Sunday 30 August 2015

AC130H - Good vs. bad tape jobs

There are 2 important things to remember when using masking tape. If you forget these, you will end up with paint creeping underneath the tape, possibly ruining an up-to-than immaculate paintjob. Touching up with a paintbrush afterwards does not always yield invisible results and you end up with a blemish that will haunt you for the rest of your life. Well, maybe not THAT long, but we'd like to avoid them anyway.

During my current build, I didn't always pay enough attention. So here it goes again, as a reminder.

1. Burnishing

Basically, you'll want to pay extra attention alongside the edge of the tape and press it down really firm against the surface. When the surface is flat, that's usually easy to accomplish. When going around corners or raised/lowered surface detail, it can be (a lot) harder.
You can use your finger, or specially shaped (metal) tools with rounded tips in various sizes. (or a simple q-tip, but those tend to leave little cotton strands behind, if it's the cheap kind)

For the red stripe in the interior, I completely forget to pay attention and the result is seen in the picture below it. Luckily, because it's inside the model, you will never see where I had to touch up with a brush.

The cockpit canopy however, is a high-visibility detail, so I paid extra attention. As I cut the tape in place on the canopy itself, the knife provided all the needed pressure for making sure the tape was firmly pressed against the plastic. But still I wasn't going to risk anything, leading me to the next tip.

2. Varnishing

It's not like this is a little-known secret, but I've met no small number of (beginning) modellers that considered this easy tip a real eye-opener.

Not only for clear parts - but especially true in this case - it pays to start painting around the masking tape with a layer of (matte) varnish. Make sure you're spraying the clear coat from all directions, at roughly a 45-degree angle against the edge of the tape (low pressure, not too close, we do not want to blow away the tape). This way, a tiny ridge is built up against the tape and even IF paint creeps underneath, at least it's transparent.

A side-benefit on clear parts like this, is that the varnish acts a bit as a primer, easing the application of the next coat of paint. You do not want to use black primer, because when you remove the tape afterwards, you will see a small - but clearly visible - line of the black paint underneath the blue-grey.

Above, a picture taken from the inside of the canopy, proving no paint has crept under the tape.

As an extra illustration, I used the same method when painting the blue stripe on the Mustang. It prevents a lot of swearing and repainting.


  1. It can certainly be the deciding factor in s great job and a poor one. I have also sprayed either a cover of the paint colour I'm masking over,or use a light dust of clear to seal the tape and this stops the bleeding.

  2. Yeah, you are right "burnishing" its good to, not forget that.....I too learned the hard way