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Zoxe

Tips and Tricks

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This is a collection point for random tips and tricks.

 

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If you are starting to play with fillers and sculpting, the best advice I can give is to grab a set of cheap ($9) sculpting tools like these:

https://smile.amazon.com/Ejiubas-Sculpting-Modeling-Supplies-Ceramics/dp/B0758BP4YT/

Even that kit is overkill; I use 1 or 2 of them and the rest stay in the bag.  The silicone tips work really well for moving material and packing it into holes/seams, while still being flexible enough to work around corners.  When you're ready to smooth an area, dunk the end into some water, dab it on a paper towel, and then smooth out the edges (both Milliput and Aves are water soluble).  The metal end (round ball) can be useful for making texture or getting into tighter areas.

The other tool you might want is a set of dental tools (or wax carving tools they call them on Amazon), but I use them less.

(Because Plastic Putty is a little more sticky, these tools won't work as well but honestly I've never tried.... hmmmm.)

Technique:  Mix up a ball of filler (Aves or Milliput).  Both Aves and Milliput are 2-part "expoxies" that only harden once mixed.  I start with two dots a little smaller than the size of a pea; squish/mix well and then put the combined dot on the back of my thumbnail of my off hand.  Then use the silicone tools to slice off small bits and cram into the model.  It goes faster than it sounds.  If it's not going well, scrape it off, and use a wet brush to clean the area and start over.  

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Basic Model Prep.  This is how I do it, there are many variations out there.  Basically, you want a clean surface for the primer to stick to - oils (such as mold releases, oil from your fingers, etc.) will hinder adhesion.  Also, PAINT DOESN'T STICK TO SOAP!  So, I normally double rinse everything and then lay on a clean paper towel to dry.  

PLASTIC:  Toothbrush and some hot water with a little dish soap.  Some people say you don't have to wash plastic.  I typically do anyway.  Better safe than sorry.  Also, the process of scrubbing will remove all the dust and little burrs and fuzzies of plastic that are still remaining after you scraped mold lines. Be careful if you have a multi-part piece that's hollow; water can enter the figure and then drip out while you're painting (ask me how I know!!).  Solid pieces, I dunk entirely but hollow pieces I tend to be much more careful with.

METAL:  Toothbrush and some hot dish soap.  I've got less experience here, but you should see the metal brighten considerably as you scrub.

RESIN:  This is everyone's nemesis!  Resin can really be obnoxious.  Each company uses a slightly different mixture.  I've had the best luck with isopropyl alcohol, a toothbrush, thorough rinse.  

REAPER BONES:  Honestly, I just start painting.  Hand brushing with Reaper brown liner seems to work best.  

 

PRIMERS:

I airbrush prime.  I like Stynlrez for plastic and metal and Vallejo Surface Primer for resin.  I've used Vallejo pretty extensively through the airbrush on plastic as well; I only give the nod to Stynlrez because it doesn't need to be thinned at all.   Both of these primers can be applied with a hand brush if you need to get to a deep recess.  I gave up on rattle can primers a couple of years ago; today if I didn't have the airbrush I would recommend priming by hand.  Some people swear by GW or Duplicolor or whatever, which doesn't threaten me at all - do what makes sense for you.

With primer, you technically only need a very thin layer for the paint to get its teeth into.  That doesn't mean it has to be fully opaque and a semi-transparent layer of primer can work perfectly well.  However, I'm usually priming in black as a means to block all the white/gray plastic from showing in deep shadows and I tend to be pretty meticulous in getting a thorough coat of primer before moving on.  (There's nothing worse than getting halfway thru a paint job and finding a splotch of bright gray showing through somewhere).

 

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Great summary @Zoxe.  So far, I've just painted plastic game pieces.  Here are some lessons of what not to do.

  • Don't use hot water.  It can easily distort the smaller pieces like swords, hat flaps, bows etc.  After that fiasco, I went with tepid water.
  • Not having an air brush, I tried using cans of plastic primer.  Let's just say I sucked at it.  There were areas I missed and other areas with drips/sags, and a gust of wind got primer on stuff I didn't want primed.  I now brush it on.  I use Vallejo Surface Primer.  Note: I've never thinned it.  Maybe @Zoxe only thins it because of the air brush???  I brush it to the point there are no bubbles, and is a little tacky. 
  • When priming/painting, less is better than more.  If I can't figure out how to prime difficult areas, then I can start thinking about how big a pain painting it will be, and what plan b is for that area and in what order do I want to paint the areas.  In the beginning, I was touching up WAY too much because dry brushing or painting another area goofed up what I had already gotten done.
  • In hindsight I think I had the "paint won't stick to soap" problem once.

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4 hours ago, Barb Bliss said:

Don't use hot water.  It can easily distort the smaller pieces like swords, hat flaps, bows etc.  After that fiasco, I went with tepid water.

True.  I typed 'hot' but I use comfortably warm water, like I'd wash my hands with. 

You can also use this to your benefit if you get a figure that's warped out of the package.  Hot tap water can soften plastics and some resins, but it's not very controllable. Beyond that, a hair dryer on HI can soften the plastic enough to straighten.  Actually, Mrs. Zoxe has this little unit for her Jamberries (stick on fingernail things) that I grab when I need to fix a figure.  It's about as hot as a hair dryer but offers more pinpoint control.

 

4 hours ago, Barb Bliss said:
  • Not having an air brush, I tried using cans of plastic primer.  Let's just say I sucked at it.  There were areas I missed and other areas with drips/sags, and a gust of wind got primer on stuff I didn't want primed.  I now brush it on.  I use Vallejo Surface Primer.  Note: I've never thinned it.  Maybe @Zoxe only thins it because of the air brush???  I brush it to the point there are no bubbles, and is a little tacky. 

Yes, I thin the VSP for the airbrush and usually use it unthinned for touch up.  :)

 

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