carried out in the same inclement weather - my wife being similarly unimpressed with my dutiful efforts and therefore my endeavours were wasted.

 

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I would recommend visiting Modelmates website www.modelmates.co.uk where  you can see all  their products and also some very useful demonstration videos of their weathering products.

 

So what do we think?
I was impressed. I will definitely use the product over the entire Arado airframes. On first impressions, this ranks very high, and on the results so far, I would highly recommend this product. The top line of text on the can says it all: “Super matt acrylic paint with a fine spray nozzle. For use on plastic, card, timber, moulded acrylics, paper and metal”.

 

At UK£7.99 this represents good value in today’s costs (a Hasegawa 1/72 kit recently released at over UK£70.00!!) and this is for a 400ml can. Halfords primer is UK£6.29 for 300ml. By my maths the Modelmates product is better value for money anyway!

 

Overall: 10/10

 

Our thanks to Modelmates Limited www.modelmates.co.uk for the review samples.

 

Peter Buckingham


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