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Monday, 23 October 2017

Create a Great Paint Job From Spray Cans

Have you every tried to use spray cans to paint your model only to have dripping runs or that 'orange peel' look? We've pooled together our collective knowledge to share some of our favourite tips and ideas.

There are many modelers think spray cans are amateurish and not very precise, and that the only way to build a show quality model is to use an airbrush. That's so untrue! There are a lot of good reasons to use aerosol spray paint.

Currently, there are so many excellent aerosol paints available for model builders, they all have their great qualities. Testors is the front runner with an excellent selection of both stock and custom colors in enamels, and Tamiya's lacquers have fantastic pigments. Some others (not all available at your local hobby shop) add to the huge array of commercially available paints such as Krylon, Dupli-Color, Plasti-kote, and there are more. It may sound odd, but I rarely use an airbrush!

Each of these lines are available in gloss, semigloss, and flat varieties, and can be used to vary the surfaces of flat, semigloss, and metallic paints, adding even more variety to the mix. You can use these differences to your advantage to add more visual interest to your model. 

The first thing anyone is going to notice about your model is the paint job, so read on to learn how to paint, prepare and finish that model on your hobby table.

1. Select the colours for your model kit. Also, check out your local hobby shop or bookstore for awesome reference and idea books. (Remember that for military kits flat colour are best, but if you need to use semi-gloss or gloss for the colour you like to can use a flat finish at the end to make it all uniform flat)

2. On any kit your going to need to remove the molding seams and flashing left by the molding process. These can be hard to spot on some kits, a credit to the manufacturer's attention to detail. Be certain to look closely to find the seams. Sand the large body pieces a bit with 400-grit sandpaper and they'll be easier to spot. Make sure you remove all of the molding seams, or they'll show up through your carefully applied finish!

3. After sanding see if there are any spots that may need to be filled. There are many types of hobby putty to help you with this. 

4. Next priming - yes, this is a pain but is so worth it. This will show any imperfections you may have missed so you can sand them out. One coat is usually all you need. Make sure to hold the spray can approximately 4 to 6 inches away from your project (using light feathering motions) to get an even coat.

5. Painting Tip- you can spray  directly on the piece or create a parts holder. There are many modeling YouTube videos that can help you with this.  I usually wear a latex glove and hold the larger pieces from the inside. For small pieces I spray them directly on the sprue frames and then touch them up by hand after I cut them off. 

6.  Ready to paint? The first tip I learned as a kid and I still use today is warming up the paint so it will flow better. This is very important with thick enamel paints. Cold paint has a tendency to develop an "orange peel" texture. To warm up the paint, fill a bowl (or the bottom of a sink) with about three inches of hot water. Stand the spray can in the hot water for a few minutes before you start painting. (do not put it on a stove or in the microwave, this will explode the can; just use hot tap water)

7. After drying off the can, shake the can vigorously for a couple of minutes, apply the first mist coat of paint to the model (you'll know it's mixing as you hear the metal marble inside rattling around. If you don't hear this sound, test the paint to see if it sprays as it may be really thick or a dried out can). Do a light dusting of paint and it shouldn't cover the entire surface. Repeat this at lease 6 times. These mist coats may seem like a nuisance to apply, but they're laying the foundation for optimum coverage once the wet coats are applied. Wait approximately 20 minutes between mist coats to allow the paint to set. This gives a great look for flat finishes.

8. Only for Gloss Coats The next coats should be heavier, "wet" coats, in which the paint glosses up during application. The trick to applying a wet coat is simple: Apply just enough paint so that the coating is wet and glossy, but not so much that it runs or drips. Mastering the art of the wet coat takes practice, but eventually becomes very natural. Take your time with this and practice on the inside of your model kit box.

9. EXTRA TIP - If you are wanting a show quality paint job polishing may be for you. If your paint job seems a bit uneven you can polish the finish with a 3,200-grit pad (the workhorse of the bunch), it will level the surface of the paint. Please use the pad dry because it's easier to determine when the texture has been removed. Work slowly when using this coarse grit, as it can easily cut through the paint and into the primer. Note it will give the model a dull finish, a sign that all of the surface texture has been removed.  Then you can wet-sand with a 12,000-grit pad, creating a nice luster to the paint's surface. 

10. If you don't wish to go through all the sanding polish can be applied by dabbing a small amount on a piece of flannel cloth and rubbing it into the surface of the paint using circular strokes. Afterward, the excess polish should be buffed off with a clean portion of the flannel cloth. 

11. To finish, I like using a clear coat spray. The finish depends on your project and if you want a flat, semi-gloss, gloss or high gloss look.  If you choose to apply clear gloss over a  color finish, be careful when you apply it. You have two choices: you can add the clear coat immediately after applying the last wet color coat, or you can apply the clear coat after the color coat has cured for at least a week or two. Some brands of clear gloss paint cure at a different rates than the color paints in the line. If you wait even a day to apply the clear gloss, the different curing rates may cause the clear finish to crack. 

So there you have it.  What did you think?  Please leave a comment to let us know your tips and ideas so others can get inspired in this fantastic hobby!

Thanks for reading and Happy Hobbying!

Please remember these are our opinions on what has worked for us and we are not responsible for anyone's projects that have been damaged or unsuccessful using these ideas.