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Out of my Comfort Zone and Looking for Tips

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  • Member since
    January 2006
  • From: Earth
Out of my Comfort Zone and Looking for Tips
Posted by DiscoStu on Tuesday, June 2, 2020 11:12 AM

Hey all, I am looking for some tips when it comes to building cars.  I build aircraft exclusively, but my Father In Law is a huge Ford Mustang fan so I thought I'd build him that new Tamiya 1/24 Mustang. 

Last time I built something that didn't have wings I was under 10.

I think it's safe to say I won't be using any weathering techniques.  Rather I'll be looking to make this as shiny and new as possible. 

- How do I go about getting a glossy, even finish?

- Is there a need for washes or other techniqes that allow the detail to pop without      looking weathered?

"Ahh the Luftwaffe. The Washington Generals of the History Channel" -Homer Simpson



  • Member since
    November 2009
  • From: Twin Cities of Minnesota
Posted by Don Stauffer on Wednesday, June 3, 2020 1:57 PM

Use enamels or even lacquer.  I have found getting a glossy acrylic finish is difficult.

For using gloss enamel, the last coat needs to go on very thick, without running.  The way I describe it is to put it on until it is just ready to run.  How do you know that point without it running?

Practice.  You need to get some practice, either on scrap plastic, or plastic spoons, or on a not so good kit.

Lacquer doesn't give a really glossy look itself, but it has a hard enough surface that it can be polished out.


Don Stauffer in Minnesota

  • Member since
    June 2008
Posted by lewbud on Wednesday, June 3, 2020 3:26 PM

Like Don said, use enamels or lacquers.  It's been ages since I've used enamels on a car body, but I've found Tamiya's rattlecan lacquers to be very user friendly.  I've heard good things about the Testor's line of automotive lacquers, but haven't used them.

Also like Don said, practice. Find a couple of cheap kits and learn your technique on them.

YouTube can be your friend.  Odds are there's a video out there on the model you're building, as well as tips videos.  One of my favorites is The Scale Modeling Channel.  He is strictly a car channel, but I like the way he does his videos.

Some tips on body prep:

Sand the body with some fine grit sandpaper (600-800 grit).  It will remove the mold lines and help the paint adhere better.  Wipe with rubbing alcohol to remove any sanding dust and skin oil from handling the model (or wear gloves, but still wipe it down for the dust).

Use a primer.  I like Tamiya's Fine Gray.  After it's dried, inspect the body for any dust particles that may have landed on the surface, as well as any mold lines you might have missed.  If you find some, gently sand them down and reprime if necessary.  Once you're happy with the way the body looks, go back and sand the body again with some fine grit sandpaper. You want a foundation that is as smooth as possible for the color coats.  If you have a can of compressed air or a compressor handy, blow off the model and then wipe it down with alcohol again.

If the hood is separate, attach it to body with either tape from the underside, or simply glue it in place if you don't plan on showing off the engine.  While not noticeable with most colors, if the hood doesn't get the same amount of paint, the color shift can be noticeable.  That happened with my current build, I'm doing a white Mini Cooper and the hood was slightly darker because I didn't put an equivalent amount of paint on it.  Will probably be a moot point as I may have to repaint the body because the black base I used for the chrome base bled through the masking in spots and the only way to fix it may be a repaint.

Applying the body color.  Don't try to cover in one coat, especially if you didn't prime first.  If you apply a coat of paint that covers in one coat on bare plastic, as it dries it will pull away from the edges of the doors, trunk, hood, etc.  Since I tend to use a spray can to paint cars, I'll mist the first layers of paint on from about 12-18 inches away.  This gives the paint some tooth and prevents it from pulling away from the panel edges.   I wait about 15 minutes between coats.  Depending on the size of the car, I find it takes about 4-6 mist coats before the body is covered.  Your body will have a flat or matte sheen to it, that's okay.  You're next coat will be a medium coat shot from about 12 inches away.  Wait about 15 minutes, the shoot a wet coat from about 10 inches away. If you're satisfied with what you've got, set it aside and let it dry.  If not, wait about 15 minutes, then apply another coat.  The reason there is a wait time between coats is that it allows the paint to set, helping to prevent runs.  This normally provides me with a nice, smooth, shiny surface that I'm happy with.

I wish I could say I developed this system, but I found it in an issue of Model Car Magazine about 15 years ago.  The process doesn't stop there as he talked about rubbing the paint out to get the best shine possible, but that's another topic for another day.  Hope this helps.


Buddy- Those who say there are no stupid questions have never worked in customer service.

  • Member since
    June 2020
Posted by JimLo on Monday, June 15, 2020 12:49 AM

Welcome to car modeling. For some reason it seems like there are not a lot of car modelers out there compared to aircraft and military. There is a good Youtube build of this kit from the Hpiguys I just watched. He doesn't focus on a pristine color coat but his builds always looks great and it will show you a good overview of the build. 

  • Member since
    December 2008
  • From: UK
Posted by PatW on Monday, June 15, 2020 1:28 AM

I've used both enamels and acrylics both in spray cans, and both in clear gloss coat to get a super shiny finish. Tamiya, Humbrol and Plasti-kote are my favourites. Look up some of the tips on these sites to get the paint right.

Remember , common sense is not common.

  • Member since
    March 2012
  • From: Corpus Christi, Tx
Posted by mustang1989 on Monday, June 15, 2020 12:45 PM

Welcome back to the auto fold Stu. It took me around 3 years to get my method down but once I found it, it's been a winning combination ever since. 

 I use alot of rattle can paints but don't spray the paint from them. I have a Badger 350 that is GREAT for area coverage so I dispense the color coat after prepping and priming the body. After that I shoot light mist coats on the body while keeping the body turning. Start at the bottom of the sides and work your way up to the roof. Reason being is that I've painted what looked like a real head turning paint job only to find out that I didn't have adequate coverage on the lower part of the car body. Bummer. After you've got some good mist coats on, open the AB up and apply a wet coat. Don't worry about if it looks orange peely after you get done with your wet coat. That's what wet sanding and polishing takes care of.....but we'll go into that later. I wait 2-3 days to let the paint gas out before I wet sand any dust bunnies or other debris that lands into the paint prior to applying the gloss coat.

 I tend to use Wet Look Gloss Clear for my gloss coats which I also dispense and shoot through an airbrush. The problem with Wet Look is that there are ALOT of aeriation / air bubbles in it. After dispensing just let the paint gas out just a little bit. Usually around 5 minutes or so and all the bubbles will be gone. Again , light mist coats at first starting with the lower parts of the body and working your way up. After you've got some decent coverage, open the AB up and apply your wet coat. If you need any further help I can put together a tutorial on my complete process. Let me know if you're interested.

The main ingredient to a good paint job is PATIENCE!! If you can master that skill then you'll turn out a winning paint job almost every time.

I hope this helps you out Stu.



  • Member since
    January 2006
  • From: Earth
Posted by DiscoStu on Tuesday, June 16, 2020 9:40 AM

Thanks all for the tips.  I went for the Tamiya rattle can spray paint for this one.  Boy I forgot how much spray paint stinks.  I'll try out some of these tips and see which ones work well for me.  When I'm done with this kit I'll post pics.

Call it muscle memory, but it's really hard not to look at all that detail and think a wash, some chipping and drybrushing will really make it popBig Smile.....  Maybe some fading and/or pre-shading.  Old habits die hard.

"Ahh the Luftwaffe. The Washington Generals of the History Channel" -Homer Simpson




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