In the short time that AK interactive
has been around, some interesting products have been released. Not surprising when you see that Mig Jimenez is the man behind many of these. Another driving force with the testing and development of these products is Iain Hamilton, owner of AK interactiveUSA
Color Modulation is a technique to help create depth and add realism to our scale models. Effective with both single color and camouflage paint schemes the results can be quite spectacular. Darren Baker recently provided an in-depth review of the Russian Green color modulation set which can be found here
. This review will deal with AK interactive's color modulation set for German Dunkelgelb.
The 8 x 17ml eyedropper style bottles are packed in a side opening box with a full color picture of the un-weathered vehicle after using this modulation set. This appears to be the base model used in the Washes, Fading and Oils
DVD from AK interactive that was reviewed by Jim Starkweather Here on Armorama
The back of the box shows a set of eight pictures of the finished product after each step. The images are a bit small, but provide a rough idea of where to apply each shade and in what order. As this is a modulation set, your own creativity will come into play on how you wish your final piece to look.
The paints themselves are lined up in a plastic tray, and in my instance arrived in the correct order:
• AK 003 Grey Primer
• AK 004 Dunkelgelb Shadow
• AK 005 Dunkelgelb Dark Base
• AK 006 Dunkelgelb Base
• AK 007 Dunkelgelb Light Base
• AK 008 Dunkelgelb High Light
• AK 009 Dunkelgelb Shine
• AK 010 Satin Varnish
These paints are manufactured by Vallejo Acrylics and as far as I can tell all but two are custom mixed to AK interactive's specifications. If you haven't tried Vallejo Model Air paint yet, which this set contains, you're in for a treat. These can be used straight from the bottle and do not require thinning, although you can if you wish. The eyedropper style bottles are easy to use, clean and prevent the contents from drying up, all in all very convenient. Odor is very low and not offensive (to me anyway) and being acrylic, clean up is simple.
The series of photos on the right show my progression of each step on an old previously painted Pz. IV turret, and all colors were used right out of the bottle with no thinning or other additives. And yes, I do know that I'm no Mig, so this is more of the 'average Joe' using this set!
Following the steps on the back of the box we start with the AK 003 Grey Primer
. This is the Vallejo grey primer, which is an excellent product in my opinion. Coverage is smooth and even providing a good base for the top coats. The primer dries very quickly to the touch and can be painted over once the 'wet' goes away, although full durability isn't achieved until it cures for a day or two, with or without top coats on. I used between 15-18 psi for the primer, although this will depend on individual style and the airbrush being used. As you can see, it covered up that old paint on the turret very well.
Pre-shading with AK 004 Dunkelgelb Shadow
was next. At first I thought this was black primer and was surprised to find it was more of a very dark brown, better to blend in with the Dunkelgelb theme I would imagine. Pre-shading is fairly new to me, and I believe I made the lines too tight the first go around so I applied it in a wider pattern. I figured I really cannot go wrong here as the next five colors would give plenty of opportunity to cover up what I didn't like.
The dark yellow color coats start with AK 005 Dunkelgelb Dark Base
, which ties in the primer and pre-shade. This is a pretty dark shade and appears to have a healthy dose of satin or gloss varnish mixed in as it was quite glossy. Air pressure was reduced to 10 psi at this point. It's easy to apply too much of this and the following colors, so go lightly until you get used to this and see the final product. The wet coats are a bit more transparent then when they dry.
I really liked the color of AK 006 Dunkelgelb Base
, and as you see I got a little carried away with it and applied it too heavy, covering up most of the previous work. If this was a 'keeper' I would have gone back and used the Dark Base as a shader.
AK 007 Dunkelgelb Light Base
begins the real highlighting and starts to brighten the turret up. I applied this in multiple passes working towards the center. Air pressure was reduced to 6 psi from here on out. Again, it's easy to get carried away here so tread lightly. AK 008 Dunkelgelb High Light
is very similar to the previous color and helps blend in and brighten things up a little more.
The final color coat is AK 009 Dunkelgelb Shine
, a very light color designed to draw the eye to certain features. I applied this two different ways, by airbrush and bristle brush. Although this may look garish at first glance, this is a very effective technique with stunning effects after weathering. Using the Dunkelgelb Dark Base on the shadowed areas would set this off even further, which I didn't do on this test subject.
Finally, the AK 010 Satin Varnish
is applied to blend in everything and provide a protective surface that is ready for weathering. As with the Grey Primer, this is a standard Vallejo product which imparts a nice sheen. The next time I use this set a few drops of the satin Varnish will get mixed with the AK 007 & 008 to help improve flow and blending.
If you still feel that the final finish is too bright, adding a drop or two of the Base or Dark Base to the Satin Varnish will make it less vivid and blend the colors even further. This is shown in the final photos and may be useful for a project that will receive a light weathering.
Being a user of Vallejo Acrylics, I purchased this set more out of curiosity than need. Now that I've used it, I'm glad that curiosity got the best of me and I'll continue to 'refill' these colors when they're available. You don't have to worry about mixing up a custom shade if you didn't plan for enough or need to touch up. With the price of this set being on par with individual Model Air colors, why bother mixing your own. This set allowed me to put less in the paint cup and add if I needed more, whereas when I mix my own shades I usually had leftover that ended up being dumped out.
The step by step guide on the back of the box, the only instructions included, is minimal. Luckily, more detailed instruction can be found on AK interactive's website under Techniques, where Iain Hamilton provides a more detailed SBS.
Since these paints are compatible with each other and easy to mix I can see some interesting experimentation in the future. A well thought out and convenient set that is highly recommended.