Among the latest releases from LifeColor is a very interesting set designed for painting weapons. In fact the name rather belies the potential far wider uses of the set for producing a wide range of metallic and wood finishes on models.
The 6-part set breaks down into two distinct sections and contains the following:
UA 725 Gun Blue Reflection
UA 726 Gun Red Reflection
UA 727 Gun Grey Reflection
PG 110 Reflecting Agent
UA 728 – Light Wooden Stock
UA 729 – Dark Wooden Stock
Each element is contained in a standard LifeColor 22ml screw-top plastic pot, and indeed the paints seem to be normal LifeColor acrylics. The really new item is the Reflecting Agent. This turns out to be a finely ground dark graphite-like powder.
The instructions are pretty limited, printed on the back of the box, with colour photos of the three main stages,. This is enough to get you started, but you're rather left to experiment on your own to see what can be acheived.
All the colours can be brushed or airbrushed, but I found It easier to achieve a smooth finish in a single coat by spraying. Brush painting worked best with multiple thin coats.
The wood shades are fine, but don't expect a miracle "wooden" effect straight from the pot. The two tones complement each other nicely and they'll provide a good basis for adding grain using oils or poster paints.
To use the Reflection colours, you mix them with a little of the Reflecting Agent to form a paste. This can be thinned with a drop of water, but looks rather uninspiring to start with. I must admit I was somewhat loathe to airbrush this slighty gritty concoction, but in fact the .35mm nozzle of the new Neo for Iwata
handled it with no problem at all.
When applied, the resulting finish is almost a disappointment - dead flat, with not a hint of a metallic effect. But don't despair, that comes later. It's important to let the paint dry thoroughly. If you lose patience and try the next stage too soon, you'll simply remove the paint and have to start all over again.
Once it's cured (I allowed about two hours), the fun can start as the paint should be buffed with a stiff paintbrush. LifeColor produce coarse round brushes specially for the job sold as a pair in sizes 2 and 4, priced £3.29. The bristles are much stiffer than you'd find in a conventional modelling paintbrush, and buff up the metallic pigment without damaging it.
As you buff the paint, the flat finish is replaced by a nice metallic sheen which increases the more you polish it. The final effect is quite robust, and it doesn't seem to have dulled over the course of a week, but you may still want to protect it with a coat of Future/Klear.
Experimenting with the colours provided, you can vary the effect quite subtly. The Grey produces a standard "gun metal", while the Red and Blue produce noticeable tints that mimic the effect of staining and heat on metal. From an aircraft modelling point of view, this instantly opens up the prospect of using not only using the set to paint guns, but engines and exhausts too – basically any metal finish where blueing or a hint of rust might be appropriate.
With the colours included seeming to be standard LifeColor acrylics, I tried mixing the Reflecting Agent with other paints from their range. It works fine, so you can use it to mix up any colour you like, e.g. some real rusty colours. The only limiting factor is that the powder is quite dark, so pale colours will turn murky.
Playng with the set makes me think it could prove very useful for weathering. Unpolished, the powder produces quite a rough, flat finish that would also simulate corrosion well, with brighter areas of bare metal produced with polished Grey Reflection. It might also simulate cast metal for bomb casings well in small scales.
LifeColor's Guns & Weapons set is unlike anything else I've tried. It's simple to use, but I also think getting the most from it will come with practise as you experiment with the ratio of Reflecting Agent to paint, and vary the colours to produce some interesting effects. It's certainly got a lot of potential, and the preliminary results are very encouraging.
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