Sunday, May 15, 2011

66 Nova--Flame On! Part Two!!

Not being able to get scale pinstripes right has really been bugging me (see my last post) and it's been working in my subconscious. I had a idea, which now seems completely obvious--why not use a masking agent to help with this?

Out comes the bare metal foil, which in addition to using for brightwork, can be used as a high-end masking tape. I threw the mask on one of my "junk box" bodies (a '49 Stock Merc) and carved out some flames using a SHARP #11Xacto. The rest of the body was masked with Tamiya tape. Finally, to keep paint from seeping under mask, I brushed a light coat of Future Floor Polish acrylic clear on the seams.....this is all stuff I've done a few times, nothing new here.

Once this was all done, some Jacquard acrylic was fogged into the flames. Now here's the new part. I got a 000 brush and loaded it up with international orange acrylic paint and carefully painted each mask border. The idea was to get about 2/3rds of the paint onto the mask and 1/3rd on the flame.

Here's what I ended up with. The pinstripes weren't perfect but much better than doing this without using a mask as a guide.

Not perfect, but a lot better.

And, I got a bit better as I painted more flames. By the time I was done--the whole process, start to finish, took about an hour and half--I had pretty good looking flames. Still far from perfect, but, good enough that I was a bit sorry I hadn't started with a lacquer color coat--I could have kept my work and built some sort of scale Billet-Proof Merc, but alas, this was practice only--flames over bare grey plastic. I ended up experimenting with laying some russet red over the whole body, which as a disaster as I had the amount of thinner wrong, so I wiped everything down with Windex, and the test body is back to bare plastic.

But the photos remain, hey, that's what a blog is for right??? I am going to try this in a few weeks on an Chevy body with an enamel color coat. I have been curing this for about three days and in about 2 more weeks the enamel should be tough enough that I can try this again.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

66 Nova--Flame On!

It's still a bit too cold and misty for painting, so I worked this week on my "flame" technique.

First I needed to be able to draw flames. Earlier attempts looked like crab claws. Maybe a bit of practice is in order.

Tools for the job include a fine tip paint brush, a Sharpie marker, and a single-action Paasche 200 airbrush. I found the Sharpie wouldn't write on plastic or paint unless you lightly sanded it first.

Using the Sharpie I drew flames on some junk box bodies by hand. This is looking a bit crab-claw like; after some practice I got a little better.

Once the shape was drawn in I went over it using paint. Acryic seems to work OK for this. But here's the best thing--using Acrylic, painting details over an enamel or lacquer color coat, it's easy to fix "mistakes" with a q-tip dipped in Windex, since Windex will take off the acrylic but doesn't affect enamel or lacquer color coat below.

Then I filled in the outline with some Jacquard color. Anything that "spilled over" the flame outline got fixed with Windex used as a thinner.

This is about the best I could do after an evening of messing around with this.

In general, flames are not easy to paint at scale I am finding. Things are just too tiny. The biggest issue I have is the pinstripe that goes around the flames. I know there is a way to do this because I see other modellers who have figured it out. But for me, the lines around the flames come out too thick, making them not look "scale". I got some extra fine Sharpee paint pens, maybe that will help. Stay tuned.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

66 Nova--Experiments with Two Part Polyurethane Clear!!!

One of the toughest things I've grappled with, since coming back to this silly hobby, is how to apply clearcoat to a finished color coat and get professional results. In the old days, we'd just spritz some Testors Enamel Clear over whatever we were working on and hey, we were done. For better or worse, I am setting my sites a bit higher now....

Reading the hobby mags, the clearcoat of choice (for model cars as well as some 1:1 cars) is Two Part Polyurethane. "Two Part" because the paint consists of a clearcoat and hardener--you have to mix the two right before use.

However there's a catch! Polyurethanes are extremely toxic before they have gassed out, especially for folks with lung problems (I have had asthma my entire life, so I would consider myself someone with "lung problems".....)

If I am going to experiment with Two part clear, I'd better be careful!

First thing I did was buy a forced-air system. These are mandatory at pro paint shops, and can cost thousands of dollars; fortunately scaled-down versions ($400 US or so) are available for small-potato painters like me.....I chose an Axis Air "Hobby Air" system as it seemed to be the most popular one out there.

You put a little yellow box--basically a small compressor--by a source of clear air. You make sure the air from the paint room is isolated from the air pushed from the "Hobby Air" device. The compressor forces the clean air down a 40 foot hose to a breathing mask. In addition to this mask, you have to wear a hood and latex gloves--you don't want the clear to get on your skin!

OK, with safety precautions taken care of, next thing I wanted to do is make sure two part clear didn't "eat" the color coat--no point in having a great shine if the color coat gets ruined!

To test, I got some body scraps out of the junk box and painted each with different paints I commonly use--here, it's Testors one coat lacquer with a quick and extremely ugly test-flame of some testors enamel and Tamiya acrylic. I would **never** try using lacquer clear over this as the ugly acrylic flame would be destroyed--come to think of it, maybe that wouldn't be such a bad thing.....

For these tests: no primer, no sanding, nothing fancy--this is not for show.

I then mixed up a 4:1 ratio of clear to hardener and shot it out my trusty Paasche H0708 single action el-cheapo airbrush. The results were fantastic, and, incredible!

So: does polyurethane clear eat water based acrylics for lunch? Good news is, if there was a problem, I didn't see it. As they said on SNL--great taste--and look at that shine!

Lacquer--duplicolor here--same thing! I spent about 2 minutes polishing this one and it looks um--OK.... With some more work, both in prep and in finishing, it would have been (could have been?) perfect!

In fact I had so much luck with this stuff that I thought I'd try to "clear" something REALLY tough. I had an old body lying around that on which I was practicing painting flames by hand. I don't remember all the different paints I used during my practice sessions, but I think it has pretty much everything I own, including metalizing lacquers, transparent enamels, water based acrylics, acrylic/enamel hybrids, you name it, it's there. So I sprayed a few coats on there, sure that at least some of the paints would fade, welt, weep, or otherwise dislike the clearcoat. In the end, I didn't have a single problem with color coats and detail paints being destroyed--any of them!

So to sum it up--two part clear requires a lot of safety precautions but it's worth it! I made separate "test units" for Jacquard acylic, Testors lacquer and enamel, Tamiya acrylic and enamel, Duplicolor lacquer, as well as a motley hippy flame job consisting of everything I had lying around, and the clear coat played nice with all of it!

I think for my hobbies, 2 part clear will "change things". I won't treat clear coating any craft materials--model cars or otherwise--the same again!

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