Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Adding Detail - Masking

Hello plamo nerds! Here's a simple guide on how to do some basic masking that will help bring out the details on your model.

Here's what you'll need:
1. Masking Tape (Tamiya or Style-X, or any hobby-grade masking tape)
2. Hobby knife
3. Cutting mat
4. Tweezers

Click on the Read More link for the rest of this post...

1. Clean your cutting mat with alcohol to remove any oil and dust. Lay down some vertical strips of tape. Try and align the strips with the lines on the mat. Cut the strips by running the hobby knife over them. Trace the lines of the mat if you can, but as long as you cut straight it should be fine. Don't cut up all the tape into very small pieces. Leave some big ones too for covering larger areas.

2. Use the tip of the knife or your tweezers to gently lift up some tape. Try to preserve the straight edges you made while cutting. Stick the tape onto your hand a couple of times to reduce the stickiness. This will reduce the risk of paint lifting. Style-X is stickier than Tamiya, so you should do this more if you're using that brand.

3. In this example, I'm masking around recessed details on the armor. Lay the tape down onto the part. If you are masking over an edge like in the image below, let the tape go over the edge a tiny bit for a better seal.

4. Use your fingernail or some other smooth-tipped tool to seal the edge of the tape. A toothpick can also be used to smooth down the small segment of tape that goes over an edge.

6. Tape around the areas that will be exposed first, then cover the rest of the part with larger pieces of tape. You can also use other materials like glossy paper (like from a magazine) to cover larger areas, but make sure you seal the edges and there are no gaps left. Remember to reduce the stickiness of the tape by putting it on your hand a couple of times.

7. Paint over the exposed areas with your color of choice. Do light passes and build up the color slowly to reduce the risk of paint seeping into the masked edges.

8. Once the paint is dry to the touch, gently peel the tape off with your tweezers piece by piece. Do not pull the tape off abruptly or you might lift off the base paint or leave some tape residue on the surface.

If done properly, you should get nice sharp masking lines. A nice coat of clear or flat-clear should even everything out. Make sure your base paint has sufficiently cured before attempting to do some masking. Base coat some scrap or a plastic spoon along with your actual parts, so you have something to test your masking on.

Until next time, keep building plamo!


  1. can i use 3m colored masking/ regular masking tape if i dont have any hobbygrade masking tape?

    1. I wouldn't recommend it for airbrushed models. Regular masking tape is a lot stickier than hobby grade tape, so the risk of lifting paint or leaving residue is much higher. I've seen some people get decent results, but only with industrial spray can lacquers which are much tougher than hobby grade paint.

  2. Hello Sir Paulo,

    Forth again here with my anonymous question hehehe... do you know the best way to remove left over masking tape adhesive over acrylic painted kits? I'm using StyleX masking tape and though I tried your tip (sticking it first on my skin) before application, residues still remain.

    I tried using baby oil on cotton buds but it cannot remove the adhesive, and also the paint seems to get off too, making the paint look dull. I searched online and they recommended WD40, yet it seems that we don't have that here in the PH.

    I'm using spray cans as well as of this moment. You're response will be greatly appreciated man! :)

    1. Hi there! I've had similar experiences with does tend to leave some residue behind. Make sure the paint is fully cured (not just dry to the touch but fully cured) before masking. If your spray cans are lacquers, try a q-tip dampened with lighter fluid to remove the residue. You could also do a clear coat before masking to protect the paint layer. Test everything on a plastic spoon before on your actual kit. Good luck!

    2. that tip was helpful sir. and good news, i was able to find WD-40 on a local hardware store just a few steps away from our house and it worked fine. you just have to let the liquid soak thoroughly for about 5 minutes and voila, the tape can be removed seamlessly.

      btw, i'm using those good ol' bosny cans, acrylics :)