Monday, September 6, 2010

Fast and Easy Natural Metal Finishes

Like aircraft in natural metal finish? Lazy? Have an airbrush phobia? I use a fast and easy natural metal finish technique that almost completely relies upon spray cans. But not just any spray cans, Tamiya’s synthetic lacquer spray cans. Besides having a fine grain, and a natural metal look, they are lacquer based and will stand up to masking. In fact they are so durable, you can save time and cut down on clear coats as well. I also find that these cans spray so much smoother and easier than other spray cans I’ve experienced.

Step 1: You have two choices here, either have you assembled kit perfect with no flaws or relay upon a primer. I like Tamiya’s Fine Surface Primer (in gray or white, your choice) in the spray can. If I use a primer I do polish up the paint with fine micromesh before I apply the silver.

Step 2: Make sure the model is free and clean from dust and oils. I usually swab off the model with common drugstore isopropyl alcohol. (Sorry Gunze’s Mr. Whiskey will not work here…) After wiping off the model only handle it was latex gloves.

Step 3: Here is where the secret weapon is revealed. Tamiya AS-12 spray metal silver. I find that his paint leaves a beautiful slightly oxidized natural metal look. Not too shiny, but not too flat. Heat the can in warm water…but not on the burner…we do not want to send the can into space, just have the paint flow better. Shake well and apply in thin coats. In my experience silver enamels take forever to dry, but the lacquer dries super fast.

Spousal Interjection: Buy a spray booth. This stuff is smelly.

Step 4: The nice thing with this paint is that there are more options than just the AS-12. Tamiya also makes TS-17 Gloss Aluminum and TS-30 Silver leaf. If you wish to panelize you airplane, mask off panels and use either or both of these cans to add some panel variation. I find that the TS-17 leaves a nice silver doped look often seen on control surfaces. I usually mask with Tamiya tape or drafting tape. You can also mask off anti-glare panels, etc. at this time. See isn’t this paint fun? Mask all you want and nothing pulls off.

Step 5: If you are really lazy like me you can skip your clear coat and just apply decals. I usually use Future floor polish to apply decals to my natural metal aircraft. Either place a small amount of Future where the decal will be placed, apply decal, and cover in Future or just dip the decal in the Future and apply. The Future will suck the decal down into the panel lines, fuse the decal in place, and prevent silvering.

Step 6: Depending on how neat you are with your Future you can either finish the model as is or actually break out the airbrush and apply a final clear coat of your choice.

Wasn’t that fun? A nice metal airplane and no need to break out the airbrush. Sometimes it pays to be lazy.


Anonymous said...

A nice quick solution. It sound faster then using the traditional paint brush.

Matt Tauber said...

It's posts like these that make me sad you considered quitting blogging altogether. I don't model, but I appreciate the tips anyway!