Panel Lines

Discussion in 'Weathering Questions, Tutorials and Guidebooks' started by Sweb, Jun 1, 2009.

  1. Sweb

    Sweb Member

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    I'm a non-conformant where panel lines are concerned. I use them but they are placed into the finished paint lightly and just barely suggested in an effort to keep everything about the model scale in appearance. I was looking for a site that could perhaps illustrate how I fill existing panel lines in molded parts and re-render them and found this. I thought it humorous and especially poignant with regard to the trends currently employed on the subject. These days I see lightly depicted airplane shapes superimposed over a heavy base of panel lines rather than the appropriate other way around. I happen to agree with this fellows spirit and aim to create in scale what we see rather than imagine we see.

    PC Panel Lines
     
  2. Matt308

    Matt308 Glock Perfection
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    Nice words. No pics to quantitatively evaluate his judgement. I do agree that panel lines can be overdone. But sometimes this is an economy of scale. I solely do 1/72nd. What is appropriate in one scale is not necessarily appropriate in others.
     

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  3. Njaco

    Njaco The Pop-Tart Whisperer
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    Just doing panel lines for the effect is, IMO, the wrong way to tackle the problem. I try to get photographic evidence of what I'm doing and then try to replicate that. Not every panel needs to be highlighted.
     
  4. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    I agree with you, Joe, Matt and Chris. I see what the writer is getting at, even though there are no pics to support his article. It's nothing new though; it's one of those 'fads' that seems to pop in and out of 'fashion' in modelling, more so with almost all modellers now using an airbrush. The latter is one of those tools that, although a superb and very versatile and useful piece of equipment, seems to be, nowadays, a 'must have, can't model without' item. But going back to panel lines, depending on scale, colour and size/shape of the model, panel lines are sometimes NOT required, whereas in other cases, the application of subtle lines, visible close up, just visible then disappearing with distance, can help to improve the overall look of a model. But, they aren't the be all and end all, and don't need to be included as a 'must'.
     
  5. Njaco

    Njaco The Pop-Tart Whisperer
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    I agree Terry, I see with my Dauntless that not all the panel lines were highlighted even through heavy wear. You have to work smart.
     
  6. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    Exactly Chris! Model what is seen, not what you think should be seen. The bloke who wrote the article got it right - many modellers seem to have never seen the actual aircraft they model, even in pictures! Something that makes me smile are airliner models - always clean and shiny. OK, so are the real thing - until you get up close! Seems the opposite is adhered to in the 'civil' camp - no panel lines or weathering of any type allowed.
     
  7. Njaco

    Njaco The Pop-Tart Whisperer
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    My father was like that and it was ok. He loved the look of a plane fresh out of factory. Me - I like to see something thats been used. we both complimented each other for tips and tricks.
     
  8. DBII

    DBII Active Member

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    Matt, nice birds.

    DBII
     
  9. Catch22

    Catch22 Well-Known Member

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    I do weathering, but I usually leave panel lines alone. My weathering usually consists of paint chipping and exhaust and gun staining.
     
  10. Sweb

    Sweb Member

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    #10 Sweb, Jun 7, 2009
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2009
    I have looked at various models on display in various hobby shops and on-line. There have been some very nice builds that have won contests but still display overly stated lines. I'm a champion of true scale. Figuring a typical full scale panel line will accept a .025-0.030 feeler gauge at butt joints we must consider our model scales and reduce dimensions accordingly. In that regard a 1/72 model will have a joint falling at or under 0.004 inch, or about the thickness of a piece of printer paper.

    One technique currently being widely employed is highlighting panel lines (from some imagined perception) giving the impression of excreted airplane bile(?) from inside out? I will agree paint weathered in those areas due to the internal structure causing a difference of heat between supported and unsupported skin (free-floating vs non free-floating skin) when in certain theatres such as the sun-beaten Pacific Theatre. The paint on the free-floating skins became much hotter and subsequently weathered worse than the skin areas attached to underlying formers, longerons and heavy stringers. But, a very subtle difference is adequate to give life to respective theatre weathering.

    Then we have lap joints where the two separate skins are overlapping without a gap at all. Do we know the type of joints employed in our selected builds? This explains why we can view the F6F from the front oblique and see little fuselage detail while the rear oblique reveals the (lap) joints? It's a question I'm trying to answer for myself regarding this bird. A trip to a local museum and/or research should be conclusive. Furthermore, some aircraft had a mixed bag of assembly fasteners such as the Corsair. In certain sections it was spot-welded which means there should be no visible rivets in those areas. These areas are in the fuselage center section which comprise the wing stubs. I'm not sure how extensive the welding was but I do know it was employed to reduce the weight of fasteners. I plan on visiting Kermit Weeks Fantasy Of Flight just down the road from me to get a view of his Corsair when I do decide to build one. It is one of my favorite warbirds (I'm a round engine Pacific Theatre geek) and I'll do the due diligence to get it right.

    The current kits producing molded-in panel lines and other "scale" detail are typically overstated and that's why there's always something "funny looking" about them. I'm working a Tamiya F-51 at the moment turning it into an RF-51. So far I've filled in the wing panel lines and am working to reduce the thickness of the wing-to-body fillet fairing. For example, if I measure across the fuselage side-to-side at the represented fillet area and then a similar measurement above that fillet I get a difference representing the fillet skin total thickness. That total scaled thickness is 0.200 inch. That means the skin represented on the model for the fillet fairing is 0.100 inch. It was actually in the region of 0.040 inch. The panel lines are overstated and I'm filling them in. Once the model is completely painted and decals on I will return to it with masks and lightly indicate where the panel lines are. This will not cut into the plastic. It will cut into the paint only. A very light dusting of darkened chalk with a sable brush will be all that is needed to give them adequate life. In other words, 5 feet away they disappear.

    Again, I'm just a scale appearance geek. I have additional rants but it's Sunday and I will give it a rest. Thanks for the opportunity to share my psychosis. One last word - I coming back into scale plastic modeling from along hiatus while working on scale 1/4 flying warbirds. There are many techniques that are new to my bag of tricks I must review. My plastic modeling days were scrappy times of imagination-over-money where I had to make the most of the materials available to me. Filler putty wasn't one of them. I always filled using the plastic from the model parts trees by working it into sprues, flats and shapes. The advantage was no need to primer the surfaces: no gaps or mods that weren't solid plastic and a final sanding and polishing to restore the model to the as-produced surface gloss precluded the need for primer. This takes me to painting which I will discuss at another time. Thanks again.

    Edit: Matt308, looking good. I do see the Corsair lines and the skipping in them. When these birds are painted they are painted with an epoxy primer and top-coated with a polyurethane impact resistant finish. It's a heavy finish. I use it in my daily activity as an aircraft mechanic. This paint flows into the panel lines and seals them completely. As it is an exceedingly flexible and durable finish virtually impervious to any chemical attack, slipstream errosion and airframe flexing it looks good for a very long time. It will begin to "chalk" after much exposure time on the upper surfaces (sun baking) but rarely does the finish free itself from joints. The joints do, however, collect dirt if the airplane isn't maintained properly but it is a slightly darker appearance and uniform without skipping. The armed services used to use regular enamel paints that did not conform to the high weathering/wear resistance of the poly finishes. I was a KC-135A crew chief and the USAF used to finish those birds with a silver Corra-Guard silver paint that was like a white-wash when dry. It would rub off like a silver chalk. Nasty finish and it looked like crap in a very few months from hydraulic fluids, fuels, and constant wipe-downs. And, the frickin decals (yes, they were all decals) didn't take very well. Then USAF went to the silver poly finish seen on those birds now. It lasts forever without weathering.
     
  11. Loiner

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    Panel lines is a difficult area. As well described above by Sweb, the actual thickness of a panel line if scaled down 48 or 72 times is miniscule, and apart from a moveable surface or removeable access panels, there would be little visible above a thin slice on the panelled surface of the model.

    But, I always run a thin wash of black into my panel lines as I feel that a model looks somehow incomplete without them visible and and highglighted. Why is this? perhaps it's the perception that you know they are there if you were looking at the real thing and so the surface just looks too plain without them even though it is perhaps more correct to the true scale. The only way I can see around this is to highlight them by running a wash in but to keep it as light as possible to keep the visisble lines looking as thin as possible, this is perhaps a compromise between scale accuracy and perception, but works reasonably well for me, I guess it's a matter of personal taste.
     
  12. lesofprimus

    lesofprimus Active Member

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    Props to u for ur attention to small scale details Sweb.... I tend to overdo my panel lines slightly, atleast on my last 3 kits, partly due to the fact that I want them to look weather worn and abused like they did in the field....

    However, in 1/32nd scale, as u have noted, these lines would be almost unnoticeable from 5 feet away.... So I give em alittle extra to stand out....

    Heres a couple shots of my last 2 kits, both of which won Members Choice Awards here...
     

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  13. Sweb

    Sweb Member

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    #13 Sweb, Jan 2, 2010
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2010
    Les, I gotta admit, they look great. While one can "get away" with almost anything on the German machines because of their very busy schemes and theater climate weathering, builders of other single-color machines require close attention to "scaling" their modeling skills to respective theaters. For that, you're Corsair is a beaut. Very, very nice.

    Edit: I was around those Pacific islands for a while doing some work and had to do some hopping from island to atoll and such. One of the things I remember is the iron in the soil, which was like a clay, and when it rained during the monsoon season it got all gooey and slimy and stuck to everything. There were many times I had to load kids in the back of my little Datsun pickup (take them to school) as weight to make it up even the slightest grades without sliding backwards. You didn't want to get a running start because you'd end up out of control on the down-hill run (slide). When that stuff was wet it looked like a very dark orange brown and dried to a light dusty-looking orange.
     
  14. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    Heck, that's brough back memories of trying to get a vehicle through a particular African jungle. I can still see - and smell, that red-orange mud!!
     
  15. Maglar

    Maglar Active Member

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    I agree with him, and this picture only backs it up.. over done, over cooked, burnt, not even tasty!

    A nice little panel wash outside of black will do the subtle wonders..
     

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  16. Bullo Loris

    Bullo Loris Member

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    Hi the fourth pictur it's a Supermarine Walrus?, where you get from the New Zealand decals?, because Airfix give only England and Argentina decals versions let me know mate

    Regards.

    Loris
     
  17. conkerking

    conkerking Member

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    Panel lines I have been bugging me lately. I'm not a hardcore modeller, I just crank 'em out in 1/72 for fun and all my painitng with brushes, and I'm not into the whole weathering thing, I like the models to be "graphical" rather than "actual" representations of a 'plane (think of one of those profile pics, but in 3D). But the fact that I don't "do" panel lines has been bothering me because I felt that I wasn't a "proper modeller". Anyway, I have decided to do without not just for the sake of consistency in my little collection, but also because (put simply) if I look at a 'plane or a photo of a 'plane I can see that the lines are there, but they're hardly what you'd call prominent. Works for me, anyway. I just draw a line aloing the control surface joins with a sharp pencil.
     
  18. Rustybugs

    Rustybugs Banned

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    #18 Rustybugs, Dec 28, 2012
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2012
    I had seen this thread before but bypassed it before. Now, taking the time to red it. WOW! Having read the mentioned articles, I am in agreement with the referenced opinions. This is especially true of modern jets. I spent 17 years working on F-4's. Everything from c models, d, e, g, and recce. Working on them in different types of climate too, high humidity of the Philippines, dry desert of Arizona, cold nasty Korea. In the recent SM magazine, there was an excellent 2 part article about super detailing a F-4E. The modeler was very good about correcting some of the discrepancies with the kit, which by the way I have not built. But then he shaded every single panel on the aircraft??? Sure there are panels that had a lot more handling by the crew chief than others. I say the crew chief, because he/she were the only ones removing and reinstalling the panels. If he/she was lucky, the specialist would help too. To have the amount of 'shading' that this aircraft depicted, it would have to have been flying through mud and leaked from every single hydraulic line and fitting in the airframe. That's not the case in real life.
    Even though it's been 20 years since I worked on one, I have never seen an aircraft that looked that bad in real life. Sure if you stood about two feet from the aircraft, you would see the demarcation between the different panels. But that's only because your so close and not because it's dirty.
    Something most folks don't know is that the most replaced items were the screws holding the panel on. There was no requirement to paint the screw heads when you reinstalled a panel. Most panels had a couple bad nut plates or stripped screws that would cause a new screw to be installed or you lost a few. Believe me, a shiny new screw really stood out. If your bird had come out of the paint barn recently, or sometimes if you asked nicely, the paint shop folks would give you a small container of the type paint you needed and a disposable brush and let you take care of the screw touch ups.
    Even though there are no overlapping panels or welded panels together except in the rear titanium panels, the lines between panels are nearly invisible from a distance of 20 or 30 feet. Not to take away the modelers skill or anything, but if your going to super detail an aircraft, don't be lulled into a fad, but then again, it's your model, do what you want. But if it's supposed to be an accurate representation for others or for display, make sure it's right. Working from photos taken at a distance of 2 or 3 feet will show all kinds of little details and make it look like every panel line popped out at you.

    This is my opinion and certainly not to take anything from anyone else's exceptional work, most certainly not the guy who did the F-4.

    As a side note I have also worked along other services and county's aircraft during exercises and during Desert Storm. The only time I have seen an modern aircraft that more dirty looking, was a USN F-4J that came by for a refueling stop on it's way to a depot for major overhaul.. It had been recently flown off the carrier from a long deployment. That aircraft looked terrible. It hadn't been washed or even wiped down in ages. I know the guys at sea don't have nearly any of the advantages of land based guys, ie regular washes, more time to take care of appearances and what not, but this aircraft was a disgrace to every plane captain in the navy.

    One more thing and I'll shut up. In all the time I was in the USAF on aircraft, when we had a TDY for an exercise or competition, like William Tell, Red Flag and Green Flag, the wing king would come out about a week before to look at the a/c that were going. If they didn't look the part ie clean as a whistle, they were towed to the paint hanger and had quick touch ups done. Some stuff could be done on the line before they left. God help the crew chief that let his a/c look bad during a TDY. The same thing was done when we had a a/c going cross country. It had to look good and that included the a/c forms and binder all had to be brand new and spotless. Of course most of the crew chiefs would maintain their a/c in pretty good shape. It was a matter of pride.
     
  19. Wayne Little

    Wayne Little Well-Known Member

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    Good comments Rusty, proper perspective is a great thing! :D
     
  20. Rustybugs

    Rustybugs Banned

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    #20 Rustybugs, Dec 29, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2013
    T
     
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