Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Cutting's Scissor Co. Kit

Cutting’s Scissor Co. kit by DMPThe Cutting’s Scissor Co. kit is my second structure kit from Design Preservation Models. My layout does not have much more room for commercial or residential structures, but I do require a couple more industrial structures to fill some empty real estate, which this kit fits into perfectly. As always, I started by removing any edge spurs (left from manufacturing), and sanded the edges of specific wall pieces down to 90 degrees, ensuring a good fit when gluing the model together. This is required on most all DPM kits, as the structure edges are not at a perfect 90 degrees, and constructing the model without sanding will result in either a crooked structure, or large gaps in the exterior joints.
After sanding the required pieces, I washed them in warm, soapy water to remove any oils that my hands may have left on them from the previous step. Once dry, I glued the walls carefully together on a level surface, ensuring the wall pieces fit together perfectly and evenly. I made sure each corner was square by using a square wood dowel on the inside of each corner joint while I was gluing them together. 
Constructing my Cutting’s Scissor Co. kitRoof supports inside a DPM model

Once the structure had dried for an hour, I cut 2 roof structured from a sheet of supplied styrene, and glued on the roof supports, which were also supplied in the kit via a bulk length of strip styrene. I did not glue the roof structures on at this point, as I needed the roof open to add window glazing and interior details later on. The kit also calls for awnings over the loading bays using a leftover piece of styrene from the roof structures. I opted for a textured styrene awning that I had leftover in my scrap bin, which looked a little more authentic. I also added horizontal supports for the awnings using narrow strip styrene.
Masking model windows for faster and more accurate paintingMasking model windows for faster and more accurate painting

After 2 coats of brick red paint had dried, I started masking the structure so I could paint the details, including trim, windows, and doors. Masking takes time, but as hard as I try to paint free hand, I can never achieve the same crisp lines and accuracy as I do when I mask. I use a small flat head jeweler’s screwdriver to press the masking tape into tight corners and on narrow edges to make sure paint doesn’t bleed underneath. Bleeding paint isn’t 100% avoidable, but is easy enough to touch up in the final steps of painting.
Name change from Cutting’s Scissor Co. to Velikovsky’s DistributersInserting styrene interior lighting structure into the kit’s exterior shell

Once all parts of the model were painted, I weathered it lightly with pastel powder, and applied a dry transfer decal (Velikovski’s Distributors) to the exterior wall. The last paint layer was a final spray of dull-coat to seal everything in. Once everything was dry, I applied clear styrene for window glazing, then cut and applied printed paper blinds to the inside of the windows using small strips of masking tape (clickhere for printable blind templates). It was also at this point that I started to assemble the interior structure, which would serve as lighting and interior rooms.
Interior styrene and cardstock insert structure for my DPM kitWiring for interior lighting of DPM kit

As most previous structures I have built, the interior is completely removable from the building structure itself. By simply sliding the exterior shell off, I can easily access the lights and add interior details as needed in the future. The interior structure is built in such a way that once fully inserted into the building’s shell, the building looks as if it is full of separate rooms when looking through any of the small windows. Cardstock was used for texture and colour on the floors and walls.
Lights for interior of Cutting’s Scissor Co. kit

Two small automotive bulbs light the structure. Since the interior walls only rise as high as the tops of the windows and don’t go right to the roof, I installed the bulbs above the interior rooms so one bulb could light multiple rooms. Aluminum foil installed on the underside of the roof structure helps reflect the light downward into the rooms and keep heat from melting the roof structure. I used narrow bare steel wire to supply power to the bulbs, but also used this type of wire to support the bulbs so they wouldn’t have to be attached directly to the styrene structure. Just be careful the bare wires don’t get crossed or you will have a nasty short on your hands.
Cutting’s Scissor Co. kit by DMP

Cutting’s Scissor Co. kit with interior lightingCutting’s Scissor Co. kit by DMP

The last step was to attach the roof structures to the model once I made sure the internal insert structure fit perfectly into the building shell. Once the styrene roof was glued to its supports and had dried, I applied a thin layer of medium cinders on top of the roof and leveled it with a folded piece of cardstock. Using a small pipette, I gently soaked the cinders with isopropyl alcohol. Once entirely moist, I used the same pipette to apply white glue thinned with water. After drying overnight, the cinders were securely fastened to the model.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Painting the Terrain

Painting hardshell terrain with tan acrylic paintPainting the terrain on my model train layout was probably the most nerve-racking experience I’ve encountered so far on this project, but at the same time, was also the most rewarding and fun. I’ve been ready to paint since I finished all the plaster and hard shell scenery back around Christmas time, but in all honesty I was absolutely horrified to paint anything in fear that I wouldn’t get the look I wanted. After 2 ½ months however, I couldn’t put this task off any longer.

Painting hardshell terrain with tan acrylic paintLike common practice, I did a lot of research to find the best way to paint terrain and rocks. I found the easiest and most common method to colour plaster rock castings was to use a series of earth-coloured acrylic paint washes using the “leopard spotting” technique, as explained on Woodland Scenic’s website.

Before I could start painting the rock castings, I needed to paint the hard shell scenery. For this I used inexpensive tan coloured acrylic paint, thinned about 50% with tap water for better coverage. Make sure to use cheap foam brushes for this step and not expensive ones, as the plaster will tear the foam up pretty fast, regardless of how much you paid for the brush.

Using the leopard print method to paint plaster rock castingsUsing the leopard print method to paint plaster rock castings

I decided early on that I wanted the colour of my rock outcroppings to be rich with lots of texture, so I opted for dark browns, yellows, and grays. I used the leopard spotting technique to paint the rock castings, using thinned washes of acrylic paint. The first colour I applied was burnt umber, literally applying it randomly just like leopard spots onto the rock castings. A narrow foam brush works best for this application.

Using the leopard print method to paint plaster rock castingsUsing the leopard print method to paint plaster rock castings

The second colour I wanted was yellow. To give the yellow more of an earth-tone, I mixed the yellow acrylic directly with my leftover burnt umber wash, and mixed it until I got the colour I wanted. I then applied this second wash in the same random manor as before, making sure to not over-apply any one colour.

Final wash of black acrylic paint over plaster terrainFinal detail of painted rock outcropping

To blend everything together, I did a third and final wash of black, this time applying liberal amounts of wash over the entire surface, making sure no uncovered plaster was showing through. The black wash blends all the colours, and settles into all the nooks and cracks, highlighting the rock’s texture and profile. I made sure that I didn’t make the black wash too dark, as it would be difficult to lighten the terrain if it turned out too dark. Instead, I used light washes, applying more washes to achieve a darker look.

Plaster rock outcroppings highlighted with white paintMountain structure with final black acrylic wash

As most of the tan colour that I first applied will eventually be covered with foam ground cover, I used the same black wash in these areas as well in hopes of making the ground a little more realistic. The black wash gives the tan wash a bit more of a dark clay look, which is similar to the area of Alberta I live in. Applying the black wash also helped to blend the rock outcroppings into the rest of the terrain.

Hardshell terrain with acrylic washesFinal plaster rock castings highlighted with white paint

Plaster rock outcroppings painted with the leopard spot technique

The final step was to very lightly dry-brush the rock outcroppings with white paint. The white paint collects on the high ridges of the rocks, highlighting them and creates further contrast. At this point I’m still a little nervous how the final look will turn out, but I keep reminding myself that there is still ground cover and trees that need to be added, so the final look might be something completely different.