We’ve included tips and techniques below to help the modelers out there with their building, painting and detailing needs.
Feel free to contact us directly with your specific questions.
-Methods & Techniques
-Basic Painting Techniques
Super Detailing or Weathering
-Advanced Painting Techniques
-Setting & Sealing
-Create Your Own
Final Assembly & Display
-LEDs & Fiber Optics
Kit Bashing & Scratch-building
The experienced modeler will want to be sure that their model is as smooth as can be before applying paint. Any imperfections, seams and gaps need to be filled in and barely visible. Sanding the model surfaces will aid in smoothing out any flaws that are left.
Many types of sandpaper will be needed. They can be found at your local hobby shops, automotive stores, home improvement stores and even beauty supply stores.
Sanding Block – flexible or solid blocks are available. Or make one by wrapping sandpaper over a scrap piece of wood with slits in the top to pinch the ends of the paper in place.
Sanding Sticks – similar to emery boards but with a variety of different grades of wet-or-dry sandpaper on them. Or make one by wrapping a small piece of sandpaper over the broken or dull tip of an Xacto blade.
Sanding Wand – a long plastic stick with a sandpaper “belt” that can be moved each time you wear out an area.
Needle files – great for tiny areas that may be too tight to get at with a larger sanding instrument.
A light touch is desirable. Don’t scrub, since you do not want to cause damage to your model.
Grit: the abrasive grains per square inch. The lower the number, the rougher the sandpaper. 100-grit paper is fairly rough. 5000-grit feels like you’re touching copier paper.
The basic rule of thumb here is to start with the lower number grit and work your way up to the finer grit. Be careful, as really course paper can gauge your surfaces. Many modelers do not go below 300-grit paper.
Protect Details: Place tape over any surface detail that is near the area you are sanding to protect it.
Wet Sanding: Some sandpaper can be used wet or dry. These are particularly useful after you apply your primer coat. You will not want to dry sand after the primer coat is applied because it will remove the primer paint. By wetting the sandpaper or surface before sanding, it is possible to get smoother results without removing the paint. This method also reduces the amount of dust kicked up into your face. Speaking of…
Protection: Wear eye protection and a dust mask, especially if sanding resin. You don’t want the particles getting into your eyes, nose and throat.
Technique: Start off with a milder grit when initially tackling a difficult area. You can always step up to a coarser grit if necessary. Resist the urge to dive in with the heaviest grit first. It will save you from having to fill in the gauges later.
Continue to sand out any visible imperfections before going to the primer stage.
Primer paint is like a dress rehearsal for your model. It allows you to see what the finished paint job would look like with out actually spraying your final paint coat. It makes surface imperfections more visible so you can treat them. Primer also provides a texture for your final paint coat to adhere to.
Cleaning: Your model needs to be clean before applying the first coat of paint/primer. Thorough washing with mild soap & water should be sufficient. Some modelers also use denatured alcohol as a final cleansing step.
Drying: Allow the model to air dry. Cover it up to protect it from dust. Handle the model carefully with cloth/rubber disposable gloves to keep your body oils off the models.
Choosing Primer: Most anything will do. Floquil makes a nice light grey primer in a spray can. Other popular primer colors include white, dark grey, and black.
The darker the primer the easier it is to see more mistakes, but the primer will also affect the final paint coat. Darker primer will darken your final paint coat. Light primer will lighten your final paint coat. Neat painting techniques can be accomplished by using different shades of primer with different shades of your final paint.
Technique: The primer coat should be applied using an even thin spray. It does not need to go on perfectly since the final paint coat will cover it up. Your main objective is to see any flaws you may have left. Be careful not to over spray as this will cause the primer to run, and you may lose surface details. Do not put on too many layers either.
The Sanding & Priming dance: After the initial primer coat is applied, identify any imperfections and sand them smooth. If you detected many imperfections, you might need another thin coat of primer to gauge your progress. You’ll spend a lot of time sanding and priming and sanding and priming and sanding and sanding until the surface is nearly perfect.
Removal: If you really mess up the primer coat it can be removed by using spray-on oven cleaner.