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sumterIII

Painting scale effect

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I build mostly ships now but this question could apply to anything. I have seen many builds that have almost a bleached out effect, some call it scaling. Pictures can give false indications as you are never sure what film or settings are used and even the lighting.

So is there a general rule of thumb or is it totally subjective?

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My mix for scale effect is 100% base color and 0% white.

 

Just how far away from an object I would have to be for the atmosphere to cause noticeable discoloration. Pretty far I think. Quarter mile? I think that distance is much further than any likely distance you are to view a model, even when adjusted for scale. Car modelers seem to get very realistic results without tinting their Duplicolor with 10% white. A dark pink Ferrari would look wrong. Why should the same not apply to military subjects?

 

 

John (< scale effect)

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My mix for scale effect is 100% base color and 0% white.

 

Just how far away from an object I would have to be for the atmosphere to cause noticeable discoloration. Pretty far I think. Quarter mile? I think that distance is much further than any likely distance you are to view a model, even when adjusted for scale. Car modelers seem to get very realistic results without tinting their Duplicolor with 10% white. A dark pink Ferrari would look wrong. Why should the same not apply to military subjects?

 

 

John (< scale effect)

 

Although atmospheric distortion is a portion of the scale effect, it is only one factor. I discovered this years ago when I was in the Air Force and painted a model B 52 with the actual aircraft paint I got from the paint shop. The model looked way off. Much too dark. A large part of the difference is that, although machines of war are generally meticulously maintained, the exterior paints are rarely given the care that personal automobiles are. They also almost never have a glossy surface coat. Flat paint does two things. First and foremost is that is fades in the sun, so a lighter shade is more often what is seen on the actual machine, unless it is fresh out of the paint shop. Of course the closer to the tropics you get the more exaggerated this gets. Second issue with flat paint is that there are no protective coatings over the paint such as a clear coat so they tend to get rubbed away and dirt tends to stick to it more tenaciously than polished glossy surfaces, so the color is changed that way. In fact if you go to a armor base, the wash rack is generally a concrete stand with fire hoses and large stiff bristled brooms. Not exactly the way you would want to wash your personal car. That kind of care has it's impact of paint.

 

Now, how much do you thin the color? Well, I always used the method I was taught in pilot training for adjusting ones flight path. We used the TLAR method. It was probably the most accurate we could get. Oh, you never heard of TLAR? Highly scientific approach, probably too technical to go into here but TLAR stands for That Looks About Right.:smiley20:

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Although atmospheric distortion is a portion of the scale effect, it is only one factor. I discovered this years ago when I was in the Air Force and painted a model B 52 with the actual aircraft paint I got from the paint shop. The model looked way off. Much too dark. A large part of the difference is that, although machines of war are generally meticulously maintained, the exterior paints are rarely given the care that personal automobiles are. They also almost never have a glossy surface coat. Flat paint does two things. First and foremost is that is fades in the sun, so a lighter shade is more often what is seen on the actual machine, unless it is fresh out of the paint shop. Of course the closer to the tropics you get the more exaggerated this gets. Second issue with flat paint is that there are no protective coatings over the paint such as a clear coat so they tend to get rubbed away and dirt tends to stick to it more tenaciously than polished glossy surfaces, so the color is changed that way. In fact if you go to a armor base, the wash rack is generally a concrete stand with fire hoses and large stiff bristled brooms. Not exactly the way you would want to wash your personal car. That kind of care has it's impact of paint.

 

Now, how much do you thin the color? Well, I always used the method I was taught in pilot training for adjusting ones flight path. We used the TLAR method. It was probably the most accurate we could get. Oh, you never heard of TLAR? Highly scientific approach, probably too technical to go into here but TLAR stands for That Looks About Right.:smiley20:

 

But in fairness, this is duplicating wear on the paint, not a scale effect. You would, in essence, still be painting it the same color as the actual vehicle with its weathered finish.

 

John

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Actually there is a completely different discussion on what 'Ferrari red' actually is - especially how it relates to the Formula One cars and their fluorescent and/or metallic paints. These have the added issue that they do not photograph very well depending on film/video types and ambient light conditions.

 

E

 

 

My mix for scale effect is 100% base color and 0% white.

 

Just how far away from an object I would have to be for the atmosphere to cause noticeable discoloration. Pretty far I think. Quarter mile? I think that distance is much further than any likely distance you are to view a model, even when adjusted for scale. Car modelers seem to get very realistic results without tinting their Duplicolor with 10% white. A dark pink Ferrari would look wrong. Why should the same not apply to military subjects?

 

 

John (

 

 

 

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I second the motion for the TLAR method: The degree of visual lightening or washout of the color is not only proportional to fading, distance and moisture content, but a larger object (like a mountain) will logically be seen in its entirety from farther away...right? All this assumes there is no lighter/darker variation in the composition of the paint/spec itself. So it's very much an artistic license "make it look right to you" issue, IMHO.

 

Two more thoughts:

 

1 - It would seem from its name that Navy haze-gray paint is formulated to do this on purpose, to help camouflage the ship.

 

2 - The only people who really need a parametric treatment of this effect are probably the folks who do targeting for UAV's with multi-spectral sensors. And that's where the weather dudes step in. So how crazy do ya wanna get?

 

Just my 2 cents.

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Arthur and all: Scale effect is a matter of personal opinion in that IF you don't like the colors that you apply, IF they don't look right, then you may need to adjust those colors for the scale of the model. It has less to do with atmospherics and more to do with surface area. The 1-1 scale item has MUCH more surface area to gather and reflect light and to let your eyes judge the colors, and even then the light that you see IT in will affect how you perceive those colors. A model has less surface area to reflect those same colors, so it's not unusual to think you might need to adjust a color so that it looks the same as on it's bigger brother. As mentioned above, the smaller the scale, the darker a paint will appear, so you always lighten colors for scale effect.

 

The best explanation I've seen as to ratios is basically 1/2 of the scale you're building. So, if you're building a 1/32 model, (to keep things easy), lighten your paint by about 15%. If you're building in 1/48, try lightening it by 25%. And in 1/72 you go up to about 33-35%. Most people use a flat white, but a very light flat gray may be safer, especially if working with something like red (you don't want pink!).

 

As mentioned, the TLAR method IS the bottom line. If it looks right-it IS right! If the color out of the bottle suits your eye, don't worry about things. It's all a matter of perception! Hope this helps!

 

GIL :smiley16:

Edited by ghodges

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Another way to look at it:

 

If I am looking at a 1/48 aircraft at arms length, that is about a scale 96 feet. How much haze and change in color would there be from that distance in real life?

 

1/700 scale ship? That's 1400 feet and might be a legit case for scale color.

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Although atmospheric distortion is a portion of the scale effect, it is only one factor. I discovered this years ago when I was in the Air Force and painted a model B 52 with the actual aircraft paint I got from the paint shop. The model looked way off. Much too dark. A large part of the difference is that, although machines of war are generally meticulously maintained, the exterior paints are rarely given the care that personal automobiles are. They also almost never have a glossy surface coat. Flat paint does two things. First and foremost is that is fades in the sun, so a lighter shade is more often what is seen on the actual machine, unless it is fresh out of the paint shop. Of course the closer to the tropics you get the more exaggerated this gets. Second issue with flat paint is that there are no protective coatings over the paint such as a clear coat so they tend to get rubbed away and dirt tends to stick to it more tenaciously than polished glossy surfaces, so the color is changed that way. In fact if you go to a armor base, the wash rack is generally a concrete stand with fire hoses and large stiff bristled brooms. Not exactly the way you would want to wash your personal car. That kind of care has it's impact of paint.

 

Now, how much do you thin the color? Well, I always used the method I was taught in pilot training for adjusting ones flight path. We used the TLAR method. It was probably the most accurate we could get. Oh, you never heard of TLAR? Highly scientific approach, probably too technical to go into here but TLAR stands for That Looks About Right.:smiley20:

 

But in fairness, this is duplicating wear on the paint, not a scale effect. You would, in essence, still be painting it the same color as the actual vehicle with its weathered finish.

 

John

 

John - You are absolutely right. I guess my point is that very few military finishes aren't weathered. The initial fading happens very quickly, at least on the aircraft I have been associated with. In fact I think the only aircraft that I have a photo of that is not faded to some degree was a T-38 that my class had their hero photos taken on. It was just rolled out of the paint shop and was not yet a line bird, but then how faded can white get? :smiley17: Another bit of info is that primers make a difference on a number of cars, particularly Ferrari's. Certain shades of red are very difficult to match because in some instances(the modern Testa Rossa for one) had a orange or pink primer. Red is a very translucent color and if you put gray primer under it, it absolutely kills the red. Other primers give different effect. Yellow is another translucent color that is just hell to get right. Good discussion. This is one of my favorite subjects!

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Arthur and all: Scale effect is a matter of personal opinion in that IF you don't like the colors that you apply, IF they don't look right, then you may need to adjust those colors for the scale of the model. It has less to do with atmospherics and more to do with surface area. The 1-1 scale item has the full surface area of the object to gather and reflect light and to let your eyes judge the colors, and even then the light that you see IT in will affect how you perceive those colors. A model has less surface area to reflect its colors, so it's not unusual to think you might need to adjust a color so that it looks the same as on it's bigger brother. As mentioned above, the smaller the scale, the darker a paint will appear, so you always lighten colors for scale effect.

 

The best explanation I've seen as to ratios is basically 1/2 of the scale you're building. So, if you're building a 1/32 model, (to keep things easy), lighten your paint by about 15%. If you're building in 1/48, try lightening it by 25%. And in 1/72 you go up to about 33-35%. Most people use a flat white, but a very light flat gray may be safer, especially if working with something like red (you don't want pink!).

 

As mentioned, the TLAR method IS the bottom line. If it looks right-it IS right! If the color out of the bottle suits your eye, don't worry about things. It's all a matter of perception! Hope this helps!

 

GIL :smiley16:

 

Gil.

 

I'm not sure I am understanding properly. Your argument seems to be that if you have a smaller version of something, painted the exact same color as the larger object, it will actually be darker because it's not reflecting as much light?

 

Don't all objects have their full surface area?

 

John

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All objects have their OWN full area....However, a 1/48 F-104 model has 1/48 the surface area of a real F-104 (in theory). And, while we've shrunk the plane parts to 1/48 their original size for the model, the grain of the model paint is actually close to the same size (not shrunk) as any real paint used on any full size item! You can put the exact color green or gray used on the real Starfighter onto the scale model and the paint will NOT look the same. It will be probably be too "darK", or "bright" (actually meaning too intense) in comparison between the model and the prototype. Sometimes it's a problem of the juxtaposition of colors, such as an orange reserve band contrasting too much against the neighboring GSB. Your eyes tell you whether or not (in your own perception) of a problem. If it looks right to you, then scale effect isn't a problem.

 

Personally, I don't worry too much about scale effect. I've found that most model paints seem to have already accounted for this to a degree. Also, since we tend to weather and paint to match pics, we often take care of contrast problems without having to resort to changing the hue of the base colors. On the other hand, it can be argued that the degree of pre and post shading we use is just another way to achieve the same result: an altering of the basic finish to achieve greater scale authenticity.

 

All I was attempting to do was pass along a set of ratios that is easy to remember; 1/2 of the scale you're building in. I didn't invent it. I took it from my Luftwaffe Camouflage bible. It has a very long explanation about it. Whether you agree with it or not, it's obviously something that's bothered enough folks that some have tried to apply a formula that can help those who are concerned.

 

Some models look more "to scale", more "realistic", or "more authentic" than others. While many things in a build can contribute to that, a lot of people think that a "scale" paint job can help contribute to it. Cheers!

 

GIL :smiley16:

Edited by ghodges

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Here's another, fun, confounding factor: The colors can 'shift' as they fade: One fine day in Kansas, under a clear, sunny sky, I was monitoring engine start for two B-1's, sitting side-by-side on the ramp. Each jet had the (SAC Euro-I pattern) camo paint, faded and stained to about the equivalent degree. Significant difference was that one jet had faded to more 'cool' shades of the respective colors (blue-shifted), while the other jet had faded to 'warmer' shades (more brownish). From that moment, the TLAR method has been king with me.

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Another formula for scale effect is to add white by an amount equal to the square root of the scale denominator; i.e., for 1/24, approximately 5%, for 1/32 approximately 6%, for 1/48 approximately 7%, for 1/72 approximately 9%, etc. This gives a more subtle fading of the paint which I find far more realistic.

 

And a 1/48 scale model does not have 1/48 the surface area of its full-size prototype; it has 1/(48 x 48) = 1/2304 the surface area. It's an inverse square relationship, not a linear one, because area is a square (power of 2) function of the linear dimensions. A 1/72 scale model has 1/5184 the surface area of its full-size counterpart. So the reflective area does play an important role in the appearance of the model.

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My first thought for ships would be dry brushing, not change the base coat. I see ships going and coming out of Charleston all the time, as they move out they get darker. Same for aircraft, I watch F-16's flyover all day, on the ramp they look medium gray but overhead at say 500 feet they look black. I'm talking about the underside here not the top with FS36118.

Real life seems to go the opposite way, darker not lighter the further you go.

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