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Fundamentals of Car Modeling

Great paint from spray cans: Part II

Doing it all with aerosol
Good old-fashioned fundamentals, such as preparation and masking, are essential to any good paint job, whether you're painting a whole model or just some parts. In the last issue, we applied a killer spray-can finish on the body of a Tamiya Ferrari 360 Modena. Now we'll complete the job. We'll use a wide range of aerosol paints and examine techniques to make them work to their fullest potential.

Using clear and translucent coatings to vary the finish on the kit parts is particularly effective. This technique better duplicates the many hues and tones in the paint of a full-size vehicle, such as the different shades of silver on the wheels and exhaust system. By taking simple colors and adding one of three Testors aerosol clear coats - flat, semigloss, or gloss, you can alter the finish on various parts throughout the assembly, enhancing the detail. Serious replica-stock builders can really take advantage of these paints and rack up points with contest judges. Even if you're not building cars for competition, using these techniques can have your models looking fantastic.

1. Paint doesn't cover mistakes. It actually emphasizes surface imperfections, such as flash and molding seams. For a slick finished model, eliminate these shortcomings before painting. A great tool for taking care of excess plastic and unsightly seams is the flexible sanding stick. These sticks come in a variety of grits and are available from hobby companies like Creations Unlimited and at beauty supply stores.
2. Creations Unlimited's Flex-I-File can get into places that other sanding tools can't. By taking the sanding strip off one end of the bow and weaving it through holes or gaps, you can more easily access the areas to be sanded. Creations Unlimited also offers sanding strips in a variety of grits, so you can tailor the tool to the job at hand.
3. When it comes time to buy paint, choose your brands wisely. My tests with Testors and Tamiya semigloss black paints showed that there was a difference in the level of shine between the two brands. Tamiya tends to be a bit glossier than the Testors, which can be a good thing. You can use both paints to achieve subtle differences between the semigloss black parts on your models.
4. You can alter a semigloss paint (or any other paint for that matter) by applying Testors Semi-Gloss Clear (no. 2016) top coat over a part that has already been painted. The Testors clear paints are lacquers, but they don't contain the hot solvents typically associated with these paints. Therefore, they can be safely sprayed over most other paints with no ill effect. However, do not apply these clears over gloss enamels, as they don't adhere well to the high-resin-content enamel.
5. Metallic finishes are very prevalent in the hobby world. Testors' wide range of Metalizer paints can be used to simulate an endless variety of metal finishes. Some of these paints can be buffed to a high shine as well. Tamiya also offers a selection of metallics in its line. Tamiya's paints are classified as lacquers, but like the Testors clear coats, they don't cause the problems with styrene that automotive lacquers do; all of these paints can be sprayed directly onto plastic.
6. Here are three Testors Model Master aerosol top coats that you can use to vary the surface finish of parts. Lusterless Flat (no. 1960) takes all the shine out of a surface. Semi-Gloss (no. 1959) imparts a subtle shine, while Gloss (no. 1961) adds a slick, glass-like finish to the surface. There is an extra benefit to these paints - they can be used to protect parts. Frequently, I'll top coat flat painted parts in Lusterless Flat to make them more durable during handling.
7. Chrome parts can also be enhanced using various top coats. Parts such as chrome wheels can be sprayed with flat or semigloss clear to add a satin finish. Here, I treated the Modena's exhaust assembly to subtle finish variations by masking off certain portions and spraying Testors Lusterless Flat onto the exposed areas. When finished in this fashion, the components look more realistic.
8. The engine bay, interior, and chassis are near completion. Just about everything in these subassemblies required black or aluminum silver paint, but I was able to get a broad variety of surface finishes using the wide range of available black, aluminum, and silver paints. Aside from a bit of brush painting to highlight a few areas, this is an all-aerosol paint job.
9. The window glass on modern vehicles often has black trim and accents. This can be replicated by masking off areas not to be painted. Tamiya packages a nice set of window masks in the Modena kit, but masks for all of the glass panels aren't included. You'll have to do a bit more on your own if you plan to spray paint all of the "glass" parts. In addition, the trim strip around the top of each side window must be masked for painting, as well as the area on the front windshield. I used artist's frisket material for the additional masking. This thin, clear, adhesive-backed film can be purchased at art supply stores, as well the outside areas that required protection from overspray.
10. Tamiya Semi-Gloss Black (no. TS29) was used to spray the blackened areas of the window glass. This paint applies in thin layers, making it perfect for the job. Don't try to paint the black areas in one coat, as the paint will build up around the edges of the masks. Instead, apply the paint in several thing layers until you have complete coverage.

11. Here's the windshield after both the front and rear masks have been removed. Use fine-tipped tweezers to get under the edges and lift off the masks. Be careful when using tweezers as the tips can scratch the plastic. Notice how the black areas on the underside of the glass appear glossy, while the painted portion on the front of the glass retains the semigloss finish of the paint.

12. Here's the fully painted engine, chassis, and interior assembly. Short of mounting the wheels, there is little else to do here. Although several parts are painted the same color, they each have a different surface finish. It's a shame the body will cover most of our efforts, but hopefully we learned a thing or two along the way.
Creations Unlimited Hobby Products
4318 Plainfield Ave. NE, Dept. SAE
Grand Rapids, MI 49525
Catalog: $1 and LSASE


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