Common problem modelers face placing complex patterns on the surface of their models. There are some great products out there for this purpose, usually made to mimic camouflage schemes, but I feel that it’s often too much money for too little product. Instead, try using these quick and cheap techniques to give your model the complex patterns it deserves.
Step 1 – Gather Materials
When I want to use this technique, I usually just run off to my local craft store and buy up their entire stock of clear matte medium (if they have any left). You can also get an equally good result with gloss or semi-gloss medium, but matte is generally easier to work with. These are not sealers, so you do not need an expensive brand for them to work well.
Step 2 – Mixing Paint and Liquid Masking Fluid
The first thing you’ll want to do is mix up some paint and liquid, masking fluid into a nice opaque consistency that can be applied over the top of everything else. This way, the color of whatever parts are underneath won’t shine through, even if they’re light colors like white or yellow. The more paint/fluid you add, the less transparent your finish will be, so I’d suggest doing some experimenting on scrap plastic before applying it over an entire model.
Step 3 – Applying Liquid Masking Fluid
Now that we’ve got our paint loaded up into a brush, we can apply it over all the parts we want to mask off. If there are still unpainted surfaces on your kit (like in the picture), go ahead and paint them with your base color of choice. I like to use Tamiya acrylics for this because of how opaque they are, but any would work fine.
Next, load up your brush with some liquid masking fluid and get ready to apply it! Although there are fancy-schmancy ways of applying it using a credit card or piece of paper, I usually just go in with an old-fashioned toothpick – I have pretty steady hands, so it’s easier for me this way.
Step 4 – Allow Liquid Masking Fluid To Dry
Once a coat is applied, you’ll want to let it dry for a while before doing another one. I usually leave my kits sitting out overnight, but if it’s warm enough, drying will happen pretty fast on its own. Don’t worry too much about drying times, though – I’ve never had any problems with the stuff peeling back even after leaving it overnight on a hot summer day…but maybe this is something you should keep in mind if you live somewhere hotter than I do (+15 Celcius) or have more sensitive plastic?
Step 5 – Applying Tape
Now that everything is completely covered in a nice opaque layer of paint/fluid, it’s time to apply the tape! Simply lay down strips of masking tape over parts you want to mask off and leave the rest uncovered.
Step 6 – Removing Tape
After all your pieces have been masked off, it’ll be time to start painting. For this, you’ll need a tiny amount of soapy water and an old brush…oh, and some slightly-dirty nubbies or something to wipe your brush on when done. If you decided not to use step 2 above (primer coat), then anything underneath will show through a little bit even if they’re light colors like white or yellow; however, if you’re careful when applying your paint, this shouldn’t be too much of an issue.
Step 7 – Painting!
This is the easy part. You just need to start painting over everything that is covered in tape and leave anything underneath exposed. Be sure to follow all proper safety rules while using chemicals like paint thinner/thinner and make sure you’ve got a nice clean work area where no