I have been building model cars for over 30 years. Through out this time I have improved my painting skills sharing tips techniques and reading model car magazines.
A good finish on a model can be achieved many ways and the results can be very satisfying. I get impatient when painting and some times have to redo the procedure taking the TIME to do it right.
Here are the steps I follow for a great finish:
- Remove flashing and excess material from the kit
- Fix any imperfections in the kit with filler (I use EVERCOAT body filler found at automotive paint stores as it is friendly to plastic and is sandable) super glue or 5-minute epoxy. Squadron brand white and green putty work ok for small areas.
- Use 400-600-1000 wet sand paper to lightly go over the body being careful not to remove any detail and to help shape any repair spots or modifications. This will give the primer something to adhere to.(This is done over clean running warm water)
- Wash and rinse the body after sanding using a mild liquid dish soap. Carefully inspect for any imperfections and repeat step until it is to your liking.
- Let the body air dry in a dust free enviroment.
- Mount the body on a paint stand or coat hanger being extra careful not to to touch the surface being painted and you must be able to rotate and turn the mounted body for complete coverage.
-*** You must have the right weather conditions for painting. Read the mfg. recommendations as stated on the label. Check your local current conditions such as humidity, wind and temperature.
- Use a paint booth or fabricate one. There are model car paint booths and they are a bit expensive. I use a large cardboard box. This allows control of overspray on to areas you don"t want paint to go i.e., floor, carpet, tables etc. I have mine mounted on a pair of saw horses in my garage. I also do not recommend painting in an area that is dusty or windy.
- Prime the body or part with your choice of primer depending on your base color. I use Plasti-Kote primer as this is safe on most plastics, sandable and is safe to use with enamel, acrylic or laquer paint. Follow mfg. recommendations on the lable. Put a light coat on and let it dry. Check for coverage and repeat until all surfaces are covered. Allow to dry completely!
- Drying*** Let the body or part dry in a dust free enviroment. ***I allow mine to air dry for an hour and then place it inside a food dehydrator.(see next paragraph) When removing from stand be careful not to touch painted surface.
- I purchased a food dehydrator and two extra shelves for the dehydrator. I took the two extra shelves and removed the webbing so that all I had was the plastic rings. This gives the dehydrator a deeper area to hold larger items like a car body. This acts the same as a heated paint booth just like a real automotive paint and body shop and allows the paint to cure. It will cure paint in about 2-3 hours. Turn off dehydrator and allow to cool before touching part. This is part of the curing as the warm surface may be tacky. This drastically decreases the time spent waiting on the body to dry normally.
- Your not ready for the main color yet!!! You must now inspect the primed surface for any irregularities and imperfections and repair them using the same steps above. Usually if you were careful to do most of them correctly you may only need to lightly wet sand the body or part and wash it off with soap and water. Allow to dry completly again and reprime if nessercery.
- Do not paint on a primed surface until you have lightly sanded it. This will give your paint something to adhere to.
- The type of paint you use must be compatible to the primer you are using. Use a test piece of plastic sprue using the same procedures as above. Inspect for crazing, etching, cracking, etc.
- Use your airbrush or spray can to add your color to the body or part. Light full passes across the surface from right to left and left to right lifting your finger from the spray source after each completed pass. Do not hold the brush or can to close or too far away as this will affect how the paint lands on the body and will affect the finish.
- Allow to dry as you did the primer.
- Inspect for imperfections and repair if nessercery. Continue until you get the desired finish. Wet sand between coats of paint.
- This is where the paint starts to POP. I use an LMG polishing kit. These can be found at most hobby stores or on the internet. They have fine sanding/polishing grits for a superb finish. They start at about 1400 and end at 12000. This allows you to wet sand between coats of paint to remove orange peel and dust particles. When you start to get into the polishing of the paint I start with the 4000 and work to the 12000 cloth. I do this under warm running water and also use a drop or two of mild liquid dish soap. Do not skip cloths start with with the 4000 and work each progressively higher cloth until you finish with the 12000. This is done very lightly and all of the surface is sanded/polished being careful of detail of the surface. If you rub too hard you will burn through the layer of paint to the primer or plastic and you will have to repair this before you continue. If you rub through the paint/primer on a trim or logo this is usually is not a big deal as that part will be covered with chrome trim paint of foil. Also stripes or decals may cover this area and is not a big issue.
- I don't clear coat my paint and depending on the paint used the clear coat must be compatible with the paint. The above steps for polishing should be the same for clear coated paint jobs.
- Be sure to add all of your chrome foil and decals before waxing. The Final Detail brand makes a great wax for model cars..
Well that's how I do it and I hope it was helpful. I have had several awards at model car shows and even though I have an eye for detailing engines and chassis the body paint is the first thing looked at and a great paint job gets the rest of the car looked at for judging and winning awards.