The scale of light

Discussion in 'General Modeling' started by jlwshere, May 15, 2015.

  1. jlwshere

    jlwshere New Member

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    I read a very good article about the scale of paint that addressed that the smaller the scale of a model (as opposed to the actual size of the physical object), the lighter darker (full scale) colors should be. The example used was a model of the Titanic and how the bow color (navy blue) would appear an xxx shade lighter if the actual size object was viewed from the scaled distance. There was a mathematical formula of how much white to add to make the correct scale color etc.

    It seems to me that reverse is true for the scale of lights. I see so many really well built USS Enterprises or Titanics that look like they are toys because the lighting is totally blowing out the shuttle bay or the bridge. Same with aircraft, and the ironic thing is that a lot of LED companies praise their ultra bright properties for modelling but other than rocket engines, lights that are too bright = bad.

    Nav and interior lights that are too bright totally destroy the scale illusion, So my question is for you expert lighting gurus; is there a mathematical formula that will accurately determine which resistor should be used to tone down ultra bright to scale, whether it be 1/720 or 1/12 scale or anything I between?
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  2. HughB

    HughB Active Member

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    I completely agree that you don't want the thing lit up like a Christmas tree ornament! Resistors are a bit tricky because you have a forward voltage for an LED below which it just won't light at all, and once they're sealed up inside the model there's no changing the brightness if you decide it looks wrong.

    My approach on my latest model was to use an arduino microprocessor with pulse width modulation outputs (basically turning the lights on and off very quickly) to control brightness. There are separate outputs for different lighting circuits so I can control them relative to each other. I didn't use a formula, but if you take this approach you can tweak the brightnesses after you've completed the model, and fine tune it until it looks right. I still have some work to do on mine to get it looking right!
  3. blakeh1

    blakeh1 Sr Member

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    I had to do a lot of trial and error to try to get what I considered normal lighting for my Slave-1 build

    what makes it harder is when you need different outputs for interior vs exterior lights vs cockpit panels lights.

    Also I find in pictures (at least for me) sometimes the brightness is exaggerated compared to what it looks like in person if you take it in a dark room

    I found it useful to dim the room lights and just keep a little bit of light on and take a picture without a flash to help get a better sense of how bright it is. If it looks to bright in below average room lighting, then it probably needs to be toned down.

    In the pictures above it was something like a one second exposure

    It originally was this bright before adding resistors and lowering the voltage a bit
  4. SmilingOtter

    SmilingOtter Master Member

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  5. retiredadguy

    retiredadguy Active Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Concerning painting "to scale"

    This IS a very relevant subject to achieving "real" looking models. it is also why I do NOT like using primer on models less then 1 to 1 scale.

    If you have been in the USN you will understand what I mean. The navy usually does not clean thing. Ie the side of ships or equipment.

    A fresh coat of paint will do the trick. You get a large (multiple coats of paint) build up of paint.

    Same principle when using primer on a model. If you were to scale the model up to actual size you would wind up with an inch in depth of paint.

    Not only do you obscure a lot on fine detail, also making the model appear toy like, same with over bright lights.

    THIN coats of paint or LESS paint, i.e. NO primer. Dark gray primer acts as an under coat of color, tinting the paint over it to a slightly darker shade.

    Not so good under white or light colors. The "fix" for this is MORE paint over the primer. Not the best solution. Less IS more in this case.

    Here is an easy way to determine a light to dark scale.

    Think of color as a 1 through 10 scale.

    One = White. Ten = Black. This can be used with ANY color. Any one who has ever used Markers professionally understand this concept.

    LIGHT COLOR 1% = white
    10% = 10% gray
    20% = 20% gray
    30% = 30% gray
    40% = 40% gray
    50% = 50% gray
    60% = 60% gray
    70% = 70% gray
    80% = 80% gray
    90% = 90% gray
    DARK COLOR100% = 100% Black

    Hope this helps.

    best regards,
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 9, 2018
  6. darth_myeek

    darth_myeek Sr Member

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  7. jlwshere

    jlwshere New Member

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    I recall reading in Starlog back in the 70s how the original War of the Worlds used muslin (or stockings) to create the distant haze for their miniature sets,
  8. jlwshere

    jlwshere New Member

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    These look good and realistic. I suppose another way would go with the lowest voltage possible and then use a ND clear coating to further reduce brightness if possible. I also appreciate the formulas (if I can end up interpreting them) but a lot of it I presume is trial and error and what looks right to the builder.
  9. Antsnest

    Antsnest Active Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    There is no single formula because there's no single definition of "ultra bright". This can easily vary from 100's of mcd to 10's of thousand mcd depending on the device and the manufacturer.

    The best way is to test whatever LEDs your using on a breadboard first, and keep increasing the resistance until it "looks right"...
  10. GF

    GF Sr Member

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    I think this is going overboard, the thickness of paint will not affect the overall look of model, the scribed lines on model planes ect... are usually too deep or wide to begin with, model kit primer is so fine its impossible to see difference at naked eye.

  11. DS Operative

    DS Operative Well-Known Member

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    Gerardo-- I respectfully disagree (somewhat) with your statement that the thickness of paint will not affect the overall look of the model. I believe the degree of the affect depends on the various scales. If you're building at 1/24 or 1/18 scale, the number of layers of paint will not have as much affect as if you were building at 1/144 scale. Obviously, more layers are going to look worse as your scale gets smaller. I usually build in 1/48 and sometimes 1/32 scale. You don't see much affect at 1/48 but depending on how much you thin your paint it "can" become obvious to somebody who's really scrutinizing the fine details.

    I've always said the same thing about lighting though. I've seen several very well-built and exceptionally detailed models be thrown out of scale but lighting that is too bright.
  12. GF

    GF Sr Member

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    Not sure how you paint your models hopefully not with a paint brush or off the shelf krylon type spray cans, but I use a airbrush and the paint is super thin there's minimal to no difference from a painted and a unpainted part, even at 1: 144 scale it won't affect the fine details, of course if you put several thick layers it will show but a average layer of paint using a airbrush no way you can tell.

    Like I said If you want to scrutinize there's far more obvious stuff than paint layer to worry about like out of proportion scribed line, rivets ect.... to me that's way more obvious and distracting than a light coat of paint

    Last edited: May 21, 2015
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  13. DS Operative

    DS Operative Well-Known Member

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    Actually, GF-- I DO use a lot of rattle cans. But honestly, I rarely build models these days and it's been a while since I have built one. I own an airbrush but it hasn't been out of it's box in years. So yeah, you're right-- my paint is going on quite a bit thicker than it should be. When I get back into serious modeling again, which I hope to do soon-- I'll break out the airbrush and apply some of the awesome techniques I've been reading about here. Thinner coats of paint coming from an airbrush are going to make a huge difference.

    Cheers, and thanks for your input!
  14. thorst

    thorst Well-Known Member

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    Even when using an airbrush, paint layer thickness can be easily observed. The best example is the tiny step you get where you used masking tape.

    And fine details, like for example on some very fine rivets (f.e. on newer Eduard airplanes), will first wash out and finally disappear if you spray some layers of paint over them - even with thinned paint.


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