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Yuri

MiG-29 gray.... too dark?

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Posted (edited)

Hi all,

 

I'm a bit puzzled by Mig-29 colors. When I did my first Fulcrum, years ago, I used the model master paints. The light gray is more or less a semigloss light gull gray (26440) that looked nice on the model.... maybe just a bit too light ad yellowish, but colors on soviet planes tend to fade quickly so it was ok.

 

Now, in the last years a number of other paint brands started to sell MiG-29 colors, I tested Akan and MRP, but the gray is much darker... close to light ghost gray (36375). Looking at photos it definitely seems too dark to me, at least for an 1/72 plane.

 

I never understood if "scale effect" for paint is real or just a modeller's legend, anyway.... could it be that these paints are correctly matched to "factory fresh" color chips, but look too dark for an operational bird?

 

What's your thought?

 

 

Edited by Yuri

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I've never used Testors' Fulcrum grays so I can't say this definitively, but my understanding is they are a close match to the colors used on the MiG-29s that appeared at the 1988 Farnborough Airshow - the first time most Westerners had a chance to see the type up close and in clear daylight. 

 

From the modeler's assessments of the Farnborough MiGs (supported by the excellent photos published in a multitude of sources), the light gray was close to FS36440 and the darker color was a gray-green approximated by FS34233.

 

While Testors marketed Fulcrum gray and gray-green in the Model Master line to match these colors, it's notable that the colors were clearly fresh paint on the company's demonstration aircraft.  Photos of MiG-29s in regular service frequently show heavy weathering (akin to typical USN/USMC types well into a cruise).

 

Regardless of weathering, the light gray color on service aircraft seems to rarely, if ever, be a close match to FS36440 (aka Light Gull Gray, best known as the gray in USN "high viz" schemes and later overall gray on F-14s before the adoption of multi-tone TPS grays). The actual color usually shows a cool, bluish cast, very much like light ghost gray (FS36375). I've seen several well-researched Fulcrum aftermarket decal sheets recommend FS36375 or FS36373 as the base color.

 

Somewhat strangely, the darker color doesn't seem to vary as much from the demonstrators, and FS34233 is at least a good starting point for the darker gray color seen in most photos.

 

As for "scale effect," I believe it's a real phenomenon (or visual impression), but I tend to take it "case by case" as to whether or not I try to match the full scale 1:1 color (and reference standards such as a FS 595 chip). Using lighter than the official colors sometimes seems necessary to match my impression of what a model "should" look like, based on photos or in many cases seeing the real thing. But you can go nuts trying to formulate consistent mixes vs "out of the bottle" colors, so in most cases I'm happy to use an FS matched color as-is (or take artistic license if something lighter seems appropriate).

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For what it's worth, i happened to be testing out some paint when you posted this last night on a spare tail.

Its AK interactives range of MiG-29 greys which to me, look spot on based on the reference images I've seen for some really early 9.12s

 

The lighter grey is almost 36375, but perhaps a bit more purplish.

The grey green looks spot on to me. 

This aircraft for reference.

MiG-29 (9.12) Fulcrum-A early production "03 Blue"

 

If i wanted to be super critical, maybe the paint is a bit darker, but i put that down to the black basing i did as an undercoat + the inside lighting on the shot I took

rsz_11screenshot_20200524-133430_gallery.jpg

Edited by Keroburner89

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I had used Xtracolours MiG-29 gray on a kit (which is more like light gull gray) and later that year I saw some Russian ones at Farnborough with the gray/green camo and thought the gray was much cooler than mine and more like a dark ghost gray. 

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On 5/22/2020 at 2:18 AM, Yuri said:

I tested Akan and MRP, but the gray is much darker... close to light ghost gray (36375). Looking at photos it definitely seems too dark to me, at least for an 1/72 plane.

 

AKAN says that they develop their colors from actual color chips from the aircraft for the color being used. They sometimes offer the colors as "faded". I think they sometimes use the colors they find ON the aircraft in question, not from chips, so a newly painted aircraft will have fresh paint, a used one will have faded colors if it has been sitting outside at a museum or flight line. When researching colors for the Su-33 I found pictures on AKAN samples laid on the surface of one of the aircraft and the AKAN color matches were spot on. MRP's accuracy seems to be fairly good but can vary.

 

That said, unless you have official color cards from the agency responsible for the colors in whatever country the aircraft is from, you will never know if the color you use is accurate or not. Photographs are unreliable as the colors shown will vary wildly depending on film used, camera settings and atmospheric conditions. Unless you have said color chips, your best bet is whatever looks right to you. Scale effect is, IMHO, real but very hard to judge. There is no set formula for lightening colors that works for all colors and conditions. There is also weathering and fading of colors to account for. It is often the case that paints matched to actual color chips will appear to be too dark. In fact, the color chips themselves often look much darker than what you see in photos. This is because you are seeing the color close up in  a factory fresh condition. As you move away from the color it will appear to lighten (I'm talking fairly long distances here, not inches). That is what led to the whole scale effect thing.

 

Anyway, all that to say, use what you think looks right to you. Close enough is close enough. Though it is interesting and fun to try to get the closest match to the real thing, its just not always possible.

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Thanks to all,

 

your suggestions make sense.

 

I tried adding some white to light ghost gray (more or less 15% as the scale effect "rule" say for 1/72) and it's much better to my eye... I'll try it on a scrap model and see how it looks....

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All great points, Gents.

 

I'm working on a Syrian MiG-29 and am trying to figure out the upper (maybe Neutral?) Gray.  I KNOW it's not the usual Gray-Green used on Russian birds.  I will probably try to use AKAN paints but if something else works, I'll use that.

 

I MIGHT have gotten the correct AKAN colors for my MiG-23ML by eye-balling them from photos but I haven't bought the paints yet so, we'll see.

 

Also working on a Mozambican An-74 so the quest for the "correct" dark gray upper, and medium gray lower colors continues!  This color stuff can drive you crazy, if you let it!

 

Cheers,

 

WARDOG

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I'm currently doing a big 1/32 Su-27 Flanker project featuring 3 of them, so I've been doing lots of research on Russian colors.  They often weather heavily because they're kept outside most of the time (at least the Su-27s are, and, by extension,  I assume the MiG-29s as well) so the colors will weather, fade, bleach, have touch ups, stains, etc. I like the Akan line as they're matched to actual Russian planes/colors, and usually it'll require weathering with various "mottling" techniques using white either mixed into the actual colors or as a very thin mix to gradually achieve the effect you're after.  They also make a MiG-29 set, and you can get them in acrylic, lacquer, and enamel I believe.

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