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Scale colour effect


Eludia
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I suspect I might be opening a can of worms here, but here goes.

I'm a little confused about the whole lighter colours for smaller scales thingie. As I understand it, it is supposed to represent how the real model would look at a distance appropriate to the scale but if that is the case why do we include so much detail that would obviously be invisible at such distance.

As I see it the question is "is it small or is it far away?". In the first instance, colours (and detailing) would therefore be true to the original, just smaller. In the second instance I can understand the case for lightening colours as they fade with distance but detailing would also have be adjusted accordingly.

We seem to model a kind of hybrid case with faded colour but still incredibly detailed which offers up some weird perspective issues. Anyone have any thoughts on this?

p.s. If you haven't already guessed, I'm at work and bored (it's surprising what you ponder in these situations)

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We do because we can!

I agree that it seems at odds to highly detail something then paint it for scale effect but each to their own. I think that if you gave the same kit to 100 modellers you would get 100 variations on a theme as we all get something different from the hobby. I actually don't spend too much time or effort super detailing as I'm not really into that. I enjoy the painting side of the hobby. Some will spend months super detailing then apply the paint with a trowel, you know who you are :)

Duncan B

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The idea of scale colour seems to have originated in art from what used to be called aerial perspective and is now usually called colour perspective. That, due to atmospheric conditions, an object further away will appear lighter. In reality the viewing distances of scale models makes this highly dubious. More likely it is the opposite of that, related to what is called field-size metameric failure which occurs where the relative proportions of the three cone types in the retina vary from the centre of the visual field to the periphery, so that colours that appear to match when viewed as very small, centrally fixated areas may appear lighter when presented as large colour areas. That means that colours matched from small full scale colour chips will sometimes look darker/too dark applied to a small model supposed to represent a larger object viewed from a distance.

The most challenging aspect, especially with dark colours, is to compensate for that without significantly altering the basic hue of the colour.

Nick

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A few years ago when getting back into the hobby i took Brett Greens advice about black being to stark so to mix it with red brown to give it a more scale effect, didnt look right to me one bit.

One of the reasons that I changed over to building vehicles rather than military aircraft was that I seemed to get too bogged down into painting the exact colours as given in the instructions and if i didn't follow the 25% of this 10 of that and 50 of that exactly then I would very soon have the scale police knocking on my door :bobby: . I now paint my models whatever colour tickles my fancy :thumbsup:

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When I lighten colours for scale, it isn't really to replicate the effects of distance. When you view a full size aircraft, tank etc. you're looking at a large object that will reflect a lot of light. Everything you can see is light reflected off a surface and the surface of a model is much smaller than the surface of the original so the colour will appear to be darker as much less light is being reflected. It's an optical illusion if you like but it's still there. It's one reason I don't get caught up in matching paint shades exactly. I judge the colour by eye and go with what looks right rather than what is right.

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I think there are two different disciplines at work.

A 1/72 model is a replica of the real thing where all the features of the real object have been reduced to 1/72 of their original size (or as near as is practical, given the limitations of materials, ability, time etc.)

This isn't the same as saying that when viewed at a distance of one foot it should be like the real aircraft viewed at 72 feet where the inability of the human eye to resolve certain detail takes effect. In other words, things don't just disappear because you can't make them out clearly. Maybe we can see them but they're a bit blurred. So should we make them blurred on our model? Of course not.

It's like looking at a high resolution picture where every panel is visible and a low resolution image of the same size where they're not. The panel lines are still there, you just can't make them out.

Painting a model is a bit different. Here you're trying to create the illusion of a real object and creating an illusion is a subjective skill whereas reducing something to scale is finite. Toning colours down helps to create a more realistic appearance and the smaller the scale, the more apparent this becomes. Try using straight colours on a 1/144th aircraft or a 1/600 ship and you'll soon appreciate the difference.

There's a great little model of a Norseman in the RFI section. It's absolutely bristling with fine detail and very skilfully manages to combine both disciplines beautifully. Have a look, it's worth it. (In my opinion of course!)

Dave

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Eludia, I hope your employer is paying you well because you've grasped a basic issue in modelling which even kit manufacturers sometimes don't. In this age of abbreviations, let's call it DDD, Differential Depictions of Distance. That is what you are calling a "hybrid case". I think Fastcat is spot on; it's two different disciplines. It's realism versus impressionism. It's the engineer versus the artist.

Imagine if Claude Monet had inserted a colour photograph of a water lily into his impressionist masterpiece of water lilies. It would be bizarre no matter what scale the photograph was because the photo wouldn't fit the style of the majority of the work. It would be even more bizarre if the scale of the colour photo and the rest of the work didn't match. (Incidentally, Monet had in mind an optimal viewing distance, and it wasn't very close.)

The issue is not limited to colouring. I think we know of modellers who have been "too clever by half" by super-detailing one area of a model, while leaving other areas on the same model much less detailed, thereby creating a mixed message about distance for the viewer.

In some cases, the extra detailing is to win prizes. I recall one 1/72 scale airplane model on which the modeller had painstakingly scratch-built each cylinder of its radial engine, stacking disks to represent cooling fins. He managed to represent maybe six of roughly sixteen cooling fins on each cylinder. In doing so, he chose a combination of realistic and impressionistic, at least for the cylinders. He very much wanted to highlight the fins but he couldn't show all of them practically in that scale, so he stylized them with a smaller number. Was that a wise way to make the engine for that scale? I don't know, but he won a big award. To pull the eye in to examine that detail, while simultaneously sending it away with colour adjustments for scale is indeed confusing.

.

Edited by Tom Hall
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I never got the idea, Its not as simple as adding white to colours, I don't do it, It is the colour it is, And thinks tend to desaturate rather than lighten. They loose vividness and grey out, Look at trees over a distance and they get darker and turn blue/grey after a certain distance is achieved. Its hard to model the atmosphere.

I actually prefer to view my models as just a small representation of the real thing and would sooner paint in darker colours as a lot of model paint seems to light bright and cheerful to me. It depends how close you get on distance. If you photo a 1/144 model close its the same as photoing a 1/72 model if framed the same way. I think its all down to what makes you happy.

Like anything it depends how its done and what you want to achieve. There is not really a right or wrong. its all very subjective. and here is your can of worms haha. :worms:

It is an interesting subject for me I just try and make it look like what I think looks right. Makes life simpler thats for sure. :)

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Well its like most things in this hobby...all down to personal choice,the only thing I do and I'm not sure if this is a scale thing or not is use humbrol German tank grey on tyres rather than black it just looks better to me, but like Robvulcan I just use the colour its supposed to be and weather it as appropriate;)

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I used to focus on using right colors. But over the years discovering variance from manufactures and colors changing over the years and realizing that they are not always as accurate as they are meant to be. Sometimes wildly off actually when compared to the real thing you realize that they are more guide lines than anything else and a good starting point. Its again about personal choice you can mix your own paints and experiment or use a colour you feel looks right there are no rules. Its easy to feel pressure to do it a certain way but then we would all end up with the same outcome and little personality. Everything from the pedantic to the very artistic dreamy world of what ifs is good in my book.

I have never got my head around this scale color thing its interesting but I think the methods employed to achieve it are as flawed as someone like my choosing a totally different color to achieve what I am after. I regard it as just another technique to remember for when its appropriate and if that is simply to have fun doing it. Then why not. It is a hobby after all.

Cheers Rob :)

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A few years ago, one of my cars was used as the subject of a 1/43 diecast collectable. For my assistance in researching the project, I received one of the limited edition releases of my car. Something which struck me immediately was the colour of the paint, a pinky-brown shade called Coffee which now looked much more brown than I felt it should. The model looked too dark, much too dark.

When I placed the model on the bonnet of the actual vehicle on which the model was based, the paint colour was actually an incredibly good match.

Cheers,

Bill.

Edited by Heraldcoupe
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Thanks for the replies guys, a lot of interesting, and differing, views. As a figure painter, this hasn't really been an issue up till now but now I've decided to dip my toe into other areas of modelling it got me thinking.

From the varied responses it appears there's no definitive answer but the underlying theme (reading between the lines) seems to be "It's your model, paint it how you like", a sensible approach :)

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When it comes to toning down colour, I came across this in Mark Stanton's book, Scale Aircraft Modelling, on page 131. (Mr Stanton writes that red is always red however. Whether on the model or the original.)

Scale Percentage of white to add

1/32 7%

1/48 10%

1/72 15%

1/144 23%

Now I don't suppose that's the last word in what might be best, and some manufacturers may have already made some concession to scale, (although I don't see how they could account for all scales). I suppose some people have already hit on the right answer, "Do what looks right".

The only true test I could imagine would be to hold the model up alongside the original while standing at the scale distance, in daylight. - Easier said than done perhaps if the original no longer exists, or sits in a dimly lit museum/hangar. Another thing, I don't think a model should ever be as shiny as the original. Maybe I'd think differently if I lived where the sky was blue and the sun always shone, but when it's overcast? Not that being overcast necessarily makes for a dark sky, but the brightness of the sky will have an effect on what colour one sees and any reflections there might be.

I can see me painting some test tiles to take on field trips now.

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I find that adding white to paint to lighten it will make the colour look "chalky" and too stark. Tamiya Deck Tan or Buff works better for me as it retains some warmth and colour saturation ( some modellers even use Tamiya Flesh for this).

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A few years ago, one of my cars was used as the subject of a 1/43 diecast collectable. For my assistance in researching the project, I received one of the limited edition releases of my car. Something thing which struck me immediately was the colour of the paint, a pinky-brown shade called Coffee which now looked much more brown than I felt it should. The model looked too dark, much too dark.

When I placed the model on the bonnet of the actual vehicle on which the model was based, the paint colour was actually an incredibly good match.

Cheers,

Bill.

A perfect demonstration of field size metameric failure as described in my comment # 3!

Nick

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I find that adding white to paint to lighten it will make the colour look "chalky" and too stark. Tamiya Deck Tan or Buff works better for me as it retains some warmth and colour saturation ( some modellers even use Tamiya Flesh for this).

Vallejo Sunny Skintone also works well. Or if you use artists paints(acrylic or oils), Naples Yellow is a good alternative to white in a lot of cases.

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I think "scale colour" is complete nonsense. If you continue that white formula, a 1/700 warship would be basically white and we know that would look pretty ridiculous. I'm not trying to create an illusion of a real object, I'm trying to make a scale replica of an object.

Edited by Brad
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I think "scale colour" is complete nonsense. If you continue that white formula, a 1/700 warship would be basically white and we know that would look pretty ridiculous. I'm not trying to create an illusion of a real object, I'm trying to make a scale replica of an object.

Yeah I can see where your going with that as ships on the horizon look dark grey.

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I think "scale colour" is complete nonsense. If you continue that white formula, a 1/700 warship would be basically white and we know that would look pretty ridiculous. I'm not trying to create an illusion of a real object, I'm trying to make a scale replica of an object.

It's usually a mistake to slavishly follow a formulaic approach to any colour. As others have mentioned white isn't necessarily the best method of toning down a colour. What's more important is to go with what looks right to you.

Yer pays yer money - yer takes yer choice!

Isn't making a plastic model creating an illusion from start to finish? We take a few bits of plastic or resin and try to make it look like thousands of pieces of metal, fabric, carbon fibre, whatever - in fact anything but plastic! Most of this illusion is created by painting the plastic to simulate other materials.

I think the best models combine both detail and a subtle approach.

I make mainly model cars, some in small scale such as 1/43. If you want to see how using full size criteria doesn't work, try painting a 1/87th Group C car using blacks, whites and strong colours and then giving it a high gloss finish. It just doesn't look convincing - too toy-like. It needs toning down a little.

But that's just my opinion. I don't seek to rubbish the views of others who think differently.

Dave

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Yet another deterrent in the completion of a model. Have a look at typical effects on a model finish:

Pre shade, base coat, fading, accenting, gloss coat, gloss coat, washes, weathering, flat coat. :mental:

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Yet another deterrent in the completion of a model. Have a look at typical effects on a model finish:

Pre shade, base coat, fading, accenting, gloss coat, gloss coat, washes, weathering, flat coat. :mental:

No gain without pain.........................lots of pain! :winkgrin:

Dave

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I think "scale colour" is complete nonsense. If you continue that white formula, a 1/700 warship would be basically white and we know that would look pretty ridiculous. I'm not trying to create an illusion of a real object, I'm trying to make a scale replica of an object.

In fairness to Mark Stanton's book 1/700 is extrapolating a very long way outside of the range he writes about.

I did take the time to look at some ships in the Channel on the way home this afternoon. Like most things I see at a great range they seemed grey to me. (I wonder what colour a white hospital ship looks like at great distance? Grey probably.)

Once home I dug out my ancient copy of "Scale Colour". (A Scale Models Extra magazine from the eighties). The introduction describes tinting paint with either white or light grey. No specific quantities are defined for any one scale, just the principle. It also points out that any one colour after a while is no longer a specific colour but a patchwork as it becomes worn, stained, chipped and so on. The importance of texture is also described.

At the end of the introduction two methods of colour comparison are outlined. One is to hold up a similar sized/shaped tile in the intended colour against the original subject at the scale distance. The other is to place a larger tile in the intended colour almost touching the colour to be measured. Over the junction of the two colours a neutral coloured card with an aperture 20mm x 12mm is placed.

With either method one can see how the colours differ and consider what might be done to make them match.

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To me, scale effect is what AndyRM101 alludes too. It also applies to gloss finishes as well. If you paint, say a 1/72 Hawk in the current black scheme with the same level of glossiness it would look toy like, not life like

Edited by andy wood
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A perfect demonstration of field size metameric failure as described in my comment # 3!

Absolutely, just a nice real world example where there's total familiarity with the subject.

I always adjust colours to match my own perception rather than to any strict formula,

Cheers,

Bill.

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