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TheSubCommander June 7 2013 03:30 PM

Model Painting tip request

I have a couple of old AMT 3-ship Enterprise packs which contain the star ships Enterprise TOS through E. The ships range in size from 2 to 10 inches or there about. The reason they have remained unassembled is because I am a horrible painter. So, they have remained packed away for some 8 years or so.

Anyway, after cleaning out some things, I ran across them again, and thought it might be a good idea to finally assemble them. I decided that the easiest way to paint them is maybe a gold color, like Star Trek FC. The only gold paint I have come across so far at the Ace hardware store doesn't produce a "gold chrome" finish like in FC, just a gold semi metallic flake finish.

I was wondering if anyone has done something similar and if they were able to find a "gold chrome" finish paint, or am I stuck with the gold semi metallic flake?



Albertese June 7 2013 04:03 PM

Re: Model Painting tip request
Mirror-like chrome kinda gold doesn't come from a can. It has to be vacuum deposited by a fancy machine. The best you can do from a can looks like gold with a satin finish, but that polished reflective gold look is unattainable.

Another option is laying down actual metal foil. Lots of craft stores sell a foil material for gold leafing. It's still not as shiny and "polished" looking as the chrome effect on the FC models, but it does shine a bit more than rattlecan gold. On the other hand, it is tricky to use, especially on surface with compound curves like tiny starships. It tend to wrinkle and crack and looks cool for an old-timey "found object" look, but won't probably end up as smooth as you'd want for ships at this scale.

Good luck with your experiments, and, above all, have fun with it!


E-DUB June 7 2013 04:07 PM

Re: Model Painting tip request
Another option is regular old Testors Gold, oversprayed with a clear coat or two to bring up the gloss. Try it out on some scrap plastic first to check for compatibility.

TheSubCommander June 7 2013 04:44 PM

Re: Model Painting tip request
Thank you for your suggestions :)

Sounds like it would be easier for me to just spray paint with a gold paint then a clear coat.

OK This leads to a more subjective question....which shade of gold would be best to use (IE metallic gold flake, Inca gold, etc), and what brand? Is Testor's really best to use, or should I use a paint like Krylon that bonds with plastic?

Thanks again!

137th Gebirg June 7 2013 05:28 PM

Re: Model Painting tip request
IMO, a spray can would be way too heavy-handed for models that small. You'll likely wind up overspraying in parts and getting drops of excess paint killing the detail. You're better off using a double-action airbrush. The paint flow is easier to control and you will get a nicer sheen to the paint than with a spray can. It still won't be chrome-like, but it will be close.

Now, I've been out of the modelling game for a very long time, but I remember back in the 80's and 90's that many metal-colored paints, like silver or gold, particularly by Testors, never fully dries. I remember coming across a model I made almost 20+ years ago of a Hawk fighter/interceptor from Space: 1999. I rubbed my fingers on the engine bells that I painted silver, and the paint actually rubbed off as if it was still relatively fresh. For some reason, it never fully bonded with the plastic like a proper enamel. I don't know if this is still the case, but if you paint something all-metallic, handle it with care, or you might end up getting visible fingerprint markings all over the finish. So, yes, as E-DUB says, give it a nice shot of Testers gloss-cote once it's relatively well-dried. Again, it will never give you a true chrome effect, but it will protect your finished model from touch-damage.

TheSubCommander June 7 2013 08:09 PM

Re: Model Painting tip request
So, in this case it would be better to paint the gold paint with a brush, and then spray with a gloss coat? I don't want to spend extra money on airbrush equipment I will only use once.

Also, is it better to paint before assembly or after? Will the model glue eat the paint?

137th Gebirg June 7 2013 08:35 PM

Re: Model Painting tip request
No brush! You're better off spray painting. Spray painting and air brushing throw down an even layer of paint pigment that uniformly settles on the painted surface. It looks smooth. Brush painting flattens out the pigment and the result is nowhere near as smooth and can, oftentimes, look very mottled and inconsistent. If you're going for a near-chrome look, do NOT use a paint brush.

There are two schools of thought on the time when to paint. I usually paint the parts ahead of time, followed by assembly and touch-up as needed afterwards. Others like to paint once the model is built, but that can sometime add extra effort in the masking of windows and other openings. This can be particularly troublesome if you intend to light the model, like I normally do (hence, painting before assembly). In your case, however, since you plan on painting everything one uniform color, without decals (and I'm assuming without lighting), I would advise painting after assembly.

TheSubCommander June 7 2013 09:35 PM

Re: Model Painting tip request
Thank you I will try that. If Testors is as gooey as you say, is there a better brand to try?

137th Gebirg June 7 2013 09:45 PM

Re: Model Painting tip request
Oh, it's been a long time. IIRC, I got good results using Tamiya paints. Then again, I was using an airbrush. Their acrylic enamels were easy to dilute with water than the oil-based paints with thinner. I do believe, however, that Tamiya has a line of small spray cans that may work better than Testors, although I've never used them myself. Simply judging based on my experience with the brand in other mediums. I believe Testors also has acrylic enamels and, arguably, a more diverse selection of colors than Tamiya, but that could be left to debate. :) Again, my knowledge is a bit dated, and there may have been improvements in paint quality over the years. I would almost recommend trying different types of spray paint on scraps of plastic or cheap throw-away snap-tite models to see what gives you the most closely desired result.

In case you're interested here is some of my work from many years ago. The first one shows the Hawk model I mentioned earlier.

TheSubCommander June 7 2013 10:31 PM

Re: Model Painting tip request
Those are some great examples of modelling 137th! I will comment more, later.

137th Gebirg June 7 2013 10:32 PM

Re: Model Painting tip request
Thankee kindly! :)

And please post your final images once you get your painting situation worked out. Would like to see what you come up with.

TheSubCommander June 8 2013 12:43 AM

Re: Model Painting tip request
Well, I will post if it isn't too badly botched! LOL!

E-DUB June 8 2013 03:42 AM

Re: Model Painting tip request
Again, whatever method you use, check for compatibility by testing on some scrap plastic.

Patrickivan June 8 2013 03:44 AM

Re: Model Painting tip request
Small models will be fine with spray. Just don't cheap out and buy good paint, and lay it on in thin even coats. Too thick and it'll look globby. Globby is a word. I swear. It's the opposite of globtastic.

TheSubCommander June 8 2013 04:37 AM

Re: Model Painting tip request
Edub I do plan on a test run on an plastic.

Patrickivan I was planning on light coats. Do you think a primer coat on ships this small would be a good idea?

137th, as I stated before, I like your ships.

The U.S.S. Richthofen is pretty original, both in design and color. Interesting you used a TOS saucer with a TMP nacelle. Federation ships in other than traditional colors are interesting to me, too. After looking at my thrashed Enterprise A (the larger AMT Star Trek IV version) from when I was in junior high years later (this was circa late 90s) I once pondered what a refit Constitution class would look like in Romulan Warbird colors. I tried but didn't work out so well.

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