The Agony of Caunter

The Caunter disruptive pattern used by the British in Africa and the Mediterranean up until the last months of 1941 looks simple enough, but it's deceptively difficult to paint well. I have always struggled with it, and I struggle still.

This 15mm (1/100) PSC A10 Cruiser is my latest attempt. The hull has been masked and airbrushed, while the turret has been painted freehand.

Freehand painting is quicker by far, but not so precise — though getting the edges straight(ish) has been made a lot easier since I remembered that I own a small #0 lettering brush. Lettering brushes have much longer bristles than a normal modelling brush, which both hold more paint and make it easier to create straight lines and flowing curves, as the length of the bristles allows the brush to sort of auto-correct the imprecision of the fingers. It's not a complete fix, and it still requires a steady hand, but it's a definite improvement over trying to use a standard #0 or #1 round brush.

The down-side to the long bristles is that they don't conform well to raised detail, so I've used it mainly for outlining the colour panels, and then filled them in with a standard round #1.

The next step up from a lettering brush would be a pinstriping fitch, but fitches have very long bristles indeed, and I strongly suspect they'd make life harder for this sort of job rather than easier.

Masking and airbrushing is a huge pain, but it does give very straight, precise edges. The key thing about Caunter is that all the lines are dead straight, and they have to look dead straight or else the whole thing just looks like crap. Straight edges are, to my mind, more important than absolute accuracy in colour for a convincing result.

Masking tape, even very good quality tape, has only a limited amount of stretch, so working over and around very deep raised or lowered detail is problematic. For a job like this, it would have been better if I had painted the hull top before adding elements like the exhaust or machine-gun. It would still be tricky, but it would be easier.

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