Tool Review
Black Rubber Shades & Co
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by: Rowan Baylis [ MERLIN ]

Black is black - or not, as the case may be. Certainly not with this new paint set from LifeColor, which offers a selection of six near-black acrylic paints to represent various sorts of rubber and other finishes.

Set #CS27 arrives in an attractive flip-top cardboard box, with the six 22ml plastic bottles held in individual compartments. (Note: You do pay for the nice box - one odd point in LifeColor marketing is that the paints are slightly cheaper if purchased individually, whereas I would have expected the opposite to encourage one to buy the sets).

As usual with LifeColor paints, they show an excellent finely ground consistency, with little tendency to settle out, and can be used neat for brush painting, or thinned a little for spraying. LifeColor recommend their own thinner, but I find Liquitex flow-retarder also works very well.

The colours provided are as follows:

UA 731 - Dirty Black
UA 732 - Vulcanized Rubber
UA 733 - Tire Black
UA 734 - Worn Black
UA 735 - Deep Cockpit
UA 736 - Burned Black

Some of the paint names in themselves probably don't offer much of a clue as to the resulting colours, so the simplest thing was to spray adjacent squares of each for an overall comparison (see right). As you can see, all the colours are several notches paler than pure black.

Deep Cockpit is the most neutral shade, presumably intended for painting cockpits that look pretty featureless if painted neat black. Instead LifeColour's paint is an extremely dark grey.

Viewed in daylight, the other five paints each have distinct colour hints: Vulcanized Rubber tends towards blueish-green, while Tire Black has a slight olive hue. The remaining paints are brownish, increasingly so in the following order: Dirty Black, Worn Black and Burned Black.

How accurate are the colours? Well, to be honest, I wouldn't want to hazard a guess. For instance, I've read that the aviation tyres produced produced by the different combatants in WW2 varied noticeably in colour - so presumably there were a lot of different "Tyre Blacks" - but whether that's strictly true, I don't know. One thing's for sure, tyres are seldom pure black - to see for yourself, just go an check the cars parked outside... unless one is fresh from being valeted, the colours will be a variety of dirty greys.

I think this will prove to be a very useful set, not only for tyres etc., but for exhaust effects and pre-shading where pure black can be far too harsh. Of course, you could argue that it's easy to mix your own "off black", but it's always handy to have a variety of ready-mixed shades. Building on what LifeColor have done here, it would be nice to see them release a matching set of pale rubber shades for early aircraft tyres.

Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AEROSCALE.
Highs: Excellent quality acrylic paints. Subtly tinted dark greys.
Lows: If you don't intend to keep the paints in the box, you should consider buying them individually, as they are slightly cheaper that way.
Verdict: "Scale" blacks and tyre colours aren't a new idea, but LifeColor offer a wider selection than most model paint ranges which I've seen. They should prove very useful for a variety of applications.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: Other
  Mfg. ID: CS 27
  Suggested Retail: 15.95
  PUBLISHED: Feb 19, 2012

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About Rowan Baylis (Merlin)

I've been modelling for about 40 years, on and off. While I'm happy to build anything, my interests lie primarily in 1/48 scale aircraft. I mostly concentrate on WW2 subjects, although I'm also interested in WW1, Golden Age aviation and the early Jet Age - and have even been known to build the occas...

Copyright 2021 text by Rowan Baylis [ MERLIN ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of AeroScale. All rights reserved.


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