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parallel bands of colour around curvy surfaces - how do you do it?

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  • Member since
    November, 2017
parallel bands of colour around curvy surfaces - how do you do it?
Posted by MacAtilla on Wednesday, August 29, 2018 6:05 AM

Are there any tricks or gadgets that make painting coloured bands around the nose and rear of airliners easier?

I can manage the sides of the fuselage but when the livery extends around the complicated curves at the front and rear I usually go askew. When viewed from the side real aircraft have liveries perfectly parallel to the ground...I've tried patience, practice and care, but I'm cack-handed.

If a previous thread already covered this please redirect me.

Thanks, m.

  • Member since
    September, 2017
  • From: western North Carolina
Posted by kensar on Wednesday, August 29, 2018 6:53 AM

I haven't had to do much of this type of painting, but in my limited experience I used panel lines for reference marks when masking.  As for the masking itself, I use either thin Tamiya masking tape or their relatively new flexible masking.  Previously I used automotive pinstriping tape (it's vinyl, I think).  Just reduce the tackyness of the adhesive.  I believe the Tamiya flexible masking is the same type of pinstriping but with a less agressive adhesive.



  • Member since
    March, 2003
  • From: Towson MD
Posted by gregbale on Wednesday, August 29, 2018 8:03 AM

For longitudinal stripes like cheat-lines, you might take a page from what ship-modelers do to mark waterlines: raise a pencil with some (stable) base of the appropriate height, and trace the line lightly by moving pencil against model or---what I've found usually works best---the model carefully against the pencil. After that, the newer 'curvable' Tamiya masking tapes work great. Just masked 'defense of the Reich' bands on a 1/72 Do335, and it was dead-easy compared to wrangling (or trying to cut 'matching' curves in) regular tape.

Good luck.


 George Lewis:

"Every time you correct me on my grammar I love you a little fewer."
  • Member since
    November, 2017
Posted by MacAtilla on Wednesday, August 29, 2018 8:14 AM

Thanks Kensar,

My difficulty isn't so much with the masking material but with its placement. Continuing coloured areas from the fuselage around the nose and rear is defeating me.

Here are a couple of wikipedia pics that I hope will illustrate the problem areas.

  " alt="BrianBukowski Wikipedia" />

  " alt="Arpingstone wikipedia" />


Thanks again,


  • Member since
    November, 2017
Posted by MacAtilla on Wednesday, August 29, 2018 8:27 AM

Thank you Gregbale

Your idea sounds worth a try. I'll get to work on it this evening. (and I agree - the curvable tamiya tape is one of the best new products recently)




  • Member since
    November, 2009
  • From: Twin Cities of Minnesota
Posted by Don Stauffer on Wednesday, August 29, 2018 8:31 AM

For those ones that curve around at an angle, I use the narrowest Tamiya tape I can find, and outline the bands by eye as best I can.  Then I use wider tape to fill the rest of the needed masking.

In my opinion it helps if the kit mfg has provided good 3 views in the appropriate size (size of actual kit, not subsize).


Don Stauffer in Minnesota

  • Member since
    September, 2012
Posted by GMorrison on Wednesday, August 29, 2018 9:16 AM

Understand that it's hard to do. 

A couple more tips:

-Rely on your eyeballs to get them level.

-Use short pieces of tape.

-Look straight down (or up) at the masking as you go to check for symetry.

-Sometimes it's easiest to paint the stripe color first and then mask the stripe itself. 

  • Member since
    November, 2017
Posted by MacAtilla on Wednesday, August 29, 2018 9:17 AM

Thanks Don,

Was it dirty Harry who said that a man's got to know his limitations? I have to concede that doing things by eye (at least by my eyes) is a limitation. Crooked lines and badly matched colours are what my eyes specialize in. At least I enjoy the process, if not the outcome

  • Member since
    March, 2013
Posted by patrick206 on Wednesday, August 29, 2018 5:49 PM

M -

Do I understand your question OK, that it's difficult to place lines at a constant level as they proceed around tapered surfaces, like the nose and tail of an airplane? If so try this, like painters from years back.

Once you start the placement of a line, pull ot a few inches of tape, then look along the length of the tape, with your eye at the same level. Your eye will then be a very short distance from the tape as you continue placing it, maybe just a couple of inches or so. Looking at the tape straight on, will instantly let you see if your have any waviness in the tape as applied.

Now, as you lay tape from the straight side and proceed around either the tapered nose or tail, do the same thing and compare what you're doing with tape placement, relative to what you have already done. Moving your head side to side just a little bit, will allow you to make that line length comparison as you proceed around that taper..

Sounds weird, I know, but that's what they did old school, and it works. Give it a try, you'll soon see how it goes. You might also find an example on You Tube.

If I explained it poorly, let me know and I'll try again.


  • Member since
    November, 2017
Posted by MacAtilla on Thursday, August 30, 2018 4:28 AM

Thanks everyone, I'll try some experiments with your suggestions and I'll let you know how they work out.

thanks again,


  • Member since
    November, 2004
Posted by snapdragonxxx on Thursday, August 30, 2018 6:19 AM

Masking lines can be one of the most frustrating things to do.

When I built Zouki-Muras Ta 152 H-1 last year I decided that the defence of the Reich Bands would look much better painted than the decals from the sheet and I spent quite a long time and lots of tape getting it right.

You can see that the red band has already been done. Luckily on this aircraft the bands were defined by panel lines, but it still needs time and care starting with very thin yellow tape to define the band, working upwards in size tomask off a large area to catch overspray. White, Red and Yellow are terrible colours to work with!

The Yellow band was marked out starting with 0.2mm yellow tape with the end of the red being the start for that side. theedge of the band nearest the cockpit is at an angle ( I did work from both the model and the decals to get it right) and you can see the amount of various widths of tape I used

Once the tape was removed.....

The finished result....


Curved surfaces are awkward which is why I start with the very thin yellow tape as it will curve. So long as the edge bordering where the stripe/line will start is flat to the surface then your paint will have a good edge and not bleed (hopefully). You may need to nick the opposite edge to get the tape to lie flat over a curved 3d surface. Always mask AWAY from the line not towards and be prepared to nick and cut edges to get smooth contact rather than ridges and bumps.

I use cocktain sticke and using a knife make a flat sdge for smoothing over tape rather than my finger... especially edged where paint is going to go.


Maybe these will be of use...

Maybe with a bit of thinking outside the box you can combine these to mark out with a pencil ot to help mask.

  • Member since
    May, 2009
  • From: Poland
Posted by Pawel on Thursday, August 30, 2018 2:19 PM


Maybe I could help you more if I remembered right how I did this:

But it might give you some motivation, knowing that it can be done! Anyhow I have cut some nice, even bands from Tamiya masking tape and that already gave me the right spacing between the bands. I have put one of the bands on trying to make the tape go naturally and the other fuselage half was done. Keeping it symmetrical is key here, and keep in mind that you can "bend" the sideways before it sticks to the surface.

From the first strips of tape I have measured eqal distances along and marked some points with a pencil. Then I have attached another piece of masking tape - this time I had to "bend" it some more to keep the tapes parallel. I takes a lot of checking and eyeballing the masking job, because by eye you can spot minor imperfections that could be hard to measure with a caliper or equipment like that. Together it took six strips of tape per fuselage side and a few more for the ECM blister to lay the bands out.

I hope it helps you, good luck with your project and have a nice day


All comments and critique welcomed. Thanks for your honest opinions!

  • Member since
    November, 2017
Posted by MacAtilla on Friday, August 31, 2018 3:26 AM
Thank you Pawel, Quick additional question - having presumably handled the model a lot around that intricate masking do you need to wipe it down to get rid of greasy fingerprints etc. to help the paint stick? If so, what is a good method that won't dissolve the masking tape adhesive?
  • Member since
    November, 2017
Posted by MacAtilla on Friday, August 31, 2018 3:37 AM
Thank you snapdragon, beautiful outcome for you on that model. Care and patience seems to be the consensus here for masking. Vexing for a careless and impatient person like me. Should be a book - 'zen and the art of aircraft masking'
  • Member since
    May, 2009
  • From: Poland
Posted by Pawel on Friday, August 31, 2018 7:26 AM


I usually use Humbrol or Gunze paints, which means that I don't have to worry too much about small surface contamination - then again I try to keep my hands clean and dry while working. But what also helps is to glue some extra masking tape away from the place you're working on and using this extra taped places to put your fingers on while handling the model. In th end just remove the masking tape together with all the eventual dirt, leaving clean surface underneath. Dry acrylics or Humbrols can be cleaned with airbrush thinner or lighter fluid - of course carefully and that shouldn't affect the tape glue, at least when used sparingly.

Hope it helps, have  a nice day


All comments and critique welcomed. Thanks for your honest opinions!

  • Member since
    June, 2014
  • From: New Braunfels , Texas
Posted by Tanker - Builder on Friday, August 31, 2018 8:37 AM


 The method that ship modelers works here beautifully .Thing is , make sure the plane is exactly horizintal and then draw your lines with a waterline jig . Then use either Tamiya tape or as I do the soft mylar type Auto striping tape .mask another row of tape ( Tamiya ) behind it cover the area you don't want painted and go for it .

 Find a " Mule " .You know , a plane you sent to the " Shelf of Doom " , use it to practice on . Also I can't say this enough , as a former music hobbyist , reed and brass player in bands , Practice , Practice , Practice !

 Nope , never played in a Rock band . Just filled in if needed . Maestro would call , " You still got your tenor sax ? Yup ! Good can you fill in for our performance at seven " At the Philharmonic Hall " Sure " Done and done .

 I was very good at " Playing by ear " but to play real music , like building models took that , Practice . Same applies to certain steps in painting . T.B.   P.S. I forgot look at the plane from the front . Make sure it is level this way too .


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