Since being reintroduced to this odd hobby about a year ago my basic techniques are changing--for the better I think.
I have turned my attention to try to build "cleaner" this week and have found that some of the things I keep reading in the hobby mags are true:
First: clean all non-chrome parts with soap and water and a toothbrush before doing anything with them. I have read that this removes a "mold release agent" on the parts, and makes paint stick better. I ignored this after reading it about a hundred times but finally saw it (again) in the "tips for advanced modelers" on some AMT instructions--I figured if those AMT ERTL guys thought it was important I'd better do it. I didn't believe it until I tried it, but: it's true. I can't see the release agent, and I can't smell it, but either washing parts helped make the paint go on a lot smoother or it's a placebo. Don't know which....
Second: Prime everything. I have now done a lot of a/b's with primed parts vs. non primed, and primer does seem to help the finished part look more real.
Third: Spray or airbrush everything you can. Brush strokes, no matter how small, give away that you're doing something at scale.
Fourth: Respect drying and recovering times for enamels. Although I use acrylics and lacquers most all the time, enamels have a place in our hobby--I have become a fan of Engine Black Floquil, and Model Masters FS1038 Gloss black as an undercoat for Alclad II, for instance. But don't forget: enamels take a really long time to dry and gas out! And if you need a second coat, put it on right away or wait a week. If you don't the paint you cover the enamel with (Alclad 2 for instance) will mottle and look bad.
This week I tried to follow these tips for the construction of the 55 Gasser frame. ....I think it helped. The frame is looking (for the first time) like some of the pictures that "serious" modelers put in the hobby magazines--maybe? Good for what I do anyway. So will I do this every time? I don't know--I am usually impatient and in a rush so maybe and maybe not. But if I want things to come out looking good I will.
Decoart: In a back issue of Scale Auto Magazine the author recommended checking out the "Dazzling Metalic Elegant Finish" acrylics by Decoart as a substitute for other metallic paints like Alclad.
Always anxious to try new things, I went online and bought a few bottles of the Decoart paint--it was inexpensive, about $2 for a 59ml bottle. Right out of the bottle it's really thick, like white glue almost. So the question is, to airbrush it, what do you use as thinner? The paint is water soluable, but I haven't had a lot of luck using water or soap and water to thin acrylics. Again I turned to Scale Auto Mag, this time their website's forum, where an experienced painter said to try windshield wiper fluid.
Hello? This seems counter intuitive to me: wiper fluid is a disgusting blue color, not good for mixing with paints, right? However, my wife was going to Kragen and I told her to pick me up some windshield wiper washer fluid, and to my surprise she did....the bottom line is: it works great! I mixed up some Decoart metallic gold, copper, and green, added about 50% wiper fluid, and airbrushed it on the springs and shocks for this build, and it looks really good! I wiped off a bit of the paint here and there to make it look "used" as I can't think of a gasser that would ever have pristine leaf springs. I'm pleased with the results. Add this one to the toolbox! It really works!
As I said last time a lot of the parts for this build come from the 51 Henry J, by Revell/Model King, #85-2036. It's a nifty kit, with a lot of (to my eyes) retro looking gasser parts. But it's also a dickens to build--definitely not for 10 year olds. The rear suspension/leaf spring/tie bar setup is 100% how it was done in the 60's from my research, but building it was tricky--you're fighting gravity all the time, and the back end is held up exclusively by the shocks. I ended up using Tenax7R to bind everything together, which is a first for me outside of scratchbuilding. It worked--it cut through the paint so I didn't have to do a lot of scraping and dried quickly but not so quickly that I couldn't position things first.
Another first for me is using Alclad stainless steel on the frame instead of chrome. It looks GREAT--it really does look like stainless! The "normal" Alclad steel is pretty good looking too. In general I tried to use different metallics here and there to give things a more "show" sort of look.
And here's the frame BTW. Looking good, I think anyway. It was lengthened a few scale inches to accommodate the Chevy wheelbase (longer than a Henry J) then finished with Alclad, Decoart, and Floquil paints. I'm not ready for the big time, but at the moment I feel that I'm improving.