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Brush Painting Model Cars

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  • Member since
    October 2019
  • From: New Braunfels, Texas
Brush Painting Model Cars
Posted by Tanker-Builder on Sunday, May 21, 2023 7:42 PM

Hi Ya'll!!

          I don't know about you, but once in a while I will go over my old mags just for kicks. In the April 2016 issue of Scale Auto the question was asked. How do you paint a car by Brush and make it look right? I have done this many times and because I cannot find the next issue I thought I would bring this one to light. Painting anything by brush that's not a figure is or can be an exercise in futility.

        The trick is to know your medium and work accordingly. These aren't the days of Pactra's "No Brush Marks,"Garaunteed", For sure. I don't know about you, but I would NEVER try it with Tamiya's Acrylics! Model master had some gloss that would work, but they were limited. Testors Square Bottles still can be gotten in Metallics. You say but it doesn't look right! But it can. There's a trick.

          First off is the paint. Out of the bottle it's too thick. I never liked de-canting and thinning for airbrush because I would inevitably get clogs! So I would use a technique I developed for the Pactra paints I started with. First is the brush. A 1/8 to 1/4 inch soft bristle flattie is your tool of choice. Second is a pointed 1/8 or 1/16 inch detailing brush. Now for the paint. Testor's Metallic Teal is a nice color, but in it's original, out of the Bottle consistency it's like thinned honey. You have to have it thinned!

         I usually thin it to about 50/50 or 75/25 thinner versus paint, use ALL the paint in the bottle cleaning it out when you move it to a wide mouth Jar(Testors M.M. jars are perfect for this.) Now, here's the fun. Put your mix in the bottle making sure of your measurements. Now shake the living daylights out of it. Open, clean the top and rim and dip the 1/4 inch brush into it only a quarter of the way. Start at the edge of a body panel.Say, left front fender first. Brushing from the Cowl/Door Opening to the front. One thing to do first is to put a light coat around the wheel opening. As you paint blend around this edge. Two good coats should be enough.

         While doing this make sure you have avoided darker streaks by overlapping gently. Then paint the left hand Door, painting from front to back edge. You will pick up paint from the door opening line. That's what you want, so that is okay. Do not overlap on the quarter panel! Then Paint The quarter, Not overlapping the trunk panel.

           Yes, this sounds tedious, but just wait. The thinner paint will self level. IF you do not put the car body down the normal way. When you have painted one side you want that side to be horizontal to the table-top. The paint will self level as it out-gasses under a normal desk lamp.This also has a tendency to "bake" the finish, kind -of.

        Yes, this is more tedious and chancy, but when you get to the end it will be worth it! Ya see by doing it this way you avoid runs! After all the panels are painted, and you have avoided overpainting chrome areas then the next step is called for after about a week. You take your Paint brush,The fattest thinnest fan one and apply a final coat of 90/10 thinner to paint. I would rather at this point you misted this on with the old Badger or Paasche A/B! This way All panels will match and you will only have the mist-coat on the chrome trim. (It's easier to remove it then). let this set up and out gas under the good old desk lamp for another four days. yes a long time for sure. Now wet sand with the finest grit you can get lightly and only in straight lines avoiding Burn through at edges and ridges. Now Polish it! Again don't Burn-Through.

        It's a tedious method, but that's all we had when the first model cars hit the shelves. Straight out of the bottle Non Pactra paint wouldn't let you avoid runs and unequal coverage in certain colors. I used to watch them painting in the local Earl Scheib and watch them carefully and the one guy always seemed to get awesome jobs that were even and No orange Peel. That's how he did it on the real cars, so, that's how I did it until I met my first Bottle of Pactra(Which was their beautiful Mandarin Red!) Go For It and Good Luck with an old but proven way of doing non-spray paint jobs( the Mist coat is only to equalize it, You don't Have to do it) !  T.B.




  • Member since
    April 2003
  • From: USA
Posted by keavdog on Sunday, May 21, 2023 8:13 PM

I have a lot of respect for folks that can pull off a really nice brush paint.  I think my last brush painted model was when I was 14 or so - then I got my Binks air brush and never looked back.



  • Member since
    October 2019
  • From: New Braunfels, Texas
Posted by Tanker-Builder on Thursday, May 25, 2023 6:16 PM

Hi John!

        Oh, I have a whole new setup with lighted booth and turnrable even. But recently did a 49 Merc. Rescued Glue Bomb! In Gloss Metallic Blue -Black. Why? Well for a while here I had to rely on EVERY brush Painting skill to do a client's Commission! Because of that she came out exactly as he was hoping for, as did the two Extras I did for him. I was able to weather as I painted to completion.

      She wound up looking like a Photo he forgot to send me for refference! Weathered and Beat - Up from the shipping season! Most folks don't know or realize that the Great Lakes, even being Fresh Water, takes a heavy toll on these ships! If anything the shaking from approaching full blown Parkinsons actually helped in the weathering dept. Not one brushstroke on that hull was straight!

       I mixed Gloss Black and  Gloss Dark Blue then cut it 50/50  and it made her look like Glass! With Humbrol Doeskin weathered for effect interior. I painted the Merc as outlined above! The ship was a mix of Rust(Flat), Tamiya  Signal Light Orange streaks and Tamiya Semi-Gloss Black mixed with Steel. She looked every bit as weather ravaged as I Hoped too.  I also did a furry line at the Bottom(she was a waterline model) for the express reason of showing off the Peels , Tears, and Chips in the paint there.


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