Swedish recolouring of the GPM Storch

Discussion in 'Tips, Tutorials & Tools' started by Leif Oh, Jun 10, 2005.

  1. Leif Oh

    Leif Oh Member

    Reviewing the new GPM kit of the Fiesler Storch I remarked particularly on the clever 3D-paint technique used for simulating both the sagging of wing fabric cover between ribs, and for various access hatches, bolts, recesses, etc.

    Studying these details more closely at leisure, it suddenly struck me that this is a technique I've come across by chance myself. On various occasions I had been admiring the bevelled finish of people's avatars on this site. Enviously playing with my own avatar in Photoshop I sort of stumbled on to how this could be done (and since then I've even imposed the result on some of you guys, offering you "improved" avatars for fun).

    The samples below demonstrate how the bevelling technique clearly is utilized in the GPM kit for simulating both recessed and protruding areas.


    This was a revelation to me. What it meant was, that you would not necessarily have to be an airbrush artist to be able to pull off some very realistic 3D-painting.

    The next incentive was the short discussion following the review, where some of us briefly aired various basic techniques for repainting. This made me even more eager to try out my own suggested approach, namely thinking in terms of delineating areas with the different selection tools (rectangular and elliptical marquee tool, plus the polyhedral lasso tool), rather than replicating all lines of the original with the line tool.

    The basic idea here is that selected areas are added to different saved sets of selections, one for each basic colour or intended 3D-effect. These areas then can be called up at will, filled with the appropriate colour, outlined with an appropriate ligther or darker hue, or bevelled and embossed - all without having to do any extra tracing.

    I had already learned that any recolouring work would have to build on a systematic use of layers separating basic coloured areas, outlines, touch-up line details, and 3D-effects. (For previous attempts at recolouring, see "A beginner's five first steps in recolouring" and "Recolouring II: Converting a Vimy into G-EAOU".)

    I knew a complete recolouring along the lines envisaged would be pretty laborious, but the advantages would far outweigh the initial labour involved, I thought, since it would be a no-regrets approach. At any time during the process, or even after test-printing, I would be able to go back and change colour hues, simply by calling up the selected areas again and fill them with a different shade of colour.

    As it turned out, I do hope I won't have to do that, since even so it would really involve a lot of work, but at least it is possible.

    Since the review, I have in fact just finished a complete recolouring of the Africa corps marked Fiesler Storch into the Swedish Air Force markings and paint scheme of the 1940s. Here is a sample of how the two versions compare:


    If you think my recolouring is less distinct than the original, it is partly intended. One of the goals was to get rid of the all-black outlines. And if the recesses are not sufficiently marked, it is, as will become clear later on, a very easy matter indeed to amend - just sliding a lever in Photoshop a few notches will do the job!

    I freely admit that accomplishing this involved a lot more work than I initially thought would be the case. But it was also very satisfying, and I've learnt tonnes of useful stuff along the way, which I'm just burning up to share. All of the techniques would seem to be applicable also to other branches of paper modeling.

    I have been doing this work in Photoshop (I have now installed an English version of the programme to be able to communicate better with the rest of you), but I hope and think that most of the tools and techniques can be located and replicated in other similar graphic programmes.

    What follows in this thread will underline, again and again, the following main points learned by the exercise:

    1. Use outlined fields instead of the magic wand and traced lines.

    2. Build up sets of saved selections.

    3. Separate your work into appropriate layers.

    4. Use the bevel & emboss option to simulate recessed and protruding areas and details.

    5. Use the gradient tool to simulate transitions between two different colours where painting masks were not used on the original.

    In addition, I will recount how an underlying 3D-pattern can be painlessly transferred to details such as markings and insignia which are applied later on in the process (the result really stunned me when I finally worked out how to accomplish it), and how to give a 3D-appearance to an otherwise rather flat and dull prop (which was much simpler than I thought it would be).

    All in all, it will take some time and several installments to go through this, and I hope some of you will join in to correct or improve on the techniques I've just sort of stumbled on to. If any of you would like to demonstrate your way of doing things, I'll be happy to post or send you samples of the stuff I've been working on, in order for all of us to be able to compare notes on the same details.

    I would like to stress the last point. This is the effort by an amateur, stumbling along and learning by trial and error. I am absolutely convinced there must be better ways of doing many of the things that will follow. The main reason for recounting the work in detail is that at least it offers an opportunity for the rest of you to join in and share your way of doing things.

  2. Gil

    Gil Active Member


    You seem to have become "hooked" on Photoshop and it's abilities. A beginning discussion on this occured some time ago but didn't yield any real substance. It's great that you've taken the time to "play" with Photoshop to discover these effects. I've had a good time using photoshop on the Grunau Babby IIB and have basically discovered the same effects only it didn't occur to me to use outlined fields instead of the magic wand. But what I was after was not repainting but to just capture the external black line and recolor it to match the field. I guess one's perspective on the approach has much to do with the tool use decision making process (as is always the case).

    Patiently waiting for more, Gil
  3. Leif Oh

    Leif Oh Member

    1. Reference material and correct colours

    1. Reference material and correct colours

    I knew for sure that the Swedish Air Force had utilized the Fiesler Storch, and a Google search quickly turned up two images which could be used to show what we are starting from and what the intended end result should look like:

    This is rougly what the GPM Storch represents (you will find the picture here, a bit down at the original source):


    And below you can see the only remaining Swedish Storch:


    This museum piece is made up of parts from several aircrafts, and the serial no. is in fact fictitious (original source).

    For a recolour job done properly, you would of course need extra reference material. At the IPMS Stockholm site I found, by chance, a very nice walk-around of the Swedish Fiesler Storch in detail. I recommend it thoroughly.

    Now, this is all fine and good, but it really does not help in obtaining the correct colours to use. For that I reverted to sources previously sought out (see "Sources for correct aircraft colour schemes"). Some of the urls had changed, so I'll provide the current ones here, for the sources that I used in this project:

    Chandelle Magazine: "Aviation colors"

    IPMS Stockholm: Urban Fredriksson's Color Reference Charts

    Now, the colours provided here differ slightly between the sources, and several alternatives were offered at the IPMS site. In the end, it was down to a personal choice which I arbitrarly made from the IMPS site.

    Even so, the problems weren't over. How to transfer a colour sample from the table given on the site to my Photoshop palette? Opening the html page in a composer mode did not help, since the colour sample offered there wasn't the same as the one shown on the page in browser mode - obviously the system works on shades of basic colours.

    In the end I opted for taking screenshots of the two colours (green and underside blue-grey) I wanted, opened these in Photoshop and sampled the colours.


    The next step was to get a suitable hue of outline colours (cutting lines and touch-up lines of details). A main goal of the recolouring effort was to get away from the sharp black lines at all costs. So I tweaked the two basic colours in my Mac colour picker (I'm sure you Win guys have a similar option in your system), for a slightly lighter shade of green, and a slightly darker shade of blue-grey, to be used for outlines.

    In addition, I devised on my own what I thought would be a suitable hue of interior grey (simply 50 percent pure grey) with a slightly darker outline.

    Squares of these three colours (with accompanying smaller squares for outline colours) now were pasted into a common image:


    The beauty of this is that you can copy and paste this entire image (it is very small) into a small space at the bottom of each page you are working on, thus having easy access to the correct colours, and thus be able to pick a new set of colours very easily during the work.

    Incidentally, when you start recolouring, I recommend picking the outline colour (smaller squares) as foreground colours, and the main colour as background colour. This is because the "stroke" (outline) and line tools are restricted to the foreground colour, while you can make the "Fill" option pick up the background colours.

    These preparations all took their goodly time. However, having settled on the choice of colours, all is now set for the recolour job proper to start.

    In order to recount the order of doing things as they become more and more complicated I have prepared a sample page of typical parts from the GPM Fiesler Storch, which you will see screenshots of with appropriate menus options displayed, until the time when all parts have been adequately recoloured and treated.


    If you want to take part more actively in this exercise, the testpage depicted above is available for download as "Test-repaint_hi-res.jpg". It is a 4,9 MB high-resolution 300 dpi jpg-file in scale 1/33, suitable for importing into any graphics programme.

    (My own recolouring of the Storch was made in a scale of 1/16 at 150 dpi, which is almost identical in apparent size and resolution. For this exercise, however, I'll be working on exactly the same page as you can download, and I am starting now, so we'll be working at the same pace, on the same basic material.)

    One more point before we start: If you use this exercise as a guideline to recolouring a model of your own, be sure to read the thread "Scanning experiences" before starting. The two main points there are: 1) Avoid any setting in your scanning programme that says "photo" and stick to the "document" or "linear" settings. 2) Once in your graphic programme, find any setting that has to do with "white point" and select a suitable area in your scan that really ought to be white.

    Both of these points have already been taken care of in the test page.

  4. dwgannon

    dwgannon Member

    Well now here is a thread that I will be very interested in. I have a few models that I am not happy with the color and would like to fine tune them. This will be good for all of us the enjoy. Thanks for taking the time.
  5. Leif Oh

    Leif Oh Member

    2. Filling in the main fields of green & grey

    2. Filling in the main fields of green & grey

    First a reminder: The test page we are working on for this exercise can be downloaded from here (4.9 MB high-resolution jpg-file; use your usual routine for downloading, as opposed to viewing, an image).

    Two routine tasks will provide an initial exercise in creating and handling the system of layers in Photoshop (or similar programme, a caveat I will not repeat from now on).

    First, select all of the original image, copy and paste. This automatically creates a new layer. Rename this "Original", and rename the previous bottom layer "White". Fill this bottom layer with white. In the new "Original" layer, use the magic wand to select and delete all white areas around parts. One click should do the job. Check the "Anti-alias" (which will soften the selection) and "Contiguous" (which will leave white areas within parts alone and just clean up the white around the parts) options, but leave the "Use All Layers" option unchecked (otherwise you would pick up on your white bottom layer, too).

    The idea here is that you can now very easily turn off the white background to see parts against a grid background, which makes it easier to align them if so needed. Now lock the layer "Original", and leave it locked for the duration, unless you need to align a part for ease of recolouring it.

    Second (if you are working on your own model), copy the image you've made of the colours to be used, make the layer "Original" active, and paste. A new layer is automatically created. Rename this "Misc.", and move the colour sample in that layer towards a suitable free space. (The colour sample used in this exercise has already been positioned in the download file, but you can carry out this part of the exercise by cutting and pasting it to the new "Misc." layer.)

    The idea here is that you should be able to turn off the "Original", and still have access to the colour samples. (We will also use this layer for some additional details later on.)

    The testpage with its layers should now look something like this (the white background has been turned off to demonstrate the advantages of being able to do so for alignment purposes):


    Now we can really get down to business. The first part of the work consists of outlining and saving selections of the main two colours, green (tops and sides of wings, fuselage) and blue-grey (bottom of wings, fuselage). This is a simple task, but it will provide a useful introduction to handling and distinguishing between saved sets of selections ("channels"), and layers.

    Create a new layer (and while you're at it, take your time to learn the keyboard commands for doing so), and name it "Main fills". Zoom in to 200 percent (my choice for exactness; work at whatever magnification suits your resolution and personal preferences best).

    Select your "Rectangular Marquee" tool (learn the keyboard commands for it and other tools as you go along, I won't repeat this...), and outline the area of the left bottom wing that should be green. Let the cutting lines/outlines be included in your selection (new lines will be automatically placed on the inside of your selection later on). When you are satisfied with your selection, find the "Save selection" menu, type "Green main fill" into the space for a new selection, check "New channel", and click OK.


    Congratulations - you have now created the first part of a channel which eventually will enable you to both fill and outline all green parts with their proper two shades of green at a single command!

    A note here: Using the rectangular marquee tool requires that the original part is both rectangular and well aligned. If a part in the "Original" layer needs aligning, select it by the suitable tool (marquee or lasso), choose "Free transform" under "Edit", and rotate it slightly, either manually or by typing in a fraction of a degree (typically 0.2 or 0.1 degrees) in the appropriate box at the top of the page. This work is made much easier if you make the layer "White" invisible. The alignment can then be made against the chequered background.

    Continue using your rectangular marquee tool for selecting what shall be green on the right wing part (with the German cross). Again, bring up the Save selection menu - but this time, choose your recently created channel "Green main fill" instead of the "New" option. And be sure to check the "Add to channel" option, instead of "New Channel" (this is very important but easy to forget!). Click OK and you have added your new selection to the green main fill channel.


    By this time you will probably want to check out that you are on the right track. No problem. Prepare by choosing the eyedropper tool and scroll down to your pasted colour samples at the bottom of the page. Click in the small, lighter green, square for selecting this as your foreground colour. Press "alt/option" (or whatever the appropriate key equivalent is in you programme and system) and click in the larger, dark green, square for selecting that as your background colour.

    Now for the clincher: Under "Select", bring up "Load selection" (not "Save selection" as on previous occassions), choose "Green main fill", check "New selection" and click OK. Both of your two first selections should now be visible. Great! Now, make sure that the layer "Main fills" is the active layer, go to "Edit", choose "Fill" and select "Background colour". Click OK, and you should have two nice green fields.

    Now create a new layer and call it "Outlines". Make sure it is the active layer. If you have lost your saved selection in the process, bring it up again and go to "Edit", although this time choose "Stroke". In that dialogue box, fill in "2 px" for "Width", check "Inside" and make sure that the foreground colour (your lighter green outline colour) is shown. Click OK and you will see how your two dark green fields now automatically are outlined with a lighter green cutting line of suitable thickness. For now, you should be very happy!


    It is probably a good idea to continue with green while we're at it, so lets tackle the left flap part in the same manner. For the right, aileron, part you can start the first rectangular section with the rectangular marquee tool. While that selection is still visible, choose your polygonal lasso tool, press and hold caps for enlarging your selection, and start enlarging the selection by outlining the curved part of the green section of the aileron. You can add or detract (caps or option/alt key) as many times as you wish until you are satisified.

    Now bring up the "Save selection" box again, and add this new, slightly more complicated, selection to your "Green main fill" channel.

    From now on it's just a matter of repeating this exercise until you have outlined and added all sections that are to be green. Go to the "Load selection" box as many times as you wish (or wait until you finished building up your "Green main fills" selection, fill with green in the "Main fills" layer, and stroke the fields in the "Outline" layer.

    You can't go wrong as long as you fill and stroke in the correct layers. Go slow, and if you make a mistake, don't hesitate to back up in the "History" window. If that becomes necessary, you will have to retrace everything you made after the point where you went wrong, but that's better than having things in the wrong layers. Also, it serves as a reminder to work carefully.

    A tip: For the cabin window section and similar parts, first add a selection of the outline of the whole piece, then outline a window and check the "Subtract from channel" option in the "Save selection" box. Do the same for all white areas within parts.


    Loading the selection "Green main fill", filling and outlining it, now should make your page look something like this:


    First filling, in the "Main fills" layer (above). Then outlining ("Stroke"), in the "Outline" layer (below, viewed at greater magnification for clarity):


    Before we leave the green colour, there are a few touch-up lines to be made. Make these in a new "Touch-up" layer. By making the "Main fills" layer invisible, it is very easy to follow the lines of the original.

    The rectangular boxes between the ailerons are outlined with the rectangular marquee tool and stroked. A number of small dividing lines (trim rudders, a dividing line in the engine cowling, the cabin part, and a few extra lines in the rectangular parts, some small cutting lines) are added with the help of the line tool. Set the width of this tool to 2 px and check anti-alias.

    Notice how few lines you actually have to add with the line tool, and how many are already added by stroking your "Green main fill" channel - and how often you can make sets of perpendicular lines partly coinciding with already stroked fields by by using the rectangular marquee tool and stroking the enlarged fields!


    The idea of adding these touch-up lines in a separate layer is to enable you to insert intervening layers (gradients) OVER some of the outlines, but UNDER some small touch-up lines to be added later on. Keeping the outlines separate from the main fills enables you to painlessly delete, if necessary, unwanted sections of outlines (such as between ajoining green and blue-grey fields).

    Now repeat the exercise for all blue-grey areas. Change your colours to the two grey nuances. Add the selections to a new channel, "Blue-gray main fill", but perform the actual filling and the outlining of that selection in the already existing layers "Main fills" and "Outlines". Having fills of several colours in the same layer does not pose any problems, as far as I've found.

    Add the rectangular glue lines for parts in the wing area in the "Touch-up" layer, by marking their outsides with the rectangular marquee tool, and stroking them on the inside (with the appropriate blue-grey outline, of course, which you've picked at the same time you changed colours to work with). If you wish you can simply make one (if there are several identical), copy & paste it, place it correctly in the new paste layer, and then "Merge down" to get it back to your original "Touch-up" layer.

    Finally, change colours to the two nuances of interior grey, and outline the two remaining large details coloured in this nuance. Create a new channel, "Interior grey main fill". Fill & stroke in the two appropriate layers ("Main fills" and "Outlines"). Add a few straight touch-up lines in the appropriate layer, but leave the interior lines of the rib part alone - we'll device a much better effect for them later on than provided in the original kit.

    Notice how powerful the use of channels is - you now have three different selections (and there will be more), which you have used to make three sets of fills, and three sets of outlines in two layers.

    For now, leave the intricate blue-grey aileron horns, the prop parts, the two smaller details at the top (in fact, these will remain untouched), some other touch-up lines and circular patterns. In particular, leave all the little circular outlines (holes, bolts, eyelets, etc) that need touching up for now; we'll return to these a bit later on and try out a really neat trick for accomplishing them rather painlessly and elegant.

    Your test page, with all its present layers, should now look something like this:


    At the moment it looks exceedingly flat and bland. But we'll soon change that!


    PS. If you want to join in the fun, don't hesitate. We'll be working at the same pace - I haven't started on the next step yet either, neither recolouring, nor writing it up...
  6. Gil

    Gil Active Member


    First let me thank you for the wonderful tutorial. The idea of using the alpha or channel buffer as a "custom coloring stencil" is absolutely beautiful. Actually had to buff up on Photoshop once again.

    Again with much thanks, Gil
  7. Leif Oh

    Leif Oh Member

    3. Adding 3D recessed fields

    3. Adding 3D recessed fields

    Thanks Gil - it is kind of exhilarating, isn't it? This one, and the next, are for you, in particular, since they are about bevel & emboss, no less!

    Once the basic fills have been created, we can begin playing with the recessed areas, created by using the "Bevel & Emboss" option in the "Layer" menu. You'll find it under "Layer style".

    Start by creating a new layer for this exercise, immediately above your "Main fills" layer. Call it "Recessed" (we'll create a similar "Protruding" layer in the next installment; if you have any suggestions for better terminology, please let me know!).

    The flaps (third item to the left, from the bottom up) offers a conveniently regular number of recessed areas to start with. Turn off the "Main fills" layer in order to be able to see the original. Using the polygonal lasso tool, outline one of the squares with rounded corners in the green area. Save the selection in a new channel called "Green recessed".

    Now, in your new "Recessed" layer, fill this outline (but do not outline, "stroke", it!) with our regular green colour. Like this:


    Note that if you have aligned the original parts correctly, most of these recesses can be made very exactly and quickly by pressing caps while drawing the horizontal and vertical lines, which will force perfectly true horizontal or vertical lines. The roundings at the corners is easily accomplished with two additional clicks while you go around the square.

    Now for the fun part: Check that your new layer "Recessed" is still active. Then, in the "Layer" menu, choose "Layer style", and then "Bevel and Emboss". You'll get a dialogue box looking like this:


    For now, you may just want to copy the settings in this picture. I'm not saying they are the best, or that I know what half of them means, but at least it will get us on the same page. Make sure, in particular, that you've checked "Direction - Down" since we are making recessed areas!

    Notice two things: The list of layers now has got an addition, an "Effects" box with "Bevels and Emboss" included. You can choose to turn this layer style on and off. But for now you would like to see what you have done, and nothing seems to have happened, right? Just wait. Now turn on your "Main fills" layer, activating all the fills you made in the last installment:


    And hey presto! Something really seems to have happened after all. It's all in the mixing between layers, it seems. Three cheers for the brilliant Photoshop programmers!

    Now is the time to start playing around with those levers and options. Notice how you can change the direction and angle from which the light seems to come. What this means is that with some hard thinking you could subject each part of your model to light from the same direction. But then you would also have to create a special effects layer for almost each and every part! Me, I'm happy with having the illusion of light falling on taut fabric between wing ribs, and I don't think anybody would much notice that the wing and stabilizer just might seem to have two different light sources.

    When you've finished fiddling around with all those nice controls, you should snap a screenshot or two with your prefered settings and publish it here, so that we all can learn something. After that you may want to continue making all the rest of those recesses, so turn off your "Main fills" layer again.

    When you've made your second square with soft corners, and added it to your "Green recessed" saved selection, try a neat trick. Selections can be moved - just carefully grip the edge of the selection and move it. If you want a really easy trip, press caps to force it to move horizontally (in this case) until it overlaps the next square.


    Add to the saved selection, and continue moving the selected area. This way it took me less than a minute to create the saved selection adding up to the green flap part we're working on.


    Now bring up that saved "Green recessed" selection, and move all the selected squares vertically (press caps) to make up the start of a new "Blue-grey recessed" saved selection. Fifteen seconds more and you've created all the recessed areas of the flap!

    To finish off the flap, load your saved saved selections of "Green recessed" and "Blue-grey recessed" in turn, fill them with their appropriate colours, both in the "Recessed" layer, make sure its effect layer is turned on, and then turn on your "Main fills" layer. Beautiful - you have now created all the recessed areas of the flap part in two colours in substantially less time than it took to write this down!


    You will probably want to stop here and play some more with the "Bevel and Emboss" tool. Be sure to share what you arrive at!

    Then get serious for a bit and do the aileron, stab and fins part. They are easy, too. On the stab you can do one part, let's say the blue-grey. Then bring up your saved "Blue-grey recessed" selection, deselect everthing but the stab part, and then under "Select", hit "Transform selection". Under "Edit" then hit "Transform" and "Flip vertical". Move the flipped selection vertically to the green stab half, and add it to your saved "Green recessed" selection.


    Moving the flipped selection works like a charm, particularly if you've aligned the stab part well. If not, you could always rotate the selection the fraction of a degree necessary to make it fit the other (green) half of the stab.

    A note here: Leave the recessed lines on the stab and fin alone. They really shouldn't be recessed at all, should they, so we'll make them protruding in the next installment. It will be good fun to ameliorate a number of similar mistakes in the original kit!

    The wing (bottom part) is an interesting case. Start with the green (bottom) parts and make the initial square with rounded corners as in the previous cases, and add it to your "Green recessed" saved selection. Then move the selection upwards to its corresponding position in the grey part of the wing, and add it to your saved "Blue-grey recessed" selection.

    As for the rest of the wing recesses, they can be made by making an initial outlining with the rectangular marquee, and then detract from this, using a rectangular marquee of fixed width and height. Here's how it goes:

    First make the initial outer selection, encompassing all the rest of the recesses in the green part of the wing panel. Add to "Green recessed" saved selection. Then, in the top tool menu row, choose the option "Fixed size" for you rectangular marquee, and type in 6 px for width, and 150 px for height. Try clicking near on of the front half-ribs to see what happens.


    Nice, huh! Now simply adjust the positioning with your arrow keys, or click again at a position close, and once you're satisfied subtract this selection from your previously saved "Green recessed" selection. For the half-ribs, you have to position it correctly at the bottom, but otherwise the surplus height of your fixed size selection doesn't matter (within reason), since you are subtracting, not adding, and you can't subtract from where no selection is!

    Repeat and detract for all remaining half-ribs, then change the setting to an height of 450 px and repeat for all full ribs. Finish up by manually (or by your recently learned method) detracting the very thin horizonal segment, presumably representing a wing spar.

    An afterthought here: It probably pays to get the height of the fixed size selections right, too. Then all you'd have to do is to click at the upper left corner of a rib or a half-rib to position it absolutely correctly. You should try this!

    For a similar job on the blue-grey part of the wing, you can actually use the flip transformation you learned on the stab, even if the proportions of the bottom wing are different. Adjust your flipped green wing part selection along the spar line and subtract/add to that selection where necessary by using the rectangular marquee together with appropriate keys (caps, etc). Took me around a minute to adjust the selection this way, much quicker than redoing the whole thing - and less boring!

    When you are satified, add it to your saved "Blue-grey recessed" selection, and fill it. Leave the round access hatches for now, since we are going to improve on them considerably later on.

    The last part of this installment is the wing root rib. Outline the interior structure and save to a new "Interior grey recessed" selection. Fill, first with interior grey outline (the darker hue), and then again with interior grey (standard lighter hue), all in the "Recessed" layer, and you'll get this:


    Apparently a few streaks of the darker hue shines through the lighter, which gives a nice contour to the recesses. I discovered this by pure accident.

    Isn't all of this nice - and it get's better in the next installment when we'll add protruding hatches on the fuselage and wings. Note that the original has depicted many of these hatches as recessed, which I think is definitely wrong. We'll certainly improve on that.

  8. Leif Oh

    Leif Oh Member

    4. Adding 3D protruding fields & lines

    4. Adding 3D protruding fields & lines

    Studying the photos provided earlier in the first installment (after the introduction) on background research, it became absolutely clear that many of the hatches and areas depicted as recessed in the GPM kit, in fact are protruding. Here are two examples:


    Both the access hatches in the wing, and the access fabric panel in the fuselage, are clearly protruding. Logic demands that fabric over ribs in the fin and stabilizer also are protruding, as well as the ventilation rills in the engine hood (I do think; correct me if I'm wrong).

    So, in this installment we'll learn how to make very nice and sharp access hatches, as well as softly protruding ribs. In addition, we'll add some 3D-effects to the tubular longerons of the fuselage, instead of just line markings.

    Let's start with the hatches in the wing. Outline the circular part of one hatch in the grey part of the wing with the elliptical marquee tool. Learn the trick of pressing caps once you started the draw, in order to force a cirle instead of an ellipse. Save the selection as "Blue-grey protruding":


    Add to that selection, the way you've learnt by now, the hinge part of the hatch (use the rectangular marquee tool). And subtract the middle recess (use the lasso tool).

    Now, load this "Blue-grey protruding" selection, and move it horizontally to the next grey access hatch. Once in place, add it to the saved selection. Continue moving the selection further, to the green part of the wing. Obviously you need to flip the selection. Do this by finding the "Transform selection" menu:


    And then the "Flip vertical" menu:


    Move the flipped selection to its correct place, and save this as the start of a "Green protruding" saved selection. (We'll get back to the orange/white triangular mark at a later stage.)

    Now, create a new "Protruding" layer above your previous "Recessed" layer. Keep the "Recessed" layer active, and find the "Copy layer style" menu.


    Return to your new "Protruding" layer, and in that "Paste layer style".


    Open "Bevel and emboss" in the "Effects" part of the new "Protruding" layer, and make the following small changes:


    The most important thing here is to change it from "Down" to "Up", since we want parts to be protruding, as opposed to the original kit. The other change is to make the bevelling (or embossing) smaller in size, since we aren't dealing with taut fabric any longer, but distinct thin sheets of metal, right?

    Now, turn on your "Main fills" and "Recessed" layers as well, and enjoy what you see:


    Use this method to create protruding panels in the fuselage sides (3 places) and bottom (1), plus the ventilation rills in the engine hood parts (4 places and many rills), plus a couple of panels on the interior grey part. Be sure to add the selections to the proper saved selections (and don't forget to create a new one, "Interior grey protruding"). When you're finished filling the selections with their proper colours, all in the "Protruding" layer, it could look something like this (selected parts):


    We'll leave all nuts and bolts for the moment. For the protruding rib parts on the fin and stab, we'll practice a new method of "feathered" selections, in order to produce the soft protruding areas desired.

    Select your rectangular marquee tool, but now add 2 px of "Feather" in the appropriate box at the top. Also, choose fixed size of 6 px width, and experiment with the length on the stab parts. Notice how the selection takes on a nicely rounded form.


    Once you've got it right for one set of ribs in the e.g. the green part of the stab, add it to your "Green protruding" saved set, move the selection to the appropriate position in the grey part of the wing and add to the "Blue-grey protruding" selection.

    Load and fill your selections with their proper colours in the "Protruding" layer, and you will get something like this:


    Notice how the feathering produces a very soft protruding effect, well outside the selection as such! (Main fills turned off in the picture below for clarity):


    In the fixed part of the fin, the ribs are angled, so you'll have to work a little bit more. Estimate the proper length for a particular rib, click to make the selection, then order up "Transform selection". Now you can immediately rotate the selection and place it where it should be. If the length is incorrect, type in a new estimation for correct length, and go through the process again.


    This might be the single most time-consuming part of the whole recolouring exercise - and it still isn't half as difficult as it sounds. Very quickly, once you get into the routine, you'll make the six angled ribs in the fixed part of the fin in a couple of minutes.

    The last part for today is adding a few contoured lines for the longerons in the fuselage. Do this by selecting the line tool (for a change!). Try a width of 4 px, and green colour. Add these lines in a new, "Protruding lines", above the "Outlines" layer, to be on the safe side (and in order to cover some of outlines).

    Copy the layer style of your previous "Protruding" layer, and paste it in the new "Protruding lines" layer. The result should look something like this:


    I have also added, in the same layer, a few thinner, 2 px protruding lines in the cabin door, on booth the outside and inside (interior grey) part. Along the trim rudders in the stab, thick 6 px lines have been added in the "Recessed" area, under the dividing line already drawn, which produces a nice effect:


    That's all for today - the hard part is done. Now go practice!

  9. Leif Oh

    Leif Oh Member

    5. Using the gradient tool

    5. Using the gradient tool

    From the GPM kit, it seems the grey bottom colour was sprayed on without masking, so we need to come up with a technique to reproduce this when recolouring (in fact, I think the Swedish Storch had a much sharper dividing line between blue-grey and green, but then there wouldn't be a challenge, would there, so I'll pretend that it, too, was sprayed without masking).

    The tool to use here is the "Gradient" tool, and I think you'll find it of great use for a variety of applications.

    Start by making a new "Gradients" layer (what else...) above your recent "Recessed" and "Protruding" layers, but below the "Touch-up" layer. Scroll to the first bottom dividing line between green and blue-grey (the wing parts) and make a rectangular selection of the size you think would be appropriate for the transition zone between green and blue-grey. Make the selection right across both wing parts:


    Choose the gradient tool, and double-click in the little window displaying the kind of gradient used (it should be the "linear gradient", if not make sure it is; there is a selection of types to the right). Now, if you already have picked green as your foreground colour, and blue-grey as background, everything should in fact be in order, like this:


    Here, you get a gradient between green (left) and blue-grey (right). If you see several little colour buckets below the gradient, get rid of all of them, but the two on left and right. If your gradient displays any other colours than green and blue-grey, you can in fact choose the correct ones right here. Just click in the left bucket and select the green in the wing part below (an eyedropper becomes active the moment you click in the buckets). Fill the bucket to the right with blue-grey from the drawing underneath the same way.

    Close the gradient dialogue box, and in your rectangular selection (check that the gradient tool is active) draw a line from the bottom to the top. Not happy with the gradient? Two remedies: 1) Make sure you press caps while drawing, in order to force the gradient to be absolutely straight. 2) Make sure you start and end your gradient just WITHIN the borders of the selection, never outside (because then, you'll only get part of the gradient - which can be useful sometimes, but not here).


    Now, with the help of your rectangular marquee tool, crop the gradient you've just made, at the ends, and between the two wing parts. Finished!


    The angled gradients on e.g. the engine hood parts are accomplished by making a vertical gradient in the same way, then rotating the finished gradient and placing it. Shouldn't be a problem, now that you've learned how to rotate parts and selections in the previous installment.


    Trim these gradients with the lasso tool. You don't have to worry about deleting other parts, since you're working in a separate layer, right?

    To finish up, you can, if you like, make small guiding lines for folding & embossing when building at the edges of e.g. the wing parts. Make these in the appropriate outline colour, and in the touch-up layer. That's why we kept this layer apart from the outlines layer.

  10. Leif Oh

    Leif Oh Member

    6. "Nuts and bolts" - in two senses...

    6. "Nuts and bolts" - in two senses...

    I'm a little bit sad about this thread. Rereading what I've published so far, I realize that I've managed to make something that was intended as good news - recounting shortcuts I was very happy about having found on my own - instead look exceedingly complex and elaborated. And that is the very opposite of what I wanted to do.

    Could I attempt making amends in this installment of how to make the "nuts and bolts" encountered in the Fiesler Storch original kit? If I manage to pull it off, this installment then will be the "nuts and bolts" also of what I hoped to be able to bring across all along.

    In the original kit, the various little nuts and bolts, as well as eyelets, are accomplished either by a fairly large number of small circles in black (which we would like to avoid, I think), or by using 3D effects simulating small circular recesses (which is really nice and what we would like to accomplish on our own).

    We shall try to replicate them in a manner that painlessly allows experimenting with different effects, both outlines and recessed areas, or perhaps a combination of them. Whether we end up using outlines or recessed effects, or both, we should not have to redraw anything. Drawing a single circle of each kind (and there aren't more than two or three kinds) is all we'll have to do. The rest is just about moving these around and saving them at different positions as we go!

    The main method starts with making one circular selection. We will move that little circular selection around, and each time we've positioned it correctly add it to a saved set of selections, like "Blue-grey wing eyelets", or "Green rivets", or "Blue-grey rivets", or "Interior grey rivets". In no case will we actually fill, or paint, or do anything with these saved selections until later, but just save them up, small circle by small circle.

    Then, we have perfect freedom to do a number a things with the different saved sets of selections. For example:

    1) We can bring up the "Wing eyelets" selection and outline ("Stroke") it in a suitable accent colour, at a line width we may experiment freely with.

    2) In addition, we can fill the inside of the eyelets with the underside colour (blue-grey) of the wing, in a separate layer, and experiment with different recessed bevelled settings, to find out if that will in fact enhance the look of the original kit.

    3) Or, we can restrict ourselves to just this 3D effect (without outlines). Whatever looks best, for each type of eyelets or rivets, we have complete freedom to choose.

    All of what I have been trying to get across is that this seemingly complex way of going about things (sets of saved selections; different layers; plus either filling or outlining selections, or doing both) gives us a very large freedom to experiment and try out different options.

    In addition, during this recolouring exercise I have personally become convinced that it is a simpler (sic!) and in fact quicker way than what I, for one, have been muddling with until now; that is copying, pasting into a new layer, moving, and then merging layers repeatedly. And that never even enabled me to try out other options.

    Would you be willing to give it one more shot?

    If you are still with me, then let's dive in and start with the eyelets on the underside of the flap and aileron parts. I think these small circles really are eyelets, probably for letting out condensation. I don't think they should be replicated by rather coarse black outlines, so let's try something better (even if we could in fact revert to simple black outlines, too, if we want to; no option will be closed).

    Start by choosing your elliptical marquee tool and try to make a circle the size of the outlines of one of the eyelets. Pressing caps will make this simpler, since it forces the tool to make a perfect circle, instead of an ellipse. When you are satisfied with the size of the circle, let go of the mouse and instead use your arrow keys to position it perfectly over one of the original eyelets.

    Now bring up the menu box for saving selections and define a new set of saved selections, "Blue-grey eyelets". You'll find a detailed description of this procedure in installment 2 above. Pressing OK will make your circle become the first addition to this saved set of selections (or "stencil" as Gil aptly named it in a comment).


    The little circle you've just made is still there, right? Now, carefully grip it along the edge and move it to the next position for an eyelet (you may want to use your arrow keys here instead, since then you'll be sure that you keep the alignment of eyelets true; for moving the circle along more quickly, use caps-arrows). When satisfied, bring up the saved selections box again, but this time choose your already created and saved set of "Blue-grey eyelets", and ADD to this selection.

    Continue doing this until you've added all the little eyelets in the two parts to your saved set of "Blue-grey eyelets" selections. It really is very quick work, once you get into the routine of moving the little circle by arrow keys , all the while adding to an already started and saved set of selections.

    Now we should allow ourselves to play with what we've achieved. Bring up the saved set of "Blue-grey eyelets" selections. Two beautiful rows of perfect small circles will appear:


    Now prepare by sampling the two relevant blue-grey colours for the underside of the wing. Use the eyedropper tool and sample the small squares you - with commendable foresight - prepared at the start of this exercise and positioned at the bottom of your sheet. Sample the suggested outline colour (small square) as "Foreground colour", and the main blue-grey as "Background colour".

    Shall we try outlining the eyelets first? First, we want to be sure that the result of what we are about to do ends up in the proper layer, so ensure that your "Outlines" layer is active. Then, under edit, find "Stroke" and choose 1 px for width (let's do something different this time, right?), and "Inside". The result should look something like this:


    Happy? Fine, move on to the next set of small circles in the original. Want to play some more? OK, then let's make a new layer and call it "Rivets recessed" (we will want to use it also for rivets later on). Making sure that this layer is active, choose "Fill" under edit and select "Background" colour (your main blue-grey colour). Your small circles will now be filled with blue-grey, although the action takes place in another layer, so you're perfectly safe and free to change it without touching other parts.

    These little blue-grey circular fields will not be visible at all if we turn on our "Main fills" layer (since the blue-grey circles then will blend in invisibly with the main blue-grey area). We shall have to activate some 3D effects.

    For starters, go to your previous "Recessed" layer, "Copy layer style", return to your "Rivets recessed" layer, and "Paste layer style". Now you've got something to start with. (The process is described in more detail in Installment 4 above.)

    However, even if you turn on both your "Main fills" and "Rivets recessed" layers with the 3D layer style added, the recesses still will not be particularly distinct. This is because your original recessed style was made to simulate taut fabric between ribs, with a fairly large and shallow bevelling. In the small layers window, doubleclick on your "Bevel and emboss" symbol for this layer, and you'll be able to change the 3D effect. Try something like the numbers entered below:


    If you are satisfied, fine, let's use this for other rivets as well. Don't like it at all? OK, in your "Rivets recessed" layer just press delete, and the recessed blue-grey fillings will be gone (if the selection of small circles is still active; if not, just bring it up again, and press delete; or select it with the regular rectangle marquee tool and delete). The layer style you just designed will remain for later use. No harm done, and no effort wasted.

    Want to get it back, now or later? Just bring up the saved "Blue-grey eyelets" selection and fill it in the "Rivets recessed" layer. 3D effects appear automatically (if they are turned on in the layer; you may also turn them off temporarily for comparison or for other reasons).

    Let's take a breather and make some simple circular glueing guide lines. There are four of them in the fuselage part. Let's be flippant and not reserve a whole selection for them; we'll just outline them (caps-elliptical marquee tool), and stroke them with the light green accent colour, in the "Touch-up" layer. Three of them are identical in size; for them you can move the selection after having stroked it at the first position, and then stroke it again at the other positions.

    For some reason, I think it's a good idea for now to keep all outlines being made by stroking saved selections in the "Outlines" layer, and all other lines (not too many , at that) in the "Touch-up" layer; it brings some order into an already rather complicated array of layers. (When you are finally, finally satisfied, you can go over your array of layers and choose which ones to merge; and which ones really ought to be kept separate - in particular those with different layer styles, of course.)

    Now, let's take a crack at what I perceive as rivets (or possibly bolts) in various fuselage parts (green, blue-grey, and interior-grey). Make one good small circular selection, and use it to create three sets of saved selections, "Blue-grey rivets", "Green rivets", and "Interior grey rivets", in the same way you just created the set of "Blue-grey eyelets" selections.

    Once completed, call up and fill, in the "Rivets recessed" layer, these sets of selections with main green, blue-grey, and interior grey, respectively. Want to enhance e.g. the interior grey rivets? Then, in the "Outlines" (and NOT in the "Rivets recessed") layer, stroke their saved selection set with 1 px of interior grey accent (darker) colour. Could look something like this when you're done:


    Hoping that this made some sense at all,


    PS. Next installment will be good, clean fun. Then we'll make and add the insignia and markings - and the strength of having saved recessed and protruding selections will really, really come to the fore!
  11. Leif Oh

    Leif Oh Member

    7. Adding insignia and markings

    7. Adding insignia and markings

    You may remember the little triangular sign, on top of what I think is the fuel tank cap in the wing. I think the marking refers to German aviation petrol, and it must have been changed in the Swedish Storch, but since I don't have any information on what the Swedish marking looked like, we'll just use it as an exercise in recreating a marking.

    Start by creating a brand new layer, "Markings". Retrace the outer, white triangle with the polygonal lasso tool.


    Click on the foreground colour in your tool-box to bring up the colour-picker of your system, and choose an almost white nuance. Fill the triangle with this (in the "Markings" layer).

    Here comes a nifty trick: While your triangular selection is still intact, go to "Select" in the menu, then "Modify", and then "Contract". Fill in 1 px as a value. Now sample the orange colour of the original, and fill your contracted triangle with this.


    Nice, huh! This will in fact be our main trick later on for making the concentric circles of blue and yellow that make up the Swedish national insignia.

    Finish the marking of the cap by momentarily turning off the markings layer, choose the text tool and replicate the original text by experimenting with typefaces and size. Helvetica 3p for the "A" and 5p for the "3" seemed close enough to me:


    When you are satisified, merge the textlayer down into the "Markings" layer.


    Now comes the interesting bit. The marking crosses the "Protruding" layer. In order for this to take effect on the marking as well, we'll have to work a little bit.

    Start by creating a new layer, above "Markings", namely "Markings protruding". Import the layer style from your previous "Protruding" layers, the way we've done several times now.

    The idea here is to copy and paste those parts of the marking that coincide with the protruding parts underneath into this new layer. It is easy, and the result is astounding.

    First bring out your saved selection for "Green protruding". In the "Markings" layer, copy, and paste into the "Markings protruding" layer.


    If you haven't drawn a selection close to where you want it, it will end up somewhere in the middle of the image; if so, go find it!


    While still in that new layer, adjust the pasted parts so that they coincide perfectly with the original markings you made. The final result could look something like this at 200 percent magnification:


    Isn't this nice? Even if it is a bit of overkill (the original kit had none of this), it is a great preparation for the rest of the insignias and markings.

    Main roundels

    Preparing to make the main big Swedish blue & yellow roundels, it is great to use the elliptical marquee tool, set for fixed sizes. Experimenting with this - just clicking over the approximate position for the wing roundels, I soon arrived at a size of 400 x 400 px as most suitable:


    I made these roundels in a separate document, not least because I wanted to preserve them for future use. The method is the same as for the little marking we just made.

    At the bottom layer of this document, I placed a version of the crown marks I found on the web (original source here), and enlarged it to 400 px. Then I clicked a circle 400 x 400 px in an additional layer and positioned it exactly over the enlarged sample.


    This selection was filled it with interior grey (judging from photos, the roundels seem to be painted on a slightly larger field of grey bottom paint).

    Remember the trick with contracting selections? Use it now! Without touching the original selection, contract it 1 px and fill it with sampled yellow. Then turn off the layer you're working with, and try out another contraction. I started with 50x, undid, and tried several other (always redoing, being careful not to touch the original circular selection) until I arrived at 36 px, which was deemed good enough for the blue, centre, filling:


    Crowns were simple, by now. Turn off the layer you're working with. Trace the outline of one crownmark with the polygonal lasso tool. Turn on the layer again and, first, fill this selection with sampled yellow, then stroke it with 4 px of black. Selection still active, copy and paste (into a new layer). Paste again (into yet another layer). Turn off your working layer and move the pasted crown marks to their correct positions.


    Merge temporary layers down, and we're done! Later, I saved this complete crown mark as "Crowns 400", and, after scaling, in other layers as "Crowns 250" and "Crowns 225", for later use. A copy of the 400 px crown marks were brought back into the sheet we're working on and placed in its correct positions on top and bottom wings:


    Notice that the markings on the underside of the wing of course have to be flipped vertically.

    Now to the interesting part. The crown marks are situated over recessed areas, so we need to create a new layer, "Markings recessed". Import the layer style from your regular "Recessed" layer.

    Here comes the clincher, were all the work with saving selections really pays off. Bring up your "Blue grey recessed" saved selection. And again, bring out your "Green recessed" saved selection, and check ADD TO SELECTION.


    Now you have two sets of selections active at the same time. In your markings layer, just copy and paste. Move the resulting new layer above your "Markings recessed" and bring the copied parts down to coincide exactly with the underlying markings.


    By the way, get rid of the extra fuel tank cap marking that got caught in the process! Now for the really beautiful part: Merge this layer with the underlying "Markings recessed" and you get this:


    Isn't this a beauty - notice how the 3D effect takes immediate effect also on the previously flat and bland markings, in all their different colours. Could you devise a better way to accomplish this? (Still retaining the freedom to remake and adjust things, that is.) I feel very lucky to have found this method, more or less by accident, just fiddling.

    Fuselage and fin markings

    Keeping that smug feeling, let's tackle the fuselage side markings. Having covered the general method in such detail, I now feel free to gloss over the rest of this work rather hastily.

    The fuselage markings were made by scaling the crown marks were to proper size judging from photographs, and pasted in. They had to be rotated slightly in order to get the correct alignment. Same goes for the "3" in black. I did not find a proper typeface in my standard collection, but made the best I could.

    3D-effects were accomplished by selecting the protruding lines we made in Installment 4, copying the selection in the markings layer, pasting and adjusting the parts of the marking thus copied, and finally merging them down into the "Markings protruding" layer.


    The effect is very nice, isn't it?

    The wite "67" on the engine cowling doesn't need any 3D effects, but suffers from the same drawback as the number on the fuselage - not quite the correct typeface.

    IF ANYBODY HAS A PROPER TYPEFACE FOR AIRCRAFT MARKINGS, PLEASE GIVE ME A HINT! (I'm on a Mac, but I'll be grateful for a proper name to look for.)

    Finally, the same number applied to the fin, with 3D effects accomplished just as in the wing:


    To end this long installment, I have a confession to make: If you take a close look at the photograph of the Swedish Storch at the beginning of this thread, you'll see that both the wing crown marks and the fin markings in fact very slighly cross over the dividing lines between wing/aileron and fin/rudder. I cheated and placed the whole of them on their main parts only.

  12. barry

    barry Active Member

    Dear Leif

    Thanks for the great paragraph I understood enough to know if I want to do this I can just follow your instructions.

    You have just extended my ability to go on trying to design more ships by telling me I can use the arrow keys. Using the mouse to move bits puts too much strain on my already knackered wrists but now no problem I can just lean on a key.


  13. cygielski

    cygielski Member

    Leif: Any computer typeface you use will only be an approximation. The best thing to do is to copy the shape of the letters like you would any other graphic element. You'll spend less time than you would searching for the right font, and you'll get a better result.
  14. Gil

    Gil Active Member


    I take it that you're using Bjorn Karlstrom's Flygplansritningar 4 as the documentations source your Fieseler...., Page 4 has the typeface for numbers used over different time periods. On page 73 it states, "1940-1944 WERE NO NATIONAL MARKINGS CARRIED ON THE WING UPPER SURFACES."

    Congratulations on the most informative and beautiful primer on Cardmodels.com yet!

    Warmest regards, Gil
  15. Leif Oh

    Leif Oh Member

    7b. Amendments after comments

    7b. Amendments after comments

    Thanks guys for comments and useful help!

    Barry, you can indeed move anything selected without even selecting the move tool. Arrows will move the selection as such, and cmd-arrows will move the selected part as well. For moving along more quickly add caps to arrows or cmd-arrows. (If you have selected the move tool, arrows will move the part as well, which can be a bit confusing.)

    Simon, why I want a font is because I'm not just copying, but creating new numbers and letters, not existing in an original to copy. Also, I would dearly like to get my hands on a font for small stenciled text, you know "WARNING - DO NOT TREAD HERE", etc. So, I'd really, really like to get my hands on some good "technical" fonts, if anyone out there knows which to look for.

    Gil, you jewel of a modeler: Of course I had forgotten about Björn Karlström's drawings. Too close to home, I guess. Warm thanks for the heads-up on no markings on upper wing surfaces during the early 40's. The upper wing crown marks are gone as we speak!

    There was one thing more missing from yesterday's exercise - forgot that the bottom crown mark was indeed superimposed on a protruding access hatch, which made things extra interesting. That got lost (I was very tired late last night).

    This is a good opportunity to make that little detail and show the result (while at the same time losing the upper wing crown markings).

    The procedure is the same as with the fuel tank cap marking: Load your saved "Blue-grey protruding" selection. Deselect (in broad swaths) everything but the area immediately around the wing crown mark. Copy in "Markings". Paste. Move new layer created by pasting on top of the "Markings protruding" layer. Adjust position of pasted parts, if necessary. Merge down. And you get this:


    I timed this exercise - not to show off, but to demonstrate the strength of having proceeded thus far in such a seemingly over-organized way. It really pays off.

    The time was less than two minutes.

    Notice how prettily the access hatch now stands out, in all its blue, yellow, black and what not colours, against the recessed parts in all their colours. In less than two minutes. It's a wonderful world...

  16. wunwinglow

    wunwinglow Active Member

    From a dim and distant past.


    Hope they have something useful for someone. But don't get tempted into buying Pacific Fighters... OH NO! My wallet is moving, all by itself! My VISA card, NOOOOO, ITS ALIVE!!!

    Will Tim resist the evil power of the flight sim? Will his research into painting mesh models for paper models, be turned to the gaming Dark Side? Wait for the next exciting installment.....

    Tim P
  17. Leif Oh

    Leif Oh Member

    Thanks, Tim!

    I found this, for starters, just at a quick glance:

    An additional colour table:

    A collection of valuable tutorials on Photoshop:
    http://www.skinnersheaven.com/ - click "Tutorials".

    Enough to keep me occupied for a long time... if I really let you tempt me to go down that road. Just a quick glance revealed something about the magnetic lasso - which I've left lying there, since I hadn't a clue what to do with it. Now I'm kind of itching to try it...

    Next time around, that is. They are duly bookmarked.

  18. Leif Oh

    Leif Oh Member

    8. Improving on the prop

    8. Improving on the prop

    Studying a close-up of the propeller from the IPMS Stockholm walk-around feature of the Swedish Storch, it became immediately clear that something had to be done to the prop. That saw-toothed taping at the leading edge had to be accomplished somehow:


    Since the whole prop has to be recoloured anyway (grey instead of black), let's get started. Only two prop blades are shown in this sample page, and I intend to make one of them into the front side, and the other its back.

    Start by outlining the left prop blade with the polygonal lasso tool. Save the selection as the start of a new "Prop main fill" channel. Flip the selection horizontally, and add to the selection. Adjust the position of this second selection slightly before adding it, but never mind if it doesn't cover the original exactly (ultimately the goal is to be able to shut down the bottom original layer anyway, so any discrepancy in position will then be invisible).


    Select the interior grey accent colour (dark grey). The colour is bound to be a guesstimate anyway. Load the "Prop main fill" selection and fill in a new "Prop main fill" layer. No outline necessary, I think.

    While the selection is still active, deselect the entire right-hand blade, turn off the "Prop main fill layer", and in the left blade deselect everything but a saw-tooth pattern at the leading edge. Use the polygonal lasso tool, pressing alt (for detracting from the original selection) to start with, to accomplish this.


    Save this selection as the start of a new "Prop tape" selection; flip the selection horizontally; adjust its position; and add to the "Prop tape" selection.

    In a new "Prop tape" layer immediately above, fill this selection with your prop grey, and import the layer style (copy and paste "Layer style") from your "Protruding" layer:


    Satisfied? Fine. Want to play some more? OK, then create two new layers between your two existing prop layers, "Prop front" and "Prop back".

    Load your "Prop main fill" selection, and first deselect the right-hand prop part. Fill with prop grey in your "Prop front" layer. Repeat the action, but this time fill the right-hand prop part in the "Prop back" layer.

    Import layer styles for these two layers from your "Recessed" and "Protruding" layers. Doesn't look like much yet, but play around rather daringly with the levers and you might get to something like this:


    The values for the "Prop front" part is shown. The "Prop back" values are identical, except that they are of course "down" instead of "up".

    This is already pretty nice, isn't it? If you agree, you could by now even delete the entire "Prop main fill" layer. Keep it for a while yet, if you want to continue playing some more.

    Could we do something even better? - Yes, possibly. There's always a part of the prop at the center which is more or less flat, so lets try to bring that out by deleting a suitable part from the recent 3D-fills. Starting with the left, front prop part, the result might look something like this.


    Do something similar for the back part (you cannot just flip the selection; this has to be done manually), although the effect there is less visible.

    If you want to be systematic and save the new version of the selection for the prop protruding and recessed parts, let's backtrack and learn something new in the process.

    In order to make a clean selection of the new filling, we need to turn the 3D effects off, otherwise we'll never be able to pick up all the pixels (since Photoshop creates lighter and darker nuances to simulate bevelling and embossing). Therefore, turn off the effects for the "Prop protruding" layer.

    Select the left hand prop blad in the "Prop protruding" layer. The only way I've found to do this is to make a rectangular selection around it, then move the selection one cmd-arrow click up, and then one down again. Does anybody know if there's a better way?

    Save this selection as "Prop 3D". Repeat the procedure for the back prop part, and add to the selection.


    To test it, "Select all" in your two "Prop protruding" and "Prop recessed" layers, respectively, and delete their contents, one after another. Then load the "Prop 3D" selection; and go through the rigmarole of filling each blade again, in their proper layers. Don't forget to turn the effects on again in the two 3D layers.


    Finished! You may now head for a well-deserved recess. You have just learned how to create a saved selection of a 3D effects layer you've already made. Might come in handy some day. (For example, if you've managed to create what you wanted to create, but bungled saving the selection - happened to me at least twice during this exercise.)


    Next installment: Finishing up.

    PS. Just realized I made this prop for the wrong direction of rotation. Apologies, folks, but I'll let the mistake ride for this exercise. Goes to show - think twice before you let yourself get carried away.
  19. Leif Oh

    Leif Oh Member

    9. Finishing up

    9. Finishing up

    Remember the pesky aileron horns we left for later? They will be a good refresher course for the method we've employed so far. In the original kit there are at least four times the amount of such small details that need to be recoloured, so every labour-saving device is welcome. As we shall see, tracing just one horn will suffice to fill & outline all of them. Adding a few extra touch-up lines will not be much more difficult.

    For outlining one of the aileron horns, this time I used - for the very first time - the magnetic lasso tool. And what a revelation it was! The tool automatically traces curves and places the appropriate number of clicks along the perimeter:


    The incentive to use this tool came from one of the links Tim provided in a comment above, and I am much, much grateful for it. Thanks, Tim! And the rest of you, try it out, if you haven't already!

    (I sometimes feel that I may be the only dunce around here, and that these long-winded ramblings amount to nothing more than reinventing the wheel. But then again, I remind myself, if I didn't know about this, in all likelihood there are others who didn't either. So let's plod on.)

    Save this selection as an addition to one of your first saved set of selections, the "Blue-grey main fill" (and be sure you don't accidently "Replace" the selection! - it has happened to me more than once):


    Now move the selection (with arrows and caps-arrows) to coincide with the next aileron horn:


    Again, be sure to "Add" to the channel "Blue-grey main fills". Repeat until you've covered and saved all the aileron horns. For the two last, you'll have to first "Transform selection" (under "Select") and then "Flip vertical" (under "Edit"):


    When you're done, load the "Blue grey main fill" saved selection, and in the "Main fills" layer, fill it with your sampled (as "Background colour") blue-grey colour. In the "Outlines layer, "Stroke" the selection with your sampled (as"Foreground colour") blue-grey accent colour:


    Notice that by this operation you will actually refill all your previous blue-grey fills and restroke all the blue-grey outlines - and it doesn't matter one little bit, since you have already seen to it that they are in separate layers, not affecting anything you've added since then in other layers. Ain't that beautiful!

    Now, let's finish these pesky little details, by going to our touch-up layer, and with the line tool (set at 2 px) add the rest of the lines in one of the aileron horns (shut down the main fills layer, so you can see what you're doing):


    Notice that there will only be four small pieces of lines to be drawn, and one circle. For the circle you use your elliptical marquee tool (with caps pressed to accomplish a circle), stroking it on the inside:


    Now, with your rectangular marquee tool, and in the touch-up layer, roughly select the five small lines you've just added; copy, paste, and in the new layer resulting, adjust their position (cmd-arrows, or cmd-caps-arrows) to the next aileron horn:


    When you're satisfied you've got there, merge down:


    For the next positioning, draw an approximate position with your rectangular marquee tool, and paste. Your provisional selection makes the pasting end up within those limits, instead of in the middle of the canvas, way out of reach at this magnification. (This is a really neat trick, which took me a long time to accidentally stumble on to.)


    Flip the contents of your provisional paste layer vertically, and adjust the positioning. Merge down. Repeat for your last aileron horn. And we are done!

    Notice that it doesn't matter very much that the parts may not exactly cover the original (due to imperfect alignment), since the last thing we're going to do now is to get rid of the need to show the original layer at all.

    In this sample sheet I have included for realism a number of small details that we don't have to do anything at all about if we don't want to, such as throttle levers, rudder pedals, etc. Other such parts may include wheels and undercarriage parts which don't need recolouring.

    Now, with the help of your rectangular marquee tool, mark all these little details (use your caps key to add another selection to those you've already made; if your selections accidentally intrude on other parts, use the alt key and rectangular marquee to subtract that from your selection). Also include all parts numbers and anything else you would like to save from the original (not much left, though, by now!).

    When you're done it could look something like this:


    In the "Original" layer, copy, paste, and bring your provisional paste layer up above the "Misc." layer you with great foresight created at the start of this exercise (at present it only contains the colour sample at the bottom, right).

    Adjust position by cmd-arrows. Merge down into the "Misc." layer. And after shutting down the "Original" layer, we are - really and finally - done!


    When you do this for real, you'll probably have four to six sheets to treat in a similar way. But that doesn't mean that the work-load is that much greater. For many parts, such as wings, stabilizers, etc., you can actually copy and flip the fillings you've made in one sheet. And things really go a lot smoother the second time around, when you have the order of doing things down pat.

    Best, Leif
  20. Leif Oh

    Leif Oh Member

    10. Evaluating

    10. Evaluating

    Evaluating the technique described of course means printing and judgeing the finished result. That's what counts, not what you see on your screen. This proved a most edifying experience for me, leading to a number of astounding findings about ink-jet printing and resolutions, which is of wider interest than evaluating just the recolouring.

    But let's take things in the order they evolved. To evaluate the recolouring of our test sheet, I made an even smaller selection of typical parts:


    This little sheet is actually not larger than some 14 by 10 cm. As it states in the caption it is, like the original we've been working on, a 1/33 scale (original scale) Photoshop (psd) document at 300 dpi resolution.

    The reason I made it so small, is that I wanted to be able to enlarge it to my usual 1/16 scale and still be able to test print it on a regular A4 size paper.

    Lesson 1: Re-position parts before 3D-recolouring!

    Already from this new little test sheet some major faults with the 3D effects are visible. Areas which we were at some pain to recreate as protruding now looks distinctly recessed - exactly what we didn't wish for!

    The reason, of course, is the optical illusion created by our own brain. Turning e.g. the fuselage part into its present horizontal position, we subconsciously presuppose that the light should come from somewhere above - and then the protruding areas in the fuselage we made when it was in a different position look absolutely recessed. At the time we arbitrarily accepted the default setting of Photoshop earlier, and didn't notice anything awry, since the fuselage part then was standing on its nose.

    I hereby apologize for my remarks earlier about the craftsmen of GPI wrongly depicting certain parts as recessed. They have in fact made an absolutely correct representation! This became abundantly clear once I took the book of original sheets and turned it in my hands so that the respective parts were right way up. The brain's ability to turn tricks on us is very strong indeed!

    What is the learning experience from this? For me it is, that from now on I will begin by repositioning all parts on new sheets (I have to do such a repositioning anyway, sooner or later, since I enlarge). In these new sheets, I will take great care to position all parts the right way up, so to speak. All recoloring will then be done in those new sheets.

    Lesson 2: Printer setting is the limiting factor - not resolution!

    The second shock came when I test printed this little sheet at the standard settings I've been used to, and on my regular paper (which is not the special kind of photo paper most of you guys probably use, but more like the paper kits are printed on, although even thicker). It was virtually impossible to discern all the pretty details and 3D shadings we've made on the test sheet.

    This made me pretty panicky, and I started making a series of test prints in different document resolutions - 600, 300, 150 dpi. No apparent success. I then went into the printer "Custom" settings, even daring to go into the "Advanced" section.

    Which is where I found that which Gil has mentioned in another thread, namely that printers (and possibly scanners) apparently have prefered resolutions at which they like to work. In my Epson C-80 printer set-up box, I found 360, 720, 1440, and 2880 dpi as printer "working speeds".

    This led to another set of test prints testing document resolutions of 720, 360, 180, and even 90 dpi. And, as if this wasn't enough, there were also "advanced" settings for colour adjustment - which I understood very little of. This increased the number of variables beyond what I could handle, so I decided to leave colour adjustment to last.


    Here the 21 more or less systematic test prints I made (almost all sheets are printed on both sides). The larger, 1/16 scale prints were not made until I had arrived at some conclusion from the smaller test prints.

    What I discovered is, I think, pretty amazing: The resolution (dpi) of the original means very little! This shocking conclusion is unavoidable after the following main experiences:

    1. Printing at the "prefered" document resolutions (720, 360, etc.) at standard printer settings ("high quality") did not result in much enhancement.

    2. Changing the printer settings so that the printer worked at 360, 720, and 1440 dpi produced a marked improvement for ALL of the test document resolutions. 1440 printer speed resulted in the the absolute best result, whatever the document resolution was.

    3. A print-out of the lowest document resolution (90 dpi) at a printer "speed" of 1440 dpi, is better than a print-out of the highest document resolution (720 dpi) at standard printer settings (even if you choose the standard "high quality").

    4. Print-outs made at printer "speeds" of 1440 dpi did not differ appreciably in the spectrum 720-180 dpi document resolution. At 90 dpi document resolution you begin to discern some loss of detail, but it is still better than the 720 dpi document print-out at standard high quality settings.

    What I deduce from this experience is that the ink-jet printer is the absolutely weakest link in the chain from original print - scanned copy - re-printed original. The most effective way you can get around this is to choose 1440 (or comparable in your printer) as "printer speed", and un-check anything that says "quicker print".

    I do not profess to know much about what goes on inside an ink-jet printer, but my picture of what happens when I change the setting to 1440, is that the ink-jet heads go over the paper much more tightly, than if you choose lower settings. The standard, non-specified, printer settings are completely out as an alternative for me, from now on.

    Higher printer "speed" settings than 1440, on the other hand, is probably impractical, since the printing takes such awfully long time (and you are also warned off that alternative in the set-up dialogue box). Printing at 1440 already takes quite a bit of time.

    I guess you're really itching to see physical proof of what I'm stating here. I tried making a few scans of the result, but they are disappointing. Scanning an ink-jet print-out means loosing quality so much, that it is of almost no value. For now, please take my word for that this is worth exploring on your own, and on your printer (if you, like most I gather, use an ink-jet printer).

    Lesson 3: Colour adjustment matters - "standard" acceptable compromise

    Exploring the "advanced" settings of the printer, I also came across a bewildering array of colour adjustment options. Remembering a very helpful comment by somebody on the site about turning off all such adjustments, I made a test print with the colour adjustment set "off".

    At standard printer settings (not the advanced I explored later) it did indeed produce the best quality of detail - but the colours were way off towards the blue. Going all the way recommended in that posting - that is, scanning a preferred colour sample, and then sampling that in the computer, no matter what it looked like on the screen - just seemed way to complicated for me (sorry!), so I tried to find an acceptable compromise.


    I ended up with the "Standard Epson" setting (see above). Note also the "1440 dpi" settings which refers to the printer "speed", not the resolution of the document, which in this case is only 90 dpi, but turned out much better than the high-resolution originals at standard printer settings.

    The "Epson standard" setting for colour adjustment in my view produced a very good representation of what I had seen on the screen, with comparatively small loss of detail.

    Using the higher printer resolution compensated more than enough for the small loss in detail reproduction, I thought. My suggestion would be that you look for a comparable setting for your printer and use that for starters.

    (Please note that I have not researched this section as well as the previous, and I do acknowledge that colour adjustments "off" really gets the highest detail reproduction. In my view, however, the drawbacks in colour reproduction are too great for this to be a practical option.)

    Lesson 4: Resampling should be used with some care

    Producing originals for test-printing at the large number of physical sizes (1/33 scale and 1/16 scale) and resolutions (nine of them, which means 18 alternatives) got me into the issue of resampling, raised by Barry in his "Eskimoo" redrawing thread.

    Not being an expert, my understanding of "resampling" (which I had never paid any attention to until Barry warned against it) is that it is a kind of internal scanning made by the graphic programme, if you change size AND resolution. If you wish to change BOOTH these parameters, resampling is unavoidable.


    If you uncheck "Resample image" in the "Image size" dialogue box above, you can double the size and you will get half your previous resolution. Or you can double your resolution and end up with half the physical size of the original (hardly an option that will be used much). But if you wish to double the physical size, while keeping the resolution, resampling must be allowed (the amount of pixels then will be four times larger, at the same dpi).

    If you do this repeatedly, and particularly if you jazz up and down between resolutions and sizes, building each change on your last resampling, chances are that quality will deter rather rapidly. So what can you do?

    During this exercise I found that no quality is lost if you always go up in resolution. That is, if you first change the physical size, then note what the resulting resolution will be. If you wish to have a specific resolution, choose the nearest higher in the range you can accept (e.g. 180-360-720).

    Second learning experience here is that you can make a resampling once without any danger. So what you do is that you keep your original psd-file (i.e. Photoshop, in my case), change the size and resolution (which means resampling), and SAVE THAT NEW VERSION as a high-quality jpg-file (which occupies considerably less disk-space, while still conserving quality). Do not save the change in your original psd file. The jpg file you do not use for anything but printing. All changes should be made in your original psd-file (full quality preserved).

    How I will proceed from now on, based on the above

    This is in fact good news. What it means is that I can work in an original 1/33 scale original, at e.g. 360 dpi (which seems to be one of the preferred resolutions of my printer). All repositioning, recolouring, and further work on the original can be done at this scale and resolution (like we've done in this exercise).

    Then, I can enlarge and change resolution of that finished original, and print it. I don't even have to save a copy of the enlarged file, since the only thing I want to use it for is to print it. And that I can do without saving it.

    This means that I will be able to work at full quality, while saving a lot of disk-space (since a 1/16 file takes up roughly four times as large space as a 1/33 file at the same resolution). The computer work will also be much less demanding, since the large 1/16 files at high resolution also are incredibly cumbersome and slow to work with.

    I will be most interested in hearing what the rest of you have to say about this. We're off to a short biking vacation tomorrow morning, but as soon as we return (late in the week), I'll be throwing myself over the computer to read your comments.

    Best, Leif

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