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Working with Paint Masks

working with painting masks

Has a complicated paint scheme kept you from building your favorite model? Have thought of using a paint mask but wasnít sure you could tackle it on your own? Well, itís easier than you think. All youíre doing is playing stickers, just like when you were a kid.

needed tools
X-acto knife with new blade
Painterís tape
A model, paints, airbrush
A paint mask set.

The first thing that you should do make sure the model is clean of dust and fingerprints. After that make sure your work area is also clean. Then you need to wash your hands. This is very important as oil and dust can affect the way the mask sticks to the model.

Note: ďAs a sign painter, I have learned the hard way that you can never wash your hands too many times.Ē

Cut the mask you want to use apart from the sheet. Make sure you donít cut any other mask by accident!

Start by painting the lightest color first. When this color is completely dry, you can start applying the mask.

Carefully peeling and sticking one piece at a time, apply the mask for the lightest color. Make sure you rub down each piece thoroughly around the edges with your finger.

Once you get the mask on, start your ready to apply the second color, working from light to dark. Remember, mask as much of the rest of the model as you feel comfortable with. You donít want any overspray. Try to paint the model with your airbrush as close to perpendicular to the model as possible and build up the color slowly. This assures you complete coverage and no raised edges.

When the paint is completely dry, apply the mask for the second color. It is important to wait for each color to dry thoroughly. This will help in preventing the paint from peeling. Once the mask is on, apply the next color.

As each color is painted and dries, continue apply mask and painting until you have painted all the colors.

Once the paint has dried to the touch, you can remove your mask. I use an x-acto knife and tweezers, making sure not to scratch the paint with my x-acto knife.

Since I am painting an aircraft carrier, I apply the mask for the deck stripes next. I peel away the mask where I want the paint to go. This in sign painter lingo is called weeding. After I have weeded the mask, I use blue painters tape to hold the mask together where the long deck stripe is. After applying the tape, I apply the mask to the deck. Remove the blue tape, and paint the stripes. Once the paint is dry, I can now remove all the masking. Now that the deck is done, I can paint the rest of the ship, masking the finished deck.

The great thing about using paint mask is that you can paint your model just like the real subject was painted. Also, weathering becomes easier. With aircraft carriers, the deck stripes wore away with each landing. Getting this effect is easy with a paint mask, just by lightly spraying the stripe color where itís worn. Complicated patterns, no decal silvering and added realism makes using paint mask a very useful modeling tool.
  • GatorMasks - Tutorial - 002
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About the Author

About Kenny Loup (gator)

I was the kid that his dad would say "Hey, there's a war movie on." and come running. As a kid, I dived head first into military history. We would always have to stop at the USS Alabama on our way to Florida. I also got to visit the Seawolf Park and the Alamo on vacation, too. All things I want ...


Nice Feature, Gator! Very helpful mate, Thanks! ~Gunny
JUN 04, 2006 - 11:07 PM
Aaaayeeeeeee! Nice article Ken! well written and well explained. I think a first timer...like me.. could attempt this with little problem. Actually, I have a Saab Viggen, I've always wanted to try this on.
JUN 05, 2006 - 01:29 AM
I got a little confused while reading the article, but then I looked at the accompanying pictures and it all came together. If they ever come out with a 350 scale Japanese carrier I can do this scheme with you better believe I will jump all over it. Almost tempts me back to 700 scale it looks so good. Having used his masks, I can attest to their simplicity and beauty. Just look at the L E X on my Lexington
JUN 05, 2006 - 01:39 AM
Yes, it really needs a hands on demo. But the photos help. That's why I took a lot of them. Hey Steve, that's actually my No. 1 seller overseas. Kenny
JUN 05, 2006 - 04:13 AM
LOL :-) :-) :-) :-) I just noticed your new signature line.... I could hear Doug Kershaw singing that in my head.
JUN 05, 2006 - 04:44 AM