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  1. A pretty good one Alclad Aqua Gloss (make sure it's the Aqua Gloss, this is the only acrylic in their line) - no thinning needed and pretty hardy and self levelling. However, I've had Aqua Gloss crack/craze when I sprayed something hotter on top of it, but will easily hold up to enamel washes. My go to is Tamiya X-22 gloss thinned with Mr. Color Levelling Thinner (MLT), it it gives a pretty impervious coat. The downside is MLT is a lacquer, and smells. You could thin with X-20A, but it it's slightly less effective.
  2. an alternate option - I polish the canopy instead of coating it with anything. This was for clarity though, not for preventing fogging. I used to use PVA glue to attach my canopy pieces (assuming good fit), but my last couple I went with Tamiya Extra Thin (I assume it's similar to the Plastic Magic in your photo) and didn't have any issues with fogging. I think after I saw none of the clear pieces I was using TET fogged up (smaller pieces on armor or other aircraft), it was safe to use on canopy. Obviously the downside is if you ever need to get back in, you won't be able to - whereas PVA you could potentially pop it off.
  3. thanks Thom! To be honest if I had a time machine, I'd go back and not buy the lighting kit. It's certainly not a bad kit, but unfortunately does not provide me with the type nor level of illumination I want from my model. Technically this can be a very straightforward build, kit + lighting kit, someone can probably knock it out in a couple weekends and have a decent looking Enterprise model. I should have just bit the bullet back then and invested in looking more deeply at alternate lighting solutions. From the last post, the two problems to overcome were purple colored lighting, and diffusing the impulse engines. I tried my usual X-21/XF-86 mix and that helped, but as suspected the bulb LED wasn't going to cut it. I thought moving it back may lessen the hotspot, so I clipped the entire tab off (remember, my lights were glued in at this point), and physically moved it away from the clear engine piece, only to find it was too dim. So I busted out a Mega LED from Evan Designs (5mm LED, similar to the ones I used above for the warp nacelles) and put that behind - bingo, evenly lit impulse engine depending on how far I went. An added bonus, this LED was a warm white (instead of the cool whites in the engines) which helped a little with the color. Unfortunately it was still a little pinkish at this point. In an attempt to diffuse the light a little more and shift the color it a little redder, I trimmed some small pieces of clear thin Styrene, and sanded it to frost it. I was going to spray it with Tamiya clear red, but then remembered I had bought a Pro Acryl transparent red paint to try out, so shot that on instead. I put that between the light and the clear impulse part, and was pretty happy with the result. Top left: result of diffused clear impulse part, diffused clear styrene shot with Pro Acryl Transparent Red behind it, illuminated by a warm white LED. Top right: I was going to paint the frame then use the Paragrafix PE, but in testing it looked great when looking straight on the engines, but from any angle, it looked exactly what it was - a flat part glued onto a raised object. The clear parts of the frame were clearly visible (sorry, PE not in the photo, it just shows the areas I hand painted with primer in preparation of the PE) Bottom left: masking job with small rectangles. I knew this wasn't going to be perfect because the insides are not perfect rectangles, they have small curves at some corners. Ended up having to toothpick scrape some excess paint off, and hand brush in some gaps. Bottom right: result after spraying Stynelrez primer, then 1:1 Vallejo Metal Color Dark Aluminum and Exhaust Manifold (almost the same color as the nacelle caps). I think I maybe should have gone with the darker Gunmetal for this, but that's OK. I'm surely not masking those small windows again. Here you can see it all together - the LED I made a stand for, the two floating lighting kit LEDs that I'll have to figure out where to point, and the transparent red pieces I glued behind the inside of the impulse engines. I was half tempted to put a tiny LED behind each of the impulse engine windows to really mimic the screenshot from above, but that would be an unneeded cost and probably cause its own headaches. Maybe if they ever make a 1/350 scale of this ship...
  4. Carrying on! Started with the saucer. I actually had way too much paint leftover from when I did the engines to just dump, so I ended up spraying the bottom saucer with MMP Duraluminum at the same time. Like the engines, the inside was sprayed black, then white to light block and disperse interior lighting. Problems immediately when I began to run in the wiring. After positioning the two rear impulse engine lights, they want you to run the wire clockwise on the inside pointing in. You can see after the first light, my wire was not long enough to reach the top holder as the instructions indicated. Yellow tape to temporarily hold everything in place. So I played around with the lights until I found a way to make sure all the tabs were accounted for, then held it all down with Bondic. The LEDs have a distinctively blue cast, so I tried to push the light towards a more neutral white by spraying the clear parts with Tamiya clear orange after frosting them. It... did not work. I tried again with yellow, and the results were still less than stellar. I may try and introduce a warm white light in there to try and balance our the color temperature. At this point, I've stripped all the clear parts. In the show, at one point we get a panning/zooming shot coming across the impulse engines. You can see some sort of texture in there, not apparent until the camera is pretty much right up on it. To try and mimic this (and make this model distinctively mine), I figured I would use a very small honeycomb pattern PE I found on eBay (I assume for engine grills). Cut to size, then glued to the back of the clear impulse parts. This photo shows both success of the texture getting the effect I want, but also highlights a couple problems - even with frosting the clear part I'm not sure it will adequately disperse the light to even out across the entire impulse engine piece. The other is a complaint from other builders - the impulse engines read as purple when lit up. This photo also shows one piece of PE that I used from the Paragrafix kit - the circular docking port there in the middle. It has openings on the doors to mimic the areas to be lit, so I drilled straight through the plastic to open it up. The existing LEDs don't do too much to get light in there, so it may need to be lit independently depending on what I do with the rest of the saucer lighting. Thanks for looking!
  5. The nacelle cap pieces were clear styrene, so the entire thing had to be light blocked (minus the rear openings). I did this via handbrushing the inside with multiple layers of black Styenelrez, and airbrushing the exterior. I did have to hand paint the exterior "inside" of the cap, the faces that run up to the clear part. I followed this same process with the base color. It looked a bit darker than the rest of the ship, but not as dark as the accent areas, so I made a mix of Vallejo Metal Color Dark Aluminum (10 drops), and Exhaust Manifold (4 drops). I may accent the ridges layer with a darker wash later. The Paragrafix photoetch set came with a part to pop on the rear grill, instead of masking off around the little holes. I'm not entirely happy with the result of this, both from how light transmits through the clear piece (can't be helped), and also the references showing the holes should be small hexagons (versus ovals as molded into the piece and used for the PE). I toyed with hollowing out the clear piece (using one of the non-colored clear pieces I had left), but I couldn't control how much was removed and kept gouging into the ridge detail. And I'm not creating PE for the errant detail, so rolled with what's there. The inside was light diffused using the same methods above, X-21 and X-86 to frost them up. I also finished the rest of the dark accents on the nacelles and pylons with handbrushing Vallejo Metal Color Gunmetal. Don't think I mentioned (though they can be seen in previous posts), there are small rectangle grill like pieces near the back end of each nacelles on both sides, they were painted with a mix of 1:1 Mission Models Gold and Bronze. The only pieces left were the fins on the rear of the nacelles and the bar on the side. Same painting methods and base color/dark accents as the rest of the engine. If I could do it over again, I wonder if I could attach these earlier rather than later - there are some light leaks from the holes these pieces sit into, and also the attachment points are a bit unsightly - it would have been tricky to putty those areas smooth, but may have been worth the effort. The biggest reasons I left all these pieces off was I thought it would be easier to decal the nacelles first, then attach these pieces. I'll figure a way at the least to get the light blocked. (note: the CG ship has a row of tiny accent lights running across the outer perimeter of that dark accent area on both sides of each fin - no way that I know of to mimic that at this scale) With that, all the parts of the engine are ready. I press fit in the fins on one nacelle (again, will glue after decals) and installed the red cap, then wired everything up to see the final result. I included a video (made a YouTube account just for this hah), hope that's OK. And if not, here's a photo of the final results: Pretty happy with where I am so far, and it's taken quite a while to get there. Will probably tackle the saucer next - think that'll be less tricky than the secondary hull.
  6. I hope the primer works out, I have heard middling reviews of Vallejo primer. But yes, this paint line is fantastic, many hold it as the finest acrylic metallic series - sprays great (did my Mustang wings with this line), and brush paints fantastically as well, lots of miniature painters use it for their metals. Regarding lifting, best practice would be to use high quality modelling tape (Tamiya for example), and before you apply it, detack it heavily. I usually stick it across the back of my hand or arm a few times before applying to the model. I may be overly cautious (or a slow builder) but generally don't try and mask anything for a few days after paint application to allow the paint a chance to cure.
  7. Technically you do not need to put on a clear coat before decaling. That said, if you are worried your decal solvent will adversely affect your paint, that could be a good reason to gloss coat before decaling. I have not had the opportunity to decal over the handful of Hataka red bottles I have, so I can't offer specific guidance. The safest thing to do would be to shoot some paint onto a paint mule or plasticard, let it dry, and test your decals on that.
  8. If you're asking about the specific Metal Varnish Vallejo sells in their Metal Color line, I'll just chime in and say I bought it when I got my first few bottles of Metal Color and regretted it. It didn't spray too well and did not improve the finish at all in my eyes. I do not varnish my metallic paints anymore. I mainly use Mission Model and Vallejo Metal Colors, and have not had any problems with using no varnish. The primer (both color and smoothness) will determine the shade and sheen of your metallic paint job. You can use this to great effect - grey primer vs gloss black primer for making subtle variance using the same metallic paint. Gloss black is often recommended for the shiniest and smoothest metallic paint job, which seems to be what most people are going for.
  9. Apparently I'm on a monthly update cycle, hopefully my next post will actually have something that will look somewhat recognizable. But alas, pylons... I ended up attempting to fill and sand the insides of the potato slicers. By the end of the process I used a combination of Apoxie Sculpt, sprue goo, Perfect Plastic Putty, and Mr. Surfacer 500 to see what would work best as filler. First shot here with Apoxie sculpt, they were mini-trenches at this point that I needed to fill. Sprue goo on the exterior to eliminate those joint lines. Once sanded, wrapped up the nacelle to protect from the primer and paint - then primed the pylons with grey Stynelrez. And I just could not get rid of the entire seam on the inside. I ended up trying to putty and sand four times, and still a little bit showed through the primer. I only decided to stop because I think I was starting to do more damage than good - the shape and edge bevels had started to deform. So with that I applied the MMP Duraluminum. The finish seemed to come out a touch rougher than what I was able to get on the nacelle. One thing that can also be seen is a slight "halo" around the potato slicer, a slight ridge from the molding process in the area. If I had a time machine I would sand the whole thing down so the area was flat, but at this point I'm well past ready to move on from these pylons. My hope is that the matte coat I plan to use at the end will dull down the speckliness of the paint and that halo. As always thanks for following, next step will be to finish detailing the engines/pylons and attach them together. Looking forward to that light test.
  10. interesting, don't think i've ever thought about that - i just assumed the thinner evaporates. i've never done it, i don't think I've ever seen anyone do it, and I don't know what you could clean thinner with. Maybe a light wipe down with a clean cloth? Give it some time to air dry off, then hit it with a clear coat. Enamels are relatively slow drying, wouldn't be the worst idea to give it a couple days for the panel line washes to dry up. That said I don't think I've ever seen panel lines affect a clear coat. I hope someone else chimes in if they have had issues.
  11. Oh forgot to mention - definitely disconcerting, especially if you're worried the sludge will stain your clear coat. One way to help mitigate this is by using a fine brush to apply the panel liner, so most of it flows into the line and only a little bit needs to be cleaned up. Called a pin wash, versus a sludge wash.
  12. Glad you're having better luck with the wash. Leaving it to dry will help it settle in there - obviously the puddle in the panel lines will take a touch longer to try than the thin film on the surface. Are you using Mr. Hobby GX with Mr. Color Levelling thinner? That's pretty much the gold standard when it comes to model gloss coating (short of 2K or stuff some car modellers use). 40% clear, 60% thinner. The key is light but wet coat(s), enough that the product can level a bit on the surface, but not enough to run. A sandpaper finish suggests to me that you're spraying too far or too quickly; the material is either starting to dry before it hits the surface or not enough is getting on. After a minute or two, you can then hit it with a mist coat of just MLT to briefly reactiavate the clear and help level it out a bit more. Some people suggest a light tack coat first on the model before your first wet coat as well.
  13. Hey @Dunderklumpen, I think you're on the right track - I don't see the point of having different "sheens" of the same paint colors, when their final look can be altered by various clear coats. That goes into my response to your whole question - I never clear coat for protection, only to change the sheen of different materials. I don't know how much you're handling the actual models so maybe you need more protection than I do. Like you said most things can be built in subassemblies, and that may be one way to separate pieces with different sheens (fuselage may be glossy, landing gear semi-gloss, wheels flat for example) before attaching them at the end. Masking is always an option - gloss coat the whole thing, then mask off small areas that have a flatter sheen and apply a flat coat to that. Or conversely flat coat the small pieces (perhaps the hard to reach places as you mention), tape or silly putty them off, then gloss coat the rest.
  14. Hey @DrumBum, are you blotting most of the thinner off the cotton bud before you try wiping the panel line wash off? It should be almost "dry" before you attempt to use it to wipe, you don't want it reactivating most of the panel line wash in the line, just the material outside the panel lines. A few other things to try: leave the panel wash to dry for a few hours before attempting to remove - this gives a chance for the wash inside the lines to dry a bit, and not get sucked up into the q-tip you shouldn't be pressing too hard when wiping off, a light scrub of the surface should be ample to agitate away the excess material. I guess I'm saying make sure you aren't digging your q-tip into the panel line you're wiping perpendicular to the panel line, correct? you can try a small piece of paper towel, a flat surface (vs the round of the q-tip) may help not agitating the wash inside the panel line sometimes you'll just need to do multiple passes - have a second round where you focus on the areas where it was pulled up from from the first go the nuclear option, but will help, is to scribe the panel lines deeper so that more wash has a chance to sink into there and stay. there are many scribing tools on the market, which allow for more control and consistent material removal than using your hobby knife. good luck!
  15. Short update - attached the pylons halves together. I could have sworn I took a photo of the wiring inside before I closed it up, but I guess it is lost to whims of my phone camera. I kept the pylons off the nacelle before painting for seam purposes - didn't think I'd be able to fill/sand easily the part where the nacelles/pylons meet if I had them attached. The wires from the lighting kit are THICK - I only used two (bussard lights and motor for spinner) and I feel they barely fit into the wire channel in the pylons - even then I had to use Bondic to slightly glue them together so they would sit flat to be able to close the pylon halves. I don't know what wizardry I would of had to do with three wires - luckily my nacelle lighting wire is much narrower. I'm toying with the idea of not filling the seams inside the "potato slicer" hole, mainly out of pure laziness, but we'll see. I've already applied some sprue goo on the outside seams, and will be sanding those after a couple days dry time.
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