Jump to content
This site uses cookies! Learn More

This site uses cookies!

You can find a list of those cookies here: mysite.com/cookies

By continuing to use this site, you agree to allow us to store cookies on your computer. :)

Recommended Posts

Since some people have asked me about shiny finishes on my model cars, here's a quick guide to what I do. There are many real experts out there, with better developed technique than mine, but I also think some procedures I've seen make life a lot harder than it needs to be!

First things first: you need a large plastic box. Mine's a storage crate from the local Factory Shop/Poundshop, which is about 30x40x60 cm, and is big enough to sit comfortably over a car body on a Tamiya paint stand and/or a bunch of parts mounted on barbecue skewers, lollipop sticks etc.

The next thing to remember is that it's a good idea to start painting the car body a couple of weeks before there's any chance of you needing it. It's the first thing I do, and actually there are a number of kits in my stash sitting there with fully painted bodies in the box, because the set-up and clean up after a paint session can be tedious, so why not do several at once? MAKE SURE TO READ THE INSTRUCTIONS and fit the all the body parts that can be joined together together before painting (many kits have complex undercuts to be joined to the main body but still allow the chassis to be fitted with them in place). Go and look at what's been done before the stage in the instructions where the chassis goes in the body and do all that. And don't forget to paint the wing mirror housings if they are body-coloured at the same time. Also if the paint is multilayered, try to "jury rig" opening panels to the main body before painting, to be SURE that they all get the same density of each layer, and end up the same colour.

You also need some "Novus" Plastic Polish. Buy it from eBay, where it's sold by people who sell tools for restoring pinball machines (or at least the cheapest, most local UK distributor did). It comes in three grades -- buy the "fine scratch remover" and the "coarse scratch remover". You don't need the "plastic polish" grade, which is a bit like Future/Klear, and is only really needed for actual clear perspex, say.

I use two different paint systems: Tamiya Acrylic Sprays and Zero Paints base coats with 2-pack clear coat.

top-view-XL.jpg

higher-front-right-hero-XL.jpg

These two are Tamiya Acrylic Sprays

left-profile-hero-XL.jpg

front-right-stanced-people-shaped-XL.jpg

These two are Zero paints.

I think both give great results. I tend to use the Zero solution for more modern cars, especially when I want to match a very specific colour from a real range (one of Zero's biggest strengths), because I think the super-shiny look is more appropriate. I use the Tamiya acrylics for older cars, mostly, becauseI think it's a better fit for the kind of paint used in the 50s-70s. To be honest, though, speaking purely personally, I think the that the Tamiya approach gives a more realistic looking "scale finish" on a model of any car -- I think the vogue for super-shiny "wet-look" finishes in car modelling is a fad, like "low-lighting" panel lines on aircraft, or multicoloured filters on armour models. However, I put a few car models in at SMW this year, and the Chrysler 300C and Ferrari Aperta up top, done Tamiya-style, were ignored, while the F12 above and my 599GTO were "commended" by the judges, so I suspect that if you want to trouble the prizegiving in the car classes at a show, the super-shiny look is the one to go for!

The first trick is to keep all the car parts under the box in your spray area except when you're actually painting them. All four of these cars were primed with Tamiya Fine Surface Primer, grey or white depending on the brightness of the colour. Once it's on, in a couple of light coats, leave it to sit for a few hours to dry out properly. If you use, say Halfords Grey Plastic Primer, you will have to sand it smooth with a couple of grades of Micromesh (6000, 8000), and you run the risk of knocking it off the high spots, which if the base plastic is dark and your primer light, you WILL be able to see through the final finish unless you reprime and resand. Much easier just to use the Tamiya primer, which you won't need to do anything to, unless you've got some crud on it, which will need knocking flat with the lightest micromeshing of the smallest are you can get away with.

AT NO POINT DO I WANT TO BE SANDING THE WHOLE CAR, either in primer, base coat or top coat.

Once the body is primered, the two approaches diverge a bit.

For the Tamiya acrylic spray route, I apply the top coat in several light layers. It will LOOK as though it's slightly "orange peeled" as it goes on, but resist the temptation to apply "wet coats". Tamiya acrylic is thin, and will run. It also goes on shrinking as it dries for a lot longer than it takes to be apparently "touch dry", and after that the apparent "orange peel" will have all but disappeared. So, apply lots (3-5) of light coats, separated by about 15 minutes or so, keeping the body under your box all the time you're not spraying. An hour or so after the last coat, take the model and put it in the airing cupboard or somewhere (you need to wait long enough for the paint not to be tacky). I then leave it there (or at least in a warm place) for at least a week, often two. Then you can polish it. If you have any runs or specks, they should be flattened out with (no coarser than 4000 or preferably finer) Micromesh, and then progressively finer up to 8000. Don't rub too much -- the paint is (relatively) fragile, so only do what you need to do with the micromesh, and no more. Only work on the imperfect areas. Finish with the "Coarse Scratch Remover" Novus. Then you polish the whole thing with the Novus "Fine Scratch remover". Put a bit on a soft cloth (old T-shirt material is great) and polish in tiny circles as you would 25 time larger on a real car. Go over the whole body. As you polish, the liquid polish will slowly disappear, the cloth will start to to take on the colour of the paint, and before long you'll hear a sort of "squeak" as you rub. That bit's done. Any vestigial "graininess" from the application should be polished out. Revisit any remaining imperfect areas (occasionally small scratches appear on close inspection) with the coarse scratch remover, and do them again.

After this, the body will be shiny, but quite fragile. You need to handle it as little as possible from now on. Try to use latex or cotton gloves when you do things like BMF, detail painting etc. It's not easy, so I usually end up doing a last clean and repolish on some specific parts (the middle of the main door panels, for sure) after the whole model is assembled -- you have to pick it up somewhere, after all.

The Zero Paints solution is rather different. First things first -- read the instructions you can download from the web site. You WILL need a good mask (mine's a 3M chemical filtering mask, cost about £20). And you should wear latex gloves all the time when mixing, spraying and cleaning up -- the 2K clear in particular is "professional" stuff. But it gives a great result. You really can't get the same finish with the premixed stuff in the range.

After your primer, apply the base colour/s. It's MEANT to be matt finish, so don't try to spray wet coats or get it smooth -- in fact if it IS smooth, you've sprayed it too thick. First light coat, leave it for five minutes, and then several more light coats to build up the colour, a few minutes apart. (And back under the box every time). When you're done, the colour is even and matt (no shinier than satin):

lfa-topcoat-XL.jpg

You do not need to do anything to this coat -- no sanding, no polishing, no flatting. Just look REALLY close and remove any tiny bits of detritus with fine tweezers, or of push comes to shove a couple of strokes of 4000-grit micromesh. Wipe it with a "tack rag" if needed (from Zero, or a lot cheaper for a lot more from eBay from a paint shop supplier) to get rid of dust.

Then time for the clear: you only need to wait 10-15 minutes after the last base coat, though I tend to leave it an hour or so to get up my nerve... I find that the "instructions" ratio of 60 clear to 30 hardener and 10 thinner works fine. In practice you don't need to be super-accurate. Pour 1/2" or so of clear into the bottom of your airbrush jar, add half as much again hardener (1/4") and half as much as that of thinner and it works just fine...

Then start to spray. Move over and around the body, keeping moving all the time. As the stuff goes on you'll see four stages (I REALLY suggest practicing a couple of times on a plastic spoon to see what you're looking for.) At first, the surface is rough, but starting to be shiny as well; then it'll start to look smooth, but with speckles where some of the base coat is still "above the waterline" or only just under it; then it'll be smooth but if you look closely you can see the tiny droplets of spray "splashing" into the surface like rain on a puddle and levelling as you move on; finally, you'll see tiny ripples like the wind blowing the surface of the puddle. Move away and the ripples relax over a second or two into a glass smooth surface. That's the point where you've done enough -- the "wet coat".

The reason why the 2K clear is so good is that somehow, like magic, when you've got to that point, the stuff doesn't run, even on vertical body surfaces.

When the whole car is like that, get it under your box as quickly as possible and don't look at it for AT LEAST an hour.

Clean your airbrush thoroughly, and straight away, with Zero Airbrush cleaner or lacquer thinner. The Two pack sets chemically, like epoxy glue, and will not dissolve again afterwards, so if you leave it to set in your nozzle or paint cup, it isn't coming out again easily...

After a few hours at normal room temperature, the clear is "tack free." Again, I stick mine in the airing cupboard at that stage. The next day it's ready to be polished (12 hours or so later -- leave it too long and it's bullet-tough). If you've done the previous stage successfully, the whole car has a wet look. You SHOULD NOT need to polish it. All you are going to do is address any teeny tiny bits of crud that have somehow still managed to fall on it under your box. They should be few and far between. When you find one, only attack the smallest possible area. Work through all the Micromesh grades from 3600 --> 8000, and then the Novus. It will be much harder work -- this stuff is much tougher than the Tamiya acrylic -- but equally, you've got a good thick protective layer of completely transparent clearcoat to work at, so the risk of "burning through" to base coat or primer is much less. However, do keep a wary eye open for thin raised detail or sharp edges, where the coat is thinner. Try to control your sanding and polishing to avoid them -- another reason for not wanting to polish the whole car. If and only if you have "orange peel" -- which is usually a result of not thinning the 2pack clear quite enough, or not getting to the "breeze on a puddle" stage 4 all over the body -- you will need to polish whole panels. This will require a lot of rubbing, starting with the 3600 micromesh, and do get the whole panel looking evenly "matted" before starting to work your way up the grades. But if you practice a while on spoons with your airbrush, your measuring, and your spraying conditions, you shouldn't need to do it...

And then, it should look like this:

lfa-clearcoat-X2.jpg

This had two spots on the bonnet, two on the roof, one on the nose, and a couple on the panel behind the rear left wheel arch. In total, I polished maybe 4sq cm of the surface. All the rest is the 2K clear exactly as applied...

And that's it, I think... Any questions are more than welcome...

bestest,

M.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just a quick question matt with the zeros paint as I read through and cant seem to see it so ill ask, if you are using say zeros marboro mclaren colours which the white will need to be masked off for the orange/red, when is the best time to mask after the white base coat or after the clear coat as this will come very handy in the next month or so

Chhers shaun

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

fantastic post Matt, thanks for taking the time to put up your techniques

Bruce

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well done Matt, for taking the time and effort to share such a comprehensive guide.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks, gentlemen!

@shaun... Get all your base coat colours sprayed before applying the clear coat over the whole lot.. If you're REALLY a perfectionist, primer the McLaren in white, mask the areas that will be red, spray the white, then mask the white you've just sprayed and do the red. That way you'll have the same number of paint layers everywhere, and no chance of a step at the edges of the red. I always clear coat before decalling -- most of them are "stickers" on the real thing, anyway, and I worry about the chemical 2K clear eating the decals if it's sprayed over them...

Bestest,

M.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Excellent tutorial. Thank you for sharing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I worry about the chemical 2K clear eating the decals if it's sprayed over them...

That's a great write up on paint application. I use practically the same methods as yourself, give or take. The thing I really like about the Zero paints are the way they change with the application of the 2K clear. This shows so well in your last photo above. The base colour looks dull and totally lifeless, but once the clear is applied, BANG!! it really brings out the colour and makes it so vibrant. It's one of the reasons why I stick with Zero paint, time after time. Love the red Ferrari you posted, it really does look superb. Don't worry about the 2K clear eating your decals, it's perfectly safe over all kit decals and every after market decals I have tried it on. In fact it's probably the most gentle clear I've used, ever. I've been using it for many years since Hiroboy first stocked it and I've never had a bad reaction yet, so spray it with confidence :)

Plenty wet layers of 2K on this Lola wing with no reactions at all

LolaT93012.jpg

and over the entire body itself

LolaT93062.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for setting my mind at rest, Steve. I don't build many racing cars, but I do have a couple of Gulf sports cars to do...

Do you apply the decals to the Zero base coat in its "matt" state? If so, how do you stop them silvering? If not, do you do a full coverage "wet" clear coat, apply the decals and do another one?

bestest,

M.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for setting my mind at rest, Steve. I don't build many racing cars, but I do have a couple of Gulf sports cars to do...

Do you apply the decals to the Zero base coat in its "matt" state? If so, how do you stop them silvering? If not, do you do a full coverage "wet" clear coat, apply the decals and do another one?

bestest,

M.

No problem glad to help. I don't put the decals straight onto the base coats in their matt state because if you use decal solvents it tends to mark the base coat and also as you rightly stated the decals can silver. So I apply a very light tack coat of 2K and then a medium wet coat, no need to go mad, just a sealing coat is adequate. Then when I've applied the decals and left them to dry for at least 48 hours I apply my finish coats of clear, usually a tack coat followed by 2 straight wet coats with 5-10 mins drying between coats :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

that's a very well written, informative and easy to understand article - thanks for sharing Matt. It's bookmarked for future reference

MH

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Excellent post!

I have only used Zero paints on a rossi 05 Moto GP yamaha, and it was the pre mixed lacquer.

I have a jaegermeister BMW and Subaru BRZ to do, so going to give the proper 2k a go, though need to buy proper extractor first...at £300 :(

Fantastic tutorial though.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think this one deserves to be moved to the Tips & Tricks section. Well done Matt, and thanks for sharing :clap: Any objections to me sucking the pics into Britmodeller webspace to save the thread from becoming useless if you ever re-arrange your photo storage? :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Moved and saved for posterity. Thanks to Matt for sharing his techniques with the community :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great tutorial, thanks.

I have a few questions about the Tamiya spray method.

You don't mention anything about a clear coat using this method.

I'm a beginner and I used tamiya sprays on my last model but never used a clear coat.

I'd read that tamiya TS-13 clear spray should only be sprayed on from at least a month after applying the paint. Also that their clear spray destroys decals. I didn't want to ruin the model so didn't use any.

Is any of that true?

One last thing, the paint finish on my last model had slight orange peeling to it, do you have any tips for stopping this when using spray cans?

Thanks

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sorry... I didn't notice this before!

I don't generally use clear coat on Tamiya sprays. I think the finish out of the can, with a bit of polishing, is more authentic for older cars anyway.

People do say that the rate of curing of the clear coat versus the base can result in crazing if you don't leave the base coat to dry thoroughly. I think the advice is either put the clear coat on straight away (at about the same 15 minute interval as you're using between coats of the base colour) or leave it for several weeks. Other people suggest decanting both base coat and clear coat from the can, and steadily mixing an increasing amount of clear coat into the paint you are spraying (with an airbrush) until the final light layer is almost all clear coat.

I think TS-13 is particularly "hot", and it can certainly pull the metallic flake out of your base colour and move it around as it goes on. These days, I would never apply TS-13 out of the aerosol, but decant it and spray using my airbrush.

As for orange peel, warm the can in warm (not hot) water before putting it on, apply light, thin coats with 10-15 minutes between them, then let it dry thoroughly (Tamiya spray acrylics contine shrinking and flattening as they cure long after they seem dry to the touch). After that, a polish with Novus or Meguiars "Scratch X" should get rid of any remaining "orange peel".

bestest,

M.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you for an excellent tutorial. I followed your clear guidance for the paint work on my Honda 350/6, using the Zero Paints set and the 2 pack gloss lacquer. The results were very good, not up to your standard but much better than I would have achieved without your tips. Thanks again.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

An amazing tutorial, thank you!

Just a quick question regarding Tamiya acrylic options, what thinners do you use? X20A, or something else?

Many thanks,

Val


Sorry, just seen that it's the Tamiya spray cans. Ignore me!!

Cheers,

Val

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just tried Zero 2K Diamond clear for the first time using this guide.

It just looked dull after every cost I put on, I thought, this ain't working, but then it hit that puddle stage and went like glass. Perfect reflection of my light above.

kept going a bit longer just to make sure. It's now sat under a cover for the next couple of hours and I'm going nowhere near it!  I think there's a few bits of dust in it though, tackle that later.

 

Great tutorial, and I'm so glad I found it before trying the clear for myself. 

Cheers

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not getting all H&S with 2k, but you really should use this with a good extractor venting to outside and a mask, it's not something you want flying around the house, you may be wearing the mask but others in the house wont be

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now


×