Making your natural metal finish chart
by Rogério ´Rato´ Marczak
Everybody knows that natural
metal finishes (NMF) can be a real dread. When properly done, it will
make your model stand ahead, but when mistakenly accomplished, it
will show your smallest faults, no matter during the painting or preparation
phase itself. But long before loading the airbrush with paint, there
are other important decisions to take:
Of course we all have our
preferences and ´default´ answers to these questions.
But after researching photos of the real machine, on many occasions
there are slight differences in the shine of the current NMF aircraft
to your previous model. Even worse, sometimes all we want is a slightly
different hue on a few panels. The subject can vary a lot: a P-51
operated in South Pacific area will oxidize more heavily than a (possibly
polished) P-51 in Europe. The available materials also varies widely:
enamels, acrylics, self adhesive foils, buffable and non-buffable
metalizers, rub-on paints, and so forth. Not to mention the clear
coats (if you are going to use any). How to keep track of your knowledge
and secrect recipes on how to get such effects?
Here is something that
may be useful to you. It is simply a variation of Mike McLeod's Natural
Metal Finish Paint Systems test.
I lost my count of how many different metalic products I accumulated
during the years. And since I can´t rely on the ´see through
the bottle´ method, a couple of years ago I decided to adopt
a systematic procedure everytime I try a different product: I apply
it to a ´standard´ strip of plastic and keep it stored
for comparison purposes. Eventually I accumulated a dozen or so of
them, and then decided to took my airbrush and apply my usual clear
coats on them. After a while doing so, I ended with my own NMF chart
to compare with photos and it is helping me a lot to decide which
method to use.
Here is the basic procedure:
I cut a good stock of plastic strips measuring about 2 cm wide and
30 cm long. I divided each strip by scribing several lines spaced
by 3 cm or so. As I said, everytime I use a new product I take one
of these strips and apply a hand of the metalic
paint or metalizer on it. To minimize
the work, I proceed to the next step only when I have a good number
of ´new´ strips done.
Next I apply different
clear coats on the strip, using the scribed lines as borders. To avoid
masking (and you know some metalizers don´t like masks), I made
a custom mask to simplify the task.
It is not necessay to be accurate here. The idea is to use
the scribed lines as a reference, and avoid significant overspray
over the adjacent areas. It´s ok if you misplace the mask
by one or two mm.
Here´s a picture
of my workbench during one of these sections. The large number of
thinners on the background is due to the different nature of the
clear coats I used.
After two years collecting
these ´metalized strips´, I decided to gather them in
a big chart. I used a 70cm x 40cm cardboard sheet as a background
and glued thick black paper on top of it to increase the contrast.
The strips are slotted in place, so I can remove them when I desire,
to compare with photos or models. The chart is arranged by paint
brand along the columns and by clear coat along the rows. By now
I have more metalic paints and metalizers to add, but here´s
my chart so far:
Columns (paint / metalizer / method):
1. Tamiya XF-16 - Flat Aluminum
Rows (paint / metalizer / method):
I took the photo of the
chart without flash, and given the size of the image, you can´t
really see much clearly each ´chip´ (you can see a larger
image here). However, I´m sure you got the idea.
This simple experience resulted in a chart with 171 different NMF
chips to choose from. Now I have to add a few more, but it is already
a valuable resource when I have to decide what to use...