My name is Mike Tellez, and I have been building and painting model cars and trucks for about 15 years. I have been known as a professional modeler for more than nine years and have had my share of awards and magazine coverage in publications such as Lowrider Bicycle, Scale Auto, Model Car, Low Life and more. I have had my share of fame and recognition, but remain humble and continue to build and enter contests. In my years of building and painting, I have won more than 350 awards–two-thirds of which have been for Best Paint and Best of Show.
With that in mind, I decided to write this report on paint, prep and award-winning finishes! Also, you will learn how to lay down solid colors, flakes, pearls, pearl metallics, two-tones, candies, chameleons and much more. You will also learn the difference between lacquers and urethanes (the pros and cons of both products); secrets that the pros would like keep to themselves and not share with anyone else! If you think that you know it all about painting your models, well, you’re in for a big surprise.
I will tell you everything that you need to know about how to achieve award-winning paint jobs that others will drool over! Many years of hard work and trial and error went into this report. Another thing to think about, if you were to send your model out to get painted by a pro, he’s going to charge you a minimum of $350-$500. With my report you have already saved a lot of money, not to mention being able to accept all of the glory for yourself.
Step 1: Deciding What Paint To Use: The Pros And Cons
First, select what type of paint you want to use: acrylic lacquer, urethane or enamel. I have always used urethanes (House of Kolor, DuPont, PPG, etc.). Urethane is a very flexible paint and if you happen to mess up the paint job all you have to do (when it completely dries) is peel off the paint in strips. With lacquers and enamels you can’t do that. If you use lacquer or enamel you have to chemically strip off the paint. I suggest that you go to your local auto parts store like Pep Boys, Wal-Mart or something similar and purchase a jug of Castro Super Klean degreaser and a big enough plastic container to hold your model. Put your model in the plastic container and pour in the degreaser until the fluid covers the body. Leave it soaking for three to seven days. You can physically cover the plastic container to keep down the smell of fumes.
It takes a while, but it does work and it’s the safest way to strip paint off of your model without doing any damage to the body itself. Remember: Urethane paints take 24-48 hours to dry completely. Just because it feels dry doesn’t mean that it is. The paint is still very flexible and needs to expand in order to completely dry and allow it to be handled. If you handle it before it dries completely, you’ll put a big fingerprint indent into the paint and you’ll have to color sand and start over again.
Lacquers dry very quickly, sometimes within two or three hours depending on the weather conditions. Weather is very important when painting. If it’s humid and wet, the dry time can almost double. The hotter and drier the weather is the better. Warning: If you decide to use acrylic lacquers, stick with a lacquer product line! From the primer, paint and clearcoat, never mix lacquer and urethane paint together.
It’s like fire and water; you will kill the process. Even though you can shoot a urethane clearcoat over a lacquer paint job, you cannot shoot a lacquer clearcoat over a urethane product. Lacquer clear coat will “eat” the urethane in a heartbeat. A urethane product will go over anything and not cause any damage, even on enamel. Remember, lacquer clear can only go over a lacquer-based paint.
Most auto paint stores that specialize in custom auto paints carry acrylic lacquer and urethane paints. Also, they will tell you what product line to use for your project, and they’ll also tell you the mixture ratio for each paint product. For instance the House of Kolor Kandy Concentrate mixing ratio for urethane is 4:1:1. That is four parts clear to one part Kandy color to one part hardener. Lacquers are usually 1:1 or 2:1, one part paint to one part acrylic lacquer thinner med-temp only! Remember to ask your paint supplier for the right lacquer thinner for lacquer paints, also for urethanes and write down everything especially the mixing ratios that your paint supplier will tell you.
For paint suppliers look in the yellow pages of your local phone book under “auto paint supplies” or see the reference for Black Gold at the end of this story for their listing. You can also get a catalog with an order that you place with them. They carry a huge selection of acrylic lacquers, urethanes, pearls, pearl metallics, ice pearls, powders, chameleon paint and much more; call them. Remember, most pro builders will not give you that information, especially the mixing ratios.
Step 2: The Prep Process
Once you have decided which model will be your masterpiece, now it is time to pick the parts from the kit that will be painted. First remove all parts off of the part tree of the model kit, like the hood, chassis, engine block, etc., etc. Once you have done that remove all mold lines from the body. Start with a #600 grit sandpaper then #800, and finally #1000 grit. Then, take your parts to the sink and remove all of the mold release and hand grease and any oils. I always use Ultra Dawn Dish Liquid because it’s the best in removing all grease and oil. Completely rinse all parts with water and dry with a soft towel, then if you have an air compressor blow off the excess water from tight areas of your parts until completely dry. This removes any lint and dust from the parts.
Mount your smaller parts correctly. I usually glue them to a round toothpick and use a foam board or upside-down foam plate to hold my parts. I use an empty, rinsed-out, soda can with masking tape rolled so that it sticks to the top of the inside of the body and to the top of the can itself.
Now you’re ready for the primer stage. Try to always use lacquer primer, and you can purchase lacquer primer from your local auto paint store. First, dip the primer can in a bucket of medium to medium-hot water (not hot because the paint can “blow up” under hot pressure!!) for about 10 minutes; this process will break down the primer contents into a fine mist.
Now, when the primer is nice and warm, shake the can for two minutes then spray your parts at least 6-8 inches away. Begin spraying away from your part and use back and forth motions, never start or end spraying in the center of your parts.
Begin with a light mist coat then let it dry for 15 minutes. Your second coat will be the cover coat. Do not lay on the primer too heavy because you will loose a lot of body definition. Caution: Always spray in a well-ventilated area, not in your bedroom like some boneheads I know! Lacquer primer vapors are very strong so please be careful. Use a painter’s mask. You can pick one up at your local auto paint store, hardware store or at a Home Depot center. Remember, you get what you pay for, so buy a good one.
It’s a good idea if you have a place to put your parts into once you finish each painting process so that no dust can fall on your parts. I use an old (not working), big microwave oven. Please do not use your household microwave or conventional oven.
Step 3: Time To Paint
Now that you have made the hardest decision, deciding what type of paint to use (acrylic lacquer, urethane or enamel) the hard part is over. Let’s start with acrylic lacquers. Most acrylic lacquers have to be thinned down so that you can shoot it through your airbrush gun; some paints have to be thinned down 100 or 200-percent, or in other words 1:1 (one part paint to one part thinner) or 2:1 (one part paint to two parts thinner). Note: Always use acrylic lacquer thinner med temp!
First, lay down your lacquer primer and wait at least 30 minutes to dry. Next, you have to decide if you want a solid color, pearl metallic or a candy. Then, using the same spray techniques explained in the priming process simply lay down the paint, wait 30 minutes to one-hour dry time, and finally shoot your clearcoat.
Well, that’s just some of the information that I have learned in 15 years of painting. I hope that you can use this information to your advantage to in your model building. Good luck and take your time. If you have any questions regarding anything on this report you can email me at MTellez99@aol.com.