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BrushPainting 3/21/02 12:58 PM Page 58

Building Blocks
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Place a soda straw in the paint, then cap


Among the author’s most-used brushes are (top to bottom) a Model Master No. 0 syn- the end with a finger. Move the straw to
thetic, Floquil No. 3 round pure sable, Floquil 1⁄4" flat camel hair, Floquil 1⁄4" flat Silver the paint dish and remove your finger.
Fox synthetic, and Model Master 1⁄2" flat black sable. The paint will flow into the dish.

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Basics of brush painting Brush the paint with as few strokes as pos-
sible. Begin new brush strokes in a bare
area and gently brush back to the wet
This finished motorcycle cowling shows it’s
possible to obtain very smooth results with
a brush.
When painting a rough surface, use a
general-purpose brush like this 1⁄2" flat
camel-hair.
area you’ve just painted.
Quality paint jobs with brushes
the brush over the lip of the jar often times will prevent overlap marks. Delight in the details. My favorite
are easier than you think! Story and photos by Jeff Wilson leaves paint in the jar threads. This results
in bits of dried paint falling back into the
You’ll usually need to apply two coats,
which is what I did on this motorcycle
brush for painting tight areas and small
details is the Model Master No. 0 syn-
bottle, and they will find their way onto cowling, 4. Some colors cover better than thetic. It has a fine point – finer than

O
ne goal in modeling is to give each parts in these photos, but the techniques Preparations. Make sure the surface the surface you are painting. others, especially black, dark grays, dark many 00 and 000 brushes – and it holds
creation a good finish. Airbrushing is are the same for other materials. is clean and free of skin oils from han- Time to paint. Most paints are blues, and greens. Lighter colors may more paint than smaller brushes.
often preferred by experienced mod- Select the right tools. For painting dling. Even a little oil repels acrylic paint, already the right consistency for brush need an additional coat. If you’re painting When painting details, start with
elers, but if you don’t have airbrushing broad surfaces, use as wide a brush as pos- ruining the finish. painting. Thin the paint only if necessary white or yellow on anything other than lighter colors and progress to darker ones,
equipment, brush painting can still yield sible. I use round brushes up to No. 5 and Begin by wetting the brush in water to get it to flow smoothly on the part. white plastic, start by applying a primer but wait 48 hours before painting one
great results. Brush skill is also necessary 1
⁄4" to 1⁄2" flat brushes, 1. The softer the (or paint thinner for enamels). Wipe off Thinning will decrease the paint’s opaci- coat of medium to light gray. color over another. Paint as much of each
for painting detail items and adding fin- bristles, the smoother the finish will be. the brush using a clean cloth or paper ty, requiring more coats to cover properly. As with airbrushed finishes, small rip- part as possible before assembling the
ishing touches to a model. For a smooth finish coat, especially with towel. This step eases cleanup by keeping Dip your brush in the paint, keeping ples in the finish can be polished out by model. In fact, keep the parts on the
Successful brush painting requires gloss paint, get a good sable brush. A syn- paint from drying on the bristles. the paint on the lower fourth of the bris- wet sanding. After the paint is complete- sprues as long as you can – as the photos
good brushes and fresh paint, as well as thetic brush can also provide a good Put paint into a separate container or tles. Brush the paint onto the surface, ly cured, start with 320 grit and use show, sprues make convenient handles.
techniques to eliminate brush marks. finish, and camel hair is good for rough palette – I use an inexpensive aluminum using as few strokes as possible. Let the progressively smoother grades of sandpa- Many different techniques are needed
For the projects shown here, I used surfaces and general-purpose painting. holder. You can use an eyedropper or a paint level itself. per up to 600 grit. for painting details. For example, the
acrylic paints: Model Master Acryl and Brush marks are the bane of brush soda straw to transfer the paint, 2. Follow the general direction of surface When painting rougher surfaces, such motorcycle wheel fork has recessed letter-
Polly Scale. Both are quality paints that painting. The main causes are brushes Avoid painting straight from the bot- lines and details, keeping the brush as stone walls, 5, cheaper camel hair ing that needs to be painted red, while the
can be thinned (and cleaned up) with with stiff bristles (poor-quality brushes or tle for two reasons. First, air is the main strokes parallel. Apply paint to the bare brushes work fine. Since brush marks rest of the part must be gold. I started by
water. The techniques for using enamels old ones with bristles hardened by dried enemy of paint, so you must keep the jar surface, then use a light stroke to brush aren’t critical in this situation, you can painting the area with the lettering red,
are similar, but you’ll need to use mineral paint residue) and overbrushing, which closed as much as possible. Second, wip- the paint back to the area most recently move the brush in different directions to then wiping the surface with a paper
spirits or lacquer thinner. I painted plastic leaves patterns in the paint as it dries. ing off excess paint by pulling the edge of painted, 3. Keeping a wet edge at all work the paint into cracks and crevices. towel, 6. This removed the paint from the

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BrushPainting 3/21/02 12:58 PM Page 60

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Paint recessed lettering its final color first, Follow that by using the side of a brush to Let the part’s topography guide you when
then wipe the surface, leaving paint only paint the surface around the lettering. painting surface details. Using a fine
in the recesses. brush, work the paint slowly to the border.

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An old mug or glass works well for stor-


ing brushes. Be sure the bristles are above
Here’s the completed wheel fork, with four colors applied. the edge of the holder.

Swish it around and roll it gently against


Meet Jeff Wilson the side of the container. I keep three
small jars of thinner for cleaning brushes.
Jeff Wilson has been a modeler for more than The first is for getting out most of the
30 years. He enjoys building model trucks, but paint (this is the dirtiest one), the second
his main focus is model railroads. That’s not sur- for cleaning out any remaining paint, and
prising since he was an associate editor at FSM’s the third (with clear, clean thinner) for a
sister publication, Model Railroader, for 10 years. final rinse.
Jeff has written six books on trains and model Never let brushes stand in thinner, and
railroading and currently works as a free-lance never jab the bristles down into the bot-
writer. He is a camera operator for his favorite tom of a container. This can damage the
team, the Milwaukee Brewers, and plays bass in ferrule (the part that holds the bristles)
the rock/punk/funk/jazz group Foam. and cause the bristles to splay and lose
their shape.
After cleaning, while the bristles are
surface but left it in the recessed lettering. either lightly scrape it off with a hobby still wet, form them to the proper shape
I then painted the rest of the part gold, knife, or simply paint over it with the using your fingers (not your mouth).
carefully using the side of the brush to proper color. The finished wheel fork has Store brushes bristles up, and make sure
paint around the letters, 7. crisp, sharp detail, 9. the bristles don’t rest against the sides of
For raised lettering or details, do the Cleaning up. Properly cleaning the storage container, 10. To protect the
opposite: paint the whole area the appro- brushes will make them last longer and bristles even more, use the clear plastic
priate color, then use the side of the brush help them hold their shape. After using sleeves that come with new brushes.
to lightly dab or sweep across the details. acrylics, rinse the brush under warm run- As with any physical skill, your brush-
Let the ridges and relief of the part ning water. Massage a drop of liquid painting talents will improve with
guide the brush, 8. With a fine brush dishwashing detergent into the bristles, experience. Start by practicing with some
you’ll be able to work the paint to and then keep massaging the bristles under spare parts left over from an old kit, and
around raised and recessed details. If you running water to rinse them. soon you’ll be painting your prized mod-
get a bit of stray paint on an adjoining If you’re using enamel, dip the brush els with confidence and getting show-
area, don’t panic. After it dries, you can in mineral spirits or lacquer thinner. quality results. FSM

60 FineScale Modeler May 2002