This was a big weekend. I got some work done on my project, but Monique completed hers. She’s been working on Moebius’ Elvira plastic model kit for quite a while now. I like Moebius kits, they’re always highly detailed and well made. Elvira is no exception to that, but she’s exceptional in other ways (that sentence didn’t turn out like I meant, but I’ll let it stand). The Elvira model kit is a first for Monique on several levels. To begin with, it’s Monique’s first Non-Monster kit. Up until now, she’s restricted her model build-ups to movie monsters. Elvira may be in a related genre, but it’s not exactly the same thing.
This is also the first time Monique ever used an Airbrush. (We’re both beginners… but i think she’s picking it up better than I am.) She used a Badger Anthem 155. After she got the hang of that, she switched over to a generic airbrush that came with our air compressor. Wouldn’t you know it, she’s great with that one, too!
We’ve been learning a lot from the Phil Lister and David Fisher DVD video series. These are great videos, and well worth looking up. So next thing I know, Monique is wanting a set of chalk pastels. She used them for Elvira’s face and makeup. The first time I ever heard of using chalk on a model kit, I was trying to imagine how you’d scribble on the model with it. It didn’t work quite that way. Monique scrubbed them on a piece of sandpaper, then blended the colors together and brushed them onto the model. The results were very similar to airbrushing.
It’s a pretty neat technique. Monique’s mentioned before the whole painting and color-blending come naturally to her, since it’s so similar to applying make-up. In Elvira’s case, it’s the same either way. I’m very impressed with the chalk effect. It blends in very smoothly, and gives excellent color gradations. Her Dad suggested she lighten the skin tones. He pointed out Elvira doesn’t get much sun, and her skin is a very pale color. So Monique lightened the skin tones. In the face, to protect her detail work on the eyes and lips, she used Mold Builder. (I’m currently trying that on my Captain America model, too.) You paint it over the already-painted areas to protect them. When you’re done, carefully (!) peel it off. It’s kind of a rubber-cement feel, but comes off a lot better.
You know, I used to think you just ‘painted’, and then it was done. Heck, when I learned how to dry-brush, that just wrapped it all up in a pretty bow. Now we’re airbrushing, dry-brushing, using chalks, making painting friskets with Mold Builder… We’ve learned a lot from these videos.
Another new technique for Monique… using my Black and Decker rotary tool (like a Dremel). The tool was a gift from a good friend, and it’s come in handy for years. I’m not sure how to build a model without it. But Monique’s always been a bit leery of it. So I was a bit surprised, but pleased, when she decided to smooth the legs out with it. My main experience is with resin though. Neither of us had any idea how easily it would gouge out the legs. Instead of smoothing the legs, they were nearly destroyed. Monique informed me that was no problem… if she couldn’t fix it, she was going to order a new kit just for the legs. Lucky for me, she was able to fix it. Sanded and puttied it nearly to death, but when it was done, the legs looked smooth and silky again!
One of Phil Lister’s videos was an actual project video for Elvira. This was extremely useful, especially when it came to assembly. With the legs, torso, and arms, there’s a specific sequence required. You have to make sure the legs rest properly on the couch, while the arms rest cleanly on the back and side of the couch. Without Phil’s advice, that might have come out seriously off-kilter. Even knowing in advance, there was some trouble getting both arms to actually touch the couch.
All in all, another fine project, and a fitting one as Monique’s display centerpiece. It’s been not quite a year since that fateful day we celebrated our anniversary by building models together. In that brief time, she’s grown by leaps and bounds. We may have started with me teaching her… but by now, it’s clearly a partnership where we both have skills and ideas to share.