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Scale Effect

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  • Member since
    June, 2014
  • From: New Braunfels , Texas
Scale Effect
Posted by Tanker - Builder on Tuesday, February 12, 2019 9:24 AM

 Hi There ;

 I have a question for you . Do you know what Scale Effect is ? It's kind of Mysterious . Scale Effect is that which  renders the model to the eye correctly.In The right coloration for the object .

 A good for instance - Painting the U.S.S.England in 1/350 . I made the serious mistake of NOT taking scale effect into consideration .She's a great shade of Testors Dark Sea Blue . Put her on a dark surface and she disappears ! Yup , really .She has been almost leaned on or had files dropped on top of her .

 Result , She's been put in my Secure case which is a Doctor's File Cabinet .You know , the ones with windowed doors that lift up when you open them . Scale Effect would've saved her for the regular display . Scale Effect in this case would be Lightening the Dark Sea Blue to a faded Levis type color. With the Dark Blue left mostly intact on the decks .

 So when you paint , take into account Scale Effect and your models will look better .I will admit though ,I did this on an A-4-E and it looked almost white even though it was Sea Grey ! Paint can trick the eye .So remember if it looks like it's right to the eye then you've hit Scale Effect right on Target !

 In most cases including Model railroading this is important .The reason I mention the M.R link is the railroads in miniature have dusting , aging , and use  ,in mind as well . 

     So look at your paint make a swatch panel and then paint .The swatch panel let's you get the shades right for planes and ships as well as armor .Model cars follow different rules so we won't include them in this discussion .

 Scale Effect applies in figure painting as well .That's why the good figurist uses many layers of pale washes to achieve realism . It would'nt do to have , say a revolutionary War Soldier looking like someone painted his cheeks red now would it ? T.B. 


  • Member since
    September, 2012
Posted by GMorrison on Tuesday, February 12, 2019 9:38 AM


  • Member since
    November, 2009
  • From: Twin Cities of Minnesota
Posted by Don Stauffer on Wednesday, February 13, 2019 9:52 AM

I only use scale effect for ships, like 1:350 or 1:700.  At normal viewing distances for aircraft, cars and armor, I don't believe in it.  If the visibility were so poor that you would see scale effect there, you would also see loss of fine detail.  But no one does that.

I think possibly 1:144 and 1:200 aircraft might see some scale effect, but I don't use it even on those.  There is a book, Vision Through the Atmosphere, which is available in used copies (that is where I got mine when I retired and could not use company library's copy).  It is the bible on atmospheric effects.


Don Stauffer in Minnesota

  • Member since
    June, 2014
  • From: New Braunfels , Texas
Posted by Tanker - Builder on Wednesday, February 13, 2019 4:28 PM

Hi Don ;

    Well , atmospheric effects aside . That is getting technical . Now for the average viewer .A model ship will look to be say, Fog Grey .When it is what the Navy used to call Haze Grey .

    Haze Grey even had it's problems .Some came from shore supplies and was too light , some too dark and some too Blue .Yeah , too Blue . Haze Grey is intended to allow the ship , when the sun shines on it to translate to the eyeball as " You can't see me can You"?

     Scale effect is simpler . you don't need to paint the plane or tank exactly like the real thing .Why ? well if you do it will either be too light or dark in color .That is scale effect .

    Now that said , I used to like a color Humbrol had called Sea Mist ! Everytime I used that , My ship or boat would constantly get raves . Now, like Deck Bleached Teak , it isn't in they're catalogue anymore  . 

 That last named paint is a good example of what Scale effect can do . The paint was rich in colour .Now wait for it to dry and rub the dickens out of it !The paint darkens and lightens in streaks just like wood . Great stuff .They said there wasn't enough calls for it .    T.B.




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