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Model Car Airbrushing Versus Hand Painting

Jul 31, 2008
You love to assemble model cars. It has become a favored pastime. You have even decided to display your completed cars where everyone can enjoy them. You are just having one issue. You cannot decide whether you should show your hand painted cars or your airbrushed ones. While one set has a lot of love and dedication in it the other showcases your skill and technique. So how do you know which is better, airbrushed or hand painted? Much of your answer will depend on exactly who you ask. Some expert modelers will tell you that hand painting is the hardest technique to master while others will say the same thing about airbrushing. The best way to decide is to look at the pros and the cons to both and decide for yourself.

People have been hand painting model cars for many long years. As the only method of adding color to their otherwise monochromatic models hand painting was the only choice that was available for most. Airbrushing was something that only body shop owners had the means to accomplish. Home airbrush kits were not made available for some time. So, they learned to do with what they had. From a bland beginning hand painted models soon became very beautiful works of art. With experience came better techniques and greater detail. Those who have been painting their model cars for some time now can apply a paint job that will easily rival any that would be available commercially for a full size car.

One drawback to hand painting is the time it takes. You must apply a bit of paint and wait for what seems like forever. Slowly building layer upon layer could take quite a bit of time. Some strokes such as feathering can seem almost impossible to those who do not have the skill. An upside to hand painting however is the easy at which you can paint small parts without having to worry about spreading the paint around where you don't want it.

Airbrushing is the new kid on the block relatively speaking. Home airbrush kits have only been available for a short time considering the age of the model car building hobby itself. At first the kits were extremely expensive and had to be special ordered. Paints were difficult to work with and as the methods of using airbrushing was relatively unknown there was a very steep learning curve. Modelers soon began picking up the pace however when they figured out the upsides to airbrushing.

One of these is the reduced drying time. When you airbrush your model car now it takes very little time to dry due to the small amount of paint that you are able to put down. This allows model builders to add layer after layer both quickly and efficiently. An airbrush is also very consistent with the amount of paint you are applying. The amount of control you have over your techniques is very handy as well. You can feather like a pro once you practice a bit and you can add most any detail you want.

Whether to airbrush or hand paint model cars is something that will continue to be debated as time goes on. Many people will choose sides just as many people will defect from one camp to the other. As to which method is right for you is something you will have to find out for yourself.
About the Author
Victor Epand is an expert consultant for model cars, model trains, and model trucks. You will find excellent hobbying and trading resources here for model car kits, model trains, and model trucks.
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