Curse my metal body, I wasn't fast enough.
April 27, 2011 8:02 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a piece of model or miniature painting advice. Please to step into my office..

So, basically, I'm looking for effective strategies on masking fine detail. Like, obviously for bigger sections I have masking tape - I have 3 or 4 kinds of different widths - some of it pretty narrow - and when I can obviously I employ it to keep my painted areas separated, when my fingers are not too big and the detail is not too small and the tape is not sticking to everything in the most maddening of ways as I try to curve it around some particular detail.

But as the models I build grow in complexity, this is less often viable for really small scale stuff. I use small brushes. I go slow. But it still inevitably ends up in an endless cycle of painting over color overlap between one area and another until I finally manage to not fuck it up that bad. It's frustrating!

So, maybe that's the answer, maybe it's just frustrating. I'm just looking for suggestions and strategies that might make it less frustrating for a novice model builder.
posted by kbanas to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (16 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Do you have any pictures of your work available? I used to make dollhouse miniatures and know how frustrating it can get.
posted by Calzephyr at 8:17 PM on April 27, 2011

Response by poster: Yeah, for sure! I'm actually headed to bed but if you remember, pop back tomorrow and I'll have some examples of my current piece. Think missiles!
posted by kbanas at 8:28 PM on April 27, 2011

I have no idea if this would work, but it seems like it might. Can you use a toothpick apply a dab of rubber cement to the area you want to mask off? Let it dry, paint over it (carefully), and then, once the paint is dry, my guess is that the rubber cement would rub right off and leave a clean finish underneath.
posted by phunniemee at 8:35 PM on April 27, 2011

Art supply shops sell frisket as in self-adhesive sheets or liquid. The sheets are made more for air-brushing and the liquid is painted on the paper (like the rubber cement mentioned above) to mask off white areas/details in water colouring. The film might be good for making straight lines.
posted by bonobothegreat at 8:46 PM on April 27, 2011

Use of modeling wax for masking small areas.
Larger areas with tape; adding paper masks for even larger areas.
But it truly depends on the type of modeling you are doing, scale, etc.
posted by Drasher at 8:59 PM on April 27, 2011

As a former manager of a hobby shop and a long time modeler, (Me)email me anytime.
posted by Drasher at 9:00 PM on April 27, 2011

Blu-tack is useful for this.
posted by Pastor of Muppets at 9:41 PM on April 27, 2011

Art stores sell masking fluids that are applied with a brush, and then rubbed off later like rubber cement. Use a fine brush (a separate, cheap one, because the fluid tends to wreck brushes) to mask the details, paint over it, rub it off.
posted by fatbird at 10:28 PM on April 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

Pebeo makes the best quality blue masking fluid. Paint on with a synthetic brush. The excess residue can be rolled into a little booger ball and that's ideal for picking up the line when you want to pull it off. Don't leave the masking fluid on too long (weeks, months) or it will be sluggish to remove. Or heat it excessively.
posted by effluvia at 11:21 PM on April 27, 2011

I am assuming you've already read the Games Workshop tutorials. It has been a while since I've read them and I am not much of a painter so nothing really stuck but I would look in there for some more ideas. The stuff that they do is just amazing.
posted by koolkat at 1:23 AM on April 28, 2011

As mentioned upthread you could use a liquid masking medium. At Al's Hobbies we used to sell Micro-Mask.
posted by Rob Rockets at 6:48 AM on April 28, 2011

Response by poster: Posting pictures now...

Ok, they're rough camera phone shots, and no one is probably paying attention to this question anymore, but here's the current part of the piece I'm working on that's driving me insane.




posted by kbanas at 8:05 AM on April 28, 2011

Response by poster: I think Micro-Mask is really what I'm looking for. NICE. I will buy some of this magical substance immediately.

I'm sure it has its own set of irritating caveats, but it seems in principle to be a much better solution than me going insane with frustration at 10 o'clock at night and posting frantic questions to AskMe.
posted by kbanas at 8:07 AM on April 28, 2011

Nice Stompa :)

I haven't painted for a long while, but I always found it relaxing. I think the best part of WH40k was assembling and painting stuff, I never really got into the actual gameplay though!

I am lucky enough to have a friend who's run workshops at Cold Wars and other cons and stuff. One time, I was painting a mini and asked her to help me with a bit of the detail, and she grabbed a brush and casually painted a tiny insignia and some gold trim onto this in just a few minutes. I was amazed!

I think if I were to ask her for advice, she would encourage you to hone your skills and technique with lots of practice, and not rely solely on masking stuff. It's pretty easy to handle acrylics -- If you make a mistake, just wipe it off and try again!

...She would also tell you not to drybrush everything, but I LOVE the look of drybrushed stuff. It looks all rugged and weathered and cool! :D :D

Happy painting!
posted by Jinkeez at 9:14 AM on April 28, 2011

Response by poster: That Terminator looks fantastic!

I don't play at all - I just like the books and to paint the models. My last one was a Deff Dread, which you can see a little of here.

I guess at the end of the day practice is the watch word - you're right about acrylics.. the nice thing is they're pretty forgiving as far as a medium goes. It's not like painting with oils or something. I definitely will try out some of the masking agent stuff, though. I don't want to rely on it, but it looks like in a pinch it could really work well for some of the high-end detail. I don't know how some of these people just free-hand insignias and stuff. Blargh.
posted by kbanas at 10:23 AM on April 28, 2011

Just to verify, when I look at photo #1, you're asking what you can do to avoid the overlap of places like the orange pipe to metal coupling?

If so, what kind of brushes do you use? I know you said you have small brushes, but how small? Do the brush tips end in a point?

Also, how much paint do you use on your brush? I find a quick dab of just the brush tip gives me enough to cover the area, while allowing me the control to "stay within the lines."

Of course, this is probably moot to you, because your Deff Dread looks like you don't have a problem with accuracy (unless that's the result of hours and hours of painting color overlap).
posted by CancerMan at 12:22 PM on April 28, 2011

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