Re: : completed helium car model

Richard Hendrickson

On Nov 30, 2012, at 5:20 AM, lnbill wrote:
Military Modelers commonly use slightly lighter shades of paint to
compensate for what they call "the Scale Effect."

Bill Welch

--- In STMFC@..., Anthony Thompson <thompson@...> wrote:

Bill Daniels wrote:
I was reading Tony's excellent blogs on the helium cars, and I
remember his comment about painting them using SP lettering grey.
While I cannot fault Tony's choice, I did spend my military duty in
the Navy and one thing I can say for sure is that the Navy painted
EVERYTHING haze grey, which is a medium grey and is somewhat darker
than SP lettering grey. Now Tony's justification for using SP
lettering grey makes sense to me, but for those of you who want to
go with a more maintained color, I would recommend a darker grey
than what Tony used.

Bill noticed that I deliberately chose a lighter gray to reflect
both fading of elderly paint and also the effects of indoor
lighting. I am sure he is correct that the usual Navy medium gray
is the right color if a person were restoring a prototype car, but
in model form I think it looks too dark.
Good grief! Why can't North American railroad modelers wrap their
minds around what Bill aptly calls "the scale effect" when it has
been well understood by aircraft and armor modelers for decades?
This concept goes back at least to 1947, when a group of British
aircraft modelers conducted a series of experiments to determine why
the colors on their models seemed "off" when they were identical to
the colors on the prototype. To oversimplify a bit, they discovered
the following principles:

1. A small object (e.g., a model) will appear darker than a large
object (e.g. a prototype aircraft or railroad car) even though
painted exactly the same color.

2. A small object (e.g., a model) will appear more shiny than a
large object (e.g. a prototype aircraft or railroad car) even though
it has exactly the same reflectivity.

3. The artificial light under which models are almost always viewed
varies in quality and intensity and is NEVER as bright as the natural
sunlight under which the prototypes are viewed.

These principles render the search for the exact color the prototype
was painted not just pointless but in some respects misleading.
Still, that search has occupied a lot of bandwidth on the STMFC list
and continues to do so. Of course, you want to start with something
reasonably close to the original color. But to achieve a realistic
appearance, a model that will be viewed under artificial light should
ALWAYS be a bit lighter, less saturated in color, and less shiny than
the prototype. Does it matter what kind of artificial light? Sure
it does, but that introduces a bunch of other variables about which
it is difficult to generalize. Then there are the effects on color
of aging and weathering, about which it is also difficult to
generalize. Sorry, guys, but painting models and getting them to
look right is not a matter of meticulous research into the prototype
colors, it's an art form. One of the surest ways to make a model
look unrealistic is to paint it the exact same color as its prototype.

Richard Hendrickson

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