My models

JSU-122S – Part 6: Preshading

Next step in my standard painting process is preshading. I use dark color for this, as in this case mix of Tamiya Flat Black and Flat Brown in the ratio of 3:1. I mixed in the brown to make the colour look more natural, pure black is quite rare in the nature and it is very cool colour.

Unlike many other modelers who use preshading only to add shadows around edges and corners by darkening paint layer under the base colour, in my process painting the model with dark tone before the base serves multiple goals.

When applying preshading I make sure I cover all the surface, all the hedges and crevices. Since I do not care for the shade of the colour I can make sure that the model is completely painted, make multiple passes and spray in different angles as needed. When I then apply the base colour, I do not need to be afraid of having some small corner or hard-to-access spot not painted. I can focus on applying the exact shade and have the exact opacity of the paint layer as I need. If I don’t cover all the surface, which I rarely do, some spots may still remain dark (hard-to-access areas on the real vehicle would look dark as well).

The second and the main purpose of the preshading is addition of the depth to the base colour. By pre-painting the surface with black and then keeping the base coat slightly transparent significantly enhances look of the model.  By keeping the base coat thickness and coverage uneven you can avoid “uniform” look of the model, which usually makes it look dull and boring.

Another purpose of the preshading complete model surface I can explain with an analogy to photography – when taking photographs, photographers sometimes intentionally underexpose the picture – i.e. make it look darker than what the embedded camera system considers to be proper exposure. (This is achieved by e.g. shortening the aperture.). As a result, colours in the photograph are richer and have higher saturation, this makes them look more vivid. This underexposure makes the photograph look more dramatic by increasing the contrast between the lighter and darker portion of the picture (Here I would like to apologize to any skilled photographers for any inaccuracies in the description above, I still consider myself to be more of an amateur in this field). I believe that adding preshading over the whole model creates similar effect.

For all these purposes I use the preshading almost every time I paint model. Again, some argue against this as it might eliminate finer surface details on the model, but I haven’t ever experienced this and consider this to be more of a problem related to the thickness of the paint coat applied.

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