Enter keywords or a search phrase below:


5 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    October 2019
  • From: New Braunfels, Texas
Posted by Tanker-Builder on Tuesday, September 5, 2023 8:01 AM

Ah, Those Things!

         We either hate them or overdo them and many do find the nice middle zone. I am not here to suggest any favorite. But, when I do them I guess you could call it "Post!" shading for sure!

         When I do them I do it in such a way they are barely there. I do this by using Medium to low pressure and spraying in the direction the wind would flow on a surface, Not easy considering getting the right amount of fade therein.

          After working on the real thing, I will say this of those ubiquitis lines, in real life sometimes you have to be within at keast a couple feet, sometimes even less to see that panel. Remember that and you'll be okay!

  • Member since
    March 2022
  • From: Twin cities, MN
Posted by missileman2000 on Tuesday, September 5, 2023 9:15 AM

I will say, being in the aviation business for most of my career, I must agree wit TB's post. but I will add I find panel lines more noticable on bare metal or on light colored paint.  They are less visible on dark ones.

  • Member since
    March 2003
  • From: Western North Carolina
Posted by Tojo72 on Tuesday, September 5, 2023 10:12 AM

For many,it's just artistic license,add interest to a model.

  • Member since
    April 2020
Posted by Eaglecash867 on Tuesday, September 5, 2023 10:58 AM

I've been working on all kinds of aircraft, every day, for over 30 years, and it just depends on the aircraft and where it lives.  I work on immaculate aircraft that are always hangared, and panel lines are hard to see at any kind of distance.  But then there are the medevac aircraft, trainers, and freight dogs I also work on, where you can see almost every panel and fastener from a good distance away.  They work hard, so exterior upkeep isn't a high priority.  Depends on the situation and environment.  Even a lot of airliners these days look like they've been beaten with the ugly stick.  Paint peeling off, especially around panels and bulkhead areas where cabin pressure inflates and deflates the whole fuselage just a little bit.  That tends to make panel lines VERY visible.  There are no hard, fast rules on this.  I just go with how the particular airframe I'm modeling looks in the reference photos I have...many of which I took myself.  Cool

"You can have my illegal fireworks when you pry them from my cold, dead fingers...which are...over there somewhere."

  • Member since
    July 2003
  • From: On my kitchen counter top somewhere in North Carolina.
Posted by disastermaster on Tuesday, September 5, 2023 4:14 PM


For many, it's just artistic license, add interest to a model. So true, in both cases.

"Never trust a fart"- Jack Nicholson


  • Member since
    June 2023
Posted by burrito king on Tuesday, September 5, 2023 4:19 PM

There is no right or wrong with panel lines. From what I have seen, real planes range from zero visible panel lines to zebra stripes, and everything in between. At the end of the day, every modeler has complete artistic license to do whatever looks good to them.

Imo the visibility of the panel lines and panel edge shading should match the overall age and condition of the plane. I see examples where the plane has an immaculate shiny factory fresh finish, but prominent panel lines with heavy preshading that practically scream at you. I'm wondering how did all that get there before the plane has even flown a single mission. Or maybe the ground crew painstakingly clean, polish, and buff every surface except the panel lines and edges? The washing and preshading are amazingly done, but just don't look real to me. But that's the nature of artistic license. You can't please everybody, so you might as well please yourself.

My personal technique is to do panel lines and rivets with a simple acrylic wash. I use raw umber for light base colors, and dark grey or black for darker base colors. I have also seen panel lines and rivets that look white or silver against a dark base coat, I guess from frequent handling wearing the base coat away. This is usually seen on fuel tank filling covers, weapons access bays, and the like.

Once the panel lines and rivet washes are complete, I prefer post shading with dark gray Tamiya acrylic heavily thinned with iPA. It mixes and shoots very well from my Badger 105. And I have complete control, from barely visible to very dark. And if I overdo it, it is pretty forgiving and easy to tone down. This same technique is also useful for exhaust stains, gunpowder soot stains, oil smudges, etc.

For me, the main challenge is to match the panel lines and post shading to the overall wear and tear I am trying to depict.


Our community is FREE to join. To participate you must either login or register for an account.

By signing up you may also receive reader surveys and occasional special offers. We do not sell, rent or trade our email lists. View our Privacy Policy.