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Masking Basics :

When it comes to painting your model, learning to mask correctly is extremely important. A lot of older kits (and even newer ones depending on the kit) can be molded in single colour plastic only and if you are air brushing or using spray cans, masking becomes an essential step in the painting process.

In this tutorial, I will demonstrate the basics of masking where the larger areas are masked to allow for a smaller area to be sprayed a different colour.

What you need :

  1. Masking tape - in this case Tamiya brand made for models.
  2. The piece you wish to mask - in this case the head from the 1/288 Agguguy.
  3. Skewer - this one is like you would use in cooking. A toothpick is another alternative.
  4. Hobby knife with a new blade - No. 11 blade is ideal.
  5. Tweezers (not pictured).

Step 1 :

Cut a piece of masking tape from the roll at a size that is suitable for handling and apply it onto the model where you wish to mask it. Make sure that the tape overlaps the line where the mask will start - you will see why this is important in the next steps.

Step 2 :

Take your skewer and gently but firmly rub it along the edge that the mask will start. Doing this helps ensure that the mask seals correctly and paint wont bleed underneath onto the kit where you don't want the paint to be.

This is what it looks like now that I have used the skewer to seal the tape.

Step 3 :

Now take your knife (make sure you use a new blade as older ones, while seemly sharp, can be slightly dull in places and cause the masking tape to grab and tear rather than be sliced away.

Begin the cut just past the starting edge and cut past the other end of the tape. Once that is done, return back to the start and cut in the opposite direction and go past the end of the tape. Doing this limits the chance of the edge of the tape gripping the blade and bunching up.

Step 4 :

Now that the tape has been cut with the blade, gently peel the tape away from the side that you wish to paint - in this case the inner visor area. Tweezers can help at this point if you can't grip the tape with your finger.

Step 5 :

Take your skewer again and rub it against the same edge that you rubbed it against before. Doing this ensures that the mask is sealed and hasn't lifted any when you were removing the cut tape.

Step 6 :

Continue on masking until everything you don't want painted is covered and all you can see is the part you want to paint.

Step 7 :

Paint the piece in the colour you want - I have used black here for the internal visor.

Step 8 :

Once the paint is dry enough to handle, remove the tape. Carefully peel back an edge of a section of tape using the hobby knife (be careful not to scratch the kit though!). This will give you something to start the removal process with.

Step 9 :

Tweezers can help here again. Grab the tape and slowly peel it away being careful not to pull the tape too hard or fast as there is a chance that it can lift the paint underneath. Repeat the process until all of the tape has been removed.

After removing the tape, inspect the edges to make sure no paint has bled through (it does happen every now and again - even to the experts). If there is any bleed throughs, just touch them up by a little handbrushing.

And here is the final product of the masking :

If you wish to see a demonstration of the procedure, below is a video tutorial that you can watch and see how I do it :

Masking is an essential skill to have under your belt when it comes to painting your kits and it does take a little time to learn how to get a perfect mask (I still can't get a perfect one everytime like I wish I could!) so like everything to do with modelling, practice makes perfect - the more you do it the better you will become.