Sunday, 5 April 2009
Brake Van: Painting & Lettering
I've now finished the brake van that I showed at an earlier stage. Again, painting is by artist's acrylics. Glazing was with Microscale "Kristal Klear" (a nice product that very much resembles PVA glue but dries very clear). The large windows - in the ends of the cabin - seem to be about the largest size for which this technique can be applied.
Lettering was the main area of experiment. My initial attempts at a passable interpretation with a paintbrush were unsuccessful, so I opted for waterslide transfers. With no commercial transfers available for this particular vehicle in late 1970's/early 1980's condition, I decided to print my own. I obtained sheets of Expert's Choice white inkjet decal paper (from http://www.bare-metal.com here in the US), and also two Microscale products: "Liquid Decal Film" and "Micro-Sol". The first is painted over the printed decals to seal and waterproof the ink. The instructions suggest spraying this but without an airbrush I opted simply to brush it on. I found that quite a thick coating was necessary to prevent the ink being washed away on subsequent wetting. The "Micro-Sol" liquid is applied to the transfer once in position on the model, thinning the transfer and enabling it to follow contours such as planking. It works very well and is essential with this decal paper, which is rather thick.
To draw the transfers I used the free, open-source vector graphics software Inkscape, which is straightforward to use and very useful for such tasks. I used simple text (with various fonts) and rectangles to copy the markings from a photo (in an old Model Rail magazine). Measurements were taken from the model itself, although I found I had to reduce the size slightly in Inkscape as the drawing was enlarged somewhere along the way to the printer. This is where test printing on cheap paper is very useful!
The greatest problem with computer-printing transfers is that normal printers cannot print white. White text must be done by printing the coloured surroundings on white transfer paper. Matching this surrounding colour to that of the model is tricky. In this case the problem only applied to the lettering on a bauxite/brown background, as the other two transfers are on different coloured patches anyway. I should refer here to the article on using the computer as a modelling tool by Geoff Jones (available to 2mm Association Members on the VAG), as I used the accompanying RGB colour charts to get a rough value for the colour. I printed copies of the transfers with several different background colours and picked the closest. This wasn't a perfect match, and some blending with paint was necessary afterwards.
Here is the computer artwork (three transfers for each side of the van):Here is a photo of some printed transfers (the US penny is about the size of a UK penny!):