Painting it Black

Returning to a build from many years ago - namely the 32nd Scale Matchbox Lysander (yes, honestly). Now, i want to finish it in the impressive all black scheme. Obviously, the path of least resistance, would be to spray it black. However, I want some tonal variation as there is some rather nice surface detail which I don’t want to lose. So, what are YOUR techniques for black and would you care to share them? Thanks…

1 Like

Never painted anything all black … but I will soon be … Namely a Challenger 2 tank … I was going to be getting the AK Black detail wash but will also keep tabs on this thread in case anyone has any other ideas … I was also thinking of a really really thinned down light/dark grey on some areas ?

The thing to remember with black (or pure white, for that matter) is that there is nowhere to go to push the shadows if that’s all you’ve got - pure black.

You can either start with the black and build up highlights from there or start with grays and introduce shadows by going darker while also increasing contrasts by going lighter.

Pure black and white really reduce the discussion of “scale color” or “scale lighting” down to the clearest extremes. Visual appeal and the illusion that the viewer is looking at a full-size prototype object, just from a distance, demands contrasts, and unless the modeler is exhibiting his or her work under excessively strong lighting, these contrasts have to be painted on with different tones.

1 Like

Try a dark grey with a black wash followed by a dark/medium grey drybrushing.

1 Like

I find warning up the black with a ivory, cream or brown works (turning into as others said a very dark grey)

Then you can use lighter grey fro dry brushing and black for shadows/washes

All good suggestions. I would add that variations in sheen make it more interesting as well.
I have done motorcycle tanks in one color - black, and created some pretty cool graphics simply by masking and using flat and gloss finishes. A very slight variation in sheen on different panels, especially if it has fabric control surfaces, will make some nice contrast.


Take a peek at this for some inspiration?

Well, i’m just starting a 1/48 Mosquito FB Mk VI Night Intruder, and i’m at the end of my tether researching and reading what appear to be half a hundred opinions on how it should be done.

I’m going with a base coat of flat black, a post shade of Arcus ‘Night’ enamel and a light patchy over-spray of dark grey from Ammo’s RAF late war colour set.

Sod it.


18bravo beat me to the method he discusses. I’ve had some success with an all black aircraft just by varying the gloss/matte or variations in between. Combining this with n overall ‘off black’ base, which allows you to show some deeper shadows in the paint should give you the variation I think you’re looking for. If you look at photos of ‘all black’ aircraft, you’ll see that, with certain very limited exceptions, black aircraft really are mostly very, very dark grey with subtle variations.