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Tell Me WHY ?


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Hey Guys ( Newbie Here )

As a very new member of the modeling class.

I'm very interested in SILVER coated airplanes.

i.e. P-51 Mustang,B-25 Bomber.etc,ect.

My Question:

Why is it that I've read when spraying silver paint onto your model.You must spray Black GLOSS first after your primer base then spray your silver onto your airplane model


Can you guys tell me WHY Zthe BLACK GLOSS before the SILVER PAINT goes on ?

THANKS GUYS 4 always helping me out.



IPMS # 50394

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Well, certain types of paints - Alclad, for example - require it. I think there are two reasons.

  1. Gloss paint is smoother.
  2. The black makes the silver pop more - especially things like chrome. I've also heard folks using dark blues as well to get a slightly different effect. Its possible that Alclad works its way into the enamel paint or interacts with it in some way. And it has to be enamel, if you try this with lacquer gloss black, you'll ruin the kit.


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Ray: First, understand that there are TWO types of silver paint


1) Regular silver PAINT, which is just that, a paint the COLOR of silver or aluminum. It is only meant to replicate the color, and NOT look like "metal". Those types of paints do NOT need any sort of undercoating of any color. They can be applied directly over bare plastic or another color (IF that previous color is COMPLETELY dry AND you apply it in a thin coat).


2) METALLICS- these are paints that are designed to replicate BOTH the color and the smooth surface of metal so that the model looks like it's skinned with aluminum or some other type of metal. Almost all of the paints must be sprayed on. They're usually sprayed on in "mist" coats instead of applying them in one heavy, "wet" coat. This means they go on in very thin layers, which allows any color under it to affect the tint of the metallic color being applied. The more metallic color you mist on, the less the base color shows and the less it "tints" the color being applied.


The base color, or primer color, MUST be GLASS smooth, as silver finishes show even the tiniest of scratches. Gloss primers work better here because the go on much smoother than flat primers.


A gloss black primer coat is recommended more than other colors because silver and aluminum metallic paints show off their true color AND are brightest over black. You do not HAVE to use black, but it's the color that helps your silver to "pop" the easiest. Other colors like dark blue, red, purple, and dark gray can be used to give the same bottle of "aluminum" slightly different variations in tone, which is the way a real plane looks when you study the various panels (an advanced technique).


There are two metallic paints that REQUIRE a gloss black ENAMEL primer coat: Alclad Chrome and Alclad Bright Silver. The chrome paint is designed to replicate chrome (duh :smiley2: ), and the bright silver replicates a highly polished museum or "warbird/airshow" aluminum finish. The enamel is important because it takes a chemical reaction between the two to work properly. Gloss black acrylic primer would NOT work for those two paints.


Outside of the Alclad brand metallics, which needs a primer to protect bare plastic from its hot acetone solvent, you do not NEED to use any primer. You can sand and polish bare plastic and then spray Metalizer, AK Metallics, and Humbrol Metal Coat (to name a few) directly on the model. Note that the bare plastic still MUST be GLASS smooth! Even if you do not prime, the same idea applies: the DARKER the plastic (black, dark green, etc.), the brighter your silver will appear as compared to spraying it over gray or white bare plastic.


One last note...you see many of us recommending Alclad and AK Metallics because when used properly you can MASK over them with low tack type tapes! Other metallics, especially Metalizer, cannot be masked over with tape.


Learning to use metallics is just one more step in "finishing school". There are planes out there that had PAINTED silver finishes such as the F-105D, the mid-50s USN Navy jets that appear silver, and 1930s biplanes where the wings and fuselage are painted silver dope.


These would be good subjects to start with and you could use a regular silver paint, as opposed to the tougher to use metallics. Like Nick mentioned, it's a good idea to learn the basics of walking before trying to run with anything.


Hope this helps!


GIL :smiley16:

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Hey Gil

Your right on point again

Man that a lot info to absorb. So I wanted to be a modeler !. . . Lol

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My 2 cents about Alclad. It does not NEED a primer over bare plastic for most of the shades in the line, if one is misting the coats on. I've used it on several projects without primer with good results. The solvent doesn't have enough time to react with the plastic before it evaporates unless one sprays it on in heavy, wet coats. However, if one has done any "body work" on the kit and used putty or other filler that is a different color from the plastic, a primer is a good idea so that one has a uniform base coat for the finish. The place where you NEED the primer is if the desired finish is a chrome or 'mirror' finish; in that case a dark (black), gloss undercoat is required.


Alclad is good stuff, though - a good looking finish that is tough and durable.


That said, Tamiya AS-12 "airframe aluminum" spray paint is awesome stuff as well. It's a lacquer, so one has to a bit careful not to apply it too heavily, but it has good coverage, and isVERY durable and tough - one can mask over it with no worries about paint pulling up. It is more of a dull aluminum shade, but works quite well for a used, in-service finish and it's very easy to mask panels and paint them with different shades if desired.

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"Chrome" finishes should always be applied over a gloss black base, but should be applied so that they are a bit transparent and NOT completely opaque. It is the transparency and black base coat that gives the chrome finish its chrome look. If you don't believe this, try a test. When your lovely chrome finish suddenly looks like nothing more than high-quality silver paint, you've gone too far.

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