- Published on Friday, 12 March 2010 15:35 Peter Buckingham
LIFECOLOR WEATHERED WOOD ACRYLICS
It was one of those coincidences. I had just received the kit of the Wingnut Wings Sopwith Pup (see my kit review on this site) and, knowing what the build entailed, there was a niggle at the back of my head concerning my representation skills (or lack) of producing a passable wood cockpit external 'decking' and also a 'laminated' propeller. I mentioned my concerns to webmeister Jim Hatch who told me that he just received a set of Lifecolour 'Weathered Wood' acrylics for review and perhaps it would be a good idea to do a test piece before putting 'brush to Pup' so to speak. Not having attempted anything like this before, I thought that this would be a wise course of action.
The Lifecolor 'Weathered Wood' acrylics set comprises six bottles of various tones specifically for the diorami amongst us whose speciality, amongst other things of course, is producing wooden sleepers, floors, decks, wooden buildings and the like. The colours range from UA713 which is a warm dark shade through to UA718 which is a cold light shade. Lifecolor acrylics can be thinned with plain water or by using their very own Lifecolor Thinners and the instructions on the rear of the box recommend diluting until reaching a thickness of milk (where have I heard that one before!). The paints can be used through an airbrush or by paintbrush. As they say on the box, it is better to apply many thin coats as opposed to one thick one. It is also recommended to use a very low air pressure if using an airbrush. I was going to use a paintbrush or two.
I had found a couple of pictures of wood grain which was typical of that used on WW1 aircraft and also a picture of a laminated wood propeller. I now needed something to experiment on - something that wasn't flat, as the cockpit decking surface I was intending to paint was curved. In my spares box I found a 1/32 drop tank from a Mustang kit and mounted this on a pin vice for ease of handling during the painting process. One thing to bear in mind here is that WWI 'decking' was made of relatively thin, probably marine grade, plywood which would be far more openly grained, possibly with some knots. The struts and propellers would be made of much harder wood which would be thin and straight grained and I felt that at model aircraft scales of 1/32 and smaller, the grain would be hardly noticeable.
As the Wingnut Wings kit colour call out for the wood decking was a Tamiya acrylic XF59, I decided to use this as my base coat. Once dried, and with my picture references close at hand, I began to experiment by applying three of the Lifecolor colours, UA714, 715 and 716. I varyingly used a very fine chisel edged brush and a fine pointed brush just touching the surface lightly and applying a few 'coats' until, in my colourblind view (always a problem, whatever the colours being used) just about the right depth of colour was achieved, but remembering to place the odd slightly extended 'dot' or miniature 'squiggle' in the darkest colour to represent a 'knot'.
Once this had dried, I hand painted an overcoat of Tamiya Clear Orange and the result was quite pleasing. In my view, this only has be an 'impression' of grain as seen from a distance of 3 - 5 feet. Those French 'Impressionists' certainly knew what they were doing and if it was good enough for them......................!
Next in line was the propeller. This time I used Lifecolour Warm Light Shade 2 (UA716) as my base colour. When thoroughly dry, using a hard(ish) sharply pointed pencil, I carefully drew my interpretation of the lamination lines on a WWI propeller from my reference photograph, not forgetting that the lamination lines have to marry up on the reverse side of the propeller! Once satisfied, and using my thin pointed brush, I applied some coats of the Warm Dark Shade (UA713) within the pencilled lines. Lo and behold, it was beginning to look like a laminated prop. Using Micromesh 12000 grade wet and dry paper with very soapy water flattened out any slightly raised brush marks and prepared the surface for an overcoat mix of Tamiya Clear Orange and Clear Red which was also hand brushed. This gloss finish will eventually be toned down when the finishing touches to the Sopwith Pup are carried out. Overall, I was happy with the results of my first efforts at producing wood finishes and I feel sure that my next efforts will be much improved.
Looking at the photographic examples of wood grained finishes on the box, anyone wishing to attempt a diorama that contains wood of any description, can only be inspired. This set of acrylics will prove to be invaluable to novices (like me) or experts alike.
So what do we think?
I have to admit that the thought of producing a wood grained finish was rather daunting, but with the help of this set of wood shades and some good reference photographs, I was able to produce (again, in my very subjective view) a passable representation of a laminated propeller and a wood grained cockpit decking. Having 'broken the ice', I know that future attempts will now be carried out with more confidence.
Many thanks to The Airbrush Company for the sample used within this review.
To contact The Airbrush Company, please go to www.airbrushes.com
The Airbrush Company Ltd
Unit 7 Marlborough Road (East)
Lancing Business Park
+44 (0)1903 767800