Wednesday, December 9, 2015

How to Paint a Resin Seat with Molded In Belts

Hi Guys,

This tutorial will show you how I paint resin seats with molded in harnesses.

Lots of modelers hate dealing with fussy photoetched belts. Tiny parts, stiff metal belts that require repeated bending and fitting to allow the harness to drape naturally. The pre-colored belts look really amazing on the fret, but anyone who has tried their hand at installing these knows that you have to take great care not to bend them too much, as the paint will flake off. This makes installing natural looking belts even more difficult.

Molded in belts have the advantage of being pre-installed, and tend to look much more organic and naturally draped. The challenge is painting them to bring out the best of the cast in details. Shown below is the final result of the process I will be describing.

1/48th scale Spitfire seat with early Sutton Harness from Barracuda Studios BR48194 Spitfire IX Cockpit Snapshot Upgrade set.

Once the seat has been removed from the casting block by careful sawing, cleanup up the casting, removing flash from the hole in the seatback (if necessary). You can wash the seat before painting, but we don't use any mold release, so its not necessary. You can prime the seat if you prefer. Some acrylic paints tend to adhere better to primed plastic and resin.
I like to mount parts on a wooden coffee stirring stick to ease handling during painting. You can attach it with a small blob of poster putty such as Blu-tack, or you can secure it with a small drop or two of Super Glue (CA).

Early Mk I and II Spitfires had metal seats. They could be painted black or Interior Grey Green. Most later Spitfire seats were made of a paper impregnated resin called Tufnol. The resin varied a bit in color, but most were a rich terra cotta color. I find a great match to simulate this finish is Testors Model Master Rust. For this article, I used RAF Interior Grey Green from Akan. It's a reasonably good match, although a bit too warm. I like it because it brush paints well.
 Begin by spraying the seat with Model Master Rust. I thin it with Mr. Color thinner or lacquer thinner to speed the drying time. When this has set, I mix the base color with a little yellow and either stipple or sponge paint the seat. I repeat the process with a slightly darker, browner version of the color. the idea is to end up with a subtle, blotchy looking finish to replicate the look of the original resin seat.
The base and pedestal can then either be masked and sprayed with Interior Grey Green, or brush painted. I actually painted the bases first, then masked and sprayed the seat color. Its a lot more work. Won't do THAT again!

The seat backpad was them brush painted with Vallejo black lightened a bit with Vallejo Khaki. I thin it a little with water to improve flow and prevent obscuring detail. Vallejo paint brushes beautifully.
 The only downside is that its bond with plastic is not that good and can be rubbed off corners with too much handling. A sprayed overcoat of future will toughen it up and make it bulletproof! The straps of the Early pin-and-clip style Sutton harness were then carefully brush painted with Vallejo Khaki lightened with Vallejo Buff.
This is where the seat starts coming to life. To really pop out the detail and bring the belts to life, a wash is now applied using my patented ,exclusive, super secret, never-before-seen-on-TV Future Wash.  This is the best was I've ever used on detail areas. It works wonders in gearbays and cockpits and wheel hubs and the like. Its not good for external panel washes, though.

Mix 1 part Future floor wax (now called Pledge Floor Care and by other brand names such as Johnson's Klear overseas.) with 1 part water. Add a small amount of Acrylic black paint (I use Vallejo) and stir to make a very pale wash. Try it on some test pieces. Flood the area with the wash and watch it collect in corners, creating subtle gradated shadows when it dries. The advantage is that the pigment never breaks up like enamel washes do. Experiment with the concentration til you find what works for you. If its too subtle. Go back and apply a second coat once the first has dried.

Paint the pin, clip and grommets with brass paint. I have found that Citadel Runelord Brass has the least grain of all the brass paints I've tried, and it brushes reasonably well. The buckles are then painted with silver, in this case the wonderful (and now extinct) Floquil Old Silver. 
Apply the wash (or whatever wash you prefer) to the seat. Take care to absord excess wash that collects in corners so you don't end up with excessive shading. Like I said, practice of some spare parts and learn the technique. The Future Wash also has the advantage of adding a tough protective coat to the paint. The seat will now be glossy.
The final step is to drybrush the edges of the seat with a light red brown color and the belts with Vallejo Buff The seat backpad can be drybrushed with Vallejo khaki. I add small scratchy lines of Khaki to the backpad to simulate the cracked and abraded black leather that is exposing the undyed hide color below. In this scale, it is pretty small and will probably never be seen, but what the hell. We are having fun, right?

You may notice that the upper harness straps that go over the back of the seat and through the slot in the head armor is missing. This is supplied as a separate part in our upgrade kit and is to be painted with the same techniques. 

The last thing to do is to seal the painted seat with a matt or light satin finish. This seat is destined for an Eduard Mk VIII currently underway on the workbench. As I am a Spitfire nut, four seats were set up and painted all at the same time. I will be glad I did when its time to build some Eduard Mk IXs and XVIs!

Let us know if you enjoyed this tutorial and/or if  learned something from it.

Happy modelling!  Roy