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Tonal Variations on NMF Panels

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I have started seeing a lot of models who have these "highlighted panels" or panels where the modeler has purposely used a darker shade of aluminum. Typical colors are Polished Aluminum for the main body and then "duraluminum" "dark aluminum" etc for certain hatches, doors, etc

While this does look rather nicely as it can break away the monochromatic NMF, is it realistic? Were certain panels really made from different metals? I might do something like this but I don't know how realistic it is.

The planes in question are usually WWII models such as P-51s P-38s, 47s etc...

What do yall think?

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I believe Gerald Voigt talked about this on his website. If I remember correctly, back then companies would source aluminum but they were not always from the same source, and sometimes the impurity/sheen of the metal would be different. Therefore, sometimes the panels would differ in tone.

I do think this is realistic, unless you know for sure that the specific model of plane you're aiming to model had the same tonal brightness throughout. From a visual standpoint, a model does look a bit more natural if there are irregularities.. albeit not exceedingly so.

David

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I've looked at P-51 pictures for a long time and as far as I can tell the tonal variations are clearly visible in factory photos but tended to disappear once the Mustang was "exposed" in the field.

Some access panels sometimes still looked a bit different than the rest but not always (the exhaust panels were made of steel so they always had a different sheen).

It is easy to overdo on a kit.

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It's not so much "impurities" as it is the direction the panel is oriented relative to the direction it was milled in. Rolled metal will have something of a "grain" to it. When you take two identical pieces of sheet metal and turn them at different angles to the same light source, they will appear slightly different due to this.

As with all things in modelling, doing different shades of metal may or may not be "accurate", but it's an artistic exercise to fool the eye. After all, we're not building miniature airplanes, we're building sculptures of airplanes to try to fool the eye into believing it's seeing the real article, right?? So whether a given technique is "accurate" is sort of irrelevant. If it accomplishes the goal of fooling the eye into believing the model is something it's not, then it succeeds.

J

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It's been common to use different grades of aluminium and other metals on different areas of an aircraft. This is mainly due to differing stresses and temperatures experienced by each part of that aircraft. Naturally each of these metals weather and oxidize at different rates.

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It's not so much "impurities" as it is the direction the panel is oriented relative to the direction it was milled in. Rolled metal will have something of a "grain" to it. When you take two identical pieces of sheet metal and turn them at different angles to the same light source, they will appear slightly different due to this.

As with all things in modelling, doing different shades of metal may or may not be "accurate", but it's an artistic exercise to fool the eye. After all, we're not building miniature airplanes, we're building sculptures of airplanes to try to fool the eye into believing it's seeing the real article, right?? So whether a given technique is "accurate" is sort of irrelevant. If it accomplishes the goal of fooling the eye into believing the model is something it's not, then it succeeds.

J

but how are you going to fool the eye if it doesn't look accurate?

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but how are you going to fool the eye if it doesn't look accurate?

No two aircraft are going to look alike. I guess the only way you're going to be "accurate" is to finish your model as one particular aircraft at one certain point in time.

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Something is accurate as long as it fits to a certain standard. As long as it fits into the general mold. Though something is not going to be 100% the same from one to the next, I think you can definitely be accurate when modeling aircraft. If not, there wouldn't be so many resin aftermarket sets out there!

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I see NMF variations sort of like shading panel lines. If done subtly enough, it can enhance the scale realism of the model, even though it might not be technically spot on accurate as a copy of the prototype. However, just as with panel lines, overdoing the effect does not help add to the realism but in fact can detract from the look of the model and just make it obvious that you are looking at a model. If the point of model accuracy is to create a model that makes the viewer think that they are looking at a shrunken version of the real thing, then subtle and judicious application of some of these techniques, which may not be physically accurate to the prototype, are a greaet too to the modeler in obtaining scale realism.

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I see NMF variations sort of like shading panel lines. If done subtly enough, it can enhance the scale realism of the model, even though it might not be technically spot on accurate as a copy of the prototype. However, just as with panel lines, overdoing the effect does not help add to the realism but in fact can detract from the look of the model and just make it obvious that you are looking at a model. If the point of model accuracy is to create a model that makes the viewer think that they are looking at a shrunken version of the real thing, then subtle and judicious application of some of these techniques, which may not be physically accurate to the prototype, are a greaet too to the modeler in obtaining scale realism.

I agree. As long as it gives the impression of realism.

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Sometimes whats on the actual plane when scaled down, wouldn't look "realistic" to our eyes - and many of the current modeling techniques are meant to fool the eye, and give the initial "stun" effect. Its like an artists' canvas; some are exceptionally good at fooling our eyes. I still have tons and tons of learning to do..

On the tonal variation topic, you can mask off a certain panel, use steel wool (0000 grade) and buff in a different sort of direction, and perhaps spray a very light coat of darker tint. this would accomplish two of the ideas discussed above. At this point, it is best to experiment, and see what comes out most appealing to you. What I suggest may not be your cup of tea for that build.

David

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When I read discussions like this, I think of only one thing: If it looks right, then it is right.

Thank you Shep Paine. Of course its extremely subjective, but I find in most cases it rings true.

Aaron

Edited by jester292

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In trying to find reference to certain things on WWII aircraft, I've started to notice a trend coming about - the real thing (that is, the actual aircraft, most typically rebuilt or restored or made to represent another aircraft) - doesn't look like the real thing at all. Usually this tends to lean towards "far too clean".

Sure, its like that for a reason - these birds are worth a mint! Not just in money, but historical value, so of course they'll be taken care of. There's also time to do it, where more often than not in WWII the aircraft were dirty (more so the allies in the early part, than the axis near the second half). So, trying to look at todays old birds doesn't work out too well. In technical aspects sure, but in asthetics, cleanliness, and appearance, it's anyones guess (read: Tuskegee P-51B looks BEAUTIFUL with how the metal is finished and kept so polished... but it was a far cry from this 65 years ago).

So, what am I getting at - pictures... pictures... and more pictures... the old B&W pictures. Depending on the film used, some variations in NMF REALLY show up, and others show just a hint of it. Is it there? Yeah, variations in panels with NFM are there. As well as many painted over panels, whether they be replaced or not. Markings as well... letter codes, insignia, and other painted on items would be fading at different rates than other colours... what it boils down to is research, and a light touch with the effect.

Its just my opinion, but I build exactly how Tim Earls said it - specific aircraft, at a specific time. Finding information and reference material to help out is golden in this regard.

Jay put it great too - especially touching on painting panel lines - subtle is best.

If you're going for the most accurate representation of your aircraft, no amount of research will hurt - the more the better. One thing I also like doing, once you know how it "should" look, find what your model "will" look like by going through pictures on ARC, as well as the many other aviation model websites out there and look through the galleries - don't copy their work, but you get a good feel for what different sheens on NMF looks like by looking through P-51/P-47 and B-17 galleries on just a couple of websites.

HTH,

Mark.

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Sorry to throw a jet aircraft into the mix, but check out these photos of B-58 Hustlers for ideas on tonal variations. Doing a B-58 kit just screams for panel variations.

Clicky

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No, it's not an absolute.

It depends on how much exposure the aircraft has suffered and any number of other factors.

Not much going on on these photos.

2169460177_b358c0924d_o.jpg

44-63644MICH-NG.jpg

The bottom line is to check photos of the aircraft you want to build.

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Sorry to throw a jet aircraft into the mix, but check out these photos of B-58 Hustlers for ideas on tonal variations. Doing a B-58 kit just screams for panel variations.

On the B-58, the fore and aft raised panels at the main landing gear were fibreglas painted "aircraft" gray, and so appear uniformly lighter than the surrounding aluminum. Many of the panels on a 50s jet were fibreglas, particularly those covering electronic antennae.

Personal preference: panels painted in a single shade of Alclad II and burnished in different directions seem to give the most convincing effect.

Phil

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