First, go check out your local hobby shop and get some ideas on what you may want to do to upgrade your model. Do you want to custom design and make your own decals? Change the interior? Add something completely different?
Ask yourself if this is for you or to enter in a show and what level you are building at. Be realistic with your skill level and remember with each kit you do, you're going to get better!
Painting is the most common way to make your model stand out. If you're brush painting, make sure to keep your brush strokes going in one direction for a better look.
When customizing your colours be sure to write down how much of each colour you're mixing so you can get an exact match each time. Who knows, someone may want that colour combo and ask you for the mix ratio. Use eyedroppers or pipettes to help with this.
Weathering can really add that "something special" to your custom build. It can make your piece look beat up and rusted or look as if it's just been though the mud. It can be used to create blaster marks on a Sci-fi kit, engine exhaust stains or peeling paint on a car.
It's all in how you use your paint and brush. For example for blaster marks use paint and brush to 'dry brush' the look you want. For a dusty look you can use chalks. Just make sure that after you create the weathered look you desire, seal it with a clear coat of Matte, Semi-Gloss or Gloss. You don't want to ruin that hard work.
Decals are a fun way to customize for beginner to intermediate builders. The majority of kits already have a sheet of decals ideal to your model choice, with sometimes two or three variant choices; But what if you want something unique to your imagination? Decal sets and paper are just what you're looking for.
Basically decals are layers of paint built up on plastic film with a paper backing. The glue is usually activated by water. Your printer may be up to the task of creating your decals.
When using decals make sure to cut as close to the pattern as possible (nail or craft scissors work best for this). Dip your decal in water for the instructions set amount of time and add it to your model. You can use Microset to help the decal settle onto the model more snugly. There are many articles and YouTube videos on how to use and apply decals. Practice makes perfect in this case. Even the most expert model builders can have trouble with decals. Just take your time with it.
Finally, consider adding your model onto a Diorama to add dimension and truly get the feeling across to those looking at your creation. They can be as simple or complex as you want them to be. Ask your experienced local hobby shop for tips and ideas.
With the help of your local hobby shop's knowledgeable staff, checking out a few YouTube videos, researching articles like this one and your own imagination, you can create a potential masterpiece from a humble box of plastic and photo-etched parts.
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