Built Review
German Dunkelgelb
German Dunkelgelb Special Modulation Set
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by: James Bella [ C5FLIES ]


In the short time that AK interactive has been around, some interesting products have been released. Not surprising when you see that Mig Jimenez is the man behind many of these. Another driving force with the testing and development of these products is Iain Hamilton, owner of AK interactiveUSA.

Color Modulation is a technique to help create depth and add realism to our scale models. Effective with both single color and camouflage paint schemes the results can be quite spectacular. Darren Baker recently provided an in-depth review of the Russian Green color modulation set which can be found here. This review will deal with AK interactive's color modulation set for German Dunkelgelb.


The 8 x 17ml eyedropper style bottles are packed in a side opening box with a full color picture of the un-weathered vehicle after using this modulation set. This appears to be the base model used in the Washes, Fading and Oils DVD from AK interactive that was reviewed by Jim Starkweather Here on Armorama.

The back of the box shows a set of eight pictures of the finished product after each step. The images are a bit small, but provide a rough idea of where to apply each shade and in what order. As this is a modulation set, your own creativity will come into play on how you wish your final piece to look.

The paints themselves are lined up in a plastic tray, and in my instance arrived in the correct order:
AK 003 Grey Primer
AK 004 Dunkelgelb Shadow
AK 005 Dunkelgelb Dark Base
AK 006 Dunkelgelb Base
AK 007 Dunkelgelb Light Base
AK 008 Dunkelgelb High Light
AK 009 Dunkelgelb Shine
AK 010 Satin Varnish

in use

These paints are manufactured by Vallejo Acrylics and as far as I can tell all but two are custom mixed to AK interactive's specifications. If you haven't tried Vallejo Model Air paint yet, which this set contains, you're in for a treat. These can be used straight from the bottle and do not require thinning, although you can if you wish. The eyedropper style bottles are easy to use, clean and prevent the contents from drying up, all in all very convenient. Odor is very low and not offensive (to me anyway) and being acrylic, clean up is simple.

The series of photos on the right show my progression of each step on an old previously painted Pz. IV turret, and all colors were used right out of the bottle with no thinning or other additives. And yes, I do know that I'm no Mig, so this is more of the 'average Joe' using this set!

Following the steps on the back of the box we start with the AK 003 Grey Primer. This is the Vallejo grey primer, which is an excellent product in my opinion. Coverage is smooth and even providing a good base for the top coats. The primer dries very quickly to the touch and can be painted over once the 'wet' goes away, although full durability isn't achieved until it cures for a day or two, with or without top coats on. I used between 15-18 psi for the primer, although this will depend on individual style and the airbrush being used. As you can see, it covered up that old paint on the turret very well.

Pre-shading with AK 004 Dunkelgelb Shadow was next. At first I thought this was black primer and was surprised to find it was more of a very dark brown, better to blend in with the Dunkelgelb theme I would imagine. Pre-shading is fairly new to me, and I believe I made the lines too tight the first go around so I applied it in a wider pattern. I figured I really cannot go wrong here as the next five colors would give plenty of opportunity to cover up what I didn't like.

The dark yellow color coats start with AK 005 Dunkelgelb Dark Base, which ties in the primer and pre-shade. This is a pretty dark shade and appears to have a healthy dose of satin or gloss varnish mixed in as it was quite glossy. Air pressure was reduced to 10 psi at this point. It's easy to apply too much of this and the following colors, so go lightly until you get used to this and see the final product. The wet coats are a bit more transparent then when they dry.

I really liked the color of AK 006 Dunkelgelb Base, and as you see I got a little carried away with it and applied it too heavy, covering up most of the previous work. If this was a 'keeper' I would have gone back and used the Dark Base as a shader.

AK 007 Dunkelgelb Light Base begins the real highlighting and starts to brighten the turret up. I applied this in multiple passes working towards the center. Air pressure was reduced to 6 psi from here on out. Again, it's easy to get carried away here so tread lightly. AK 008 Dunkelgelb High Light is very similar to the previous color and helps blend in and brighten things up a little more.

The final color coat is AK 009 Dunkelgelb Shine, a very light color designed to draw the eye to certain features. I applied this two different ways, by airbrush and bristle brush. Although this may look garish at first glance, this is a very effective technique with stunning effects after weathering. Using the Dunkelgelb Dark Base on the shadowed areas would set this off even further, which I didn't do on this test subject.

Finally, the AK 010 Satin Varnish is applied to blend in everything and provide a protective surface that is ready for weathering. As with the Grey Primer, this is a standard Vallejo product which imparts a nice sheen. The next time I use this set a few drops of the satin Varnish will get mixed with the AK 007 & 008 to help improve flow and blending.

If you still feel that the final finish is too bright, adding a drop or two of the Base or Dark Base to the Satin Varnish will make it less vivid and blend the colors even further. This is shown in the final photos and may be useful for a project that will receive a light weathering.


Being a user of Vallejo Acrylics, I purchased this set more out of curiosity than need. Now that I've used it, I'm glad that curiosity got the best of me and I'll continue to 'refill' these colors when they're available. You don't have to worry about mixing up a custom shade if you didn't plan for enough or need to touch up. With the price of this set being on par with individual Model Air colors, why bother mixing your own. This set allowed me to put less in the paint cup and add if I needed more, whereas when I mix my own shades I usually had leftover that ended up being dumped out.

The step by step guide on the back of the box, the only instructions included, is minimal. Luckily, more detailed instruction can be found on AK interactive's website under Techniques, where Iain Hamilton provides a more detailed SBS.

Since these paints are compatible with each other and easy to mix I can see some interesting experimentation in the future. A well thought out and convenient set that is highly recommended.
Highs: Complete set from primer to varnish, high quality paints, easy to use.
Lows: Two of the shades (007 and 008) were too similar to me.
Verdict: A reasonably priced, complete set for color modulation. Online tutorials make up for lack of package instructions.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: Other
  Mfg. ID: AK 002
  Suggested Retail: $21.95 US
  PUBLISHED: Mar 19, 2011

About James Bella (c5flies)

My main interest is 1/35 scale WWII armor, Axis and Allied, and will occasionally branch out into other areas. The builds I have done so far have been pretty much OOB, and considering what most newer kits include, that is usually more than enough for me. Even though my projects do not always end up ...

Copyright 2021 text by James Bella [ C5FLIES ]. All rights reserved.


James this is another good review from you and I see what you mean about 7 and 8 as they even look the same in the bottle pictures. I am curious about the pressures you used to spray the paint, would I be correct that your airbrush is a gravity feed brush as mine is a Badger 150 which would struggle to suck up paint at 6psi? Back to the review and another question; did you find the finish pleasing after it had been applied or did it "like I did with me" grow on you after a while? I look at the KV1 I painted with the Russian set and I am really pleased with the finish now, I suspect that as the finish is so different to anything I have attempted in the past it took a while to grow on me.
MAR 18, 2011 - 05:10 PM
Thank you Darren, it was your review which really got me interested in this set. I use a gravity feed with a .2 needle so lower pressures work better for me, new brush for me and I'm still getting used to it. I just read that someone uses the primer at about 45 psi, so I guess that is a personal preference with what works best. The CM can be quite a shocker in person, pictures just cannot capture the full impact, especially after adding the last highlights. But this is truly spectacular after weathering, as the Washes, Fading and Oils along with the AFV Acrylic Techniques DVDs show. Looking forward to seeing your KV weathered.
MAR 18, 2011 - 05:38 PM
Nice review James. Thanks! This is an easy to use system that the modeler can tailor to his own tastes. Looks like AK hits another one out of the park. I'm using their weathering products now on my 38t and you have to try this stuff - it's like there's a little magic in every bottle. The results are incredible and it's easy to use. AK Interactive is changing the world of model finishing overnight. http://www.ak-interactive-usa.com/index.html
MAR 18, 2011 - 07:20 PM
Thanks Matt, AK interactive did come up with an excellent set in this one. I'm surprised these Color Modulation sets didn't generate more interest in the forums or have more 'hits' on the reviews. For those that haven't tried color modulation yet, these sets take much of the guess work out of the equation of which colors to use/buy or what shades to mix them. Those that haven't used acrylics before, or would like to try Vallejo paints in particular, this is an excellent 'starter' set. Color modulation really brings the base color to the next level. And easy...if I can do it anybody can! And Matt, I just tried out some of the weathering effects from AK on a small project, and you're absolutely correct...the results are incredible and easy.
MAR 26, 2011 - 07:23 AM
ahhh this clears things - the Dunkelgelb I am using is the Vallejo (Tank Ochre I believe it is called) and looks like what you have here... if you guys are OK with this colour then I am (to me it looked a tad green but...... )
FEB 22, 2013 - 02:01 AM
Great review James. I haven,t tried their paint...only weathering products, but they are awesome. One thing i see that i'm curious about was the dark/black preshade color seems thick and a bit splattery. I do they have a specific thinner for the paint? Thanks!
FEB 26, 2013 - 05:49 AM
Nice review. I used their Olive Drab modulation set recently and had some similar minor issues with respect to unintentionally covering up too much of the darker base colors and experiencing some flow issues with some of the colors. I also thought a few key "tips and tricks" could have been included within the set to help modelers trying modulation for the first time get off to a good start. As it is however, these AK modulation sets are pretty cool and after getting beyond the "operator error" inherent in learning this technique, the results are pretty impressive. Once their weathering washes and effects are employed over the modulated color, the final finish is amazing.
FEB 26, 2013 - 07:33 AM
That was mostly me Gary...bent needle and rushing to get some pics for the review...I'm the king of ruining .2 needles This original set was Vallejo paints, so normal thinning as some were a bit thicker than others. I'm not sure if this set is still produced as Vallejo does not supply the paints to AK anymore. AK's newer sets are excellent too, under a new paint supplier. I agree Don, with these different paint sets from both AK and Vallejo, I'd like to see a bit more how-to included.
FEB 26, 2013 - 01:10 PM
That was mostly me Gary...bent needle and rushing to get some pics for the review...I'm the king of ruining .2 needles [/quote] Right on James, Thanks for your honesty Buddy. Im a tried and true Tamiya guy and i dont fix whats not broken. But its smart i reckon, to have a fall back position to cover your arse. Would love to try the AK paints...i will eventualy. Regards, Gary
FEB 27, 2013 - 07:12 AM

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