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Colour Modulation

introduction by Miguel 'Mig' Jiménez
As a friend of Adam, I’ve seen how how his painting skills have evolved in an never-ending search for new directions and challenges. In reality, today’s modelling has become fairly ‘stagnant’ trapped within an almost stifling style which is both very technical and inflexible at the same time. This style, doesn’t give the modeller enough margin to either innovate or to create new styles within these (established) techniques. This ‘strangulation’ is, in part, due to the last few years. The incredible increase in dissemination of information which magazines and the ‘net can take credit for, have, in effect, created a double-edged sword. On one side, modellers have learned numerous techniques – which they’ve been able to apply with great success. However, on the other hand, the fear of ‘rocking the boat’, has led to an almost unquestioning acceptance of the ‘status quo’, and a difficulty to introduce new techniques and styles. We could say that painting techniques, have, in effect, become globalized.

In a tireless search for inspiration and originality expressed through his modelling, Adam has found himself being drawn into the techniques applied by the Baroque Artists such as Caravaggio, Rembrandt, Rubens or Velásquez. These classical artists based their works on the use of light to generate depth and to accentuate expression. Their work was absolutely innovative within their period and, although it may seem strange, is actually very far away from what is actually done nowadays in modelling in the search for realism.

Adam has attempted to apply these concepts of use of light in his last models, achieving what he was working towards in the model featured here – a Panther Ausf. F in 1945. Based on the vivid contrasts of shade and light exhibited in the Classic paintings, Adam has achieved ‘one more step’ ahead in military modelling not simply with a new style, but opening up a new world of possibilities. Although some figure painters have been using these techniques with great success, no-one, up until now, has achieved the same with a military vehicle model with so much conviction.

This, is the new era of the Color Modulation Style (The point of ‘meeting’ between two radically different colors or shades. The modulation may be ‘soft’ (diffuse) or ‘sharp’ (created from various diverse shades))


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I have been airbrushing different tones in my base-coats to add depth and contrast helping to differentiate various details from each other on the recent models I have finished. I have further differentiated the assorted tones more and more on my recent projects in an attempt to discover just how much variation and contrast I can obtain without it being too obvious on the completed model. I am now referring to this technique as The Color Modulation Style. With this method I am using different amounts of lights and darks in the colours starting with the base-coat, then continuing with the chipping and finishing with the earth-tones. I am calling this a style and not a technique because I am simply shifting existing finishing methods.

It is also important to know that I use lacquer thinner to thin the Tamiya paints I am using for this style. 96% Isopropyl alcohol has always been the means for modelers to thin Tamiya paints because of the false assumption that they are acrylics. Tamiya paints are not acrylics. They are only advertised as so to probably make them look less toxic. Tamiya offers both an alcohol type thinner and a lacquer thinner. The quickest way to distinguish the two thinners is that the alcohol type thinner contains a blue cap while the lacquer type has a yellow cap. You want the Tamiya thinner with the yellow cap. Tamiya paints spray much better and go on much smoother when using the lacquer thinner. You will also notice less of that dreaded sandy build-up on the surface of the model often obtained with Tamiya XF paints. This is very important because I apply successive layers of paints when working toward the highlights. Therefore it is very important that all of these layers spray on smooth to help ensure a nice sound basecoat.

Color Modulation uses different tones throughout the models painting and weathering but the most important step is in applying the basecoat. For this article I am going to quickly explain how to apply the base-coat into a simple Panther turret using other models I have painted to further aid with visual reference. Let’s get started.

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About Adam N P Wilder (ANPW)
FROM: MAINE, UNITED STATES