Sunday, 9 December 2012

Liquid masking - 3 options tested

There are many ways to do your masking. The easiest is masking tape (I use Tamiya), but what to do when the shape you're trying to mask is not a straight line, but curvy, like many camouflage schemes. The Jaguar has a very nice camouflage scheme, but because of the many curves and because the model is really small, masking tape is not an option.

The next step would be stencils. You can draw the desired scheme on paper, cut it out and hold it against your model while painting. You can even try low-adhesive glue (from a spray can) to keep it in place. Again, because of the small size and the 3-dimensionality of the model, stencils are a no go.

(I'll get back to masking with paper when I start painting the Enterprise, but that might not be for the immediate future)

Unavoidably, you end looking at liquid masking. I decided the try 3 different kinds :
  • Latex
  • Vallejo liquid mask
  • Silly putty
There are, no doubt, more alternatives, like Humbrol Maskol - which I assume to be very much like the Vallejo product - and others.
When applying the liquid mask, make sure the layer is thick enough. If it's too thin, it'll tear when trying to remove it, making it hard to get every last bit of it, without damaging your model with toothpicks or other tools.

Latex
In the past, I succesfully used latex to mask axles and wheels to prevent them from being painted. This time it's different, because the latex is applied on top of a layer of paint and might damage it. 
(Once, I also used Latex to make a mould of a part, to repair damage to an old kit : more here)

Pro :
  • Easily applied with a brush
  • It adheres to itself very strongly, so it doesn't tear when being removed. This means you can get it in really small corners or panel lines and it's still easily removed without leaving traces.
Con :
  • It smells really nasty
Unknown : 
  • will it pull up the paint beneath it, when I try to remove it?
Latex applied to the bottom and lower sides of the Jaguar
Vallejo liquid mask (#523)
This is a product intended exactly for this purpose. The bottle I got had a big blob of dry goo in it, that had to be removed. Maybe it has en expiration date and my bottle is rather old?

Pro :
  • It smells a lot less pungent
  • It applies easily to the model straight from the bottle or with a brush
Con :
  • It's quite runny and tends to move a bit (not much), slightly changing the shape of the camouflage I created with it.
    To avoid this, I could apply it less thick and apply more when it starts to dry.
  • I tested it beforehand on a discarded CD and on a piece of sprue. In both cases, it was impossible to remove in one piece. In a tight spot, sharp tools are needed to get it out, which could damage your model.
    (I'll do a second test, where I'll let it dry 24 hours, but I'm not hopefull)
Unknown :
  • Will it remove easily enough and not harm the underlying paint?
Vallejo liquid mask on the tail of the Jaguar
Silly putty
I got a batch of silly putty from Amazon (UK) and had it delivered in the UK to a friend, who brought it with her on her next visit to Belgium. This was the only alternative I found in Europe NOT to pay $30 shipping. The silly stuff only costs $2, so no way am I paying insane shipping costs!

Pro :
  • It's very malleable and will accept any shape you push it in. Easily pushes into nooks and crannies and - so far - it seems it is as easily removed as well.
  • It doesn't become dry and hard, like normal putty, clay or plasticine. Those materials dry out, causing them to break when handled afterwards and leaving behind trace material in panel lines and small corners.
  • Fun the play with :-)
Con :
  • It takes a LOT longer to apply compared to the liquid masks, since they can be brushed on, directly in the desired shape. You'll need a spatula or the likes to burnish it down.
Silly putty, covering the top of the wings and cockpit
Once all of the masks are dry, I'll airbrush the next layer of paint. Then we'll find out which of the 3 creates sharp masking lines, which is easily removed, which damages the underlying paint and maybe more. We'll know more in a couple of days.

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