Brushes, Paint & Painting

MAKE A NOTE

When doing any painting, especially figures, make a note of the paints you use — that is brand, colour, mixing quantities, undercoat and so on. Then when you need to do some touching up at a later date, you can match the colours exactly.

PAINT FIRST

Don’t rush in when you buy a plastic kitset and cut all the parts off the sprue. It is better to paint them first and only cut them off as required to build up the model.

RECORD PAINT MIXING RATIOS

Now that Humbrol require modellers to mix special colours themselves, it is important to record the ratios, especially when you want to mix some more of the same colour in order to obtain colour consistency. If your pipette or eye dropper is not graduated, wrap some tape around the dispenser at the levels required for the various colours. Recording these levels will ensure that you get a match when the mixture is made again.

MIXING PAINT

If you have to mix two different paints, make sure that you use the same brand, as different brands use different formulas which could react with each other and ruin your paint.

PRIMER ADVICE

A primer that works well with one paint brand may not work well with another — and vice versa. Always test new paint and primer combinations on a piece of sprue from your kit.

MORE PRIMER ADVICE

Primer can easily clog sanding tools. Clean up mould seams, ejection pin marks and any other flaws in the item being painted before applying primer.

FIX PAINTING PROBLEMS

Problems have been sometimes been experienced with paint not sticking on certain plastics, even though they are washed in soapy water beforehand. One solution that has been found to work is to mix the paint with polystyrene cement. About 10 per cent cement to 90 per cent paint has been found to be the right mix. After thoroughly stirring to mix in the cement, the paint should be applied in the normal way. The usual care with fumes should be taken.

CHECK PAINT COLOUR

When mixing special paint colours, it is hard to judge the exact hue when the paint is wet. This can easily be overcome by dabbing a sample on blotting paper, a paper towel or newsprint. This will give you a good idea of the effect when the paint is dry.

GLOSS INTO MATT 1

To make gloss paints matt, mix two or three parts of turps to every one part of gloss paint. Apply two coats of this mixture to the article to be painted.

GLOSS INTO MATT 2

When a matt finish is required but only gloss paint is available, use the gloss paint and then, while it is still wet, lightly sprinkle it with talcum powder. The paint should then be left to thoroughly dry and then the surplus powder brushed off. A matt surface will result.

PAINT STIRRERS

There should be no shortage of paint stirrers in your model room if you save the sprue from plastic model kits. Cut short lengths of straight sprue and use these to stir model paint. Throw them away after use.

PAINT MIXING PALETTES

Plastic lids of all descriptions, especially smaller ones like the lids from plastic film containers, can be used for cheap, disposable paint mixing palettes

PAINT STORAGE

Those translucent plastic 35mm film containers, that several makes of films are packaged in, are useful for mixing and storing paint in. The lids form a watertight seal so you can mix up batches of the colour you require and store it for another painting session. They are also impervious to turps so are just as useful for enamels as acrylics.

SPIN THE BOTTLE

Paint lasts longer if you turn the bottles upside down every month or so.

PAINT CLEANUP

Keep a container of Wet Ones on your work bench. A light wipe of these moist wet towelettes removes overspray, paint on your hands and other areas where it shouldn’t be with ease. The Wet Ones smell nicer than thinners too.

PAINT BRUSH PROTECTORS

To avoid losing those clear plastic paint brush protectors among the other mess on your workbench, or when you drop them on the floor, paint them a bright colour such as day-glow orange.

BRUSHING DETAIL

Brushes are fine for detail painting. The secret is to use just a little thinner, dampening the brush in thinner or putting a few drops of thinner on a disposable lid, then dipping the brush into paint and mixing the thinner in on the lid.

BRUSH CLEANER

To clean a fine paint brush thoroughly without damaging it, put a screen in the bottom of your cleaning fluid jar. The screen can be made from fine aluminium or stainless steel mesh raised off the bottom to allow sediment to collect underneath. Or you can use old pantyhose stretched over a frame. To clean the brush, gently wipe it across the screen in the cleaning fluid. The mesh removes hard residue and dried paint without

CARE OF BRUSHES

After cleaning, dip your brushes into a small bottle of olive oil and then smooth the bristles to a fine point between your fingers. This prolongs the life of your brushes because the olive oil feeds the bristles and prevents them from going dry and brittle. Before reuse, the oil can be removed by wiping the brush with a tissue.

CLEANER BRUSHES

No matter how careful you are about keeping your paint brushes clean, a little paint always collects at the base of the bristles, especially with fast-drying acrylics. When you have cleaned your brushes by the usual method, swish them in lacquer thinner a few times and wipe them on a lint free rag several times. You will be surprised how much paint has remained in your “clean” brush. Finish off your cleaning by washing the brushes in soapy water and use liquid hand soap (not dishwashing detergent) to wash away any traces of the lacquer thinner. When you are finished washing the brushes, gently shape the bristles into a fine point and let them dry in a safe place.

DRY-BRUSHING BRUSHES 

Whenever one of your regular paintbrushes starts to wear out, ‘retire’ it and use it expressly for dry-brushing. You will then have a variety of stiffer, short haired brushes for dry-brushing techniques.

MAKEUP BRUSHES

Besides eye shadow, mascara and other such items from a makeup kit for weathering, the appropriate brushes can all be put to good use for dusting as well as weathering equipment. The blusher is fairly large, but amazingly soft, and is ideal for general dusting of roofs, boilers and tenders. It removes the dust with no damage to finish or detail. The lip brush is fine and stiff, just the thing to reach into restricted places such as pilot decks, caboose platforms and other tight spots. It is also good for applying dry colour or eyeshadow weathering. If you don’t have these items around the home, try the Avon Lady or the makeup department at your chemist or department store.

USING OLD BRUSHES

Don’t throw away your old paint brushes. If you cut the bristles to about half their normal length, they are just right for dry brushing.

PAINTBRUSH CARE

Good paintbrushes are an investment, so it is worth some extra effort to keep them in good condition. Quality brushes usually come with a plastic sleeve over the bristles and you should keep this on when not in use. However these sleeves do tend to get lost so make some more by cutting a length of drinking straw or plastic tubing sufficiently long enough to slip over the brush ferrule and cover the bristles. When you have finished painting, clean the brush well and slip on the sleeve. Make sure that all the bristles are gathered together so they don’t bend back when you slide the covering sleeve into place. This way you never have trouble with bent bristles and drying is not a problem either as the end of the sleeve is open.

PAINTBRUSH PROTECTORS

The clear plastic tubes that protect paintbrushes are easy to lose. Wrap them with coloured tape to make them easy to find.

SMART PUPILS

Painting the eyes of small figures can be tricky, and painting pupils within those eyes is even more difficult. Instead of messing up well painted eyes with goofy-looking pupils, push a straight pin into the painted eye; the tiny indentation replicates a pupil.

USES FOR BLU-TAC

The perfect answer to knocking over paint or liquid glue jars is to put a little Blu-Tac on the bottom. Roll the Blu-Tac into a sausage and use it to pick up small parts. Use Blu-Tac to hold small items for painting or gluing.

REMOVING SURPLUS PAINT

Paint which has leaked under masking or somehow got in the wrong place can easily be removed using Polystripper. Paint it on with a small paint brush and after about five minutes run the model under a cold water tap. The stripped paint can then be removed easily with a paint brush. Warning: Do not use Polystripper on plastic models or parts as they will dissolve.

POURING PAINT

Pouring paint, thinners, etc. from one small container to another can be tricky. Hold a paint brush handle over the open top of one bottle as it is poured. Centre the handle in the other bottle and pour slowly with no spills.

SPIN THE BOTTLE

Paint lasts longer if you turn the bottles upside down every month or so.

PAINTING HANDRAILS

Painting handrails on locomotives or rolling stock can be a tricky operation to prevent the paint from getting on the bodywork. By placing a small piece of paper between the handrail and the body and then painting, the trouble can be avoided. When the handrail is dry, the paper can be removed. This method can also be applied when painting rain water downpipes on a building, or indeed, on any subject with railing in a similar situation.

PAINTING AND MOUNTING FIGURES

Carefully drill a hole in the figure’s foot and glue in a styrene rod, stretched sprue or a pin. Trimmed to a convenient length, the rod can then be held in a vice or clamp while painting the figure. This also facilitates mounting the figure on your layout. Drill a hole for the rod or pin and glue the figure in place.

PAINT CLEANUP

Keep a container of Wet Ones on your work bench. A light wipe of these moist wet towelettes removes overspray, paint on your hands and other areas where it shouldn’t be with ease. The Wet Ones smell nicer than thinners too.

PAINT SHAKER

Turn your sander into a paint shaker. Hook two heavy rubber bands diagonally across the face of the sander’s pad. Drop one or two small ball bearings into the paint can or bottle, then put the can or bottle under the bottom bands where they cross in the middle (the bands crossing over provide added tension). Turn the sander on for 15-20 seconds and your paint is mixed. Make sure that the lid is tightly on or you might make a colourful mess. You can protect the sander’s pad by putting a piece of cardboard over the pad before attaching the paint can or bottle.

BRUSH CLEANER

To clean a fine paint brush thoroughly without damaging it, put a screen in the bottom of your cleaning fluid jar. The screen can be made from fine aluminium or stainless steel mesh raised off the bottom to allow sediment to collect underneath. Or you can use old pantyhose stretched over a frame. To clean the brush, gently wipe it across the screen in the cleaning fluid. The mesh removes hard residue and dried paint without

A MATT FINISH

When a matt finish is required but only gloss paint is available, use the gloss paint and then, while it is still wet, lightly sprinkle it with talcum powder. The paint should then be left to thoroughly dry and then the surplus powder brushed off. A matt surface will result.

PAINTING SMALL PARTS

When you have small parts to paint, attach them with double-sided tape to a spare ceramic bathroom wall tile. The tile is impervious to paint, heavy enough so it won’t blow away, and is small enough to move into a spray booth and set aside after painting. Best of all it keeps fingers off freshly painted parts. When you have finished painting, remove the tape and clean the tile with lacquer thinner ready for the next small painting job.

EASY MASK

Use 3M Post-it notes to mask fine edges. The low adhesion won’t mar finished areas, and they are faster and easier to apply, as well as remove, than masking tape.

BRUSH PROTECTORS

The clear plastic tubes that protect fine paint brushes are easy to lose and even harder to find — drop them on the carpet and you’ll find out. But paint them a bright colour and you will find them easily.

PAINT ORGANISER

Take an ordinary shoe box and, using a paint tin or bottle as a guide, draw a line around the bottom with a pencil. Cut off the upper part and use the cardboard to make dividers in the box to separate the paints by colours, brands, types, whatever. The flexible cardboard dividers can bend around different size containers. Use the original box lid and you have a neat storage system.

CARE OF BRUSHES

After cleaning, dip your brushes into a small bottle of olive oil and then smooth the bristles to a fine point between your fingers. This prolongs the life of your brushes because the olive oil feeds the bristles and prevents them from going dry and brittle. Before reuse, the oil can be removed by wiping the brush with a tissue.

A FERRIS WHEEL PAINT RACK

Ever had trouble storing your tinlets or bottles of paint so you can see at a glance the one you want? Make yourself a ferris wheel paint rack to keep them on and you simply have to turn it around to get the right one. You can even print the paint numbers on the front of the shelves to make identification easier.

SEALING PAINT BOTTLES

When you are finished using a particular paint bottle, cut a small square from a plastic grocery or shopping bag and put it over the mouth of the bottle. While holding it tightly with one hand, screw the cap on with the other. The plastic provides a good seal and the next time you need that particular paint, the cap comes off the bottle with no hassles. Since the supply is endless, use a fresh piece of plastic every time.

CAP TIP

Most tubes of toothpaste, and similar tubes containing ointment, glue and so on, have a cap with a recessed top. This recess is handy for holding small amounts of paint . The stuff won’t dry as fast in this little reservoir as it would if you dropped it on a flat palette. Glue the cap to a piece of cardboard or sheet styrene to keep it from tipping over when in use.

PAINTING AID

When painting car and engine shells, use a cardboard tube from the centre of a paper towel or toilet roll. Put a piece of double-sided sellotape at one end, then gently push the tube onto the body. The tape helps secure the model and the extended tube acts as a handle or stand.

PAINT PALLETS

Use the plastic lids from margarine and similar containers as a pallet for mixing paint.

PAINTING STAND

Make your own painting stand out of and old wire coat hanger, tape and some pegs. Cut the coat hanger as shown in the illustration and slide on some pegs. Tape between the pegs to keep them apart and bend the hanger as shown to make a stand.

REMOVING STUCK PAINT LIDS: 1

Place the jar upside down on your workbench and add a few drops of paint thinner to the upturned lid with an eye dropper. After a few minutes the lid should twist off with little effort.

REMOVING STUCK PAINT LIDS: 2

Turn the paint jar upside down and place it in a small pan. Add water until the lid is submersed. Remove the paint jar and heat the water until it boils. Turn off the heat, put the paint jar back in the water, still upside down of course, and wait 30 seconds. The hot water will cause the lid to expand freeing it from the dried paint on the threads. The lid will be hot so wear gloves or use an old towel to unscrew the lid.

DISPOSABLE BRUSH

Use a pipe cleaner for small touch-up painting jobs. When finished, simply cut off the used end and you are ready for the next colour. This saves washing brushes all the time. A single pipe cleaner is usually good for six or more small jobs. The “furrier” the better. The softer a pipe cleaner feels, the better it works for painting.

CLEANER BRUSHES

No matter how careful you are about keeping your paint brushes clean, a little paint always collects at the base of the bristles, especially with fast-drying acrylics. When you have cleaned your brushes by the usual method, swish them in lacquer thinner a few times and wipe them on a lint free rag several times. You will be surprised how much paint has remained in your “clean” brush. Finish off your cleaning by washing the brushes in soapy water and use liquid hand soap (not dishwashing detergent) to wash away any traces of the lacquer thinner. When you are finished washing the brushes, gently shape the bristles into a fine point and let them dry in a safe place.

PAINTING STRETCHED SPRUE

Here is a way to paint stretched sprue, wire and other fine items before putting them on a model. Place a few drops of paint on an old rag and pull the sprue through the paint just like wiping a dipstick.

PREVENTING STUCK LIDS

There are a number of solutions to the problem of lids sticking on paint jars but this one works effectively. Clean the neck of the jar thoroughly and place a small square of Gladwrap over the opening before putting the lid back on. Other material which also works is the liners of dry cereal boxes.

LONG-PLAYING PAINTSTAN

Old record players make fantastic painting stands. Place the model to be painted in the centre of the turntable and rotate it by hand as you paint

SHAKE ‘EM UP

Drop a few ball bearings or small nuts into a new bottle or can of paint. When you shake the bottle or can, they will rattle around and mix the paint just like the ball bearings in spray-paint cans.

ALL SHOOK UP

Here is another way to achieve high speed paint stirring without mess, fuss, or expensive equipment. Cut off the head of a nail and solder a “paddle” of brass sheet to one end of the nail. Chuck the other end of the nail in a variable speed drill. Before you start the drill to stir, place the cardboard core of a toilet paper roll over the jar of paint. The nail will spin better if you leave a bit of its tip exposed on the “paddle” end.

PAINTING SMALL PARTS

For a cheap disposable holder for securing small delicate parts while they are brush or spray painted, cut a length of masking tape from a roll and overlap the ends, sticky side out, so that one end sticks to the other. Stick the loop to a smooth surface, extending the ends as far as possible. The top side is now available for holding various parts for painting. If they are really fragile, you can reduce the tackiness of the tape by sticking it to glass and pulling it off several times. When the parts are dry, simply turn them over and paint the other side.

PAINT STORAGE

Those translucent plastic 35mm film containers, that several makes of films are packaged in, are useful for mixing and storing paint in. The lids form a watertight seal so you can mix up batches of the colour you require and store it for another painting session. They are also impervious to turps so are just as useful for enamels as acrylics.

PAINT HOLDER

Small paint pots or jars can easily be knocked over on your workbench and the spilt paint is hard to clean off the carpet. To avoid this happening, take a thick kitchen sponge and cut a hole in it for the paint container to fit snugly in. You can even wipe surplus paint off your brush on the sponge if needed.

STICKY PROBLEM

Many ideas have been put forward for preventing paint jar lids from sticking including wiping excess paint from the threads before putting the lid back on. Wiping the threads with a thin layer of petroleum jelly will help.

DRY-BRUSHING BRUSHES

Whenever one of your regular paintbrushes starts to wear out, ‘retire’ it and use it expressly for dry-brushing. You will then have a variety of stiffer, short haired brushes for dry-brushing techniques.

PAINT MIXING PALETTES

Plastic lids of all descriptions, especially smaller ones like the lids from plastic film containers, can be used for cheap, disposable paint mixing palettes

SHINING THROUGH

Ever had to repaint models because there was somewhere you missed sanding a seam, or a small part needed sanding a bit more? Try painting seams and other sanded parts with chrome silver from a well stirred bottle using a soft brush. Although this will lead to another day’s drying time, the delay is well worth the wait as the reflective qualities of the paint show exactly where to put in a little more time with the sanding materials. The paint also acts as a good filler.

ANOTHER CAP UNSCREWING TRICK

Try wrapping a wide rubber band around the lid of stuck screw-type paint jars which fail to respond to finger pressure. The rubber will give your fingers that extra grip needed to unscrew the lid.

PAINT STIRRERS

There should be no shortage of paint stirrers in your model room if you save the sprue from plastic model kits. Cut short lengths of straight sprue and use these to stir model paint. Throw them away after use.

PAINT TIN LID CARE

When you open a tin of enamel paint to commence painting, drop the lid into a jar containing white spirits. This prevents paint from solidifying around the rim of the lid which, if this happens, can make it increasingly difficult to get a proper seal when you put the lid back on. You should also wipe around the inside edge of the tin’s mouth with a tissue or, better still, a “Wet One”. These are handy to keep on your workbench for a variety of wiping jobs.

GLASS PAINT

To paint the glass in headlights, take a drop of gloss silver paint and dilute it with thinner — about 60% paint and 40% thinner. Prop the model up so that the headlight is horizontal and facing upwards. Load the brush fairly generously with the thinned paint and apply to the centre of the headlamp lens. With luck, and a bit of persuasion, the droplet of thinned paint will expand to fill the recessed lens area within the headlamp. This usually works although you may have to touch up the rim with base colour afterwards. When dry, you can if you wish, do likewise with a drop of gloss varnish to enhance the glass effect.

SMALL STORAGE JARS

Those small miniature jam and marmalade pots such as those supplied for breakfast in hotels, motels and cafes are ideal for holding small quantities of specially mixed paints, turps, white spirits and similar liquids. Make sure though, that you label each with what the contents are or you could have problems if you use the wrong one on your model.

JUDGING PAINT COLOUR

When mixing paint, do you find it difficult to judge the exact hue you require when the paint is wet? If so, dab a sample on blotting paper and this will quickly give you a good idea of the effect when dry.

STRAINING PAINT

Every drop of paint you intend to spray through an air brush should be strained before use. Thin the paint following the manufacturer’s instructions and then pour it, using a small funnel, through a fine tea strainer or a piece of old pantyhose, into the air brush’s paint reservoir. You may well be surprised how many lumps of paint you will find that didn’t go through the strainer and which could clog up your air brush.

DUST-FREE PAINTING

Dust is the enemy of modellers, especially when painting. It will fall on your model even as it is being painted. One solution is to do your painting in the bathroom where there is hardly any dust, and put the model under a shoe box to dry. This may not be a very practical idea depending how many family members there are who need to use this facility. Another idea is to paint inside a cardboard box as shown. Most dust usually obeys the laws of gravity and does not go around corners so stand the box on one of its sides and put the model to be painted inside. There is now a roof over the model which should exclude the majority of the dust. Also keep the tin of paint inside the box to prevent dust getting into it. Do not breathe in the direction of the model or you could blow some dust in. When you have finished painting, drape a cloth over the front of the box while the model dries.

MAKING GLOSS INTO MATT

To make gloss paints matt, mix two or three parts of turps to every one part of gloss paint. Apply two coats of this mixture to the article to be painted.

DOT THE EYES

For painting very fine detail, especially on figures, use the tip of an ordinary pin dipped into the paint. Because it is metal and smooth, the tip only holds a very small drop of paint thus eliminating blobs where you least want them. This technique is ideal for eyes and very thin lines.

CHECKING PAINT COLOUR

When mixing special paint colours, it is hard to judge the exact hue when the paint is wet. This can easily be overcome by dabbing a sample on blotting paper, a paper towel or newsprint. This will give you a good idea of the effect when the paint is dry.

PAINTING PROBLEMS FIXED

Problems have sometimes been experienced with paint not sticking on certain plastics, even though they are washed in soapy water beforehand. One solution that has been found to work is to mix the paint with polystyrene cement. About 10 per cent cement to 90 per cent paint has been found to be the right mix. After thoroughly stirring to mix in the cement, the paint should be applied in the normal way. The usual care with fumes should be taken.

KEEP YOUR MARBLES

We all know that air is the enemy of keeping paint from hardening in the can or jar. The trick is to remove as much air as possible before putting the lid back on. Pop a glass marble into the jar and then put the lid on tight.

PRIMER ADVICE

A primer that works well with one paint brand may not work well with another — and vice versa. Always test new paint and primer combinations on a piece of sprue from your kit. Primer can easily clog sanding tools. Clean up mould seams, ejection pin marks and any other flaws in the item being painted before applying primer.

DON’T SHAKE PAINT

Shaking paint, especially acrylics, induces air bubbles that can affect the paint’s ability to flow on properly. Keep plenty of toothpicks, pieces of sprue and similar items on hand for stirring paint before painting.

MIXING PAINT

If you have to mix two different paints, make sure that you use the same brand, as different brands use different formulas which could react with each other and ruin your paint.

RECORD PAINT MIXING RATIOS

Now that Humbrol require modellers to mix special colours themselves, it is important to record the ratios, especially when you want to mix some more of the same colour in order to obtain colour consistency. If your pipette or eye dropper is not graduated, wrap some tape around the dispenser at the levels required for the various colours. Recording these levels will ensure that you get a match when the mixture is made again.

PAINTING OVER BLACK

Black is very hard to paint over to get a true colour. Kit parts moulded in black plastic should first be undercoated with light grey — spraying is probably best. You may need a couple of coats before you apply the finishing colour and red, especially, may need two coats.

UNSCREW THOSE LIDS

Sometimes the screwtop lids on paint jars defy all attempts to loosen them — you have tried hot water, CRC, pliers and other tips found in this column or elsewhere but still they won’t unscrew. Try turning the jar upside down and drop some lacquer thinner around the threads of the jar. After a few minutes the thinner will seep down and loosen the dried paint holding the lid on tight. When you get the lid off, give the threads on the jar and the lid a good clean before putting the lid back on.

REAL FLESH COLOUR

When painting figures, use dull, subdued tones. Don’t paint figures in flesh colour. Try using brown mixed with white to give a creamy coffee colour which looks far better than pink people.

COVERING DARK WITH LIGHT

When painting light colours over dark colours or dark plastic, start by using a light or medium grey primer. Normally one coat should suffice but if the dark colour is very dark, two coats may be necessary to obtain a good cover. The added advantage of the primer is that it shows up joins and other flaws in the construction of the model. Once the primer is completely dry, paint over it with your chosen colour.

ACRYLIC THINNER

Always check the paint label to determine the manufacturer’s recommended thinner before thinning paint. If there are no instructions or the label is gone, probably the safest acrylic paint thinner is distilled water.

DRY BRUSHING

Dry brushing is basically rubbing most of the paint out of a brush, then stroking the brush over high points on the model. The remaining pigment on the brush gradually ‘stains’ the high points. It is a weathering technique to simulate worn and faded paint and is typically done with light colours. After the painted model is dry, lighten the base colour with white and paint a small swatch on a piece of cardboard with a soft brush. Continue to work the brush until it is nearly dry. Next, lightly brush this colour on raised details of the model. To enhance the effect, scrub the brush a little harder on the model. Dry brushing highlights the raised details, the goal being to achieve a smooth graduation of colour. If your paint is too wet, you will only produce a spot of colour that will not look right. If it is too dry, nothing will happen. Practice on an old model first.

WASH FOR DETAIL

A wash is a very diluted paint used to add visual illusion to depth. Thinned black paint brushed onto a wagon’s sides will settle in panel and hinge lines. Washes can be brushed on figures to add natural shadowing. Always use a paint and thinner that will not harm underlying coats of paint. If you use lacquer colour coats, you can safely use and enamel wash over them. Do not use lacquer over enamels because lacquers will eat through enamels quite quickly. Use an acrylic wash over enamels.

FOOD COLOURING

When you are using water based paints and you want a colour that you do not have, try adding a little food colouring. It makes light colours darker and is better than using black because it does not look dirty.

STICK IT DOWN

When using paint tinlets or small bottles of paint, liquid glue, and similar small liquid materials, stick a little Blu-Tac under the container to hold it firmly on the workbench and avoid accidental spillage.

EYESIGHT DIMMING

Do you have trouble making out the part numbers on sprues when making up kitsets? Try dry-brushing some silver paint on the numbers and you will be surprised how visible they become.

IT’S GOOD FOR HAIR

Try treating your good quality natural-bristle paint brushes with some hair shampoo/conditioner. This will help keep the bristles soft and prevent them from becoming dried and brittle from age and repeated cleaning in solvent. Wet the bristles with water and apply a small amount of shampoo/conditioner between your thumb and forefinger. Work into the brush from the base of the bristles to the tip for about a minute, then rinse in warm running water, stroking the bristles to remove all of the treatment. Note: Because most solvents and water don’t mix, allow a solvent cleaned brush to dry thoroughly before using this technique.

HOT GLUE FOR PAINTING

Hot glue works well for holding small parts for painting. Take a small square of cardboard and put a dab of hot glue on it. Set your part to be painted on on the glue and leave it to cool, usually it does quite quickly. After the painting is completed and dried, the part will peel off the glue very easily.

USING OLD BRUSHES

Don’t throw away your old paint brushes. If you cut the bristles to about half their normal length, they are just right for dry brushing.

MAKE A NOTE

When doing any painting, especially figures, make a note of the paints you use — that is brand, colour, mixing quantities, undercoat and so on. Then when you need to do some touching up at a later date, you can match the colours exactly.

MASKING TIP 1

When masking models ready for painting, use the ball tip of a ball point pen to press the edges of the masking tape firmly to the surface. This will help prevent the paint seeping under the edge of the tape. It will also help if the pen has run out of ink and then you won’t get ball point ink on your model.

MASKING TIP 2

Peel masking tape off as quickly as possible after painting before the paint has a chance to form a skin. If the paint does form a skin, wait for the paint to completely dry then use a sharp craft knife to lightly score around the edges of the tape. This keeps the mask from pulling the paint off the model at the edges when you remove the tape.

MASKING TIP 3

No matter how carefully you try, some paint will tend to leak under the edge of the masking tape. After masking, paint first with the same colour that you are going to paint over. This will fill any gaps in the edges of the masking tape. Then paint with the colour you want finally and, as the gaps under the masking tape have been filled, there will be no leaking and you will get a perfect edge to the finished colour.

THINNING ACRYLIC PAINT

Don’t use ordinary tap water to thin acrylic paint, instead use distilled water.

WHITE PAINT

It is sometimes difficult to get a good coverage with white paint without several coats. Try adding one drop of black to every 10ml of white. You will still get a white finish but with better coverage. This formulae works well as an undercoat for yellow, a colour which is also difficult to achieve good coverage.

ACRYLIC PAINT REMOVER

When painting models, it is always useful to have an “undo” method just in case of mistakes. With acrylic paints, ordinary window cleaner such as Mr Muscle will dissolve most acrylic paints. Mostly it will remove the paint immediately, but for stubborn areas, soaking overnight usually does the trick and will not harm plastic parts.

PAINTBRUSH CARE

Good paintbrushes are an investment, so it is worth some extra effort to keep them in good condition. Quality brushes usually come with a plastic sleeve over the bristles and you should keep this on when not in use. However these sleeves do tend to get lost so make some more by cutting a length of drinking straw or plastic tubing sufficiently long enough to slip over the brush ferrule and cover the bristles. When you have finished painting, clean the brush well and slip on the sleeve. Make sure that all the bristles are gathered together so they don’t bend back when you slide the covering sleeve into place. This way you never have trouble with bent bristles and drying is not a problem either as the end of the sleeve is open.

SIMULATE RUST

Rusty metal tends to have a rough surface and to “bubble” through paint. Add some talcum powder to your rust paint to thicken it and give it texture. The talc lightens the paint considerably , so add some black or dark brown to the mix or apply a second coat of rust. To show the rust breaking through the paint in patches, dry brush the base colour over the rust treated areas.

SAVE ON PAINT

Many supermarkets print advertising coupons on the back of till dockets. You should check these for offers, not only for home use, but for your modelling use as well. Currently being advertised is an offer from Resene Colorshop — Buy 1 Testpot, Get 1 Free. This is a good source of inexpensive paint for backdrops and other uses on personal and club layouts.

MASKING CLEAR PLASTIC

Try using Bare-Metal Foil to mask clear plastic. It is expensive but as it uses a waxy adhesive, any left-over adhesive can simply be rubbed off. Bare-Metal Foil can also be used to mask acrylics which don’t stick as well as enamels and there is less liklehood of pulling the paint off when you remove the mask.

STICKING SCREW-ON PAINT CAPS

There have been many suggestions for preventing screw-on paint caps from sticking. Here is another one for acrylic paint— run a rag soaked in window cleaner around the lip of the paint bottle before resealing it. The window cleaner will remove the guilty paint.

PAINTING DETAIL ON FIGURES

Consider the viewing distance and the scale of a figure when painting on detail. For example, if you are painting 1:72 scale people, remember that the model is 72 times smaller than the real thing and there is no point in trying to include detail that will not be seen, except for your own personal satisfaction. Use the box top illustration to see all the detail that the artist has included and then move backwards until the illustration appears the same size as the 1:72 scale model. A lot of intricate detail will have disappeared or taken on a much simpler appearance. This is a good guide to show what level you should strive for in replicating painted detail.

AUTHENTICALLY WORN PAINT

To simulate worn paint on a model, why not simply wear it of. Using enamel paint, basecoat you model with the colour likely to be found underneath — aluminimum, zinc oxide, or whatever is appropriate — waiting at least five days for it to dry completely. Then paint the top coat(s) with acrylic paint, which can dry as quickly as in a few hours. Now take a cotton swab or cloth and moisten it with rubbing alcohol, rubbing wherever you want the worn effect. This takes off the acrylic but leaves the enamel basecoat. If you mess up you can always repaint the topcoat.

UNSCREWING TUBE CAPS

To remove stubborn tube caps on glue or paint without the foil tube twisting or splitting, hold the tube immersed in boiling water for a few seconds. Use a kettle or small pot for this procedure and only immerse the inverted neck of the tube in the still boiling water. Take care and wear hand protection against the steam. About thirty seconds should do the trick, then use a cloth to gently twist off the cap which should unscrew without any problems.

PAINTBRUSH PROTECTORS

The clear plastic tubes that protect paintbrushes are easy to lose. Wrap them with coloured tape to make them easy to find

TWIST-TIE TOOL

The fine nozzles on glue tubes soon get clogged if you don’t keep them clean. The wire in twist-ties is ideal as a cleaning out wire. Just strip the plastic off the twist-tie and you have a perfect tool for poking into the nozzle to keep the liquid flowing.

PREVENTING PAINT BUILD-UP

Try spraying the tip of your airbrush with non-stick cooking spray before a painting session. This will help prevent paint buildup on the tip.

MAKING PAINT STICK

Some of the new plastics being used to cast model kits, and especially figures, do not take paint very well, especially when they are handled. A trick now being used is, after washing in warm soapy water to remove the mould release agent, to paint the item with PVA glue first before applying paint. Make sure, though, that you don’t put the PVA on too thickly so as to obscure detail. Thin coats are best. The paint will still rub off but only with heavy handling.

TAP STRAINERS FOR PAINT

Strainers found in some appliance taps or hoses make great paint strainers. The wire mesh is fine enough to catch any globs that have not broken up while stirring and which could foul your airbrush. Because the strainers are chrome or brass, paint thinners will not harm them.

WHITE PAINT NOT WHITE

A common problem with white paint is that it sometime goes yellow, around the edges and occasionally all over. There is no perfect solution to this problem but you can try adding a couple of drops of light blue to your white paint bottle next time. You should also make sure that the white paint is fully cured before applying an overcoat as a sealer. You should allow at least 48 hours for flat paint and a week or two for gloss white. Sometimes the white paint yellows as a result of chemicals that normally would be “out gassed”, but get trapped beneath a clear coat. Some modellers will tell you that it is the clear coat that causes the yellowing, but usually it is the white paint itself that is the culprit but not the only one. Yellowing can also be kept to a minimum by avoiding ultraviolet light which causes the pigment’s resin binder to turn yellow. So keep those models out of the sun.

PAINTING YELLOW

Yellow is a difficult colour to paint over dark plastic. It usually looks almost like green. Painting dark plastic parts on models requires a flat white undercoat and not the usual light-grey primer. The white should be left to dry completely before adding yellow, or other light colour, in multiple thin – almost dry – coats.

DRY BRUSHING IS EASY

Dry brushing is simply a way of picking out raised detail with paint. It is quite easy to do Simply charge a wide flat brush with a small amount of paint, then wipe most of the paint off onto a clean cloth or paper towel. When hardly any paint is left on the bristles, stroke the brush over the model and the small amount of paint left on the brush will be deposited on the raised detail, thus picking it out. Several applications may be needed to get the saturation of paint that you desire, and it is best to do it that way rather than trying to just use one or two sweeps with a higher concentration of paint on the brush.

MASKING PROBLEMS

Masking tape is still one of the most popular methods for masking models prior to painting. However, it does not work as well with brush-painting. Liquid paint, as opposed to paint in aerosol form, defeats the stickiness of the masking tape and creeps underneath, even when the edges of the tape are well burnished down. Another important factor is that when a roll of tape sits around in a drawer or on your workbench, its edges pick up dust and dirt that can keep it from sealing properly, allowing paint to seep underneath. Before applying masking tape to the model, run a strip out on a sheet of glass and, using a metal straightedge and a new blade in your craft knife, cut off the long dust filled edges of the tape and discard them. The clean masking tape can now be applied to your model but make sure you press down the edges of the tape by rubbing with the rounded end of a burnishing tool or similar such as a wooden or plastic tool handle. Now, for best results, use an airbrush.

BRUSHING DETAIL

Brushes are fine for detail painting. The secret is to use just a little thinner, dampening the brush in thinner or putting a few drops of thinner on a disposable lid, then dipping the brush into paint and mixing the thinner in on the lid.

PAINT BOTTLE CAPS

To prevent the paint in paint bottles drying out prematurely, replace the cardboard cap liner with the soft plastic liners from soft drink bottle caps.

PAINT BRUSH PROTECTORS

To avoid losing those clear plastic paint brush protectors among the other mess on your workbench, or when you drop them on the floor, paint them a bright colour such as day-glow orange.

PAINTING PREPARATION

Try a 1:1 mix of household vinegar and water as a plastic prep for acrylic paints.

PAINTING RUBBER WHEELS

Use a black, spirit based, felt tip marker pen to paint the rubber tyres on road vehicles. It is a lot less frustrating than trying to use a paint brush. Choose one that has a flat chisel tip and afterwards apply a coat of flat clear to even out any streaks

BRICK POINTING

An easy way to colour the pointing in plastic sheet brickwork is to use a fine, spirit-based felt tipped pen. They are available in a range of colours to suit your colour scheme and using a pen is a lot less difficult than trying to paint the narrow simulated pointing lines. Simply run the pen along the groves and hey presto…A coat of flat clear seals everything.

PAINTING RESIN

Resin castings often feel oily and do not take paint well. It is caused by a precipitate from the curing process. This film of chemicals is difficult to remove even with warm soapy water. Try washing the resin down with lacquer thinner or alcohol, and then give the part a light sanding to provide a “key” for the paint.

PAINT BRUSH CARE

Always store your paint brushes in a container that holds them upright with the bristles upwards. Never throw them in a box or drawer to pick up dust and dirt or rub against other tools.

PAINTING CARD STRUCTURES

Card is an easy medium with which to assemble buildings and other structures for a model layout. To get a good paint finish on your model, first give it a coat of straight PVA glue. When it is dry it hardens the card making it more solid and also gives a good key for the paint which goes on more evenly.

PENCIL PAINTING

A very sharply pointed pencil can be run along model diesel loco louvres, roof panels and the like giving a quite amazingly oily effect and highlighting detail that would otherwise go unnoticed.

TEST PAINTING

On occasion, paint colour when dry does not come out how you want it, particularly on some plastics. Use the sprue or tree that the part was moulded on as a test piece. After washing, prime and paint to colour of your choice on the scrap sprue and let it dry. If you are not satisfied with the colour, you can mix the paint to suit without having to repaint your model.

MORE ON CAP REMOVAL

When you can’t get paint bottle caps off, try your sister’s or wife’s blow dryer. The heat will expand the metal lid away from the glass bottle and melt the caked-on paint so the lid can be twisted off.

COLOUR MATCHING

Paint container lids are usually colour-coded but that doesn’t always tell you what the colour shade is like inside. The first time you use a colour of paint from a new container, paint or spray the lid with that colour. The lid then become a paint chip for future reference.

BAKING PAINT

Here is an idea for baking on paint to get a good shine. Take one large coffee can and paint the outside of the can matt black. Punch several small holes in the can, place the model inside, and close the lid of the can. Now sit the can in the sun for a few hours. The black paint will absorb the sun’s heat and slowly bake the paint. The holes will stop the heat building up too much inside the can. You will have to experiment on the length of time to leave the model and can in the sun but try around three hours for a start. The paint should then be baked on and ready for polishing. A warning though. Any tips that contain “heat” and “plastic” in the same instructions requires a great deal of experimentation as you could find a warped model inside when opening the can. It is probably best to use a metal model to start with before trying plastic.

PAINT ADHESION

After washing the plastic parts of a kitset with warm soapy water, wipe them with white distilled-vinegar. This will etch the plastic for better paint adhesion.

PAINTING ASSEMBLIES

When building models, it is best to paint individual sub-assemblies as you build. Don’t wait until you have finished building the model to paint it. However, paint inhibits the adherence of glues and cements, so scrape off paint from bonding surfaces before assembly.

PENCIL-POINT PAINT

Do you have a problem painting thin lines on models? Try this method. Take a self-propelling pencil and dip the lead point in the paint you want to use. Now just draw the coloured line onto your model. No lead comes off in the process and to clean the tip ready to use the pencil again, just break off the tip with the paint on it.

spacer
dummy