The only form of streaking modelers should ever engage in

I promised you a technique, and now I’m going to give it to you – now with photos.

Here’s the idea: if you’ve looked at a jet, especially a jet that’s been well used (like on a carrier or in combat) you’ll notice that the bottom can get pretty grimy. It’s the classic airflow-blown staining – a drip gets pulled backward by pressure as the aircraft moves through the air. But replicating that in 1:72 can be a little tricky; it’s really easy to overdo this type of discoloration.

Here’s how I discovered how to do it, quite accidentally.

First, make sure your model is gloss coated – doing this just after the sealing coat on the decals is probably just right. Next, get out your .005 Rapidograph pen. What – you don’t have a .005 Rapidograph pen? Go get one at your local well-stocked artists’ supply store. I’ll wait.

Okay, now that you’re back, take the model and look for areas where fluids could naturally accumulate: the corners of panels (especially T-shaped junctions between three panels), the area below the engines, spots where slat tracks or flap actuators are located, vents, etc. Now, take the pen and make some very small and irregular dots along that panel line. Irregular is important – and harder to do than you might think, as I learned while taking art classes. Humans have a tendency toward regular lines – fight it.

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While the ink is wet, slightly moisten your thumb – slightly! – and draw it across those dots in the direction of the air flow. What you should get is a set of streaks.

If you goof up, you can use a little more moisture and take all the ink off and have a clean canvas for another try. This is the sort of no-risk weathering technique I really like. Pay no attention to the goobered-up decal – I’ll fix it shortly. 

While I used it on the bottom of the F-4, it has a lot of other applications. The curved staining behind vortex generators on the A-4, Buccaneer, Nimrod, etc. seems like a natural; I’ve used a variation to depict leaky seals on prop spinners. The Rapidograph pens also come in brown, which is great for these purposes, and lot of other colors, so you can mix up the colors a little if need be. (I also use the pens to add colored tick marks to the acetate instruments in Eduard and Aires cockpit detail sets, prior to painting the backs white.)

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