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Checkerboards?


Chuckboy44
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Hi All,

Can someone give me some advice or references about painting checkerboards on my Tamiya 1/32nd P-51?

 

I haven't had much success with decals. The nose, vertical fin, wing and horizontal stabilizer tips all need yellow and black checker boarding. I'm guessing that I should mask off and paint the yellow and followup with very careful masking for the black squares?? I don't really know and any comments, advice, suggestions, etc. would be more than welcome!

TIA,

Chuck Byram

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You're on the right track Chuck, in that painting and masking usually gives the best results as compared to hoping that you can get a set of decals to conform around compound curves, provided you have decals.

 

The best way, in my experience, is to cut the squares you need and apply them to the model to mask off the checkerboard areas. This is TEDIOUS, to say the ,least, but also quite effective, and not very difficult.

 

1) Paint your lighter color first (yellow), and while it's drying

2) Find a hard smooth surface, such as a piece of glass, or mirror, or Formica top to use for your cutting. Be sure it's something that will stand up to being scored with a hobby knife or scalpel.

3) Choose your tape! I suggest a wide width of Tamiya tape for most surfaces. However, if you happen to have some compound curves, you might also consider using some 3M plastic tape.

4) Find a good quality ruler, preferably a metal one. Figure out exactly how big each "square" on the model will be. In 1/32 3/8"=1', so a 1'x1' square on the Mustang would be 3/8"x3/8" on the model.

5) Lay a good length of tape down on your surface, but not longer than your ruler. Be sure each end is cut off precisely square to the top and bottom edges. You need 4 90deg corners at each end of your tape strip!

6) Start marking the top of the tape with the width of each square. Take your time, and try to mark as precisely as possible. Do this down the length of the tape for as much as you think you need. Now repeat this process along the bottom edge of the tape. Be sure as you go that the top and bottom marks align vertically, and you don't miscount a measurement.

7) Next, do the same on BOTH ends of the tape, marking the depth of each square down the edges of each end.

8) You now have a "grid" laid out. IF you desire, you can actually draw the lines on the tape if you think it'll help guide you. However, this isn't necessary unless you want to do it.

9) Using the straight edge, align it on the first "tick" mark top and bottom (precisely!) and make a slice vertically through the tape. Move the ruler to the next mark, align top and bottom, and repeat. Do this until the tape has been cut vertically into strips.

10) Turn the ruler horizontally and repeat the process, slicing the length of the tape, for each set of vertical tick marks. You now have a set of tape squares to be applied to the model!

 

11) Apply them to the model one at a time, being careful to align them precisely vertically and horizontally to each other. It helps to sometimes lay a strip of tape at the starting place to help align and space the first rows. REMEMBER THAT YOU'RE MASKING OFF THE YELLOW SQUARES, and leaving blank squares that'll be painted black. It's easy to forget and reverse the pattern when you start!

12) Be sure as you apply the squares that the corner of each one JUST touches the ones it abuts against!

13) As I said, this is tedious, but careful alignment will result in a great looking checkerboard!

14) You can vary this method to do diamonds too!

 

Here's a few I've done using this method...

F-84FThunderstreak.jpg

 

018-2.jpg

 

011-Copy.jpg

 

005-18.jpg

 

100_2110.jpg

 

Hope this helps and best of luck!

 

GIL

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Gil's one of the masters at this, so his advice takes precedence. However, there is a variant method. Paint your light color first. Then cut strips of tape to the width of the squares. Lay down one strip at the end of the field of squares. Then put down a spacer piece of the same width at the beginning and end of the run and then put another stipe parallel to the first abutting the spacers. Repeat across the field removing the spacers as you go. Now do the same 90 degrees from the first, but making sure that the first row is a space, not a stripe. You'll end up with a sort of basket weave. Paint the darker color. When you remove the masking you'll notice that you've only done half the squares needed. We'll, after the paints dry, repeat the masking process off set to get the rest of the squares. This way requires masking twice, but avoids having to cut out and individually place all those little squares. If you have a lot of compound curves, use two thinner strips of tape for each square so you can get them to bend around the curves. Just make sure either they overlap and fill the square or use a third strip for the middle. Just about any way you do it, it's tedious at best.

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Actually, Ron's method is the BEST way to do the checkerboard, especially if you're doing a radial engine cowl. This is because the "squares" actually start getting asymmetric in the first couple of rows where the cowling is curved the most. If you try to use my method there you'll get uneven results! If you use Ron's method, especially utilizing the very thin strips to establish the mask lines (and then fill them in), you'll get asymmetric squares at the front, but they'll all be perfectly even, which is the result you want on a checkerboard.

 

If you have the how to build models book, "F.A.Q.", by Daniel Zamerbide; there's a very good picture tutorial on Ron's method that shows how to checkerboard the cowling on a P-47. This is a GREAT book on building aircraft, though it is a bit pricey ($50-$80 where you can find it used), as it covers just about any and every technique you'll ever need, and almost all in pics with very minimal text.

 

My method works quite works very well on simple, flat surfaces. However, for complex shapes like a radial cowling, or tip tanks, you need to follow Ron's advice for the best results!

 

GIL :smiley16:

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks Gil and Ron! I invested in the FAQ book (model aircraft porn) and between it and your kind advice I have the info I need. Now all I have to do is make it work!

Best, Chuck

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  • 8 months later...

I have finally gotten to the checkerboard stage of this project and much appreciate the advice I've received!

I find the masking to be tedious as expected but not really difficult. I'm having a substantial problem with paint leaking under masking and/or pulling off when masking is removed. Can someone give me some pointers? I don't have this problem with other, less complicated masking...

Thanks in advance for any comments!

Regards,

Chuck

 

"Sometimes the easy stuff looks hard and the hard stuff looks easy!"

-Anonymous

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There's lots of variables that can cause leakage and/or paint removal....

 

As to seepage...

STIFF tape can be hard to make lie down completely over any slightly curved surface resulting in raised spots. Be sure your tape is pliable enough for the job.

CHEAP tape may have poor adhesive, unevenly applied, resulting in spots that don't stick (or stay stuck). Stick to (pun intended) proven reliable brands and don't skimp.

You can simply not pay close enough attention and forget to BURNISH all of the edges down. In other words, be thorough and don't get too rushed.

IF you spray your paint INTO the edges of the masking, you're more likely to get seepage under an edge. Spray vertically or slightly away from the masking edges.

Apply less paint. Heavy applications and "wet coats" increase the odds of seepage.

 

As to pulling up paint...

The tape has too much adhesive. Use a LOW tack tape such a Tamiya, Sherwin Williams Yellow, Drafting tape, or 3M low tack BLUE painter's tape for walls. Again, don't skimp on quality here.

You're taking the tape off by lifting STRAIGHT UP. Instead, PEEL IT BACK on itself as you remove it so there's less vertical pull on the surface.

Poor paint adhesion due to unclean plastic surfaces. Use a plastic prep, alcohol, or warm soap/water (and rinse/air dry) to be sure all mold release agents are gone.

Paint not completely cured. "Dry to the touch" may not be dry enough to mask over. Use good judgement and be patient when needed.

 

Those are just some of the variables....hope this helps!

 

GIL :smiley16:

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As far as masking tape goes, I've had really good results with Great Planes striping tape. Its a vinyl tape that is extremely thin and flexible, so it pulls down to the surface with minimal effort. So far I have had zero bleed-under problems using that tape. You still need to allow the paint to fully cure, like Gil said, before putting any masking tape on it. I generally wait about 48 hours before masking on any fresh paint. I also recently experimented with a new primer mixing technique to get your primer coat to bond really well to the plastic. I had been using the Testor's spray can lacquer primers, but I found that spray cans cause paint layers to get way too thick, way too quickly. What I use now is Mr. Hobby's Mr. Surfacer 1200, and instead of using their lacquer thinner, I have started using MEK to thin it. MEK is really nasty stuff, so make sure not to let any get on your skin...you can protect your hands with latex gloves. Don't use vinyl gloves, the MEK will immediately melt them...but it doesn't do much of anything to latex. Also, if you use this primer method, it is for airbrush only. Any other application method will result in the MEK taking too long to evaporate, and it will eat your model. With the light coats from an airbrush, even the finest details on the surface won't be harmed. Just be sure to use good judgment and make sure you have good ventilation. That primer mix is ready for painting/masking in 2 hours, and I found in my experimentation that not even Dymo tape could pull it off the plastic (I deliberately stuck some on a long, flat surface that I had primed, knowing how strong the adhesive is. Ripped it straight up, and not a single speck of primer lifted.). Other, traditional paint layers though will take much longer to cure before you can mask. Haven't gotten an exact time on that, but I've found that 48 hours is usually safe.

 

Eagle

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Thanks Gil and Eagle!

I have done several more practice runs since this posting. I do use Tamiya (regular and flexible) and Blue-tac tapes.

Taking Gil's advice, I've been spending more time burnishing the tape and that's pretty much eliminated the problems at the edges of the checkers. Now I have to solve the problem of the second layer of tape when using Ron Bell's "Basket Weave" technique. Now I'm pulling up paint from the first layer of checks when removing tape from the second layer.

At this point I'm thinking about Eagle's remarks about 48 hours between coats and giving thought to different primers and paints. I'm having fun with the practice runs and know I'll get to where I need to be at some point. Many thanks again for your help and advice!

Chuck

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I have finally gotten to the checkerboard stage of this project and much appreciate the advice I've received!

I find the masking to be tedious as expected but not really difficult. I'm having a substantial problem with paint leaking under masking and/or pulling off when masking is removed. Can someone give me some pointers? I don't have this problem with other, less complicated masking...

Thanks in advance for any comments!

Regards,

Chuck

 

"Sometimes the easy stuff looks hard and the hard stuff looks easy!"

-Anonymous

Maybe too late, but one thing to do is after you have your first color down, hit it with a coat of clear. Then burnish your tape squares down.

If the clear coat is something like Future (or whatever it's called nowadays) and any gets underneath the tape you can pick the stray paint off with a tooth pick and you won't ruin the first lighter coat.

From doing a lot of Figures I now hit any model after each step or two with a clear coat. This way if I botch the next step I won't accidentally take the paint down to the primer coat (or raw plastic) with the use of a clear coat in-between steps.

HTH

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