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GCB Paints: 77192 Kaladrax

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[Edited to reflect a thread split.]


After seeing some of the incredible WIPs here, I wanted to try doing some of my own. So, I decided to start with something simple: Kaladrax!




Over the Christmas holidays, I went over and trimmed and sanded all the mold lines from the model. Kaladrax's details are rather soft, but that was an advantage here, as I didn't have to worry much about losing any detail as I trimmed.


The base was annoying to clean up. Every time I looked, there was another mold line I missed. The spine cleanup was a multi-day nightmare.




Remember, always cut away from your hand. I was lucky this time, as I just poked myself only enough to draw blood. Personally, I sometimes think that a big project isn't really underway until I've anointed it with blood. Let's hope this isn't enough to rouse an ancient dracolich from aeons of slumber.


That brings us to tonight: puttying and priming.


When I boiled the parts to reshape them, the torso halves came apart. It was what I was planning to do, since there was a big gap between them. I've taken the opportunity to fill the gap with putty.




I'm using Tamiya Epoxy Putty, since it's what I have on hand. It's designed for resin and styrene models, but should work here. I haven't used Green Stuff, but I expect it works the same as this: Trim two equal pieces from each stick, then fold them together until they're blended. Keep it wet while you're working it, to keep it from sticking to your hands. It's workable for about 1/2 hour or more before it begins to harden, and takes more than a day to fully cure.




I made a long string of putty, then wrapped it around the outside of the torso seam. I then ran a bead of AC glue (super glue) around the inside, and on the inner alignment studs.




I quickly jammed them together and squeezed them together with a few clamps, and set it aside until the AC set.




There were a few lines and holes to fill on the model, particularly a large injection hole in the middle of the head (above, left) and a meet line or two on the base (above, right), where the Bones material cooled lightly before meeting, leaving a seam. Normally, I'd leave it as a crack in the stone, but since it overlaps a carved crack, I felt it had to go.




I jammed putty into the gaps, then smoothed it over again and again with a putty knife, until the only material left was in the gaps. The head especially is too soft for this, and I had to add material back into the hold several times until I could smooth the hole over properly without leaving a depression. I'll deal with any surface roughness after it hardens.




Back to the torso. I removed the clamps and trimmed the squeezed out putty away. Look! No gaps! I even sculpted a bit of rib past where it just ends on the casting, as you can see in the background two photos up.


Now I just leave it to harden, which in this cold weather, may take two or more days.




For the rest of the parts, I washed them and taped over the parts that will be glued together. Then I primed them with Liquitex Neutral Gray Gesso, as I expect the model to be painted in a mix of light and dark colors. This stuff shrinks as it dries and leaves a very smooth surface to paint on. (Also, you can never have enough clamps.)


I had some trouble with the hydrophobic nature of Bones, and for this model at least I was seeing some serious beading. It's been rather hit and miss before, so I tried something different. Remembering an old science experiment about surface tension and water beading, I dumped a generous amount of gesso onto my mixing surface, then just barely touched the bristles of a wet mixing brush to a drop of dish soap -- the tiniest of smidgens. I then worked this thoroughly into the gesso, and painted it onto the model. Much, much less beading!


I was left with a secondary problem -- more paint bubbles -- but that was as easy to solve as blowing on the gesso, and could be solved in the future by using a touch of liquid dishwasher detergent instead. It remains to be seen if this affects the primer adhesion.


And that's a good place to leave off tonight, as all this dries.

Edited by Grumpy Cave Bear
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Thanks for the comments. Here's tonight's update on Kaladrax:


I went back over the parts I primed. Once the gesso had dried, it was holding pretty solid -- it wasn't coming off with a fingernail scrape, so I guess the gesso wasn't affected by the dish soap. It will cling even more tightly once it fully dries.




As you can see, there are some bare spots where the gesso pulled apart as it shrank and stretched, usually on an inside corner. That's expected, and I touched those spots up with a second coat of gesso.


More bothersome is where there are bubbles in the corners, which is something new to me. This is probably from the use of the dish soap as a wetting agent. It bubbled as I brushed, and collected along inside edges, where it dried as a foamy mass. Again, this can be avoided with more careful brushing and using liquid laundry soap instead of dish soap as a wetting agent. I'm trimming and sanding the bubbles out where I find them and repainting.


I can't take credit for the soap droplet idea. I remembered today that I read in model railroad magazines about "wet water" -- a solution of equal parts distilled water and matte medium and one drop of liquid soap, used to bind ground foam, ballast and other scenery material to a layout or diorama. The soap droplet broke water's surface tension, so the mixture would soak into the arranged scenery material without moving or disturbing it.




I primed the torso and spine tonight, and the grey gesso pointed out mold lines that I missed against the white Bones material. I'll have to trim and reprime those spots again once it's dry. Sharp eyes will pick out the bits of moss and other natural materials I brought home today as color references.




I sanded the putty I put on the head and base, and found there was still a slight depression around the areas I filled. I went over them with Gunze Sangyo's Mr. Surfacer 1000, which is sort of a very thick solvent-based paint that's used for filling in scratches and shallow surface blemishes. It can be wet-sanded very smooth, once it's dry, which I'll try tomorrow night.

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Bah! Tonight's update is one step forward, two steps back.


I started late tonight, because we watched "Star Trek: Into Darkness" tonight. I liked the movie overall, though my inner nerd raged whenever the the plot did stuff with the Star Trek pseudo-technology that broke with canon. Lots of running, too.




I finished filling in the gaps on the head and the base. They were quite smooth after sanding them flat and should pretty much disappear after painting.




However, the primer on the wings are giving me trouble. I got suspicious and tried rubbing the primer after it had dried. In most spots it held tightly, but in some spots it lifted right off. If your model looks like this after rubbing it with a Q-Tip, your paint is not sticking.


The way it holds in some spots and not others suggests that it was caused by my not cleaning the model thoroughly enough, and that the "wet water" approach I tried to break surface tension probably didn't cause this. Even so, I'm going to have to strip the primer and start again. Fortunately, this gesso just peels right off with pine floor cleaner. Any remaining mold release agent should get cleaned off too.


Looks like tomorrow will be a binge cleaning night, and Friday will be another priming. I'll spare the gory details until it's primed and ready to paint.

Edited by Grumpy Cave Bear
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I was running into trouble with brush strokes appearing in the gesso primer. Apparently the gesso was a bit too thick and the brush I was using was a bit too coarse (a Loew-Cornell #4 Filbert bristle brush). After I watered the gesso down and started using a 1/2" fine-haired craft store brush, I had much fewer problems.


So I stripped down the model and let it dry over the weekend. I used pine cleaner (generic brand, similar to Pine-Sol) to remove the gesso, and this was the first time I had tried it. I'm sold. It's a lot less obnoxious than some of the other paint strippers I've used, especially back in the days when I painted using lacquers and enamels. (The family hates the smell, though.) Stripping also removed any hydrophobic properties of the Bones material, so I may try cleaning Bones with the pine cleaner before painting next time.




I re-primed the model last night and tonight, and you'll notice the color is a bit different. I didn't want to use of the rest of my grey gesso, and I didn't want to switch to white, so I mixed equal parts Liquitex white and grey gesso, and added a little water to thin it.


The portable hair-dryer I was using to speed up the drying process burned out (after years of use), so progress slowed way down, as my painting area is relatively cold -- directly over our unheated garage.




After the primer dried, I thought I was still having problems with brush strokes. There were ridges across the surface of the various parts, as shown on the tail in the picture above. I angled the light low across the tail to accentuate the ridges.


As it turns out, I didn't know what I was looking at, and I probably didn't need to strip and re-paint most of the parts after all. Those ridges are actually 3-D printing artifacts -- I just haven't worked on a model that was made with 3-D printing before.


I'm not annoyed about it, though it did slow me down. It does point out how well the Bones material will retain detail, and how little detail is lost when priming with gesso. The ridges will almost certainly disappear by the time I seal the final coat.


Tomorrow, I plan to start painting the base.

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I've been longer in getting back to this thread than I wanted. Part of it was dealing with family, and part was experimenting with paints and colors.


Tonight was painting the base colors. I started base coating by hand, but realized that for a model this size the faster way to go was airbrushing. I was dreading it before I started, but now I'm glad I did.


I've had a lot of problems before with trying to airbrush with acrylics. The paint always dried too quickly, and the airbrush would constantly clog. The airbrush I'm using -- a Badger double-action -- has served me well, but the tiny Hansa artist's compressor I'm using has always been under powered... until now. I have no idea why airbrushing acrylics should suddenly start working for me, but it did.


I mixed the Reaper MSP with Liquitex Airbrush Medium at about a 1:1 ratio. It sprayed smoothly, though slightly runny, and I only began to get clogging at the end of the evening. Of course, it's a little too cold for airbrushing right now, so the paint is taking forever to dry.




I base-coated Kaladrax after attaching most of the parts to chopsticks and skewers. I have this large block of wood that I drilled holes into and use as a drying rack. It works perfectly for holding and moving parts after they've been painted.


I based Kaladrax in Oily Leather, using up about 2/3rd of the bottle in the process. I wanted Kaladrax to look somewhat fossilized, so I'm starting with that as a shadow color, then pulling up through Tanned Skin and the Ivory Bone triad of colors. This will get dirtied up with a Muddy Brown wash. (Or at least that's the plan.)




I also started a stone color on the base. I wanted a dark bluish gray, so I chose a stone color by using Stone Grey and Soft Blue in a 3:1 mixture. For shadow, I added 1 part each of Pure Black and Imperial Purple, and sprayed it on. It came out quite dark, as you can see, but I'll lighten with with successive layers.


That's all the pieces. I'm leaving them to dry for tonight.




Finally, I was practicing making moss to go on the stones of the base. On a piece of foam, I painted the area with Muddy Brown, then dabbed gloss Medium on that and sprinkled it with sand. After it dried, I painted it over with Grass Green, and drybrushed it with a mix of green and yellow. Not bad, but I'll play with the colors, and maybe use less streaking on the vertical surfaces

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That darker tone for the bones is a nice break from off-white skeletons, I'm looking forward to seeing how it turns out! I also like the moss effect, I'd definitely keep at most of the streaking unless you're going for a very dry environment.  

Edited by jonishi
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That darker tone for the bones is a nice break from off-white skeletons, I'm looking forward to seeing how it turns out! I also like the moss effect, I'd definitely keep at most of the streaking unless you're going for a very dry environment.  

The orange-brown is mostly for undertone and shadow.  Much of it will be covered, but lend tone to the paint layers above it.  I will be pulling the shading up through ivory colors, and paint highlights in Yellowed Bone.  I really have no idea how this will work. 


I was going to base with a bottle of Oxide Red that I had, but it was far too dark.  The only fossils of that color I've seen are the heavily laquered ones you see as museum pieces.


I may keep the streaking on the moss -- the environment is going to be painted like a rainforest, which is why the stone is so dark.  I'm even thinking of putting some moss on the dracolich, in places where it wouldn't rub off with his movements, like along the spine.  I have to think on where.

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Great job so far. I also like the darker tan/brown look to him.


I'm also actually curious why you even bothered to primer him up? Bones don't need primer, just an unthinned first coat, is it because you air-brushed him?


One word, really: Adhesion.  On large models like this, I worry about the paint rubbing off as I move it around.  The gesso really holds tight to the model (probably because it shrinks as it dries), and provides tooth for successive layers of paint.  I could rub a coin across that model and that gesso wouldn't come off.


Also, I was airbrushing pretty wet, so the paint would almost certainly have beaded up on the bare Bones surface.


Kaladrax has really soft details, so I'm not worried about the primer obscuring details here, either.


A side benefit is that I can test surface adhesion with the relatively cheap gesso instead of more expensive color.  I scrubbed the first priming with a toothbrush and found that I hadn't properly prepared the surface.  I'd have had to get another bottle of paint to rebase it, if I didn't prime.


Other side benefits:  I found and cleaned up even more mold lines that I missed on the translucent Bones material, after I primed;  and the softer parts (the head and tail) firmed right up once the primer dried.  These would also happen with a base color coat, so they don't count.

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Well, tonight was a bust...


Last night was a reminder of everything that I loved about airbrushing, and tonight was a reminder about everything I hated about it instead.


I looked over the parts I painted last night and saw a few spots I missed. So I got the paint mixed and ready, only to discover the airbrush had clogged. Apparently, a spray-through with clean water and an overnight soaking did nothing to prevent paint from drying in the airbrush. So, total disassembly and cleaning.


I got the dried paint out with lacquer thinner and Q-Tips. But I hate using strong solvents; I don't want to be breathing or touching the stuff on a regular basis.


So here's question #1: Is there something better than water that I can use to clean Reaper MSP out of airbrushes? Would an ammonia solution work?


After that, I started painting the spots I missed. After about only 15 minutes, the forgotten but inevitable happened -- a big splash of condensed moisture came out of the airbrush hose and spattered on the model. A lot of cursing and cleanup ensued.


So, I thought I'd move from the Hansa compressor to my backup -- a Paasche 1/10th hp compressor that served me well since the early 90's. It was solidly built, but was on its last legs. It would overheat and shut down after about 15-20 minutes of use, but it did have a regulator/moisture trap I attached some time ago.


Again, the inevitable happened. I barely finished my touch-ups, when the second compressor stopped, and this time there was the smell of burning electrical insulation. It looks like my old ally has finally given up the ghost.


I spent the remainder of the evening cleaning my airbrush again, so I won't have to do it beforehand next time, and moving the moisture trap from the dead compressor to the remaining working one.


And that was all the time I had this evening.


So here's question #2: Is the Paasche compressor done for? Can I replace the motor, or should I even bother?

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