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Panel Lines With Pencil Lead

I have received many compliments and questions on my method of weathering panel lines after I put pictures of my ME109E onto the aircraft forum so I thought I would do a step-by-step article on how simple this method is.

The only constraints are that the kit should have recessed panel lines, the decals are applied with decal agents so they shrink into the panel lines, and the surface has a matt finish. The kit is built, painted, decaled and given a coat of matt varnish. It should then be left to dry for a couple of days for the varnish to completely harden. The canopy and underwing stores may be left off for ease of handling if desired. In this case I am using a 1/72 Tamiya Jaguar GR1 in Gulf War colours.

The tools [pic1] used are: a piece of fine wet and dry paper taped to a flat surface, a fine soft bristled paintbrush, a propelling pencil [the type that uses fine 0.5mm lead].

The pencil is adjusted so that 4-5mm of lead is protruding and is then gently rubbed against the wet and dry to produce a sharp point. [pic2]

Taking the model the panel lines are gently drawn in. Care should be taken not to press too hard, especially where decals cross the panel line. The point of the pencil will naturally follow the recessed line, if it slips out and leaves a line outside the recess this can be removed by lightly rubbing with an eraser. The lead will soon lose its sharp point so stop regularly and rub it on the wet and dry to sharpen it again. [pic3]

Continue until all the panel lines are drawn in. [pic4]

Take the brush and rub it into the powder left on the wet and dry paper when the pencil lead was sharpened. [pic5]

Gently apply the powder by lightly brushing along the panel lines and also into recesses, in this case under the lower wing/fuselage joining and the ventral spine/fuselage joining. There may be excess powder that falls onto the surface of the kit, simply stop after doing each line and blow it away. If the powder runs out rub the pencil on the wet and dry paper to produce some more. Care should be taken from now on in handling the kit to avoid getting powder onto the fingers and then leaving fingerprints on the kit, I usually hold the kit by the leading and trailing edges of the wing. [pic6]

Continue doing all the lines until the whole kit is done. If the powder seems too heavily done in places take a piece of clean masking tape, gently lay it on the area you are not happy with and slowly peal it off, it will remove much of the powder allowing you to redo the area. And that's all there is to it, this method is simplicity itself once done a couple of times and takes very little time, this kit took only 20 minutes to weather for this article. [pic7]

With practice you will soon find that you can control how heavily the powder is applied and this technique can also be used to show exhaust stains on piston powered aircraft, cordite staining on wings where guns are mounted, as well as the staining that occurs on the underside of aircraft using grass airfields. Also I have mixed weathering powders in with the pencil lead powder to vary the effect with some success.

I should add that I use this method instead of using a wash, I don't know whether the two methods will compliment each other, maybe someone will try and if the result is effective do another article.

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About Martin Ramsden (brandydoguk)

I've been modelling off and on for 25 years. Thanks to this site I'm really into the hobby in a big way, and although I've a long way to go my skills are definately improving.