bluenose2

How do I paint cannon to look more realistic? (edited by admin)

I would paint them flat black, and then a very very very light treatment with dry brush aluminum or silver. Key word here "VERY".

If you want even more realism, a (again) very very very light dry brush treatment of brick red on the muzzle to simulate the stains left by the powder.

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Before the iron guns were painted black (in the 1850ies?) there were a lot of recipes for a "paint" that the guns were painted with. 

 

Never tried it out but apparently this coating gave a brownish color. (not like the one that Bluenoses´s guns came like)

 

XXXDAn

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It really depends on the period and the type of guns. There are three main materials for guns, namely bronze, cast iron and steel. I gather, we are talking here about either bronze or cast-iron guns. The surface treatment was intended to stop or reduce weathering and degradation of the guns exposed to the weather.

 

To my knowledge, bronze guns were not given a specific surface treatment. With time bronze develops a brownish patina that reduces further degradation. However, as bronze sculptures, one can also create articial patinas by rubbing the material with sulfur compounds or vinegar-based concoctions. This can change the colour from a deep green to a sort of metallic black.

 

Cast-iron rusts easily and needs to be protected. This was done by either (black) paint or by creating a passivating patina. In the latter case the guns were repeatedly rubbed down with vinegar. The resulting rust, mixed with iron-acetates, was solidified after drying the guns carefully by rubbing them with lineseed-oil. Effectively, this process created in situ  an iron-oxyhydroxide-based paint of a deep brown colour. Some navies also used black or (rarer) dark green oil-paint. One would need to establish this for a particular prototype and period.

 

We have become used to certain types of surface treatments on models and their guns. Very often, these may be aesthetically pleasing, but are certainly not 'realistic'. While a painted gun certainly would not have a metallic appearance (except for the muzzle), a surface treatment on the model that suggests 'metal' might enhance their appearance. In the case of black guns, I would spray-paint these in a semi-gloss and then rub ridges, rims etc. lightly with a very soft pencil; this then can spread and blended in using one's finger or cotton-sticks. Such a treatment gives a certain 'plasticity' to the gun. Not sure about a procedure for bronze guns, as I never had this issue.

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Rub'n'Buff ivory black, applied over a flat black, will look like cast iron.  I used it on the cast iron capstan of my Dunbrody, and was happy with the results.  It's thick and waxy out of the tube, and should be thinned using mineral spirits before applying.  While it's still wet I rub it with a clean soft cloth until I get the finish I want. 

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Tamiya flat black is very different from most flats in that it leaves a very soft (comparatively speaking) surface. But that's ok, we can use that - this is a technique I call dry rubbing, as opposed to dry brushing.

 

Anyway, once it's dry, take your Mk.1 Index Finger and start rubbing, you can rub it up near a high gloss. This is perfect for surfaces like cannons with the various reinforces and muzzle swell and cascabel, because all of those high points will get glossier and reflective while the recessed areas stay flat. Which is exactly how things work in real life.

 

Below is a 1:12 scratchbuilt Spandau I made (additional cocking mechanism goes where you see the white T), and used this technique and was extremely pleased with the results, edges and high points get specular reflections like they should, making all the detail very visible the correct way, rather than from the fake hammer of dry brushing.

 

3brbSJZ.jpg

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Make it totally clear, here's the top view of the same piece, in some ways you can see the effect better in this image.

 

ZpgGst8.jpg

 

 

And here's one of the Model Expo 3 inch Ordnance Rifles, except that I basically scratchbuilt the carriage since I didn't like theirs. Why they use horrible-surface white metal on a complex shape like a field gun carriage wheel is anyone's guess. Anyway, this was painted flat Tamiya black, left for a week or so to dry, then rubbed down to this appearance, again I'm please with it.

 

44GnTlc.jpg

 

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One more on the flat Tamiya "dry rubbing" technique in terms of the range of possible resulting surfaces - the cowling of the aircraft below was painted Tamiya flat black, and I rubbed it down with bare finger to this level of gloss - no additional processing, no clear gloss coat, just flat black rubbed down for about five minutes. 

 

And you can see cery clearly the seam of where the center flat section is riveted to the outer curved section, because it's still dead flat. This is a detail of Dr.I cowlings you don't often see in kits, I used a small scraper to create it in this case.

 

So - you don't need to buy semi-gloss or gloss Tamiya paints, you get a better finish this way. And it does what was my original intent, which is making details clearly visible in the same way they are in the real-life versions.

 

FBWzxD2.jpg

 

In case you're wondering, yes the Axial prop is seven layers of elm and walnut like the original and hand carved. The Axial logo decals I made in Photoshop and printed on clear decal film with my printer.

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Rudolf, just read the last paragraph ...

 

*************

 

People can get quite dogmatic in certain fields of modell-building and I know that e.g. in military modelling there is this 'matt overall'-fraternity. The logic is that at small scales glossy surfaces may look out of scale.

 

However, personally I prefer the visual interest that arises from the different material-specific sheens. It is true though that something that has been painted in glossy paint on the prototype may not look right, if painted in glossy paint on the model - sheens have to be toned down (sometimes).

 

Having said this, I indeed applied different polishing and rubbing techniques to painted surfaces in order to achieve the sheen that I felt was right. In addition to transferring skin-grease (sorry) by rubbing something with my bare fingers, I also used felt-wheels or chamois-mops to polish surfaces. A moistend finger with some ground pumice is also useful. Alternatively, you may use a cotton-stick ('Q-tips'), dry, humid, or humid with a bit of pumice.

 

Be cautious not to rub through the paint and it has to be really hardened before you do any of this.

 

As this polishing also equalises and thins the paint-layer details may come out clearer. Giving a higher sheen to raised parts, particularly those that would be touched often on the prototype, adds to the realism of the representation.

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Rudolf, just read the last paragraph ...

 

*************

 

People can get quite dogmatic in certain fields of modell-building and I know that e.g. in military modelling there is this 'matt overall'-fraternity. The logic is that at small scales glossy surfaces may look out of scale.

 

However, personally I prefer the visual interest that arises from the different material-specific sheens. It is true though that something that has been painted in glossy paint on the prototype may not look right, if painted in glossy paint on the model - sheens have to be toned down (sometimes).

 

...

 

Agree with all of this, just didn't want to make it sound too complicated ;-) I've used a series of leather pieces and cloths also in specific cases, but the fact is the Mk.I Index Finger seems to handle about 80% of the cases.

 

I do not know of another paint you can do this with besides Tamiya, all the other paints I've tested are rock hard both gloss and flat, only Tamiya has this oddly soft flat finish that can be easily manipulated to whatever gloss you want, and fairly easily. And you're right that it's never one solution fits all, you walk around an aircraft or ship and you see a thousand different textures, each with its own base sheen that has been modified over time by exposure to sun and wind and rain, a truly real finish would have everything from straight flat to straight gloss surfaces and everything in between, frequently on the same item.

 

Anyway, I recommend folks give the Tamiya flats a spin and see what you can do, I will be willing to bet that this technique finds a spot in your modeling deck.

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Hi all,

Albeit I'm yet to complete a project/quite new, I was a little surprised to read through the threads and see such a high volume of modellers advising about painting the cannons. I come from an armour and resin figure back ground an have certainly used and like both Tamiya and Vallejo paints. But if the cannons are metal (brass or other) I was of the belief or misconception as the case may be that a patina was more appropriate.

Cheers,

Medic :D

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Patina is/can be the sign of poor maintenance ... :( . I gather you refer to the kind of patina that develops naturally on the surface of certain metals. We know the brass cannon resting outside some museum or fortress and tend to think that is what they would have looked like in their active service life. Probably not.

 

Patina refers to a surface layer that prevents further degradation of the metal due to oxidation or sulfurous/sulfuric acid (vulgo: acid rain). It consists of oxides and/or sulfates. It develops naturally on certain metals, such as copper, brass, or bronze, but not on others, such as iron and steel.

 

Iron oxides and oxy-hydroxides (vulgo: rust) is porous and does not passivate the underlying iron/steel. Hence no natural patina develops on iron. One has to convert the 'rust' and bind it together, so that it forms an impermeable layer, preventing humidity from accessing fresh iron. This was done in the old days by rubbing iron barrels with vinegar. This provekes 'rust' but also produces some iron acetate compounds. These were bonded together and made water repellent by rubbing the dried barrel with line-see oil, thus creating a sort of in situ paint that adhered strongly to the iron. This is what is called 'browing' the iron. There are other, more recent chemical processes that are commonly referred to as 'blackening' and that is what they do. Again, the blackening needs to be made water-repellent by rubbing it with a non-drying oil (small arms) or a drying oil (cannon). Another method is to 'phosphatise' iron surface, which is essentially what modern automotive 'rust-converters' do. The technique is also used on hardware. The resulting iron-phosphates (Vivianite) have a very low solubility and form a hard continous surface cover. One can add colouring agents to the process.

 

Coppper-containing metals, such as brass and bronze can be passivated by producing some sort of complex copper-sulfates on their surface. While the copper-sulfate as such has a blueish-green colour, by adding heavy metal, selenium and others to the process, one can vary the colour from a deep black, to brownish-green, to a deep brown. This is what sculptors and producers of metal-ware have done for millenia and when we think of 'patina', we typically think of this. This kind of patina is not very resistant against handling and needs to be renewed from time to time or otherwise the bare metal comes through.

 

A well-maintained gun/cannon would have an even 'patina' over all the areas that are meant to be protected by it. Lack of maintenance for what good or bad reason makes itself visible by the bare metal coming through, or in the worst case by localised corrosion.

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Ok so to model a well kept cannon in good working order I should paint as suggested above. What about the smaller things such as chain link and metal strappings?

Cheers,

Medic :D

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Dito, the crew were kept busy keeping things 'ship-shape and Bristol-fashion' ... of course they would have to be painted according to the materials that were used on the prototype.

 

BTW, I am strong believer in the statement that nothing looks more like metal - than real metal ... where bare or 'patinated' metal was used, it may be a good idea to use the same metal, if possible (keeping in mind that iron and lead are being frowned upon by museum conservators).

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Dito, the crew were kept busy keeping things 'ship-shape and Bristol-fashion' ... of course they would have to be painted according to the materials that were used on the prototype.

 

BTW, I am strong believer in the statement that nothing looks more like metal - than real metal ... where bare or 'patinated' metal was used, it may be a good idea to use the same metal, if possible (keeping in mind that iron and lead are being frowned upon by museum conservators).

 

How about this? It's balsa wood glider I made  :)

 

py0mVUW.jpg

 

 

Setting being a smartass aside for the moment :), you're correct in most cases. But if you haven't seen what can be done with metal powders these days, you may need to reassess that idea.

 

Mercedes D.IIIa WWI aircraft engine:

 

Y8r2skO.jpg

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To be somewhat technical, borrowing from my 3d modeling/animation experience, the categorization of how things reflect light starts with non-dialectric vs. dialectric materials, basically conductive vs. insulator. All metals reflect light one way, everything that isn't conductive has a different refelective appearance, specifically conductors have specular reflections in the color of the conductor, while dialectric materials reflect the colors of the light that strikes them.

 

Simple explanation of conductive vs. dialectric reflectance 

 

More detailed explanation (click on Dialectric and Metal Materials in the list on the left)

 

So if you are going to simulate a metal finish properly and have it look correct, the material you're using to simulate that surface also needs to be conductive. That's why these really good powder finishes look so accurate- they're made of metal powders. No plain non-conductive paint will ever really look like metal.

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I have not been aware that the dialectric properties have something to do with the reflectance, will have to read up about this, but I gather this has also something to do that metals do not polarise the reflected light, while other surfaces do ... without going into the deeper physics of this, one important point is where on, or rather in, a surface the incoming light is reflected. Many real life 'surfaces' are actually three dimensional structures, albeit thin. Somewhere in this structure the light is reflected and may be bouncing around before leaving again. So, on a microscopic level, not the whole surface may be reflecting, while for metals it is essentially the whole (at least above the atomic level).

 

Yes, I have been aware of the advances in media/paints to represent metal surfaces. The main point there, if you want ot represent a bare, polished surface, is to make the reflecting metal particles small and with the help fo the paint formulation to coerce them to lie down flat, so that they will form a continuous layer of more or less parallel oriented particles.

 

For rough metal surfaces, such as the cleaned-up casting for the engine in the picture, this is obviously simpler. The varying angles of the metal particles in the paint mimic the sand-casting surface. I have achieved something similar by rubbing a soft pencil over a black or silver undercoat.

 

And yes, it is quite amazing what seems to be possible today with products such as the Alclad metal paints, though I have not used them myself yet.

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I have not been aware that the dialectric properties have something to do with the reflectance, will have to read up about this, but I gather this has also something to do that metals do not polarise the reflected light, while other surfaces do ... without going into the deeper physics of this, one important point is where on, or rather in, a surface the incoming light is reflected. Many real life 'surfaces' are actually three dimensional structures, albeit thin. Somewhere in this structure the light is reflected and may be bouncing around before leaving again. So, on a microscopic level, not the whole surface may be reflecting, while for metals it is essentially the whole (at least above the atomic level).

 

The buzz in the 3d world over the last several years has been about the development of PBR (Physically-Based Rendering) and metal/roughness shaders, because artists finally have access to rendering models that closely match reality. Metal vs. non-metal controls the reflectance model, and roughness takes the place of many unrealistic settings in previous rendering systems for "glosiness" and "specularity" etc. So much simpler and more realistic.

 

If you want to see this really in action, check out Substance Painter 2, which is a super-spiffy texture creation and editing application that allows you to paint in real time on the 3d model. I've used it quite a bit on a battletech game I was working on:

 

L0We73bl.jpg

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