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Model Car Feathering Tips And Tricks

Jul 31, 2008
Have you ever noticed a model car on which the paint job just seems to fade from one color to the next? This is what is known as feathering. Rather than having a sharp line between colors they have differing degrees of a fade depending on the look that is desired.

When feathering a model car it can be very hard to achieve the scale that is seen in show vehicles. Most models will have very sharp lines between their colors. This means they were most likely painted by hand. Even the airbrushed ones can appear different from their real world counter part due to the scale of the feathering being off. The easiest way to remember proper scale is that if a model car has a one inch feathering and you are working on a 1/32 car then your feather would have to be 1/32.

You could just paint your model car but you know that a bit of feathering can make the difference between looking good and looking great. Now, how do you get it just right? With the right trick you can get exactly the amount of feathering that you want. One thing you will learn as you paint more and more of your own models is that the closer your mask is to the car the less feathering you will get in the paint job. The secret to getting the perfect mask is to get your mask close enough to the model yet not too close. You absolutely must also maintain that distance consistently.

The best methods to get this mask is to use Frisket Paper. This is a special paper that is transparent and has been prepared so that it can be used to protect artwork from damage if an artist needs to work on other sections. If you do not have access to Frisket Paper then you can use a thin sheet of paraffin wax just as well. Cut the shape you are attempting to cover out of the paper or wax. Then you take a piece of fishing line and apply it to the back side of the paper or wax near the edge to receive the feathering. If you need to you can use a toothpick to make sure you reach the right distance.

If you are looking to add a very small bit of feathering then you will probably want to place the line about 1/16th of an inch away from the edge of your masking material. This will give the paint a small but noticeable feather. By holding the mask just above the surface of your model car the fishing line allows a small bit of paint to overlap your other paint job. If you want to increase or decrease the amount of mask all you have to do is to use a heaver or lighter fishing line. This will also allow you to achieve a paint scheme for your model car that is much closer to scale than what it would have been.

One thing you will want to do is to insure that your fishing line is far away from the edge of the mask medium. If the paint can reach the fishing line you will end up with a hard line... the very thing you were trying to avoid in the first place. It may take a bit of trial and error but you will soon be feathering like a pro. Once you go to remove your masking medium just take your time and be easy about it so that you don't inadvertently remove paint as well.
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 classic model cars, model trains, and model trucks.
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