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by Larry Horyna
For me, as a model builder, one of the most enjoyable airbrushing subjects has got to be dinosaurs. Only science fiction subjects give you the latitude to use your imagination more. There are a number of good kits on the market, many of them in plastic, but the nicest ones I've seen are vinyl. My latest kit is the now hard to find Velociraptor from Horizon. The kit measures almost two feet in length and has incredible detail and a very dynamic pose. After simple, straightforward construction, the kit is ready to paint. I chose to use taxidermy owl eyes and mask them out before painting. Now, on to color!
I wanted to pick a colorful scheme for my dinosaur but didn't want to get too gaudy. I chose an overall two-tone brown and beige scheme with a dark red-brown "tiger stripe" with a black outline. For my overall colors, I thinned Polly Scale paint and used my Iwata Eclipse brush, which is my workhorse. One of my favorite things to do with the airbrush, and what I think makes it such a unique tool for painting models, is to highlight each color by adding a bit of white to the base color and hitting the "high spots" on the model. This is done not only with the main two colors but on the tiger stripes as well. Depending on the color you use, white is not always the best thing to tone a color down, so be aware of this if you try this technique. Sometimes a beige color is better for toning down a brown, as it was in this case. The red-brown of the stripes was toned down with the base brown color.
After the main colors were applied, the real trick to making this scheme stand out was the application of a fine black outline to the stripes. For fines lines and the control it allows, I use my Iwata HP/B. The gravity feed also allows for a lower air pressure so you can get nice and close to your subject. This was the most tedious part of the paint job but well worth the time and effort. The black really makes the stripes stand out and yet the scheme isn't so loud that it doesn't look realistic. Again, one of the real tricks here is to use your imagination without going too overboard!
After airbrushing the scheme I then apply a coat of Future floor wax so that I can hand brush a thinned wash of paint into all the fine cracks and detail lines of the scales. The clear gloss of the Future allows the wash to flow easily into the detail areas and allows me to wipe away any excess that I don't want. Once that is dry, I dry brush a final highlight and then apply a coat of Polly Scale flat. The last step is to hand-paint all the details such as the claws, mouth and teeth and remove the mask from the eyes. The end result is a colorful, yet realistic looking reptilian scheme that was fun to paint and required no masking other than the eyes.
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