Tips & Techniques – soft pastels & rivets

Here we are in March 2014. Work progresses on the two Sukhois – the Su-7 and Su-22 in 1/48th scale. Before closing the fuselage all the internal work is done. This focusses on the air inlet, the cockpit and the jet pipe.


After the detail painting of the ejection seats they can look a little contrasty and toy-like. Tone them down with a brush of light grey soft pastel dust. Soft pastels can be brought at art stores. They are like chalk. Do not buy the oil pastels as they are like wax. You need the type that turns to dust when rubbed on to sand paper. As you can see in this picture I have used rough decorator’s sandpaper and rubbed the soft pastel against it. You can blend multiple pastels but buy a good selection of colours. Apply generously to the ejection seat. This works well on the darker colours – particularly black – giving a better scale appearance. On lighter colours it is better to use the pastels as a darker shade in the corners and crevices. On this dark ejection seat we are essentially dry-brushing with the pastel dust to lighten highlights.


Don’t be afraid to get the item covered thoroughly in dust. We will gently blow this away with an air-duster. This gives greater power than an airbrush and is handy too. However it can be very violent – specifically when using a new can! So be very careful. Press the button slowly and carefully direct the nozzle away from delicate items. Leave a good distance between nozzle and item lest you blast off some delicate piece of photo-etch. Once you get the hang of it it is really very easy to blow away the excess dust to get the effect you want. It should be quite subtle.


Here we are dusting the Su-7 cockpit. Focus on the highlights. It will give it a good scale “lived in” look. Later we will apply a coat of Future floor polish to seal in the dust layer. Then this cockpit will get a good pin wash of black oil paint to bring out the details.


Normally folk apply rivets using this sort of pounce wheel to the outside of a kit. However the rivets on the jet intake of the Su7 and Su-22 are very evident on all photos. I don’t have a riveter wheel small enough for these confined spaces so I did what I could with what I had. Later we will apply a pin wash of black oil paint to pick out the detail. These photos show me applying rivets to the shock cone/intake bullet based upon photos. Yes! They are fully painted at this point! I should have done it earlier but didn’t notice the opportunity until AFTER painting. In fact it makes no difference. You just need to avoid mistakes!


Su-22 left and Su-7 right. Here we see in the inside of the air intake at the nose. I am applying the rivets as best I can in limited space.

Note the subtle work with the airbrush to add artificial depth to the air intake. The kits do not offer nice intake tunnels and both just end at the cockpit. So I have ensured that this area is as black as possible! Note the Su-22 with its auxiliary air intake flap open on the left. This flops open on the ground when there is no pressure in the hydraulic system. The lower flap stays shut due to gravity. No photo of the Su-7 (that I have ever seen) shows either flap open so either it didn’t have them or they were kept shut via so mechanism that may have been deleted on the Su-22.

By April 2014 we should have these items glossed, pin washed and sealed ready for the closure of the fuselage sides. Then the fun begins with main construction.

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