Shapeways Part Two

I thought I’d better add a supplementary post to the last one with pictures of the Shapeways models. Bill very kindly popped the piece onto TMP but of course my comments from the TooFatLardies Yahoo Group could not be seen. So, I thought I’d reproduce them here. This is what I said about Shapeways:
Afternoon all. Well, I just finished painting my first six Shapeways aircraft,
four FE2b and two BE2c. I thought I’d go with the British first as the paint
scheme is much simpler than the Germans.
The material these are printed in is quite odd to use. I washed them in soapy
water, I sealed them in neat floor polish, I gave them two coats of spray on
gloss varnish and I undercoated them in grey car undercoat. Despite all of this
one is left with a somewhat grainy surface which sucks up moisture, and
therefore paint, like a sponge. Is that bad? Well, it does take a bit of
getting used to. In the end I found that watering down my acrylic paints with
water was not ideal, far better to use the Vallejo thinner you can buy as this
is less prone to being sucked right off your brush when you paint.
Detail is certainly less pronounced on these than on the WoW/WoG models and as a
result I found myself painting on stuff like weathering which a dry-brush would
have sorted out on normal plastic models. A dry brush would just not work on
these due to the grainy surface, so you create depth with thin inks and build up
light areas such as on the ribbed wings with a couple of layers of painted on
highlighs. Having said that, the weathering is the part of a paint job I enjoy
(unlike painting struts which is truly tedious) and an extra hour at the paint
table, ten minutes per plane, really payed dividends. From a distance the
models looks as pretty as the WoW/WoG, and I am talking about normal gaming
As yet I haven’t got my decals, I only ordered them last night, so I am not
taking snaps yet, but a bit of additional weathering one they are on will, I
reckon, have them looking really nice.
In summary I would suggest that you need to have a pragmatic approach to these
models. The material is simply odd and you have to find solutions to that by
painting in a way you wouldn’t with plastic or resin, but it is worth it in the
Conclusion. I’d like to paint some pretty Huns before I come to my final
conclusion, but I would certainly buy these again and reccomend them to others.
Just keep an open mind when you open the box.
To try to illustrate the points above I have just taken a few quick snaps and blown them up to give some detail. Part of me wants to apologise as this is slightly unfair to Shapeways in that it makes the issues look worse than they are, but I hope my comments generally will be seen as whole-heartedly positive about these aircraft.
Here’s the first snap which shows an undercoated German plane. I washed the original white model in soapy water – washing up liquid and war water – and then sealed them with a five minute soak on floor wax prior to undercoating the dry model in car undercoat spray. These car sprays seem a bit denser than modelling sprays and I hoped that would get the models a bit smoother.

I must point out that the crew in all of my Shapeways models are the superb Peter Pig 144th scale WWI pilots and crew. These glue in very easily, although they do have to be trimmed to suit each individual aircraft. This image should show the still somewhat grainy surface. A better shot still is this next one which is the same aircraft side on.

You can clearly see the grainy nature of the “strong white flexible” material. Again this is really unfair as this is showing the model at four or five times its size, but it serves to show what I am talking about. What I will say is that when these planes arrived they were indeed white and flexible. To a degree I would question the use of the term Strong, but the strength is a product of the flexibility of the material. They bounce when you drop them! That in itself makes them more robust than normal plactic kits and MUCH stronger then resin.
Now let’s look at the painting detail so you can see what I talk about. First is a shot of the underside of the FE2B wing. As you can see this really is just a flat surface. As it is on the underside I haven’t bothered to do anything other then slap on a coat of light tan (Vallejo Stone Grey to be precise), I am not going to lie on the floor and admire the underside of these, so that is quite sufficient a paint job for me!.

On the top wing it is a very different kettle of fish. I am going to be looking at this and I want it to look nice. Again the top surface has very little detauil other than the faintest outline shape of the ailerons. None of the “ribbing” which one finds in most of their planes was present so one couldn’t simply dry brush over the wing to pick out the detail.

Here I created the highlights by just painting them on using what we could call the Foundry three-stage process. I took my base colour (Vallejo Bronze Green) added a bit of white and then painted on (very roughly) the ribbing. I then added some more white and highlighted up from there. In a few places I then used some VERY watered down black ink to create a bit of shadow. Dom’s Decals provide the perfect national markings with ever speedy service.
I am no painter, so please don’t see this as a guide to painting planes. These snaps are merely used to illustrate how different painting 3D printed planes made in “Strong, White & Flexible” is. I am actually very pleased indeed with these. Biggles began his career on the “Fee” with 169 squadron and my campaign using Joe Legan’s Squadron Forward will see Algy begin on the same kite. Just a bit more detail to go when I decide on the markings for the (equally) fictitious 247 Squadron RFC.


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