Paint & Tools A basic guide to model making by Smeggers

Smeggers

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Basic Model-making skills - a precis by Smeggers.

The first thing to do when considering making a model, is decide what you want to achieve as an end result. If you want to show a truck being serviced, it's probably a good idea to include the engine. If the same truck is to be shown as being driven, is there any need to spend hours assembling tiny little pieces, painting them and then fitting it to the truck, where it will never see the light of day? The same applies when assembling an AFV. There is no point in purchasing after-market kits showing a very detailed interior when the model is to be displayed battened down. Think about what you want, research your subject and find out who makes models of that particular kit or it's variants. Price will always be the over-riding factor in buying your kit, but seek advice from those who may have made the same model - they can give you a hint towards how good the kit is, what pitfalls to expect and how to achieve your aim.

Tools required

Buying a kit is one thing, building and painting it is quite another. All model-makers have a basic tool kit which they use for all kits and it is important to start with the right tools.
First up is a modelling knife. I recommend an X-acto type knife where you can buy interchangeable blades for it. Try to get the best possible as there are some low quality copies about that are pretty dangerous. I also use the old Swann & Morton scalpel handle and blades, but these are not for the beginner.
R9c9049238b99c561b444337e9d04c458.jpeg

Files are an important addition to the tool kit. After separating a piece from a sprue, it's a good idea to smooth the piece down with either a file or fine grade sanding sheet. For general filing, I tend to use emery boards nicked from my wife's make-up box or glass paper. For finer work, I use sanding pads down to 800 grade. These are available from on-line suppliers and are pretty cheap. Files can be bought at your local poundshop or the more expensive suppliers.
OIP.jpeg

Clamps are very necessary when assembling models. Again, there is a vast array available, I tend to stick to the old-fashioned clothes peg type as these can be put on with one hand. Elastic bands are also usefuI as clamps, but don't put them on too tight! I have a selection of G clamps, F clamps, Spring clamps and Bar Clamps. They all get used at some stage in a build and you can never have too many.
rv39070.jpg

A Razor Saw should be included in the tool kit. There are a number of brands available, I tend to use those that fit into the X-acto handle. I have a number of various saw blades for various jobs and always need more. A junior hacksaw is a good standby if nothing else is available. You may also find it useful to get a mitre box to cut angles in plastic or timber.
Tweezers or forceps - a very useful piece of kit for holding small parts and for painting them. I use the reverse type as they double as clamps. Reverse tweezers open when squeezed. Several types are useful, straight and angled, fine point, spade ended, artery forceps etc etc.
Rd5077834e78cc3b5245b30863f3056c4.jpeg

Don't forget your paintbrushes! Buy the best you can afford. You'll need a couple of fine liners plus a few wider brushes for larger scale work. Try and keep a few old damaged brushes for mixing paints and also for brushing off debris. I have literally hundreds of brushes, it's just one of those things. I go to a craft shop, I buy half a dozen decent brushes! It's always a good habit when you've finished for the day, to wash out any brushes and leave them to dry. If, like me you use Acrylic paints, wash the brushes in a solution of warm water and washing up liquid. Once clean, rinse them with fresh water then dry them. Store them brush upwards to protect the bristles. If you use Oil based paints, wash the brushes out with an appropriate cleaner (thinners, white spirit, turps, etc) and then rinse with clean water. Store as stated above. I tend to keep thin, plastic tubes over the brushes as an added protection.
Red80a668bc7a6e7fc7c15a76df9c75a9.jpeg

Glue or Plastic Cement are a necessary part of the building process. There are many available on the market and no real favourite between them all. I tend to use Tamiya Thin which leaves very little excess on the model and dries almost immediately. The old days of tubes.of sticky, stringy cement are long gone; modellers want a liquid poly that has a good grip and a bit of wiggle room. Superglue has it's place as well. Parts that are likely to experience a lot of movement need something strong to hold them. It is also good to keep some decent superglue (cyanoacrylqate) if using PE (photo-etched plate) or resin parts.

Getting Started

Okay, we're ready. First thing to do when opening the box is to take the instructions out and read through them thoroughly. I would also check all parts are where they're supposed to be and note any deficiencies. While the decals may look exciting, you do not need them yet, so I recommend put them in a little plastic bag and taping them to the underside of the box lid.
Once you are ready to start, ensure your work area is clean and free from obstructions. The more space you can make now will be advantageous later. Check on your instructions for any vehicle variants and decide which one you want to go with. A tip here; if your model has variants, take the parts from the sprue that you don't want and store them elsewhere, this leaves you with only the parts you want to use! When removing any parts from a sprue, always use a pair of side cutting pliers or dedicated sprue cutters; they leave a cleaner cut with less filing to do afterwards.
photo_2_sprue_cutter_head_closeup.jpg

When assembling your model, follow the instructions as they appear, do not be tempted to skip sections and come back to them later. If a part calls for painting while assembling, think about how you may wish to display your model before wasting time painting something that will not be see! If you decide you do need to paint a piece, ensure it is dry before fixing it to the model. Most model-making glues will not adhere to paint so paint will need to be scraped away where any adhesive is going.

If your model has windscreens or light lenses these must be applied with care as liquid poly melts clear plastic. A trick I use is to apply pva (White glue) to the part and then fix in p!ace. The pva dries clear, and once done I let a touch of liquid poly flow along the join lines. This ensures a strong join that doesn't show the glue.
While building your model, be aware that some parts may be warped due to beIng packed while warm. Do not try to straighten these items by hand, immerse in hot water for a minute or two and then coax the part back into shape. Cracks or splits can be rectified using filled or modeller putty. Again, various brands are available including Milliput, Green Stuff, Tamiya's own putty etc. If you haven't got any putty, mix some plastic filings with liquid poly. It works well and is relatively cheap.

Finishing your model

Once you have finished building your model, you should turn your thoughts to painting it. Depending upon the vehicle, it is advisable to paint light colours first as it is easier to over paint light with dark. This is especially useful when painting camouflage patterns. However you want to paint your model, research it properly and ensure you have the colours available.

Making your vehicle look realistic is a skill which takes a while to achieve. Drybrushing is the art of using a minimum amount of paint on the brush to highlight raised areas on the model. Washes are the art of using watered down dark colours to show the lowlights on a model. The trick to using these two methods is not to do too much, and to think about where you are doing your realism. Wooden packing cases would not have raised metal edges nor would aluminium body vehicles show rust stains and streaks!
OIP (1).jpeg

Prior to weathering your model, relocate your decals. I paint Matt varnish where the decal is to go, add the decals and then add a second coat of varnish. There are products available for fixing decals including Humbrol's decals fix and Vallejo decal fix. There are also liquids available for softening decals which are to be bent around an object. It is important to give decals a smooth, free from dust base to sit on.
Weathering vehicles is another skill which comes with practise. No vehicle remains in a pristine condition and it is useful to remember which are the areas which show wear and tear. The tyres and tracks and any other part in contact with the ground will always wear first. It is also important to remember that crews are no respecters of vehicle paint, so there will be obvious scuff marks in doorways and escape hatches. Oil and fuel spills would also be visible around fuel filling caps.
When mounting a vehicle for display, chose your ground carefully. It is no good showing a snowman in a desert, so think about where you want your model. Apply appropriate scenery and then build a display case over it. Remember, when making a model, if you are happy with it, that's the time to stop. Others will always point out your mistakes and some may even give you some worthwhile advice.

Smeggers
 

Helm

MIA
Moderator
Book Reviewer
Brilliant mate just what we needed. @dingerr as promised. Can I ask that anything not to do with basic kit building please be left out of this thread so it doesn't get cluttered? Many thanks
 
Basic Model-making skills - a precis by Smeggers.

The first thing to do when considering making a model, is decide what you want to achieve as an end result. If you want to show a truck being serviced, it's probably a good idea to include the engine. If the same truck is to be shown as being driven, is there any need to spend hours assembling tiny little pieces, painting them and then fitting it to the truck, where it will never see the light of day? The same applies when assembling an AFV. There is no point in purchasing after-market kits showing a very detailed interior when the model is to be displayed battened down. Think about what you want, research your subject and find out who makes models of that particular kit or it's variants. Price will always be the over-riding factor in buying your kit, but seek advice from those who may have made the same model - they can give you a hint towards how good the kit is, what pitfalls to expect and how to achieve your aim.

Tools required

Buying a kit is one thing, building and painting it is quite another. All model-makers have a basic tool kit which they use for all kits and it is important to start with the right tools.
First up is a modelling knife. I recommend an X-acto type knife where you can buy interchangeable blades for it. Try to get the best possible as there are some low quality copies about that are pretty dangerous. I also use the old Swann & Morton scalpel handle and blades, but these are not for the beginner.
View attachment 572985
Files are an important addition to the tool kit. After separating a piece from a sprue, it's a good idea to smooth the piece down with either a file or fine grade sanding sheet. For general filing, I tend to use emery boards nicked from my wife's make-up box or glass paper. For finer work, I use sanding pads down to 800 grade. These are available from on-line suppliers and are pretty cheap. Files can be bought at your local poundshop or the more expensive suppliers.
View attachment 572986
Clamps are very necessary when assembling models. Again, there is a vast array available, I tend to stick to the old-fashioned clothes peg type as these can be put on with one hand. Elastic bands are also usefuI as clamps, but don't put them on too tight! I have a selection of G clamps, F clamps, Spring clamps and Bar Clamps. They all get used at some stage in a build and you can never have too many.
View attachment 572987
A Razor Saw should be included in the tool kit. There are a number of brands available, I tend to use those that fit into the X-acto handle. I have a number of various saw blades for various jobs and always need more. A junior hacksaw is a good standby if nothing else is available. You may also find it useful to get a mitre box to cut angles in plastic or timber.
Tweezers or forceps - a very useful piece of kit for holding small parts and for painting them. I use the reverse type as they double as clamps. Reverse tweezers open when squeezed. Several types are useful, straight and angled, fine point, spade ended, artery forceps etc etc.
View attachment 572988
Don't forget your paintbrushes! Buy the best you can afford. You'll need a couple of fine liners plus a few wider brushes for larger scale work. Try and keep a few old damaged brushes for mixing paints and also for brushing off debris. I have literally hundreds of brushes, it's just one of those things. I go to a craft shop, I buy half a dozen decent brushes! It's always a good habit when you've finished for the day, to wash out any brushes and leave them to dry. If, like me you use Acrylic paints, wash the brushes in a solution of warm water and washing up liquid. Once clean, rinse them with fresh water then dry them. Store them brush upwards to protect the bristles. If you use Oil based paints, wash the brushes out with an appropriate cleaner (thinners, white spirit, turps, etc) and then rinse with clean water. Store as stated above. I tend to keep thin, plastic tubes over the brushes as an added protection.
View attachment 572989
Glue or Plastic Cement are a necessary part of the building process. There are many available on the market and no real favourite between them all. I tend to use Tamiya Thin which leaves very little excess on the model and dries almost immediately. The old days of tubes.of sticky, stringy cement are long gone; modellers want a liquid poly that has a good grip and a bit of wiggle room. Superglue has it's place as well. Parts that are likely to experience a lot of movement need something strong to hold them. It is also good to keep some decent superglue (cyanoacrylqate) if using PE (photo-etched plate) or resin parts.

Getting Started

Okay, we're ready. First thing to do when opening the box is to take the instructions out and read through them thoroughly. I would also check all parts are where they're supposed to be and note any deficiencies. Whi!e the decals may look exciting, you do not need them yet, so I recommend out them in a little plastic bag and taping them to the underside of the box lid.
Once you are ready to start, ensure your work area is clean and free from obstructions. The more space you can make now will be advantageous later. Check on your instructions for any vehicle variants and decide which one you want to go with. A tip here; if your model has variants, take the parts from the sprue that you don't want and store them elsewhere, this leaves you with only the parts you want to use! When removing any parts from a sprue, always use a pair of side cutting pliers or dedicated sprue cutters; they leave a cleaner cut with less filing to do afterwards.
View attachment 572992
When assembling your model, follow the instructions as they appear, do not be tempted to skip sections and come back to them later. If a part calls for painting while assembling, think about how you may wish to display your model before wasting time painting something that will not be see! If you decide you do need to paint a piece, ensure it is dry before fixing it to the model. Most model-making glues will not adhere to paint so paint will need to be scraped away where any adhesive is going.
If your model has windscreens or light lenses these must be applied with care as liquid poly melts clear plastic. A trick I use is to apply pva (White glue) to the part and then fix in p!ace. The pva dries clear, and once done I let a touch of liquid poly flow along the join lines. This ensures a strong join that doesn't show the glue.
While building your model, be aware that some parts may be warped due to be g packs while warm. Do not try to straighten these items by hand, immerse in hot water for a minute or two and then coax the part back into shape. Cracks or splits can be rectified using filled or modeller putty. Again, various brands are available including Milliput, Green Stuff, Tamiya's own putty etc. If you haven't got any putty, mix some plastic filings with liquid poly. It works well and is relatively cheap.

Finishing your model

Once you have finished building your model, you should turn your thoughts to painting it. Depending upon the vehicle, it is advisable to paint light colours first as it is easier to over paint light with dark. This is especially useful when painting camouflage patterns. However you want to paint your model, research it properly and ensure you have the colours available.
Making your vehicle look realistic is a skill which takes a while to achieve. Drybrushing is the art of using a minimum amount of paint on the brush to highlight raised areas on the model. Washes are the art of using watered down dark colours to show the lowlights on a model. The trick to using these two methods is not to do too much, and to think about where you are doing your realism. Wooden packing cases would not have raised metal edges nor would aluminium body vehicles show rust stains and streaks!
View attachment 572990
Prior to weathering your model, relocate your decals. I paint Matt varnish where the decal is to go, are the decals and then add a second coat of varnish. There are products available for fixing decals including Humbrol's decals fix and Vallejo decal fix. There are also liquids available for softening decals which are to be bent around an object. It is importeant to give decals a smooth, free from dust base to sit on.
Weathering vehicles is another skill which comes with practise. No vehicle remains in a pristine condition and it is useful to remember which are the areas which show wear and tear. The tyres and tracks and any other part in contact with the ground will always wear first. It is also important to remember that crews are no respecters of vehicle paint, so there will be obvious scuff marks in doorways and escape hatches. Oil and fuel spills would also be visible around fuel filling caps.
When mounting a vehicle for display, chose your ground carefully. It is no good showing a snowman in a desert, so think about where you want your model. Apply appropriate scenery and then build a display case over it. Remember, when making a model, if you are happy with it, that's the time to stop. Others will always point out your mistakes and some may even give you some worthwhile advice.

Smeggers
Hats off to you, sir! That is a comprehensive article and must have taken you hours!
 

Joker62

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Smeggers

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Smeggers

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I may get a kicking for this, but in the past I used to use the larger sized nail clippers for general purpose spre clipping and tidying.
 
I may get a kicking for this, but in the past I used to use the larger sized nail clippers for general purpose spre clipping and tidying.
Nothing wrong with that, improvisation and all that. I used to do the same, then I got proper side-cutting sprue snips and haven't looked back.
 
If this is in the wrong area, please move!

Could one of you chaps please write (if it's not already done) a step by step idiot's guide to replicating rust streaks on a light coloured hull - not like the excellent total rust job on Sprockett's recent trawler! Assume zero prior experience in this type of detailing, but happy with general experience!

Imagine if you will a Pusser's war canoe returning from a few months at sea. Picture provided as example! TIA!

1621242798304.png
 

Helm

MIA
Moderator
Book Reviewer
If this is in the wrong area, please move!

Could one of you chaps please write (if it's not already done) a step by step idiot's guide to replicating rust streaks on a light coloured hull - not like the excellent total rust job on Sprockett's recent trawler! Assume zero prior experience in this type of detailing, but happy with general experience!

Imagine if you will a Pusser's war canoe returning from a few months at sea. Picture provided as example! TIA!

View attachment 573974
I would do it with layering a series of washes/glazes of the rust colour, building them up slowly, similar to the way I do leather.

 
I put 'model ship painting rust' into a search engine and it came up with a few video tutorials.

YouTube is great for all sorts of modelling tutorials.
 

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