Scale Modelling Tips. Please Help.

AstroBeatle

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Hey guys, I am starting to take up a hobby on scale plastic modelling and started off last week with a 1/288 scale Space Shuttle with Boosters from Academy. I am looking forward to building more models, and am willing to build non-fiction spacecraft/rockets.

But here's my problem: I think I suck at painting. I tried painting this shuttle last week but I removed it all and instead marked the black areas with permanent marker. Also I had trouble with the decals and broke one of them, so I taped the decals up and taped them on the model.

Can any of you please help me in hand painting detailed scale models? No airbrushes please, due to my budget. Please tell me the right brushes to use, how to paint details and small areas, and how to paint neatly with a brush.

Also please tell me how to properly apply and handle waterslide decals on a model carefully, and even the right tweezers to use. Like I said, I had trouble on my shuttle. The decals were also pretty small and the model is a 1/288 scale model, which is pretty small.

If there are any cheap and efficient tools I can use for cutting, or tweezers for the decals, and other tools for a cheap budget (do not mention airbrush), please tell me about it.

One more thing: for you scale modellers, tell me how you do your models, and what exactly you did when you started out, and on your first model, and how your progress improved over time.

Thanks.

---------- Post added at 05:06 AM ---------- Previous post was at 05:02 AM ----------

And I am thinking of buying the same shuttle model again and starting over to improve my skills as the first one can be a "dummy". I planned to build an STS-1 Columbia model (I tried doing that in my dummy) and in my next one. I also plan to buy a third one someday for an STS-135 Atlantis model.

For the color of the STS-1 fuel tank, can anybody tell me what color of paint I should use, and maybe what colors to mix to get an accurate one? Thanks.

Also, please tell me how to make my own decals because this model does not have the 80s shuttle design on the decals with the NASA "Worm" logo, or the "USA" on the right fin, but has the modern designs such as the "Meatball" NASA insignia. Can anybody tell me how to make my own decals or improvising in making one? Thanks.

---------- Post added at 05:08 AM ---------- Previous post was at 05:06 AM ----------

***: Do you think buying the same model again like I said is an efficient way to practice my skills, or will that be a waste of money? Thanks.
 

PhantomCruiser

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Well, I'm more of a fan of paper models myself. No worries at all about painting there, just glue lines.
I do have some plastic models, but not many. If you want to practice on plastic, you may want to consider cheaper snap-tite to work on your technique before shelling out more money of a higher end model. Revell has a 1:200 scale shuttle that works pretty good. There are decals for the NASA worm logo, but the ship is cast all white, so you'd need to paint the TPS tiles, nosecap, wing leading edges, and the black sections of the vertical stab.
With a cheaper model, you also can experiment with weathering techniques without a lot of worry.

As far as paper goes, the cost is in ink and cardstock. But the end results is a whole lot more models on display. As for the looks...
DSCN6931.jpg
 

Odahs

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Wow lots of questions! Modelling takes a lot of time to learn and if there is no one to guide you directly at home, you'll just have to accept it is a hobby one learns through mistakes.

Painting - Trust me you do want an airbrush at some point. But without one what can you do?

Firstly wash all the plastic parts in soapy water before you attempt to glue or paint. They come with a mold release agent on them which makes painting them much harder or impossible. So wash all the parts, rinse and dry them whilst on the sprue.

Prime the parts. I use an automotive primer in a can, you want one that won't eat the plastic of course (test first on a scrap piece of sprue). Prime all the parts on the sprue. Usually there is one side with all the details, the other where the joints will be. So I prime on one side of the sprue only. If you do have to put primer on any of the joints, scrape them clean before assembly.

You now have a good base for painting, so you'll get the best possible results you can from hand painting. However using an airbrush would still give much better results! For white subjects such as spacecraft, you could finish with a rattle can of white paint and get a very reasonable result (with lots of practice first!!).

People often use 'washes' to pick out tiny details. This is a very thin paint (usually water based so it can be washed off easily if it goes wrong!!). Applying the wash will pick out panel lines and details in an almost magical way.

Decals, first rule, cut them out individually and only do one at a time. Tweezers? Hmmm they always show applying them with tweezers, with small decals it is hopeless. Use a damp cotton bud or cocktail stick to carefully pick them up and apply them. If they are tiny use magnification. I wondered for years how people did tiny details, then I borrowed a pair of reading glasses one day and found when it looks 3 times bigger it is all much easier.

Making decals, relatively easy you can get paper for your computer printer. If you have an inkjet the ink isn't waterproof, so you'll have to 'fix' the ink with a spray fixative and let it all dry before use. If you have a laserjet printer, no need for this step. Search decal paper on the web and you'll find the stuff. Then you need to do your own graphics for printing. Most people do them as vector graphics, so they are scalable for different projects, though for a one-off set of decal it isn't essential.

I would not personally keep buying the same model over and over, try something different and learn something new each time. You can always go back to that first one when your skills and experience have improved and make a better job of it. But if you are happy doing the same one again but better, then do so, it's your hobby do what makes you happy. ;)

Good luck, remember if it seems hard it is either that it is hard or you are doing it wrong, but most of all enjoy yourself. After over 40 years of making models I still see ones that are better than I could do, still always hope my next one will be better, it's all part of the experience.

---------- Post added at 09:44 AM ---------- Previous post was at 09:18 AM ----------

As a footnote, Youtube is your friend these days. You can see how people do stuff. Here is one for doing panel lines for example, there are literally thousands more to watch!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LfsFGZbiDLM
 
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AstroBeatle

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To PhantomCruiser, the shuttle model is actually a Snap-Tite kit and it is about Rp.109,000 which is almost about $11. I expected it to be more expensive at first but I was relieved and happy when seeing the price. And this is Indonesia, so honestly I can't really expect many imported revells. For Revell, I only find warships and cars and military planes here, only limited models. What they mostly sell is Academy, and for their space models they only have this particular shuttle, and another shuttle atop a Boeing 747 (I'm looking for that one, they used to sell it years ago but not anymore...)

---------- Post added at 10:18 AM ---------- Previous post was at 09:57 AM ----------

Would it be okay if I use a thin coat of white spray paint instead of primer?
(To apply a thin coat, you have to spray it from a far distance, right?)
 

PhantomCruiser

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I can get a hold of some Academy kits here, I've built a P-40 and I agree with you that the decals are... problematic. There are plenty of people on different chat boards who've got more colorful words wo describe their decals; but the models themselves are pretty OK.

Shuttle and SCA you ask? http://www.axmpaperspacescalemodels.com/images/devriessca6.jpg

all paper baby! (He's also got a fleet of T-38's for chase planes)
 

Odahs

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---------- Post added at 10:18 AM ---------- Previous post was at 09:57 AM ----------

[/COLOR]Would it be okay if I use a thin coat of white spray paint instead of primer?
(To apply a thin coat, you have to spray it from a far distance, right?)

Use the primer, you need something to 'etch' the plastic so it will take paint. Otherwise there is a tendency that any top coats will just run off and look dreadful. The usual tip with a can is hold it about 30 cm away, start spraying to one side then pass backwards and forwards a couple of times over the work, stopping, again to one side of the piece. (else you can get blobs and splatter off the nozzle when it starts and finishes which will ruin the coat of paint). With model parts as they are usually curved not flat, you may want to change position and repeat a few times to cover all surfaces.

Always apply several thin coats of paint and let them dry, rather than one thick one. Though with practice you'll usually get the primer on in one short session, keep it to a light spray and build it up slowly.
 
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