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Colour Modulation

getting started
Photos 1 thru 3
I will be explaining the Color Modulation style in this example using a sand-yellow base-coat. To start, I applied a dark brown base over the turret focusing mostly in the lower and recessed areas. A darker mix of the color can be applied inside each of the corners and lower areas if you feel it necessary.

Photos 4 and 5
Now it is time to apply a dark yellow over the brown. I focused on the mid and upper parts of the turret while quickly applying faint coats to the lower sides, front and rear for color. Note that the angle of the airbrush is tilted up. The dark yellow was applied on top of the turret at an angle from the front to keep the brown shadow under the mantlet.

Photos 6 thru 10
After adding some Deck Tan to lighten the tone and a drop of Blue for added color, I airbrushed more highlights onto the turret. Note that I used tape to mask the lower part of the turret while applying this lighter shade to the upper part of the mantlet.
You can even take it one step further by masking and applying lighter tones to individual components breaking up the model making it more three-dimensional. After removing the tape I simply continued airbrushing lighter coats onto the upper parts of the turret top and sides to subtly blend the different shades. Again, note the upward angle of the airbrush when applying the tones onto the sides of the model. You can also see how I angled the turret to keep overspray from getting on the top parts allowing me better control over the build-up of light tones.

Photo 11
To finish the base-coat I applied almost a white color to the top of the mantlet, the most upper part of the model. Paper is also a quick means of masking areas where you do not want overspray. Now might be a good time to go back with the original bark brown for more shadows to the corners to cover any overspray that occurred while adding the lighter coats.

Photos 12 thru 14
Before moving into the further finishing stages I added even more highlights and tones by brushing acrylics onto the hatches and other details extruding from the turret. Photo 14 shows the different tones adding depth and contrast make a simple turret with limited details much more interesting.

Photos 15 thru 17
After a few good coats of clear we are ready to start adding the oils and other effects helping to subtly unify the different shades and colors. Photo 16 displays the previous steps applied to a vehicle containing a dark-green finish. Photo 17 shows the Panther at the same stage. Note that I applied and blended oils onto the areas where the hull plates connect for even more contrast.

Photos 18 thru 22
Now we will discus how I applied the oils and washes to help unify all of the tones applied in the previous steps. The colors in photo 18 are great for fading a sand base-coat. The color Dark Rust is a good oil color for shadows.

I applied and blended the oils on one part of the turret at a time starting with the turret sides. You can see how I applied the lighter oils toward the top of the sides while placing the darker colors onto the lower parts. Use vertical strokes with the brush when blending the oils on the sides. You can add more colors again immediately after the first set and blend them again for added tones if you choose.

Use a tapping motion to blend the oils on the horizontal surfaces. Note how I placed the darker oils onto the areas where more shadows will be apparent. Photo 22 displays the layout of the oils on the rear turret wall prior to blending. Again, note the placement of the dark oils on the darker areas.

Photos 23 thru 26
Photos 23 and 24 show how you can use different shades of blended oils for further shadows and contrast. Thinned dark brown oils where also added to all of the welds and seams at this time. After all of the oils where applied I went over the turret and further blended them using a clean flat dry brush.

Photos 27 thru 31
The last step I want to show you was the rather easy step of applying dark filters and washes to further break up the components of the turret while also unifying all of the different tones in the base-coat. I always use trays to mix the washes because I like to apply them at different intensities.

After mixing a brown shade I applied a filter over the entire turret. Use a brush to pick up and wipe the excess oils and thinner onto a clean diner napkin. With the turret still damp I mixed another darker wash and added it to the seams and welds.

Photos 32 and 33
These two photos show a few views of the turret ready for chipping and weathering. The different tones in the base-coat, although subtly unified by the oil fading and washes, will still be noticeable to an observer before they immediately realize what they are seeing. Painting a model in this manner will give it depth and an impression of shadows making it much more attractive on your shelf.

Further work with the colors will also be needed in the chipping and earth tones. You will be able to read more about this and the finishing of the Panther F in issue 40 of AFV Modeller. In the photos of the finished models you will see how the chipping and weathering play a further part in unifying all of the tones on the various components.

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About Adam N P Wilder (ANPW)