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Panel Lines - The Good, The Bad and yes, The Ugly!

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  • Member since
    June 2014
  • From: New Braunfels , Texas
Panel Lines - The Good, The Bad and yes, The Ugly!
Posted by Tanker - Builder on Monday, April 22, 2019 7:24 AM

Yeah , It's me . 

      Listen , I know there's more than a few of you that do Panel lines on Aircraft and Vehicles of all types . I really Don't have a problem with them . What I have a problem with is this . Panel lines that Jump out at you from a foot away !( The Bad)

     Really ? When I do panel lines , Rarely .I make sure it does NOT dominate the subject .Now , that said what is the big deal anyway? Some folks like them .I do , when done with restraint . Restraint , What's that ? Well , let's say you have an F-100 " Super Sabre " Now you spend all the time needed to get a perfect airframe and so on .

     You then decide to paint it with subtle Camoflage colors .Then add the panel lines .Oh, they'll Pop alright ! Why ? You put them on last !

       I do my planes this way .If natural Metal , Well ,The panels explain themselves at their joints because I overlap a wee bit . If a painted aircraft say a Marine Corps bird in Grey . I paint the plane to the required amount to get a smooth finish . Then I spray a darker shade of the same , only around all the panel lines , Like a wash . Then I mist the necessary coats of the lighter color till it is right, with just a hint showing those gorgeous panels . ( The Good )

       I do NOT do painted Natural Metal .I just don't like the results ! I recently tried a black wash on a SH 46( 64?) Sea King in Coastie colors . The black wash bled under my mist coats and Wow. The panels on the real bird would've been an inch apart the way she looked ( The Ugly ). So in closing .Do them lines , Just use restraint and you will get the Wows !  T.B. 

  • Member since
    November 2009
  • From: Twin Cities of Minnesota
Posted by Don Stauffer on Monday, April 22, 2019 8:56 AM

Indeed, on painted aircraft the panel lines are not that visible from scale viewing distances, particularly dark color schemes.  Even on NMF I see many models with overdone lines.  A little wash goes a long way, and I often use a dark gray wash so the lines are not so dark.

For cars lines on door lines are frequently overdone.  I often darken the body color paint as I make a wash.  This is particularly important with white or light color paint schemes.  Go outside and look at a car in the sunlight- the line around the door is usually not black.  In overcast, the lines are barely visible

Because of the optics of the human eye, when a line is narrower than a certain limit, our eyes are not able to tell the color well, but can see contrast.  So the idea is to not provide too much contrast.  The color is not really that important, but I find it is easier to control contrast by darkening the paint color the line appears over.


Don Stauffer in Minnesota

  • Member since
    September 2012
Posted by GMorrison on Monday, April 22, 2019 10:06 AM

There's an important component not mentioned here- scale.


Modeling is an excuse to buy books


  • Member since
    June 2014
  • From: New Braunfels , Texas
Posted by Tanker - Builder on Tuesday, April 23, 2019 8:15 AM

Ah " G ";

   I didn't go there .Why ? Well, that's another whole range of discussion .

  • Member since
    July 2004
  • From: Sonora Desert
Posted by stikpusher on Tuesday, April 23, 2019 10:06 AM

For washes in panel lines, choose your wash color based upon the base color. Black is too stark a color in most cases. Grays, umbers, and siennas are better in many cases.


F is for FIRE, That burns down the whole town!

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       - Plankton



  • Member since
    June 2014
  • From: New Braunfels , Texas
Posted by Tanker - Builder on Wednesday, April 24, 2019 7:36 AM

Thanks, Stik;

 This is what I had hoped folks would understand. If you use a color close, but darker they will show just fine and with restraint . T.B.

  • Member since
    June 2017
Posted by UnwaryPaladin on Wednesday, May 1, 2019 6:26 AM

Agree with you, and you , and you! And as for scale, I'd never recommend emphasizing panels on a 1/144 scale aircraft, with discretion on a 1/72 and up!


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