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Painting a ships hull with a copper and green look paint


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Just been reading up on gluing copper tiles/ copper tape to ships hull and the fact that these are generally way over scale ( at least the tacks are) so my questions are has the above been attempted in anyway and if so, what sort of success is achieved and what is the process for achieving something that would look realistic and also to scale? I know this subject has been brought up in the past but anything updated recently with new products coming out all the time. Best regards Dave

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It's true that if you look at real copper sheathing on extant sailing ships, such as the Chas W Morgan at Mystic, the nailing is barely perceptible, if at all. I've seen good-looking coppered hulls done with copper tape, either cut into individual plates or simply scored, and with the copper simulated by using metallic copper spray paint (I think some BlueJacket display models have been made in that fashion). In my mind, you are justified in using whatever method looks good to you.

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It all depends on the scale. At eighth inch scale, copper plate thickness isn't going to be visible. At a quarter inch to the foot scale, perhaps plate thickness would be barely visible. The modeler should calculate the scale viewing distance and model accordingly. 

 

If a realistic scale effect requires actual lapped plates, cutting plates from paper of suitably scaled thickness and gluing these to the hull (shellac is a good adhesive for this purpose) will provide the desired effect. If individual lapped plates are not required, then the modeler can proceed directly to painting the hull. Realistic coppered bottom weathering effects are best achieved with an airbrush using standard artistic techniques. Refer to online photographs to observe the actual appearance to be replicated.

 

Ship model kit manufacturers frequently include "real copper hull plating" for what can only be a sales gimmick suggesting their kit is "high quality." Unsophisticated purchasers expect this, apparently in the mistaken belief that a high quality model should be constructed of the same materials as the prototype vessel. Individual copper sheet or foil plates would only be useful in very large scale models and the use of real metal sheet or foil is not preferable due to the limitations of adhesives. Most all of the kit-supplied coppering material is over-scale as to thickness, if not as well as to surface dimension. Fasteners will not be visible at model scale viewing distances. (In fact, the mark of a proper coppering job was that the nails were as flush with the surface as possible (accomplished by a proper "coppering hammer" with its dimpled head.) A smooth bottom is a fast bottom. A bottom studded with nail heads the scale size of a man's fist is not.

 

 

 

File:US Navy 100218-N-2319A-029 USS Constitution is towed from her mooring at Boston National ...

 

Haze Gray & Underway Photo Feature: USS Constitution Restoration

 

Keel Hauled - USS Constitution Museum

 

Photos before and after re-coppering. Note that copper in saltwater environment will quickly turn verdigris green when exposed to air as seen here with USS Constitution in dock as it's pumped out. The second picture shows her newly coppered bottom right before launch. Here the new copper, exposed to the elements, but not saltwater while in the dock, shows the classic "used penny brown" color of naturally oxidized copper. The modeler will have to decide in which condition they wish to depict the vessel's bottom: freshly coppered (which isn't to say "new penny copper" colored,) as a just-hauled fouled bottom, or as a hauled and cleaned bottom exposed to the air (verdigris green, which many prefer.)

 

Note that Constitution has about a five-foot wide band of reddish bottom paint applied over her coppered bottom just above her light load waterline. Modernly, most coppered bottoms have antifouling paint applied over the copper in this fashion. While the copper provides a mechanical barrier to marine boring organisms, it does not prevent fouling with seaweed. The bottom paint prevents this growth in the "sunlight zone" below the surface of the water. Further antifouling applied below where there is sufficient sunlight to sustain seaweed growth is omitted as redundant. Note that this is a period issue. Bottom paint came into common usage around 1850 and copper plating correspondingly decreased thereafter.

 

 

Edited by Bob Cleek
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For a future project, I have been thinking simulating copper sheathing with painted, very thin paper.   I believe that this offers several advantages, namely:

 

It would avoid the need to use either pressure sensitive tape or contact cement.  I am concerned that pressure sensitive tape will “let go” later in the model’s life and contact cement can be incompatible with modeling material. The old fashioned contact stuff that actually works gives off explosive fumes.

 

Paper can be glued on with ordinary PVA glue.

 

Applying paper does not leave a trail of fingerprints and surplus glue that are difficult to remove.  Surplus PVA can be easily cleaned up with alcohol.

 

Very sophisticated color patterns, shading, etc. not possible with real copper can be applied with paint.

 

Roger

 

 

 

 

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4 hours ago, Roger Pellett said:

Very sophisticated color patterns, shading, etc. not possible with real copper can be applied with paint.

 

For something that is potentially the best of both worlds

 

This system seems to offer the ability to turn paper (something archival) into actual copper

and a chemically reactive material to allow customized areas of verdigris.

 

Reactive Metallic Paints Metal Effects Reactive Metallic Paints are water base and contain real metal particles. These paints will tarnish naturally over time and when exposed to the elements. Metal Effects Patina Aging Solutions & Activators will speed up the oxidation process to create beautiful, authentic Patina, Baroque and Rusted Iron finishes on any paintable surface. Reactive Metallic Paints can be applied using a brush, roller or spray equipment and is suitable for interior/exterior surfaces.

 

Modern Masters AM203-04 Metal Effects Primer , 4-Ounce , White $9.50 ($2.38/Fl Oz)
Modern Masters ME149-06 Reactive Metallic Copper, 6-Ounce $19.99 ($3.33/Fl Oz)
Modern Masters PA901-04 Aging Solution Green Patina, 4-Ounce $9.99 ($2.50/Fl Oz)
 Modern Masters PA902-04 Aging Solution Blue Patina, 4-Ounce $9.99 ($2.50/Fl Oz)

(Amazon)

 

An additional advantage is that by using paper, not only will the plates not pop off after a few years, it will be almost impossible to make the bottom look like it has contracted a severe case of Small Pox.

Edited by Jaager
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Ok thank you guys for some great answers.For the record the model I am working on is 1:64, so way smaller than 1:12 so I should not really see any nails or possibly any overlap either. Although I am not sure if overlap is date related but at neither 1761 or a scale of 1:64 would I see any overlap of plates.

               As a beginner I have neither experience of using the copper plates, foil or have used an air brush. I have made a pretty good job of hull planking on my previous 3 models( If I can even suggest such a thing)  so wonder why I would want to cover them with copper tiles but fear the results of other methods. The use of paints with actual metal parts interests me and that can be applied by a brush, although I haven't ruled out requiring an air brush, but no doubt lots of practice would be required  using either. Also hopefully as lots of instruction would be needed with either air or paint brush so hopefully it is out there.One question I would ask if I may are all of these above methods re versable ie can it be removed at start again.

          Thank you again for your time and patience, best regards Dave

 

 

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12 minutes ago, DaveBaxt said:

One question I would ask if I may are all of these above methods re versable ie can it be removed at start again.

If you go with paper and paint:

depending on how you choose to do it, the plates can be painted as individuals or several sheets used and different shades of copper used - a tint added differently to each of multiple batches - a mild checkerboard.

The blue or green should probably be used on the hull after the plates cover it.

 

If you follow @Bob Cleek's suggestion of shellac as an adhesive - ethyl alcohol is a easy reverse gear and no residue -  probably the way to go.

If you use PVA because you are OCD (like a lot of us)  isopropyl alcohol is the reverse-  but if the planking is bonded using PVA ( as it probably should be - CA is really ugly and a PITA as well )  the iso application done carefully.

 

Air brush - theory only here -  if used -  no brush marks 

There are two flavors of brush units

single action - one button - on-off - air pressure controlled up stream  -straight forward action - probably does as much as we need - less expensive - probably easier to clean - 

double action -  button effects the sort of spray - complicated - more practice necessary - the quality and thereby the expense is probably much more critical - if want to also take up detailing vans or other artwork, this may be what you want.

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Thank you Jaager for the upside on air brush. What sort of paper is used and I am assuming you pant the paper then cut into tiles anddo the overlap, or is there a different way to go. Paint the hull then add tissue paper over the top? Just a few questions that flood into my head. Any links to procedures would be appreciated.  

 

 Fortunately as this is for my next ship I have a lot of time to research and practice different methods.

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14 minutes ago, DaveBaxt said:

What sort of paper is used and I am assuming you pant the paper then cut into tiles anddo the overlap

Painting the whole sheet of paper and then using a guillotine type cutter looks to be as mistake proof and quick and dirty as it gets.  A knife and steel straight edge is less expensive, but introduces more chances of Parkinson's type twitches during a cut.

 

Paper - thin but not flimsy is my thinking - acid free -

I do not see any utility in putting paper over paint.  I have read of modelers who directly painted a hull doing plate sized patches -  which sounds like as much fun as hammering a nail thru my foot.

 

As for this whole thin painted paper process-  It is my thinking Old Son, that you would be pretty much cutting the trail on this whole thing.   Others have probably done it, but for this site you would likely be the first.

What we theoreticians are proposing is something that sounds likely to work and that solves the problems that the presently used methods struggle with.

A chance for fame - as it were.

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That's a very interesting discussion, I never coppered a hull, but plan to do so, when grown up, wooden ship model wise. As I have a sweet spot for weathered subjects, that might turn out with a lot of patina applied.

Some years ago, I built a plastic model of the Submarine Nautilus, mainly because I wanted to install lighting for te first time and also because I wanted to achieve a hopefully realistic weathering/ patina job on my airbrushed non ferrous surfaces, namely bronze for the hull and copper for the rudder.
The areas were post shaded for a bit more volume effect with different shades of the base color and the patina was applied with pigments mostly from the MIG-range. I used different blue and green hues, dabbed them in with a flat brush, let them settle around rivets and other details and then streaking everything in the direction of the waterflow. I used a more bluish finish for the copper, where the bronze was finished green.


After I finished the model, I bought some AK weathering pencils and I think, they are very good to apply patina too. you can use them dry, like normal pencils, but you also can moisten the tip, apply the color and use a brush or cotton swab afterwards to achieve the desired effect of blending more easily.

 

Here are some pics from Nautilus (Please mind, it's 1/144 scale):

 

P1150551.JPG.22376069cc72c2690e9680d663dfb1a6.JPG

 

P1150544.JPG.3946e430620d543f28c0a0bc27855d64.JPG

 

P1150538.JPG.2e3a0aa08d547abbe7027d2f08a666f4.JPG

 

P1150543.JPG.81730cdfdda7039971cdc1cec5fb5900.JPG

 

Cheers Rob

 

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, DaveBaxt said:

The use of paints with actual metal parts interests me and that can be applied by a brush, although I haven't ruled out requiring an air brush, but no doubt lots of practice would be required using either. Also hopefully as lots of instruction would be needed with either air or paint brush so hopefully it is out there. One question I would ask if I may are all of these above methods re versable ie can it be removed at start again.

Copper (and other metal) powder is readily available online and in fine arts stores. Copper Powder, 30 g | Home Science Tools This is real copper that is ground to a very fine dust. It can be applied with a dry brush over a partially-dried (tacky) shellac or varnish coat and, upon final drying of the sizing, can be lightly burnished with a cotton ball and will appear as solid copper. (Brass powder can be used for depicting gold leafed details and polished brass on ship models.) That said, coppered ship bottoms don't ever look shiny, except for a very brief time when the copper is first applied and, on a large ship, the time it would take to copper her bottom would probably have the first sheets oxidized before the last shiny ones were hung. I really don't know where the idea of shiny copper bottoms on ship models came from or why. (There are many pictures online of Cutty Sark's recently restored sheathed bottom and it is "shiny," but she is not "coppered," but rather sheathed in Muntz metal, which is a type of brass invented in 1832 and not found on earlier vessels.)

 

As a practical matter, at 1:64 scale, your hull shouldn't require showing individually lapped sheathing at all. Always consider the "scale viewing distance." Better to omit a detail entirely than to add a detail that is over scale. (Don't ask me how I learned this. :DYou'd probably be better off finishing the bottom smooth and painting it with a base coat of "used penny brown" and then using an airbrush to add a bit of verdigris "green" at the waterline and a few patches of "dark green grunge" here and there. Do the math and you'll see how small scale plates are at 1:64, then figure out how many you're going to have to apply to cover the bottom! Look at the pictures of coppered bottoms above. There's no place for shiny copper on a ship's bottom. Even if the plates are shiny from the mill, in the time it would take to hang them, they'd be well on their way to acquiring an oxidized surface. 

 

If you aren't familiar with "scale viewing distance," consider the U.S. Navy's"mil spec" contract standard for Navy ship models: "Generally, all items on the prototype twelve inches or larger for 1:96 scale (six inches or larger for 1:48 scale) will be reproduced." [Nautical Research Guild - Article - Specifications for Construction of Exhibition Models of U.S. Naval Vessels (thenrg.org)Your 1:64 scale is roughly in the middle between 1:96 and 1:48, so, on your model, a good rule of thumb would be that any detail nine inches or larger should be reproduced and any detail smaller than nine inches may be omitted. Obviously, at 1:64 scale, the edge of a 1/16" thick copper plate isn't going to be possible to reproduce, or to see if you could reproduce it.

 

Myself, I wouldn't go crazy trying to lay a "checkerboard" patchwork of differently colored copper plates on a bottom. I suppose there are times when a vessel is hauled and a few random sheets were replaced during repairs and they'd "stand out" color-wise, but I've seen my share of coppered bottoms freshly hauled out in the boatyards and, truth be told, they all have a uniform color appearance after they've been in the water a while. It takes a bit of time for them to develop that "copper green" look after the air gets to the copper.

 

As Jaager noted, shellac is reversible with alcohol, but that doesn't mean it's not a messy job to be avoided. As with all finishing on a model, it is essential to do experimental examples of any coating before going forward on the model itself unless you are absolutely familiar with the technique, compatibility of materials, and environmental conditions. This is the best way to avoid ever having to refinish a hull! Take pieces of scrap planking stock (glue them up side by side even) and try various approaches until you get one that satisfies you. Your finished hull isn't the place to experiment.

 

An airbrush is one tool investment that will kick your modeling abilities up a bunch of notches. It is an investment and there is a learning curve, but if you search for airbrush information on this forum, Kurt can give you all the information you'd ever need about purchasing an airbrushing set up and it doesn't have to put you in the poor house. Learning to use one really boils down to reading the manual and watching YouTube videos. You can use water sprayed on a piece of paper or cardboard to practice getting the hang of controlling the spray, then, when you feel confident, you can graduate to some watercolor and eventually to paint. The airbrush is a very versatile instrument, but for modeling purposes, we generally only avail ourselves of the basics. Think of it as a refillable spray can that will pay for itself in what you'd spend on "rattle cans" with clogged nozzles and wasted paint. The other advantage of an airbrush is that it is a lot easier to obtain a perfect finish than using a brush because learning to use a brush well is apparently more difficult for most. A fine brushed finish will require multiple thin coats, each applied to perfection and very lightly sanded between coats as needed. You have to wait for each coat to dry. An air brush will let you build up fast-drying thin coats in far less time.

 

 

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2 hours ago, Bob Cleek said:

Copper (and other metal) powder is readily available online and in fine arts stores. Copper Powder, 30 g | Home Science Tools This is real copper that is ground to a very fine dust. It can be applied with a dry brush over a partially-dried (tacky) shellac or varnish coat and, upon final drying of the sizing, can be lightly burnished with a cotton ball and will appear as solid copper. (Brass powder can be used for depicting gold leafed details and polished brass on ship models.) That said, coppered ship bottoms don't ever look shiny, except for a very brief time when the copper is first applied and, on a large ship, the time it would take to copper her bottom would probably have the first sheets oxidized before the last shiny ones were hung. I really don't know where the idea of shiny copper bottoms on ship models came from or why. (There are many pictures online of Cutty Sark's recently restored sheathed bottom and it is "shiny," but she is not "coppered," but rather sheathed in Muntz metal, which is a type of brass invented in 1832 and not found on earlier vessels.)

 

As a practical matter, at 1:64 scale, your hull shouldn't require showing individually lapped sheathing at all. Always consider the "scale viewing distance." Better to omit a detail entirely than to add a detail that is over scale. (Don't ask me how I learned this. :DYou'd probably be better off finishing the bottom smooth and painting it with a base coat of "used penny brown" and then using an airbrush to add a bit of verdigris "green" at the waterline and a few patches of "dark green grunge" here and there. Do the math and you'll see how small scale plates are at 1:64, then figure out how many you're going to have to apply to cover the bottom! Look at the pictures of coppered bottoms above. There's no place for shiny copper on a ship's bottom. Even if the plates are shiny from the mill, in the time it would take to hang them, they'd be well on their way to acquiring an oxidized surface. 

 

If you aren't familiar with "scale viewing distance," consider the U.S. Navy's"mil spec" contract standard for Navy ship models: "Generally, all items on the prototype twelve inches or larger for 1:96 scale (six inches or larger for 1:48 scale) will be reproduced." [Nautical Research Guild - Article - Specifications for Construction of Exhibition Models of U.S. Naval Vessels (thenrg.org)Your 1:64 scale is roughly in the middle between 1:96 and 1:48, so, on your model, a good rule of thumb would be that any detail nine inches or larger should be reproduced and any detail smaller than nine inches may be omitted. Obviously, at 1:64 scale, the edge of a 1/16" thick copper plate isn't going to be possible to reproduce, or to see if you could reproduce it.

 

Myself, I wouldn't go crazy trying to lay a "checkerboard" patchwork of differently colored copper plates on a bottom. I suppose there are times when a vessel is hauled and a few random sheets were replaced during repairs and they'd "stand out" color-wise, but I've seen my share of coppered bottoms freshly hauled out in the boatyards and, truth be told, they all have a uniform color appearance after they've been in the water a while. It takes a bit of time for them to develop that "copper green" look after the air gets to the copper.

 

As Jaager noted, shellac is reversible with alcohol, but that doesn't mean it's not a messy job to be avoided. As with all finishing on a model, it is essential to do experimental examples of any coating before going forward on the model itself unless you are absolutely familiar with the technique, compatibility of materials, and environmental conditions. This is the best way to avoid ever having to refinish a hull! Take pieces of scrap planking stock (glue them up side by side even) and try various approaches until you get one that satisfies you. Your finished hull isn't the place to experiment.

 

An airbrush is one tool investment that will kick your modeling abilities up a bunch of notches. It is an investment and there is a learning curve, but if you search for airbrush information on this forum, Kurt can give you all the information you'd ever need about purchasing an airbrushing set up and it doesn't have to put you in the poor house. Learning to use one really boils down to reading the manual and watching YouTube videos. You can use water sprayed on a piece of paper or cardboard to practice getting the hang of controlling the spray, then, when you feel confident, you can graduate to some watercolor and eventually to paint. The airbrush is a very versatile instrument, but for modeling purposes, we generally only avail ourselves of the basics. Think of it as a refillable spray can that will pay for itself in what you'd spend on "rattle cans" with clogged nozzles and wasted paint. The other advantage of an airbrush is that it is a lot easier to obtain a perfect finish than using a brush because learning to use a brush well is apparently more difficult for most. A fine brushed finish will require multiple thin coats, each applied to perfection and very lightly sanded between coats as needed. You have to wait for each coat to dry. An air brush will let you build up fast-drying thin coats in far less time.

 

 

Thank you Bob for setting me up with something to help me on my way with consideration of viewing distance  and also with investing in an air brrush of some discription and learning how to use one away from the model itself. I have been toying with buying one for a while and you have convinced me that it will be an upgrade on my not so great skills with a brush.

          You have also given me a lot to think about and hopefully I can process this in time. Your patience Thank you again Bob for both your help and patience. Best regards Dave

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I recently plated a Great Lakes Steamship Model with Paper.  In this case the paper simulated steel shell plating, not copper sheathing.  The principles would be the same for either.  The actual shell plating of the vessel that I am modeling would have been 1/2 in thick;  at a scale of 1:96 this equates to about .005 in.   

 

Observations, lessons, etc:

 

I used an archival quality paper.  Actual thickness was closer to .010in; twice scale.  I didn’t want later coats of paint to hide plating laps.  The eye is not particularly good at judging the difference in thickness.

 

I first saturated a full sheet of paper with shellac.  I then cut individuals plates with a guillotine paper cutter.  BTW:  I find this to be a handy workshop tool that I use all the time.  I found that paper without shellac was easily damaged.

 

I glued each plate in place with regular PVA woodworking glue.  I spread the glue with a palette knife and held each plate in place until the glue grabbed.  In cases where the edges curled up, rubbing the paper edges with my fingernail was sufficient.  Clamps, pins, etc were not necessary.

 

Almost all plates were a “developed shape”;  they easily fit the curvature of the hull in two dimensions.  The few that had a 3-D shape were formed by draping a wet piece of untreated paper over the area in question, allowing it to dry, and then cutting it to its finished shape;  an advantage of wet paper, it can be shaped in three dimensions.

 

The plated hull could be lightly sanded to clean it up.  

 

Paper Copper Plating could be painted in two stages.  A full sheet could be painted with a base coat; copper paint, metallic dust, etc.   After the plates have been attached to the hull, it could be shaded, highlighted, etc.  

 

 Roger

 

 

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Copper powder is a component of modern day bottom paint. It is mixed into the binder before the paint is applied.

The power is a fine as face power, and I still have tools that are stained by it, doesn't wipe off. A common component of

Interlux bottom paints, don't know if it's sold separately. You might have to haunt the boat yards this spring looking for a possible sample.

Bridgman Bob

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6 hours ago, thibaultron said:

Having looked at the Constitution photos above, it seems to me that the seams are invisible, when first coppered, and only really show once the weathering gets advanced and the seam lines pop out, like on a weathered aircraft..

In those photos above, what makes "the seam lines pop out" is actually the moisture in the drying wooden hull that is making its way out from beneath the copper sheathing. It has no way out except between the copper sheeting seams. For that reason, a recently hauled wooden hull will show her seams because the seams remain wet longer than the plank or sheathing faces do. Once the hull dries out more, the seams aren't wet anymore, and so don't appear darker than the surrounding material.

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2 hours ago, bridgman said:

Copper powder is a component of modern day bottom paint. It is mixed into the binder before the paint is applied.

The power is a fine as face power, and I still have tools that are stained by it, doesn't wipe off. A common component of

Interlux bottom paints, don't know if it's sold separately. You might have to haunt the boat yards this spring looking for a possible sample.

Bridgman Bob

Metal powder, including copper, is sold in artists' supply stores in small bottles. Copper powder for mixing antifouling paint is sold in larger quantities from chemical supply houses. It's a component of certain fireworks, as well. Copper Powder for Sale | Metal Powders USA "Copper" bottom paint is about as much as you can buy these days. Until the late 1970's, antifouling paint contained tributyl tin oxide (TBTO) which was a marvelously effective biocide. Unfortunately, perhaps, some international organization agreed to outlaw its use everywhere in the world, or so it seems. TBTO is only available now to licensed purchasers for a few scientific applications. It was determined to be harmful to the environment because it killed marine organisms. Now we have bottom paint that is barely effective for a year (six months is more like it) before it must be recoated. TBTO would provide effective antifouling for sometimes as long as five years.

 

 

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Dave:

 

All the advice given by those experienced expert modelers above is really good stuff. 


At the risk of ruffling modeling sensitivities, I offer an alternative that is satisfactory to me, while admitting that I readily trespass on scaling and coloring guidelines, to get the effect I like.  Perhaps only the product information might be useful. 
 

I used a foil tape product generally used for sealing the seams of foil-backed insulation ( clearly much thicker than scale). I painted several strips of this stuff with a “ hammered copper” spray paint, then gave a dust coating of flat brown, of varying density. I cut the tape to the copper cladding sheet size I wanted ( probably larger than scale) then selected individual tiles at random and applied to the hull. Finally, I dappled on with a nearly dry brush some green patina, Testors “ sublime green”.  Here are the products used:

39964C6B-44C9-4A1F-A463-B3C48C11558B.thumb.jpeg.daa29371b2d3fb99d24d0c63e071eab8.jpegF0D15429-6588-4568-A09C-31E7E30FB0C0.thumb.jpeg.966ebe470b7583b2f0208d7a1def70bd.jpeg22B6D0E4-E290-4B59-8311-D693350875E5.thumb.jpeg.672a135ab4904079aacf832b83424ce6.jpeg
Bottom pic is of the painted tape, without the flat brown dusting. Top pic includes several of the cut cladding tiles. 
Here is the clad hull, prior to green weathering. 
DB06D2AE-D6B1-4259-982A-5EBE2884A329.thumb.jpeg.e6d34d83ec999825259f599959a6972b.jpeg

Here it is with green added. 
A4C5CDC9-5ACD-457A-A623-5D33E59304CA.thumb.jpeg.7258913086474105674861b0ec5ba8cb.jpeg

Of course, nobody will ever see the hull from this angle, so here’s an idea of how it looks from the side. 
D4FB86F1-9D1E-47E6-8283-90A60A494680.thumb.jpeg.fae25d8dd789e11d99698849cb93974c.jpeg

I try to represent my models as working ships, weathered, abused and beaten, especially if it is a whaler ( as this one is), rather than pristine, perfect museum exhibits. I have been at working waterfronts, and at ports where recreations and replicas are displayed, and there is clearly a difference in the respective appearances. 
 

You have to model what you like ( unless you are getting paid for it) 

 

Like I said, just another alternative. 

 

 

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On 1/12/2023 at 10:14 AM, Bob Cleek said:

Copper (and other metal) powder is readily available online and in fine arts stores. Copper Powder, 30 g | Home Science Tools This is real copper that is ground to a very fine dust. It can be applied with a dry brush over a partially-dried (tacky) shellac or varnish coat and, upon final drying of the sizing, can be lightly burnished with a cotton ball and will appear as solid copper. (Brass powder can be used for depicting gold leafed details and polished brass on ship models.) That said, coppered ship bottoms don't ever look shiny, except for a very brief time when the copper is first applied and, on a large ship, the time it would take to copper her bottom would probably have the first sheets oxidized before the last shiny ones were hung. I really don't know where the idea of shiny copper bottoms on ship models came from or why. (There are many pictures online of Cutty Sark's recently restored sheathed bottom and it is "shiny," but she is not "coppered," but rather sheathed in Muntz metal, which is a type of brass invented in 1832 and not found on earlier vessels.)

 

As a practical matter, at 1:64 scale, your hull shouldn't require showing individually lapped sheathing at all. Always consider the "scale viewing distance." Better to omit a detail entirely than to add a detail that is over scale. (Don't ask me how I learned this. :DYou'd probably be better off finishing the bottom smooth and painting it with a base coat of "used penny brown" and then using an airbrush to add a bit of verdigris "green" at the waterline and a few patches of "dark green grunge" here and there. Do the math and you'll see how small scale plates are at 1:64, then figure out how many you're going to have to apply to cover the bottom! Look at the pictures of coppered bottoms above. There's no place for shiny copper on a ship's bottom. Even if the plates are shiny from the mill, in the time it would take to hang them, they'd be well on their way to acquiring an oxidized surface. 

 

If you aren't familiar with "scale viewing distance," consider the U.S. Navy's"mil spec" contract standard for Navy ship models: "Generally, all items on the prototype twelve inches or larger for 1:96 scale (six inches or larger for 1:48 scale) will be reproduced." [Nautical Research Guild - Article - Specifications for Construction of Exhibition Models of U.S. Naval Vessels (thenrg.org)Your 1:64 scale is roughly in the middle between 1:96 and 1:48, so, on your model, a good rule of thumb would be that any detail nine inches or larger should be reproduced and any detail smaller than nine inches may be omitted. Obviously, at 1:64 scale, the edge of a 1/16" thick copper plate isn't going to be possible to reproduce, or to see if you could reproduce it.

 

Myself, I wouldn't go crazy trying to lay a "checkerboard" patchwork of differently colored copper plates on a bottom. I suppose there are times when a vessel is hauled and a few random sheets were replaced during repairs and they'd "stand out" color-wise, but I've seen my share of coppered bottoms freshly hauled out in the boatyards and, truth be told, they all have a uniform color appearance after they've been in the water a while. It takes a bit of time for them to develop that "copper green" look after the air gets to the copper.

 

As Jaager noted, shellac is reversible with alcohol, but that doesn't mean it's not a messy job to be avoided. As with all finishing on a model, it is essential to do experimental examples of any coating before going forward on the model itself unless you are absolutely familiar with the technique, compatibility of materials, and environmental conditions. This is the best way to avoid ever having to refinish a hull! Take pieces of scrap planking stock (glue them up side by side even) and try various approaches until you get one that satisfies you. Your finished hull isn't the place to experiment.

 

An airbrush is one tool investment that will kick your modeling abilities up a bunch of notches. It is an investment and there is a learning curve, but if you search for airbrush information on this forum, Kurt can give you all the information you'd ever need about purchasing an airbrushing set up and it doesn't have to put you in the poor house. Learning to use one really boils down to reading the manual and watching YouTube videos. You can use water sprayed on a piece of paper or cardboard to practice getting the hang of controlling the spray, then, when you feel confident, you can graduate to some watercolor and eventually to paint. The airbrush is a very versatile instrument, but for modeling purposes, we generally only avail ourselves of the basics. Think of it as a refillable spray can that will pay for itself in what you'd spend on "rattle cans" with clogged nozzles and wasted paint. The other advantage of an airbrush is that it is a lot easier to obtain a perfect finish than using a brush because learning to use a brush well is apparently more difficult for most. A fine brushed finish will require multiple thin coats, each applied to perfection and very lightly sanded between coats as needed. You have to wait for each coat to dry. An air brush will let you build up fast-drying thin coats in far less time.

 

 

As I am now the proud owner of the required equipment of an airbrush and compressor ,Bob you mentioned the colours of both 'Penny brown and verginas green for colours which would look similar to weathered copper plates. I am now hoping I can get these colours in a ready to go Acrylic paint,which does not require thinning. Ate there any preferences of makes of paint. The larger bottles would be better as I will need ther practice , that is once I am happy using water. 

           Also what primers are suitable for using on an airbrush for wood or are we still better using shellac but with a brush to seal the would and then lightly sand down to make a smooth surface. I am also wondering if a smooth surface is not required and perhaps some streaks using a fan type brush would make things look realistic.

           Sorry for all the questions , thank you again for your time and patience. Best regards Dave

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First off, there is probably no "ready to go" paint, acrylic or otherwise, that is made for airbrushing that doesn't require some sort of conditioning. If there is, you can bet it will require some conditioning the second time you open the bottle to use it. There is a bit of a learning curve to painting and it's best to learn from someone who knows what they are doing and can show you. Writing out instructions takes a long time and I've done it several times over the years and have no taste for doing it again. Suffice it to say your paint for airbrushing must be around the consistency of skim milk or just slightly thicker than water. To get the right consistency, you will have to experiment with your particular airbrush. They are not all exactly alike. Some will atomize quite thick material and others are partial to much thinner material. Follow the instructions with your airbrush to set it up for the material you are using. You should use the manufacturer's recommended thinner and other conditioners, at least until you get the hang of it. Acrylic coatings are best thinned with alcohol, which mixes with the acrylic's water base, but evaporates quickly to permit the best application behavior for spray painting. Alkyd paints should be thinned with mineral spirits or acetone, which, like alcohol in the case of acrylics, dries quickly when applied with an airbrush. Lacquers, should you use these, require lacquer thinner. You should practice with your airbrush until you become comfortable with it. You can use water in it and spray it on cardboard material to practice using the airbrush. Once you have the control mastered, you can use the coating you intend to use applied to a piece of cardboard to make sure you've got the actual material application down pat. Always do a test before any application to the model itself. It's a lot easier to throw a piece of cardboard or paper in the wastebasket than it is to remove sprayed paint from the workpiece.

 

As for colors, I mix my own. I use artist's oils mainly, but acrylics on occasion as well. I buy the paint which is sold in "toothpaste tubes" in art stores.  Mixing your own paint is a simple skill that will save you a lot of money over time.  You can purchase any color you want ready mixed or primary colors you can use to mix your own colors. You can purchase modeler's paints in any color under the sun, as well. They sell them in "brushing" consistency and in "airbrushing" consistency. I see no reason to buy the paint thinned for airbrushing because you are paying the same price as thicker paint with more pigment and getting only paint thinned for airbrushing. Paint is a lot more expensive than thinner. You can go to the painting and airbrushing section of the forum and read the reviews and comments on the various brands of premixed paint. As for colors for copper sheathed hulls, use your eye. I doubt that anybody sells "oxidized penny copper" as a color. I use a medium-dark brown with a fair bit of red in it as a base color for copper sheathing or bottom paint. You'll find many shadings of this color in the "boxcar colors" section of the modeling paint companies' model railroading selections. Verdigris is verdigris color. It's often sold as "copper green" or "verdigris. It's a fairly common color, so pick it off the color chart or rack in your  hobby shop. All I can say about colors is what I've said before: search the web for photographs and replicate the appearance of the real thing, always keeping scale in mind.  Refer to the pictures I posted in post #3 above. The "green" bottom is the vessel hauled and exposed to the air, hence the green oxidation, and the "brown bottom" is the vessel with new copper just applied and about to be launched. 

 

You can use whatever sealer and primer you wish on your wood, providing that your later coats will stick to it. Anything and everything sticks to shellac. I prefer using shellac because it is very thin and soaks into the wood and dries very quickly. Its thinness doesn't build up on parts and "thicken" crisp details. It also cleans up easily with alcohol. You should sand lightly after sealing, but make sure not to sand so much that you remove all of your sealer in spots. If you do, reapply the sealer and sand lightly again. You can spray shellac if you wish, but you'll need to clean your airbrush with alcohol, of course. I find it easier to brush it on, since it soaks right into the wood and brush strokes are not an issue with shellac. Recognize that acrylic coatings often will not adhere well to oil-based coatings, so if you are using acrylic top coats, you'd be well-advised to test your acryllic top coat material on any oil-based  undercoat you may have used. When using different types of coatings it is always best to spray test pieces before you shoot the real deal. 

 

"Some brush strokes with a fan-shaped brush" will not make your hull look more realistic. It will make it look like you are a poor painter who leaves brush strokes when you paint because you don't know how to condition your paint. In the scale you are working with, I'd say you'd be better off forgetting about trying to "make it look realistic" beyond painting it.  At your scale viewing distance, the individual plates aren't going to be discernable, really. If you want to apply paper "plates," you can do so, but you should be careful to apply plates that are of scale thickness. These can be applied using shellac as an adhesive and then shellacking the whole hull afterwards. You will, of course, have to take care also to apply those plates in the proper orientation correctly lined off and so on. That would be extremely tedious, however. The bottom of your model isn't an area that contains much detail and the viewer's eye isn't drawn to it. There's no point in distracting from the finer details of the model with an out of scale and improperly colored coppering job. There is a reason why a realistically depicted coppered bottom on a ship model is an extremely rare thing to encounter. 

 

Your hull will not look better by failing to sand it well. In fact, it will look bad. The whole point of an airbrush is to apply paint thinly so it doesn't build up and ruin the crispness of scale detail. Any lack of sanding is going to be more apparent after having been spray painted. You must sand your hull and topsides until they are as smooth as a baby's bottom.  I use 220 grit for coarse sanding, followed by 320 for finer sanding. I will spray color coats after sanding to 320, but I will sand between finish coats with 600 grit. The sanding must be perfectly smooth with no scratches, nicks or dings. It must also be totally free of all dust. Blow the worst of it off with compressed air (if you have it), then wipe the workpiece down with a tack rag (available at any paint store.) Follow the instructions on the tack rag package or have somebody show you how to use it. If you fold it correctly, you can get a lot of use out of a tack rag. You should also store it in a ziplock plastic sandwich bag after you open its original packaging and it will last you a good long while. Only a tack rag will pick up any dust from the surface, which is what it is designed to do. "Cleanliness is next to godliness" as they say.

 

On a large painted area like a hull, should dust specks end up on the painted surface, these can be removed after the paint dries by hand rubbing with pumice and rottenstone applied to a cloth dampened with water. 

 

See: Amazon.com: Vallejo Game Color Verdigris Paint, 17ml : Arts, Crafts & Sewing

 

Modeling Verdigris: The Weathered Patina of Copper Roofing - Bing video

 

 

 

 

Edited by Bob Cleek
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Hi Dave, as per norm there are different routes that might achieve your preferred look.

 

You could try a palette of various oil paints.

 

B51047B3-370B-47E9-893C-52FCA508ED23.thumb.jpeg.4541cc626442926993888a8b2c63fe3a.jpeg
The beauty of oils is that you have plenty of time to push them around or remove them all together if you don’t like it. Just the one panel done here. Painting can be time consuming.

 

706A019C-CE08-4E0D-9C77-42D185D4473B.thumb.jpeg.57bbc94868ded7059cae681f65266e03.jpeg
Coincidentally I am using the same kit as an example as that beauty shown above. I made my base from plastic painted a base colour of copper and the fasteners painted black.

FDE7FC79-CE63-445B-B80E-A93F69FDCD87.thumb.jpeg.f4a975afe2e1e35bd817099f08ab9ac1.jpeg

D243ED94-BFEF-4761-A977-37B7442303BE.thumb.jpeg.3e9f2a073b6f2d810c17eedf56700165.jpeg

F4805F85-6F38-45AF-8BE0-2D542630BA91.thumb.jpeg.5fff464d18844d2b7915dd1c7063fd1e.jpeg

That rust effect is just done with weathering powders.

 

D99333A6-F53D-458F-8ED1-B1F14344BEA3.thumb.jpeg.c1795ff59e2312bbbd2eebfa4045b82b.jpeg

Other effects are just painted on. The verdigris comes directly out of the bottle.

17BE239E-52E6-4EB6-B6CA-4FEFB3D2AC00.thumb.jpeg.c712274079f3f0e86c3731ca0592aef5.jpeg9DE34CAD-BFAA-49F0-BEB5-9E9D6C326319.thumb.jpeg.05689c89c703fe938dccceb312eedab7.jpegECC18B65-D162-4BA9-AB8A-7FD6DD3C2D7A.thumb.jpeg.7d0e98aa95a47c6e42b517548ba9516c.jpeg

This was done a number of years ago and at that time the rust and verdigris effect paints were sold by modelmates. I think that company might now be known as Dirty Down. These paints were all sourced in the UK.

 

Although I am not a railway modeller, I do find they usually have a broader range of all things modelling supplies.

 

I hope some of that is useful.

Thank you

Paul

 

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Thanks for adding to this thread Paul. I have recently joined a local modelling club who are mainly into plastic modelling of every kind and they are truely experts in the arts of airbrushing. I hope I can pick up some of their tips .You mentioned the company Dirty downs which has also been recommended to me, so look forward to trying this out and have ordered some of this in together with another company called Dark Star for the copper brown. 

Perhaps another approach would be the use of weathering products but although I have been interested in working with these products as yet I have not tried them. However when looking at models with these techneques they are truely amazing. One for the future I hope.

Edited by DaveBaxt
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On 1/20/2023 at 12:13 PM, Bob Cleek said:

First off, there is probably no "ready to go" paint, acrylic or otherwise, that is made for airbrushing that doesn't require some sort of conditioning. If there is, you can bet it will require some conditioning the second time you open the bottle to use it. There is a bit of a learning curve to painting and it's best to learn from someone who knows what they are doing and can show you. Writing out instructions takes a long time and I've done it several times over the years and have no taste for doing it again. Suffice it to say your paint for airbrushing must be around the consistency of skim milk or just slightly thicker than water. To get the right consistency, you will have to experiment with your particular airbrush. They are not all exactly alike. Some will atomize quite thick material and others are partial to much thinner material. Follow the instructions with your airbrush to set it up for the material you are using. You should use the manufacturer's recommended thinner and other conditioners, at least until you get the hang of it. Acrylic coatings are best thinned with alcohol, which mixes with the acrylic's water base, but evaporates quickly to permit the best application behavior for spray painting. Alkyd paints should be thinned with mineral spirits or acetone, which, like alcohol in the case of acrylics, dries quickly when applied with an airbrush. Lacquers, should you use these, require lacquer thinner. You should practice with your airbrush until you become comfortable with it. You can use water in it and spray it on cardboard material to practice using the airbrush. Once you have the control mastered, you can use the coating you intend to use applied to a piece of cardboard to make sure you've got the actual material application down pat. Always do a test before any application to the model itself. It's a lot easier to throw a piece of cardboard or paper in the wastebasket than it is to remove sprayed paint from the workpiece.

 

As for colors, I mix my own. I use artist's oils mainly, but acrylics on occasion as well. I buy the paint which is sold in "toothpaste tubes" in art stores.  Mixing your own paint is a simple skill that will save you a lot of money over time.  You can purchase any color you want ready mixed or primary colors you can use to mix your own colors. You can purchase modeler's paints in any color under the sun, as well. They sell them in "brushing" consistency and in "airbrushing" consistency. I see no reason to buy the paint thinned for airbrushing because you are paying the same price as thicker paint with more pigment and getting only paint thinned for airbrushing. Paint is a lot more expensive than thinner. You can go to the painting and airbrushing section of the forum and read the reviews and comments on the various brands of premixed paint. As for colors for copper sheathed hulls, use your eye. I doubt that anybody sells "oxidized penny copper" as a color. I use a medium-dark brown with a fair bit of red in it as a base color for copper sheathing or bottom paint. You'll find many shadings of this color in the "boxcar colors" section of the modeling paint companies' model railroading selections. Verdigris is verdigris color. It's often sold as "copper green" or "verdigris. It's a fairly common color, so pick it off the color chart or rack in your  hobby shop. All I can say about colors is what I've said before: search the web for photographs and replicate the appearance of the real thing, always keeping scale in mind.  Refer to the pictures I posted in post #3 above. The "green" bottom is the vessel hauled and exposed to the air, hence the green oxidation, and the "brown bottom" is the vessel with new copper just applied and about to be launched. 

 

You can use whatever sealer and primer you wish on your wood, providing that your later coats will stick to it. Anything and everything sticks to shellac. I prefer using shellac because it is very thin and soaks into the wood and dries very quickly. Its thinness doesn't build up on parts and "thicken" crisp details. It also cleans up easily with alcohol. You should sand lightly after sealing, but make sure not to sand so much that you remove all of your sealer in spots. If you do, reapply the sealer and sand lightly again. You can spray shellac if you wish, but you'll need to clean your airbrush with alcohol, of course. I find it easier to brush it on, since it soaks right into the wood and brush strokes are not an issue with shellac. Recognize that acrylic coatings often will not adhere well to oil-based coatings, so if you are using acrylic top coats, you'd be well-advised to test your acryllic top coat material on any oil-based  undercoat you may have used. When using different types of coatings it is always best to spray test pieces before you shoot the real deal. 

 

"Some brush strokes with a fan-shaped brush" will not make your hull look more realistic. It will make it look like you are a poor painter who leaves brush strokes when you paint because you don't know how to condition your paint. In the scale you are working with, I'd say you'd be better off forgetting about trying to "make it look realistic" beyond painting it.  At your scale viewing distance, the individual plates aren't going to be discernable, really. If you want to apply paper "plates," you can do so, but you should be careful to apply plates that are of scale thickness. These can be applied using shellac as an adhesive and then shellacking the whole hull afterwards. You will, of course, have to take care also to apply those plates in the proper orientation correctly lined off and so on. That would be extremely tedious, however. The bottom of your model isn't an area that contains much detail and the viewer's eye isn't drawn to it. There's no point in distracting from the finer details of the model with an out of scale and improperly colored coppering job. There is a reason why a realistically depicted coppered bottom on a ship model is an extremely rare thing to encounter. 

 

Your hull will not look better by failing to sand it well. In fact, it will look bad. The whole point of an airbrush is to apply paint thinly so it doesn't build up and ruin the crispness of scale detail. Any lack of sanding is going to be more apparent after having been spray painted. You must sand your hull and topsides until they are as smooth as a baby's bottom.  I use 220 grit for coarse sanding, followed by 320 for finer sanding. I will spray color coats after sanding to 320, but I will sand between finish coats with 600 grit. The sanding must be perfectly smooth with no scratches, nicks or dings. It must also be totally free of all dust. Blow the worst of it off with compressed air (if you have it), then wipe the workpiece down with a tack rag (available at any paint store.) Follow the instructions on the tack rag package or have somebody show you how to use it. If you fold it correctly, you can get a lot of use out of a tack rag. You should also store it in a ziplock plastic sandwich bag after you open its original packaging and it will last you a good long while. Only a tack rag will pick up any dust from the surface, which is what it is designed to do. "Cleanliness is next to godliness" as they say.

 

On a large painted area like a hull, should dust specks end up on the painted surface, these can be removed after the paint dries by hand rubbing with pumice and rottenstone applied to a cloth dampened with water. 

 

See: Amazon.com: Vallejo Game Color Verdigris Paint, 17ml : Arts, Crafts & Sewing

 

Modeling Verdigris: The Weathered Patina of Copper Roofing - Bing video

 

 

 

 

Thank you Bob for this indepth reply and which clears up pretty much every question I had going around in my head. I apologize for not replying to your reply earlier as I have only just seen this. Also thanks for the links too. I will no doubt  end up using a number of different products and spend a lot of time practicing. I have recently joined a local modelling club which the guys mainly do plastic models but there airbrushing skills are truelly amazing . The chance to obtain some instruction, has been offered to me so I am looking forward to taking up the offer. Fortunately I haven,t even started on the ship with a copper bottom, so I have a lot of time to learn and pracice the different techniques to produce something reasonable to the eye.

            Once again Bob I appreciate your help and patience for now and in the past. Best regards Dave

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Sorry Bob  for more questions. There always seems to be more of them. What sort of alcohol can be used for thinning Acrylic. There are a number of modellers who use Admiralty acrylic ( made by Caldercraft) including myself and have quite a few different colours. They also sell packages of these paints for there particular ships. There has been one or two people have mixed these 50/50 with water to use with a airbrush and I wonder what your thoughts are on this mixing acrylic with water? It is also taking about one hour to dry between coats and requires up to 20 coats. This does appear to be a bit excessive. When using alcohol or brand name thinners is there a general recommendation on mixing % or do we use the milk like consistancy as a general rule. Perhaps for a beginner one should use the paints own thinning medium and perhaps they would offer the correct %  for their own paints/primers or varnishes. Your help and guidence  on this subject is forever appreciated.Best regards Dave

Edited by DaveBaxt
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Great collection of information.  Thanks to all who added to the thread.  

 

(Hit submit too soon.)

 

Was copper applied to rudders (particularly the bottom edges) on small boats to protect them some from rocky bottoms?  It would make sense.  I may be dreaming that I read something on this use of copper on rudders.  However, I may be misremembering.  

 

The foil and painting tricks here may be useful to know. 

Edited by robert952
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12 hours ago, DaveBaxt said:

Sorry Bob  for more questions. There always seems to be more of them. What sort of alcohol can be used for thinning Acrylic. There are a number of modellers who use Admiralty acrylic ( made by Caldercraft) including myself and have quite a few different colours. They also sell packages of these paints for there particular ships. There has been one or two people have mixed these 50/50 with water to use with a airbrush and I wonder what your thoughts are on this mixing acrylic with water? It is also taking about one hour to dry between coats and requires up to 20 coats. This does appear to be a bit excessive. When using alcohol or brand name thinners is there a general recommendation on mixing % or do we use the milk like consistancy as a general rule. Perhaps for a beginner one should use the paints own thinning medium and perhaps they would offer the correct %  for their own paints/primers or varnishes. Your help and guidence  on this subject is forever appreciated.Best regards Dave

What sort of alcohol can be used for thinning Acrylic.

 

It's going to depend on the chemistry of the particular brand of acrylic coating. Acrylic, like most all modern coatings, is tricky stuff. Old-fashioned oil-based paints and varnishes are much easier to work with because, basically, they are all just mixtures of linseed oil, pigment, and, solvents like turpentine and minereal spirits (paint thinner) and, if you are sophisticated about it, Japan dryer. All of these materials are complementary and work well together. They are hard to screw up. Acrylics are a mixture of a complex modern chemicals and they vary from brand to brand. Some can only be thinned successfully with the manufacturer's own proprietary thinner. On the other hand, most can be thinned with water or with alcohol, which mixes well with water. Most of the manufacturers won't tell you that, but are happy to sell you water, alcohol, or a bit of both, in a bottle with their label on it for a lot more money than plain old water or alcohol. There is information on YouTube and modeling forums (particularly from the wargame figure painters who favor acrylics) that discusses what common low-cost thinners and condtioners (e.g. "Windex" glass cleaner) can be used for thinning the various brands of acrylic paints. Otherwise, what you have to do is experiment with various materials and see what works. Keep in mind that acrylic paint "pre-thinned" and bottled as "for airbrushing" is basically, if not virtually, identical to the thicker paint the same manufacturer sells for brushing, but it's priced the same, so you're paying a big premium for the thinned paint. (Thinner is cheap. Pigment is expensive.) In fact, many sophisticated airbrush users purchase "fine artists' quality" tubed acrylic paste (and oils, as well) and use that tubed, concentrated paint paste as the base for airbrushing paint they thin themselves. The biggest advantage of this approach is the cost savings and the fact that the thicker "artist's oils" medium keeps much better in the tube than opened bottled paints. I can't say which type of alcohol can and which cannot be used for thinning any particular brand of acrylic paint. I doubt that it matters, except that I'd avoid alcohol that is mixed with something else, such as bottled rubbing alcohol. In my shop, alcohol is a "staple" solvent (used also for fueling alcohol lamps, cleaning, etc.) and I purchase plain denatured alcohol from the paint or hardware store in gallon tins. I do the same for mineral spirits and acetone. I decant these into smaller containers, often squeeze bottles, as the occasion dictates. You can purchase a pint or quart tin of denatured alcohol (called "methylated spirits" in the UK) and play with it and some of the other concoctions discussed in the airbrushing forums and see what happens. The big advantage of thinning with alcohol rather than water is that alcohol is a "hot" solvent, meaning it evaporates quickly. This speeds the drying time of your airbrushed medium exponentially over water, which evaporates slowly in comparison. Spraying with a hot solvent allows you to spray a thin film, application after application, and build up your coats without having to wait a long time between coats. Properly mixed, your sprayed paint will appear to dry in an instant, although it will take some time to harden enough to permit sanding. It goes without saying that, when working with acrylics, it's best to "dance with the girl you brought" and stick with the brand that you come to like best and with which you've become most familiar because they are all a bit different from each other. The second thing to keep in mind is that period ship modeling generally doesn't require a large pallet. A few tubes of basic colors will be all you need to mix all the colors you'll ever need. (I'm always amazed at the pictures of plastic modelers with shelves lined with hundreds of little bottles of differently colored modeling paint.) Larger tubes of black and white and smaller tubes of brown, yellow, red, blue, will cover most requirements if you learn the "color wheel." (There's a very good article on mixing colors for shop modeling in Volume II of the NRG's Ship Modeler's Shop Notes on sale by the NRG and well worth the investment.)

 

When using alcohol or brand name thinners is there a general recommendation on mixing % or do we use the milk like consistancy as a general rule.

 

It is not an exact science. There's no way to give you a recipe. Things like the ambient temperature and humidity that vary from day to day are but a few of the variables. You can find paint in a previously opened bottle has thickened some over time, so the amount of thinner is going to vary on that account. Certainly, the thickness of paint will vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. You just have to "eyeball it" and see how the mixture looks when it comes out of your airbrush. Remember that the nozzle size of your airbrush and the air pressure you set will also dictate the consistency of the paint it is going to perform best with. You just have to mix it, experiment, and see. Practicing will give you a feel for it. For airbrushing, think "skim milk" and then add thinner from there as needed. These variables demonstrate the fact that paint bottled "for airbrushing" isn't going to free you from the need to condition your paint. They just get you closer, perhaps, and charge you dearly for that convenience. Getting the hang of conditioning paint isn't rocket science and it's easy to pick up, but it's one of those things that's a lot easier to learn by doing than by trying to explain in words. Let your airbrush show you what it's happy with. These same realities also demonstrate that if you are modeling ships, you really don't need a lot of colors, particularly if you learn to mix your own. (Get a "color wheel" that will give you the proportions to yield particular colors.) The fact that a particular manufacturer offers many colors in little relatively expensive bottles is meaningless to ship modelers. If you are a "rivet counting" railroad or military modeler, you will appreciate the ability to buy ready-mixed "Santa Fe boxcar brown" or "Union Pacific reefer yellow," or "1943 German field gray" or "1944 USN battleship gray," confident that your color will be historically accurate. Ship modelers, particularly period ship modelers have no such concerns or historical limitations on color accuracy. 

 

Perhaps for a beginner one should use the paints own thinning medium and perhaps they would offer the correct %  for their own paints/primers or varnishes

 

Yes, that is true, I suppose, but that's only going to take care of what thinner you should use. There's no way to know "how much" except by working with it and finding the "sweet spot" that works best for you and your airbrush in any given situation. If you can find advice on the YouTube wargaming figure painting videos as to what you can use other than the proprietary thinner for the paint you're using, you can try it and see if the convenience of the manufacture's thinner is worth the additional cost or not. The proprietary thinners and other conditioners (accelerators and retarders) do provide some certainty that you are using material that is compatible with the chemistry of the brand of acrylic paint you are using.

Edited by Bob Cleek
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I take my hat off to you Sir and once again I would like to thank you for your time and patience for walking me through the field of airbrushing and something I can add to my list of posts. I have learned so much about different mediums to use over the past month or so and not forgetting the importance of keeping to scale.

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