How to Brush Paint Scale Models

Hey Owen here and this is my guide to
brush painting scale models. Brushes are available in a range of natural and
synthetic hairs. I’m going to generalize things to keep it simple. Natural hairs
are generally used for oil paint and watercolor paint, and a more expensive
depending on the quality of the hair used in the brush. They can be prone to
damage and do not work well with acrylic paint because the pH of acrylic paint is
the opposite to that of the natural hairs.
Synthetic brushes – which I prefer to use – are cheaper and more durable than natural hairs and can be used with oil, watercolor and acrylic paint. Like
natural hair, there are different qualities of the synthetic hair.
I prefer artists synthetic brushes from manufacturers such as ‘Royal and
Langnickel’, ‘Winsor Newton’ and ‘Pro Arte’. It’s important to have a range of sizes
of brushes from very fine to quite wide. For painting models I find that stiffer
bristles are better. You can test your brushes by leaving them in water for a
minute, and then if you bend the bristles like so, you can see which bounce back.
The left brush and middle brush would be appropriate for watercolor, but only the
one on the right would be useful for painting models. Before using your paint,
make sure you stir it well for at least 30 seconds. I use a matchstick to do this.
This makes sure that the paint pigment, binder and liquid is fully mixed. Once it has
been stirred you can check the consistency of the paint. Straight out of
the pot the paint will be too thick and your brush will leave stroke marks when
you try and paint with it. You want the paint to be roughly the consistency of
milk, as they say. I find that a ratio of one part thinner to
six or seven parts paint is usually good, although the amount of paint could
be reduced if you want it to be thinner, or if the paint out of the pot is
really thick. Sometimes, for example, I use a one part thinner to four parts paint
ratio. Here I have a one part thinner to one part paint ratio and this is very
thin and basically a wash. Acrylic paint should be thinned with water or acrylic
thinners, and enamel paint should be thinned with enamel thinners or white
spirit. Turpentine could also be used but it is not as refined as white spirit.
Enamel paints will get you a better finish than acrylic, as enamels will take
longer to dry so the paint has more time to spread on the surface. This
reduces visible brushstrokes. I usually leave enamel paint to dry overnight so
I’m sure that it is dried and cured properly. Before you start I recommend
washing the sprue in warm soapy water with a splash of vinegar, as this removes
any residue from the mould that might stop the paint from sticking. I find I
never need to use primer, however, if you want to use primer then this step can be
avoided. Small parts are more easily painted on the sprue, but sometimes I
find it’s better to cut them off and make little Blu-tack handles for them so
they’re easier to hold while I paint them. Always thin your paint to roughly
one part thinners to seven parts paint. This makes the paint easier to apply and
again reduces visible brushstrokes. However, it will increase the drying and
curing time of the paint. Apply at least three to four thin coats of paint, never
one or two thicker coats as the thicker paint will leave brushstrokes and
possibly cover up detail in the moulding. Use the largest brush you can on a
surface as this will reduce visible brushstrokes. I use a two centimeter wide brush on
large areas of my 1/72 scale models but you may want one even wider
for larger scales. Try and brush in all the same direction for each coat, so from
the nose of the plane to the tail, or from the top of the tank or ship to the
bottom. You can alternate the direction of the brush strokes with each coat
to get a more even coverage. When using masking tape, paint away from the masking tape to stop the paint building up against it and leaving a ridge when you
remove the tape. I recommend Tamia masking tape for use
on scale models. Painting very small details can be difficult. To make it
easier I secure the model or part in place on the table, then, because I’m
right-handed, I rest my left hand palm up on the table. I then rest my right hand
in my left hand so now when I paint I can steady my right hand.
This makes painting a lot more accurate and easier. It’s very important to look
after your brushes. After painting with acrylics I’ll rinse the brush in water
to remove as much paint as possible, then gently rub some soap into the bristles
and then rinse the brush again. I’ll then form the bristles back into a point by
either rolling the brush or using my fingers and leave it to dry upright in a
jar. For enamel paints I’ll rinse them in white spirit first and then repeat all
the steps I’ve already mentioned. So I hope you found this video useful and
informative, feel free to check out my other videos on ‘paint types for scale
modellers’ and also ’25 tips scale for modellers’ to which there are links in the
description and in the cards. Thank you for watching this video and I’ll see you
next time.

About the Author: Michael Flood

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