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Monday, April 27, 2015

Bolt Action - Review: AK Interactive Paints, Weathering Products and the Rubicon Panzer IV!

AK Interactive Paints/Weathering products and the Rubicon Panzer IV!

Hello guys and girls, Tobu here. I recently ordered a set of AK Interactive paints and weathering products - namely the Dunkelgelb modulation set (details here) and the DAK weathering set (clicky), and I wanted to give you guys a rundown on how I got along with them. New paints were all the excuse I needed to purchase a new kit to test them out on and I was entranced by the Siren Song of the new(ish) Panzer IV kit from Rubicon Models (clicky). So this article will also contain a short review of that kit. Schnell!

AK Interactive Paint and Weathering Sets

Here are the AKI goodies. Along with the two sets mentioned above, I also picked up the their Dark Yellow primer. The paints (and the Primer, from what I can tell) are acrylic, while the weathering products are enamel (alchohol-based). What I'll do now is show you a step-by-step of the Rubicon Panzer IV as I painted it. At the end, I'll set out my thoughts on each of the products. Most of the work was done with an airbrush.

Stage 1 - Priming

The primer is very high quality. I applied it with an airbrush, but it is advertised as being suitable for brush-on as well. It is also apparently sand-able, although I didn't test this out but it could be useful if you accidentally over-apply the primer on a section of the model. If applying with an airbrush, a small amount of thinner is required in order for it to flow optimally, although you can get away with putting it in straight if you pump the PSI up on your compressor.

Stage 2 - Shadows

Shadows were added with the darkest colour in the set.

Stage 3 - Highlighting I

From here on I worked up through the highlight colours provided in the Set. I'm going for an exaggerated 'modulated' look, which is designed to increase contrast. I used a thin piece of card to 'mask' areas (some people use low-tack tape) while I applied paint with the airbrush, as well as rotating the model to prevent paint going where I didn't want it. The 'masking' helps to achieve clean separation between individual panels, which is key for this style of modulation (see the top of the turret, for example).

Stage 4 - Highlighting II

Stage 5 - Highlighting III

And there we go! Looking pretty cartoony at the moment, but camouflage and weathering should tone this back (hopefully).

Stage 6 - Camo

Camo was applied with Vallejo Model Air 71.006 Cam. Light Green. I chose this light green to (again, hopefully) compensate for the 'dulling' effect of weathering.

Stage 7 - Details + transfers

Tracks and metal parts were painted with Vallejo 822 Black Brown. I also applied some transfers that came included in the Rubicon kit (using Vallejo transfer products). Now it's time to get diiirty..

Stage 8 - Weathering I

Chipping was added with Vallejo 944 Dark Grey via a torn-up piece of blister pack foam, focusing on the edges and any areas that would see high traffic (hatches etc). The whole tank was then sealed with a couple of coats of Vallejo Satin Varnish (via airbrush) to protect the acrylic paints from the alcohol-based weathering products to come. I let the varnish cure for around 24 hours.

Stage 9 - Weathering II

(Apologies for the slightly crappy pic) Next, I did a 'pin wash' using the AKI Dark Brown enamel wash. You don't have to be super accurate with this wash, as in the next stage the wash will be cleaned up.

Stage 10 - Weathering III

Clean up was accomplished using a Q-tip soaked in Artist White Spirit (purchased from my local art supplies shop). I only wanted the wash to be present in the crevices of the model. For more detail on using enamel weathering techniques, check out Patch's (link), Bryan's (link) and the Mouth of Madness' (link) excellent guides.

After this clean-up, I applied two all-over, thin coats of the AKI DAK Filter. The effect of this was minor and hard to capture in the photos, but it seemed to tie the whole thing together, and added a slightly warmer tint to the Dunkelgelb. It also helped to blend in the transfers which was a nice bonus.

I also experimented a little with the AKI Streaking Grime, mostly around the engine (not pictured sorry). The effect is nice, but quite particular so you probably won't go through a bottle in a hurry.

Stage 11 - Pigments and final details

I added a crew figure from Warlord Games and touched up some of the metal parts before adding some Vallejo Natural Umber pigment mixed into their Pigment Medium around the tracks and lower parts of the vehicle. Done!

Reviews and Thoughts

AK Interactive products

These paints and weathering products were an absolute joy to work with. Having colours available in convenient sets is a major plus in my book. The paints are quite obviously designed to favour airbrushes (they have a pretty thin consistency) but would be more than workable if you are using a brush. Are these better than Vallejo paints? Maybe. I favour the finish of the AKI paints over Vallejo, the AKI gear seems to be a little more matte which I prefer. Would I go out and replace my Vallejo paints with AKI? Probably not. I had run low on the Vallejo paints I have used previously for Dunkelgelb and wanted to try something new, but if you've got a full stock of Vallejo ready to go there is probably no need to rush out and spend more money.

The AKI DAK weathering set is EPIC. The Dark Brown Wash is worth the price of admission alone and the DAK Filter is very nice, if subtle. As mentioned above, the Streaking Grime is a very particular effect, but it does look good and it's another tool in the toolbox.

Conclusion: If you're in the market for some new paints, keep AK Interactive firmly in mind - the various sets take a lot of the guesswork out. AND, if you haven't checked out their enamel Weathering products - do it now! NOW!

Rubicon Panzer IV

Simply put, this is an amazing kit. 

There are three variants of the Panzer IV that can be assembled from the box - the ausf. F1, G and H. The different gun barrels are also interchangeable WITHOUT GLUE! How good is that?

The model itself is extremely easy to assemble, and feels extremely solid. If there was anything to criticise, perhaps the tracks could do with a little more detail but I'm just knit-picking at this stage.

Finally, the kit includes detachable Schürzen which is truly detachable in that it also doesn't require glue! Very impressive.

Conclusion: Check this out for sure. It's a great kit, at a great price, and it's loaded with options. I'm looking forward to checking out more Rubicon kits in the near future. 

Final words

Thanks for checking out the article guys, I hope you enjoyed. If you've got any comments, your own tips on painting German tanks, or would like to share your experiences with any of the above products please join us on the forums via the link below.

Tobu out.

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