Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Painting brass

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Originally uploaded by Phil_Parker.
There is a lot of common ground between most model making hobbies. Soldering, cutting, filing – they are all pretty similar whatever you plan to build. The biggest area, IMHO where one hobby can cross-fertilise another is painting.

For years we’ve been told by those in the know, to look at military modellers to learn how to paint figures. Ironically, just as everyone starting doing this and learning the joys of dry-brushing and shading the creases in clothes, the military guys took the effects too far and invented “hyper realism”. This basically seems to be over-emphasising the effect, which might be technically clever but appears, to my eye at least, wrong.

Painting a non-brass item to look like metal is something we all have to do. The firebox on my mineral engine is made of whitemetal but the Victorian builders would have wanted to polish it so I had to try to hide the grey.

The trick, I think, is to paint the item with a metallic brass paint and then, when it’s fully dry, wash a tin coat of black over it all. Besides collecting in the crevices like dirt does on brass if you don’t clean it properly. The black gives the brass a depth that the metal paint alone doesn’t give.

Of course this wouldn’t be a problem if the items were metal in the first place. Except that brass doesn’t look right either in model form. It’s too shiny and needs a coat of satin or mat varnish for best effect – and to save cleaning !

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