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"the mad modeler"'s Journals
Prep/Primer/Colorcoating & Clear:
Whether you've done major body modifications, or just need a good surface cleaning and line distinction, a solid primer coat and an absolutely flawless surface is a necessity before any colorwork. Logic dictates that the finish of a project can only be as good as what lies underneath the paint, so making sure the body is smooth, any mold lines or casting "ghost" shadows are gone, and each and every angle of the body is exactly how you want it to look is the very first step, and this takes t-i-m-e to do. Something to bear in mind here, the process of airbrushing a 25th scale body is exactly the same as doing a 1-1 scale car, but remember that a flaw at this small scale will show 25 times as easy! On an imperfect body, all paint will do is telegraph all the imperfections, so it needs to be done under bright light and if the ol' eyes are starting to give a little, under magnification! The majority of the time, that first light "primer" mist coat is nothing more than a very good flaw detector that will show all those little frustrating nicks & scratches you didn't catch before, so it's usually back to the sanding blocks that first go around anyway! Also bear in mind that if you're wanting to finish up with a light color, or minimal color pigmentation saturation, use a white or light grey primer. Same serves for a black primer for darker, richer colors. Once you've gotten the body absolutely flawless and exactly the way you want it, it's time to get the final primers laid on, watching as they dry for any flaws, and definitely catch those before the next coat. Primer serves several functions. It not only seals and gives a perfect way to level the plastic, but it also forms a smooth, even surface for the paint to flow onto- and stick to. Of course, you always want to make sure your primer is suitable for the basecoat colors you're using, for instance- you can use a laquer base primer and apply acrylics or enamel based paints over it, but never spray an enamel or acrylic primer and try shooting laquer on top. Laquer's way too hot and it's nothing short of disasterous!
Do primer coats need to be wetsanded in between? If they've gone on relatively smooth and booger free I've never been convinced they do. Remember though, the last shot of primer will be the "base" for the colorcoats, so it being perfectly smooth is an absolute must. 3 coats seem to be sufficient, just be careful to not get it laying too thick. After primer is sufficiently dried, I recommend taking a toothpick, panel scriber, or the back of a #11 xacto...if you're brave enough, and gently push it through any "hard" lines in the body- for instance around window frames, body line breaks, etc. to retain that clean hard seperation and the sharp lines. Sure will make applying any foils or whatever much easier in the end as well. I like to wetsand with 1000 grit paper to finish and smooth the final primer surface. If you like gritting up above 1000 grit then do, I just think it's overkill. You don't want it so "slick" that the paint won't have much to hang on to, just smooth enough to give paint something to bite to and flow onto smoothly. Once you've spent the time to get this far, take a long hard look at the body and make sure there are no imperfections of any kind anywhere, that it's wetsanded very smoothly, then it's on to the fun stuff- so let's break out the body colors!