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Stomping Grounds:  Painting David Silva’s Styracosaurus

David Silva, long time toy sculptor and graduate of the Savannah School of Art, burst on to the model kit scene in 2010 with his dynamic 1/16 scale Dilophosaurus kit.  It was an inspired kit that in turn inspired Silva to continue to bring his talents  to the model kit world, thankfully.  If you want to read a full interview with David, you can click this link, but right now let's dive into a kit that blew my mind when I first saw it.



The kit in question is Creative Beast's 1/24th scale Styracosaurus.  For the short review, suffice it to say that this is an incredibly detailed kit.  The parts fit very well and little clean up was required.  However, the real kicker to the kit is the action pose.  Silva captures the animal splashing through a creek bed, perhaps in rutting season, showing the tremendous power of even a relatively small ceratopian and bringing the animal to life.  (For a longer, more detailed review, please click here.)

There are 11 parts in the kit and the body and limbs feature a hole and peg connection system which works relatively well.  Personally, however, I prefer to remove the pegs in a kit like this and replace them with nails clipped a little longer.  I then drill the holes a little deeper.  This adds more support.

You will note there is a metal peg in the base, which came as part of the kit and worked great to support the whole structure.  The semitransparent parts fit the base snuggly, but in the end, I kept only the splash and the main base.



The first step was to wash all parts in warm soapy water to remove oils, mold release agents, and other impurities that will make priming and painting difficult.  Very little trimming and clean up with a hobby knife was needed. The parts were assembled with 3 minute epoxy mixed and applied near the center and CA glue applied around the outer edges.  The lower jaw could be left off until painted, but I felt like there was enough room in the open mouth to go ahead and attach it during this stage.

The next step is to fill in the gaps.  I use Aves Apoxie Sculpt, a two part compound that mixes together to create a nice filler for resin parts.  Mix the parts in equal amounts into a small ball until the color is uniform.  Then, let the putty sit for about 5 minutes before using it to make it pliable without being sticky.

Once the putty is ready, I roll it into a little thread that can be pressed into the seams with your fingers or a tool where necessary.  A little overflow is okay because you will want to press in a texture stamp to match the skin impression along the seam. 

Here you see the two parts of Alchemy Works "Repliscale."  You mix the parts in equal amounts and then apply the mixture to a part of the kit where the scales are well formed.  When cured (about 10 minutes), you can take the texture stamp off and press it into the putty before it hardens.  A drop of water can be useful along the seams if the putty seems to have hardened too much.

Once the details are pressed in, you can begin priming the kit.  Surprisingly, the putty will receive primer and paint well even if it has not fully cured.  In fact, I like to prime while it is still a little pliable because invariably the primer will reveal areas that need a little more work and it is easier to do that when the putty is still somewhat soft.

You can use a spray primer, but these days I airbrush on coats of FW Inks Cool Gray using an Iwata HP-B shot at about 20 psi. These inks are exceptional and this particular color will give you a nice light canvas for the rest of the paint job.

For the base coat, I applied Freestyle's Sandstone to the entire kit and left it as the base coat for the underbody, frill depressions, horns and beak. 

The upper part of the body was then coated with Badger's Cursed Earth, a darker sand color to the body before hitting it with a layer of Freestyle Transparent Amber Oxide, which gives a yellowish color to the body.

On top of that, I applied a heavy mottling coat of Transparent Yellow Ochre and Transparent Leather Tan around the face, back and legs to complete the base coat.  There is no real pattern here . . . just suggestions of skin variation.

When that was dried I sealed the whole kit with Testor's Dulcote.  To the right, you can see the way the kit looked at the end of this stage.

Okay . . . now things get ugly.  It may be counterintuitive . . . and admittedly counter productive if you go overboard . . . but the next step is to break up the base coat and apply new colors for the final paint layers to reside on.  This is what gives it the sense of texture and variation.  You have to have faith that you can always make changes to be a modeler and keep in mind this is not life and death.

Anyway, I did a very light misting of Sandstone over the whole kit, then applied streaks and stripes and spots of Transparent Payne’s Gray, Transparent Jet Black, Cadmium Yellow, and Transparent Dark Green went on the body and face. A little Transparent Vivid Orange went on the frill and Transparent Dusty Pink on the throat.

Then on the face and in a few random streaks on the body, I applied Vivid Orange and Mars Red. When it was dry, I very, very lightly dry brushed the whole kit with Sandstone acrylic craft paint and coated it again with light coats of transparent Amber Oxide on the leg and tail especially. That is the quick version, but it is important to understand that I simply keep working on the paint until it looks satisfying and paint over if it does not.

The paint job really starts to come together when you do an oil wash. Mix a solution of 1 part Raw Umber oil paint and 19 parts paint thinner and brush on the entire kit to get a nice, satin feel to the kit. Let it sit for about 10 minutes and dip a rag in a little paint thinner and then wipe the whole kit off very lightly. This will bring out the highlights and retain the deep colors between the scales.  (To learn more about oil washes, you can click here.)

The eyes are brushed with a layer of white, a black dot and a coat of Tamiya Clear Blue. The blue is heavier around the edges. Then the eyes and mouth were coated with Aqueous Hobby Gloss. The horns got a diluted coat of gloss and around the feet I applied gloss to simulate a water splash.

Why blue?  Basically, it is dramatic against the other colors.  Does it make sense?  Who knows?  Some birds and reptiles have blue eyes and I thought it was a nice way to punctuate the overall kit.

THE BASE: The kit comes with a nice semi-transparent water plate with the splash you see.  However, it covers the rocks more than I wanted so I decided to modify it using Woodland Scenics E-Z Water material.  First, I painted the stones with more or less the same colors as the dinosaur, emphasizing Sandstone, Yellow Ochre, and Payne’s Gray and added in some tans from my acrylic collection.

Then, I ran a screw up through the base and into the foot and secured it with epoxy and a little CA glue. You have to be careful when screwing a kit into place.  Don't use a power drill or battery operated screwdriver and go very slowly to avoid splitting the leg.  If you hear a lot of "creaking" slow down, remove the screw and drill the hole a little deeper and wider if possible or use a smaller screw.

Anyway, back to the water effects.  Using a heat gun, I heated the model water material in a can and poured it in small sections on the base.  At times I put actual resin water crystals in place on the base and heated it to melt. Heat can warp the kit, so be careful.  When that was done, I cut the splash in two and placed it around the foot with CA glue, filling gaps with small pieces of E-Z Water. The run off peeled away nicely and I recoated a little flat black on the edges.

Finally, I added a little gloss coat to the eyes, feet and some of the underbody areas (to simulate the splashed water).  Then I did another oil wash around the horns and beak lightly to add in shading and the kit was done!

I heartily recommend this kit and invite you to visit Creative Beast's site to get the model and contact me if you'd like to have one built.




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