As a modeler, my favorite part of pretty much any kit is the painting and weathering. The building, for me, is more a means to an end – it’s only once the paint starts flying that the subject really comes to life.
In the case of the D.520, this is doubly true, as I chose this kit largely due to its distinctive Armee de l’Air camoflage scheme.
Since I can never seem to leave well enough alone, I’m using the D.520 as a test case for something new.
If you’ve ever tried to look up reliable paint samples online, you no doubt know that it’s a world of hurt. Some brands do a solid enough job – I actually think Testors does about as well as anyone can given all the different color profiles and monitors and whatnot that people are viewing the colors through. But one glance at Tamiya’s color charts shows some wild fantasies, and then you’ve got Gunze and Vallejo and the others whose color charts have exactly nothing to do with what their paints actually look like.
Well – I’ve had enough, and decided to take matters into my own hands. During my recent bench reorganization, I dabbed a drop of every Tamiya and Gunze paint I own onto a piece of sheet styrene, then scanned them, sampled them with Photoshop, and created my own color chips. Will they be 100% accurate? No. Exact color accuracy is more or less ridiculous given all the different monitors people view the internet from. But they’re a far sight better than what’s out there.
I’ve uploaded all the color chips I’ve created to date HERE. You’ll note that, in addition to the paint code and name, I’ve also labelled the RGB values and hex codes for each color, if you want to recreate them on your machine.
Now, going beyond just having paint samples, I intend to use these to digitally mix colors using Photoshop layers. The process is pretty simple really:
- Create a new Layer and set the Blend Mode to Multiply
- Using the Paint Bucket tool, paint said layer with the color of your choice
- Rinse and repeat for additional colors
- Divide your paint ratios to a basis of 100. For example, if you’re mixing 5 parts of one paint, four of another ,and one of a third, paint 1 would = 50, paint 2 40, and paint 3 10.
- Set the Opacity value of each Layer correspondingly.Again, not 100% accurate, but this method allows me to get in the ballpark without wasting paint in failed attempts.
Again, not 100% accurate, but this method allows me to get in the ballpark without wasting paint in failed attempts.
Mr Surfacer 1200
After some seam cleanup, I primed the D.520 with Gunze Mr. Surfacer 1200, cut with Mr. Leveling Thinner. I’ve heard some horror stories about this stuff, but it’s always performed well for me.
Protip: Mr. Surfacer 1200 goes down really well on its own, but after it’s cured, give it a gentle polishing sand with some fine grit sandpaper, then wonder at how it turns glass-smooth with just a swipe of something like 3000 grit.
My past few builds have won me over to the virtues of preshading. Not just panel lines, but streaking and spots and just randomness. Anything to break up the uniformity and give the paint some depth.
I plan to add substantially more to this as I move around to the upper surfaces and the camo scheme, but for now the panel lines and randomness are enough.
Gris Bleu Clair
The first color to go down is the underside color gris bleu clair (literally – light gray blue). Borrowing some Gunze codes and mixing ratios found on another modeler’s D.520 build, I came up with a reasonable GBC. Here’s the digital mixing:
I mixed this combo up, thinned it, and attacked the underside of the D.520. Here’s the result:
Before moving on to the upper camoflage, I went ahead and painted the rudder in the French national colors. Both the Tamiya and Berna Decals sheets provide decals for the rudder, but ugh, I hate rudder decals. So I pulled out the Gunze paints and went to work. The red is straight up C3, the white is mostly C69 Offwhite with a dash of C315 to clean it up a bit, and the blue is a bastard mix of two or three shades to match the decals.
That done, I masked the rudder and got to work on the upper camoflage of gris bleu fonce, vert kaki and terre fonce.
My mixing ratios for gris bleu fonce (dark gray blue) and terre fonce (dark earth) are as folllows:
As for the vert kaki (green khaki), I must admit I just grabbed some greens from the shelf and mixed them on the spot, so I’m not entirely sure of the exact paints or ratios used!
My penchant for painting lately has been extremely thin and extremely tight, so I thinned the paints down and pulled out my Iwata HP-C+, which is currently packing a 0.2mm nozzle.
To give an idea of how much I’ve taken to thinning paint, here’s how things looked after the first few passes:
Going slow, I freehanded the camoflage, building the paint up in layers and taking care to preserve the preshading.
After the first night’s session, I wanted to go back and fill in some gaps where the primer coat was still showing through too much, so I re-pre-shaded some areas and got the colors going again.
Once all the painting was done, the colors looked a bit too stark, so I took a bit of my gris bleu fonce mix, added some white to it, and thinned the snot out of it with Mr. Leveling Thinner. Probably 90% thinner to paint. This was then sprayed as a filter layer on top of the entire thing, with some light focus on panel centers. The idea being to knock down the hues somewhat and slightly blend things together.
I intentionally left the pre-shading starker, since in my experience subsequent clear coats and weathering always tend to mute the effect. And this D.520 will be getting some weathering, since it’s going to be one of those that escaped France to serve in North Africa.
Overall, I’m exceptionally happy with the way this has come out – I think it might be my best paint job to date!
Stay tuned for decals, up next.