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Panel Lines

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This may have already been covered.  I have many Monogram/Revell kits is my stash.  I have been avoiding building them because of the dreaded raised panel lines.  Could anyone tell me the best method to use to highlight the raised panel lines?   I see some built kits that mentioned a pencil was used.

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Not  an expert in this area, but I do know that there is a school of thought that says you shouldn't accent panel lines as they would not be visible on the real thing at the scale distance we view them. If you look at a 1/48 scale model from three feet away, it's like looking at the real thing from 144 feet away, over a third of a football field. Given that the gaps on new aircraft panels is measured in tenths or less of inches, it is argued that you wouldn't see them at all. Due to maintenance, replacement or repainting, the panels themselves may be slightly different shades, but the panel lines would not be visible. All the current vogue of pre and/or post shading or washes or dry-brushing are more for an artistic effect than to reflect reality. As I said, that's one school of thought, but it would allow you to build all those nice old Monogram kits you have stashed away without worrying about panel lines. 

I know this may start up a debate, but it's all just opinion and preference. 

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Yes, you can use a contrasting color pencil--hold it so the side of the tip rides along the raised line.

Others have sanded all the panel lines off, and once the model is finished they have drawn new panel lines on the model, then sealed it with clear flat. 

Yet others re-scribe.  One of the neatest re-scribing techniques I've seen is Paul Budzik's technique of scribing the lines not into the plastic, but into the final painted model.  He hasn't re-posted that particular video on YouTube yet, but if you search his name he has quite a few great modeling tips, both on YouTube and his own website.

Here's a bit of background on panel line detailing.  You may know this, I'm adding this for everyone's benefit...

Now, here's something to consider before you even begin.  Why do models have panel lines?  "Accuracy"?  Nope.  Realism?  Okay, maybe.  A sales tool?  By and large, yes.  See, the model kit folks back int he day were looking for a way to make their kits stand out above the other guy's stuff.  So, they added lines to represent panel breaks and rivet lines.  The other guy sees this and decides to add raised dots to stand in for rivets.  Then a third guys decides to etch the marking locations into the plastic.  Pretty soon, our models were embellished with raised detail, because it was easy to add to the finished tool--etch a line (or a series of pits, etc.) in the surface of the mold, done!

In reality, though, overlapping panels, well, overlap.  Along the entire surface, not just at the boundary (a common argument states that raised lines best represent an overlapped panel).  And in the day, it was easy to do.  These days, look at a modern Eduard kit--they show overlapped panels as just that.

Butted skins are just that, too.  In the real world, they butt together leaving a gap that's between .030" and .040".  On older craft, this thin gap, when scaled down, would be invisible at any viewing distance consistent with scales--remember, 1 foot away from the 1:1 equals 72 feet away in 1/72 scale, 48 feet away in 1/48 scale, etc.  Under paint, you don't see much at all.  On a bare metal airplane, you see tonal differences.  You don't notice rivets, either.  Unless (there's always an "unless", right?) they've collected dirt or the rivets are "working" (moving and creating what is essentially metal dust--in the trade, we call these "smoking rivets").  These effects are not uniform.  Seldom is nature uniform...

On most modern airplanes, the same holds except the skins are not only riveted to the structure, they're bonded and/or sealed--"assembled wet" is the trade lingo.  The structure is painted with a sealant/bonding adhesive, the skins are aligned and temporarily tacked into place with clecos (think of them as a removable rivet), and the rivets shot in.  Any sealant that squeezes out is cleaned off the surface with a rag and solvent (which tends to fill the gaps between skins), and as a final step, the rivet heads are shaved (sanded flush, if they are flush rivets--round or universal head protruding rivets are left as-is) , rendering them nearly invisible.  Now, add a coat of primer (sometimes two, depending on the airplane or part of the airplane--the entry door areas on corporate jets are usually given at least one coat of high-build primer to make is smooth), and a coat or two of paint, and you can't see squat, other than removable panels.  And even removable panels are edge-sealed and the paint touched up.  So, you may see the screw heads--if they're not also pained (which many are).  But largely, you see nothing but an expanse of, well, airplane...

Modern helos tend to be the exception.  Look at any modern USN or USMC helo, and the grime collects in the panel lines and around the raised rivet heads. 

My advice is to get a few good photos of your intended subject, and model what you see.  You can't go wrong with that.  And, if you trippin' that contest life, yo, include the photos with your entry form.  A picture is worth a thousand words, and should answer any questions the judges may have.

In the end, it is your model--do what you want to do.  But personally, I don't make a big deal over panel lines, except on airplanes in bare metal.  Even then, though, I'm judicious in what I do...

Cheers!

Ralph

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Ralph, Paul Budzig has recently moved all of his videos to a single album  called Scale Model Workshop on You-Tube.  Here is the updated version of his video on panel lines.  Great thing to watch.  I don't do everything he does.  I just take what I want. 

 

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Here is a different school of thought: Aircraft ( and armoured vehicles and ships, etc) have panel lines and they, therefore, should be depicted.

A modeler, I believe, is a miniaturist. His or her goal is to depict each detail as clearly and neatly and completely as possible. We are not trying to simply achieve an impression of the full-scale prototype. Rather, we are trying to amaze the viewer with the wealth of colours, and shapes and sizes ( no matter how small) that make up main body of the subject as well as it's various accoutrement. Otherwise, how boring! Viewed from a scale distance, how does a 1/72 scale Wellington appear? Well, it's darkish on the top. Maybe I can distinguish between the Dark Earth and the Dark Green, but in fact in many lighting conditions, they blend together. It's darker on the bottom, but could it be dark grey, black, or black with some red in it? Who can say? Who cares? So why sweat "accurate" colours? I see the turrets, but at this distance, I don't know how the framing is arranged, so why should that be important?

Applied to 1/700 ship modeling, concerns about detail, if we accept the distance theory, become even more absurd. They are all a grey blob! And,why, therefore should we concern ourselves with the precise details of the grating on a tank deck or a the exact details of the treads? At scale distance, the grating would look solid, and the treads may as well be those rubber band tracks we got in the old Airfix armoured vehicle kits in the 60's- God bless them."

"Impressionist" modelling should not be necessarily disparaged. The Impressionist painters of the 19th Century are among my favorites. Monet and Degas and Renoir got rich and famous at it. But equally skilled and successful were those painters of the " Trompe l'oiel" school who " fooled the eye" with a dramatic abundance of detail! "

 " To each his own, said the old lady as she kissed her pig"........but detail wins contests. 

Cheers, Nick.

 

 

 

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I'm going to try to cover this from a slightly different angle...

First, unless you're building for a contest, you have only ONE criteria to meet: whatever YOU like and think looks good. So, whether you choose to erase raised lines completely, or simply rescribe the lines sanded away, or rescribe an entire model; do it because YOU think it'll make you the happiest with your model. The same goes for accenting those lines. You can use a pencil, or a wash, or ignore them completely according to the way YOU want your model to look.

If you are building for a contest, then the same advice goes...BUT! It's now important to be CONSISTENT! That means if you have raised panel lines and some are sanded away, you need to replace those lines by rescribing or accenting them artistically. (By the way, a quick pull with a "11 knife will usually replicate lost RAISED panel lines quite well). If you're using a wash, it needs to be consistent. If the model has indented scribing, be aware that some of those lines may get "shallow" due to sanding and not want to hold a wash as well, so you'll still need to do some rescribing.  The point here is that for a contest model, you cannot have panel lines that are there and then just disappear.

There is no real "right or wrong" for panel lines. You simply need to decide what "look" you want your models to have and then pursue the techniques that give you your desired finish. The guys above have already pointed you towards some great techniques and advice. Best of luck!

 

By the way, there's NO reason to fear raised panel lines. Here's a few that have them! These were almost all done with pencil...

Monogram B-25

021.jpg

Monogram F-8C Crusader

001_7.jpg

Monogram MiG-15

007.jpg

Monogram F-14A

006_2.jpg

GIL :cool:

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Nick, I like your distinguishing between a miniturest and an impressionist form of modeling.  However I would say that we are all of the Trompe l'oiel school.  We take materials and make them look like something else.  That is until we take up the mill, lathe, shot bag and english wheel.  For the majority of builder on this form, virtually nothing we use in modeling is the "real deal".  We use paint on plastic to create the appearance of hundreds of other materials.  Very little that we make actually works like the real deal and when it does we make a big deal out of it, because is it rather rare.

  Granted there are a few modelers out there who are the exceptions.  The people who build anentire aircraft out of aluminum held in place by actual rivets.  Controls that actually function and cars that run and are made entirely from metal, but these people are truly rare.  You can find a lot of them at this web site.  http://www.craftsmanshipmuseum.com/rooms.htm

In the meantime the rest of us are trying to fool the eye.  Now as to panel lines, nothing we do is truely to scale.  If it were, the lines would come close to disappearing, whether it be access panels on an aircraft or shut lines on cars.  But we are stuck with what our brain remembers it thinks it saw which is often a composite of distant views and close up view.  When we stood next to an aircraft, we saw panel lines and that is what we remember.  Up close we saw the bug splatters and oil drips and that is also in our image.  Our brain builds a composite and that is what we expect to see and if we don't see it, we feel it lacks realism, whether it is true or false.  

  This applies to every model we see.  All of these various things things try to equate to what our brain tells us we saw and what we see on the table.  The closer the model gets to that mental picture the better we like the model.  Sometimes it is a small detail, other times it is the subtle shading of a faded paint job, but it is alway about our mental image.  

This is why when you spec out models, often the dimensions are off.  I remember reading in S. Tamiya's book that they  subtly changed the dimensions of models to accommodate the humans normal viewing perspective.  His early car models looked to narrow, because they are almost always viewed from ground level.  When the model is viewed from above, that is not the mental image that we normally have and they look off.  Perspective is very much part of our world, but we must blend that into our build to make them "look" right.  The pure technician will never make a model that "looks" right unless it is scaled up to something close to 1:1

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Pete, Nice reply to my somewhat pretentious epistle. Periodically, having been building models for so long, I feel the need to articulate my own philosophy of how I approach the hobby. It is mostly for my own benefit. Everything you have said, of course, is absolutely true. Regards, Nick

Edited by Nick Filippone

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Nick, are you going to Phoenix?  If so, we must make it a point to  share a pint! Cheers!

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Yes! I look forward to buying you a beer! And we can discuss whether  the line between passion and insanity is raised or recessed. Regards, Nick

Edited by Nick Filippone
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Thank-you for all your raised panel line thoughts.  One more question?  Colored pencils or the good old #2 lead pencil?

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" Colored pencils or the good old #2 lead pencil?"

YES!

You use whatever looks appropriate for the look you want. Just be aware that "pencil" applies easier over a flat coat than a gloss coat. It can also be smeared with handling; which is something you have to be careful to avoid (unintentionally), or use intentionally for weathering purposes.

 

GIL :cool:

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9 hours ago, ju52junk said:

Thank-you for all your raised panel line thoughts.  One more question?  Colored pencils or the good old #2 lead pencil?

Actually it works best if you use an "Old Guy" computer!

old guys computer.jpg

Edited by PeteJ
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