FineScale Modeler: Modeling FAQ

What is/are...

An injection-molded kit?
If you have ever built a plastic kit, it was probably an injection-molded one. The parts are formed in plastic that are attached to frames known as sprues. After removing the parts from the sprues, you put the kit together as a three-dimensional puzzle, helped by detailed instructions. Plastic parts are glued together with plastic cements such as the tried-and-true tube glue, liquid cements, superglues, or epoxies.

A vacuum-formed kit?
Like an injection-molded kit, these have highly detailed parts made from plastic. But vacuum-formed kit parts are heat-pressed into sheets of styrene plastic. Each part must be cut from the sheet, the edges of the parts must be sanded, and a few other special steps must be introduced to the building process to get these kits together. A vacuum-formed kit can be assembled with plastic cements, super glues, or epoxies. They usually are not for beginners, but often may be the only kits available of certain subjects. You should have a couple of years of experience with injection-molded kits before trying one of these.

A resin kit?
Instead of being molded with hot plastic as injection-molded and vacuum-formed kits are, resin kits are made from liquid resins poured into silicone rubber molds. The liquid resin sets after a few minutes, and the molds are separated to release the parts. Resin kits usually are of subjects that are not available in injection-molded kits, and they can be expensive. You must use super glue or epoxy to build resin kits.

High-tech kits?
A kit that contains detail parts made of die-cast or photoetched metal usually fall into the realm of the "high-tech" kit. Experience usually is needed to put these kits together.

Dry-brushing?
Dry-brushing is a method to subtly accentuate the high points on the surface of a model and create the illusion of depth. After dipping a flat brush into a light-colored model paint, the modeler wipes almost all of the paint onto a clean rag. The remaining "dry" pigment on the brush is wiped onto the raised details of the model.

Dry transfers?
Specially made "dry-transfer" or "rub-on" decals can be used on models. Rather than the typical "water-slide" decals, dry-transfer markings are self-adhesive ink images released from plastic sheets.

Wash?
A wash is an application of a thin, dark color to emphasize deep corners and recesses of a model's surface. As the wash dries, the dark pigment settles into the crevices, embellishing the shadows and producing a "deep" appearance.

Weathering?
Weathering is simulating the effects of weather, wear and tear, combat, or mishaps on a model. Modelers can produce these effects with paint, thinned-paint washes, dry-brushing, pastels, and airbrushing. To simulate damage, less subtle devices such as drills, grinders, and heated blades can be employed.

Modeling materials

What kind of paints should I use on a scale model?
Several brands are available, usually in hobby shops. Enamels are oil-based paints and they require paint thinner to thin and clean up. Enamels are easy to apply and come in a wide assortment of colors. Enamels also are available in spray cans, many matching bottled paints in the same line. Water-based acrylic hobby paints are becoming more popular. They are more difficult to airbrush, but they are less toxic than enamels. Most acrylics are thinned and clean up with water.

What kind of cement should I use?
Most plastic kits can be built with tube or liquid-type plastic cements. Super glues (also known as CA for cyanoacrylate) and epoxies also can be used on plastic kits, and will work with other materials such as resin, metal, and wood.

How can I use super glue on my models?
Super glue can be used to put kits together, and gap-filling super glues (thick formulas) can be used to fill seams and depressions. Cured super glue can be sanded and polished just like plastic.

What is RTV and what is it used for?
RTV stands for room-temperature vulcanizing mold material, usually made from silicone "rubber." Resin kits and detail parts usually are made in RTV molds. Modelers can purchase RTV to make molds to produce resin or metal castings.

How can I learn more about modeling?
Read FineScale Modeler magazine. To subscribe to FineScale Modeler, Click Here.


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