Paint colors for X-Wing, Snow speeder & AT-AT

I don't know 'exactly' what they did to do the weathering. An experienced painter can look at one of the models and tell you how different effects were applied. But I know for a fact that no painter sticks with one technique to do an entire job like the X-wing. For instance, long before the weathering is applied, liquid latex or rubber cement would have been spotted around for chipped paint. The rest of the paint would be applied and before and during the weathering process, the spots of goo would be picked off to reveal clean paint underneath-- the later in the weathering process the goo is removed, the brighter the paint underneath would appear.

During the weathering process itself, an airbrush would be used for scorch marks and other battle damage effects. Drybrushing would be used to imply worn areas, scrapes and gouges. Washes would be used to simulate the general dirtyness, stains and leaks. The real trick is to layer all these effects-- washes on top of 'old' scorches and 'new' scorches on top of a wash. And while I'm sure there are those who use them, I have never personally seen a painter use powders for weathering. I think this is due to the amount of handling a model will endure while shooting. Actually, I should say that I have seen finely sifted dirt or diatomacious earth used, but that was usually applied after the model was in place and as such is not part of the paint.

The paint used as the base color on all X-wings, Y-wings and the MF in ANH was Krylon Platinum Gray. It is not the same Platinum Gray available today, which is much darker. The closest match to what Krylon made in 1976 is Testors Camouflage Gray, though it is a bit on the pink side.

I have to point out that any paint info given by Bill George would only be accurate for ESB and later-- he did not work on ANH. My information comes from several people who did work (and paint) on that film, people I used to work with. When I was doing the research for my SS X-wing they were most helpful.

For ESB, Red 5 was a new, much larger model and if Bill says they used gloss white I can not dispute it. From what I know of the way base coats and weathering appear on film, gloss white makes no sense-- even with a flat black primer under it. But, none of that is important since the modeler really needs to determine what it is he's actually trying to achieve.

If you are building a model that duplicates an FX model, then the exact colors and how they were applied is important.

If you are building a model that duplicates what is seen on the screen, then you need to use your eye to determine what color to use. Why?

We'll take the X-wing as an example. This ship is supposed to be white with color markings on the fuselage, engine cowls and wings. If it were brand new, all of this would be bright and probably shiny. But, in the Star Wars world, especially the Rebel sections, these ships are old and well worn and the paint has suffered. That's what they want you to see on screen. However, back in 1976 using white on an FX model was very problematic. With the long exposures needed during motion-control photography, the weathering applied over white paint disappeared on film. Weathering, by its nature is translucent-- allowing the white underneath to show through. Pure white is just too bright to put weathering on top of and have it work properly. When they set the exposure, the cinematographer would take the weathering into account, but where the weathering was too thin, it not only didn't show up, but those areas would be overexposed. And even if the weathering was not a problem, they couldn't get a dense enough black in the shadows. Remember, motion picture lights are much different than any lighting any of us are used to. 3400 Kelvin light is way different than an ordinary 100 watt bulb.

So, the solution was to use a very light gray base (which is known today as 'one-stop gray). Stuff like weathering looks much better - on film - when painted over light gray. The last step in how the model appears on film involves the film lab. They adjust the timing when making the prints so the ships appear 'whiter' than they actually look to the eye.

(Short Story about White Paint...) A long time ago, I worked on "King Kong Lives". One of the miniature sets I built was this medical facility interior where Kong was getting a mechanical heart. The full-sized set was painted white, so we had to duplicate that on the miniature. But, during tests, they discovered that the ape-suit worn by the actor was so dark that we had to repaint the set 3-stops to the gray side. This way, when they overexposed the ape-suit by 3 stops, so you could see the texture of the hair, the gray set looked white on film.

The question of Floquil also comes up. I know they used both Concrete (to delineate panels) and Caboose Red (wing markings). This red is actually just 'primary red', so not having the Floquil on hand is not a problem as any primary red will do. The blue used was a Pactra color (Sea Blue, if I recall correctly). It isn't available, but a 95% match is Tamiya Medium Blue (XF 18).

I know that's a long explaination, but if you know why certain things are done, you can make a more informed decision.


Pactra Sea Blue is still available from Amazon. :thumbsup
I must admit, I always thought that it was Pactra Stormy Sea Blue, which is a bluish grey I think. Also, on Page 22 of sculpting a galaxy, Lorne Peterson says it was Stormy Sea Blue. Not that there is any chance of anyone finding a jar of stormy or non-stormy sea blue these days....

I guess it's not white either then :lol :lol

Type in "Pactra Stormy Sea" in google images and see what comes up!
AAarrgghh !!, they won't ship to the UK :cry


Always forget about living in the us it seams every major store either comes form here or has a distributor

Shipping those tiny bottles would cost next to nothing to ship. Ive shipped stuff to the upper part of canada cost next to nothing to ship an it was a large object
Scott i have very reliable info that another
technique was used to create the panel
lines. I only have one pic though seems
they used a 27 gauge needle to do it!!LOL:thumbsup

Some points in this thread i said
"Wow great information".......and at
others i said "Wow 4 things you never talk
about at a bar race, religion, politics, &
Studio Scale Paint schemes and techniques
for Star Wars models!:lol

thanks for sharing what you know!

Michael, that photo is not from an actual production ROTJ Awing. Digital cameras (and their electronic date burn it) didn't exist then.
This thread is more than 12 years old.

Your message may be considered spam for the following reasons:

  1. This thread hasn't been active in some time. A new post in this thread might not contribute constructively to this discussion after so long.
If you wish to reply despite these issues, check the box below before replying.
Be aware that malicious compliance may result in more severe penalties.