Basic Modelling Tips
When beginning your model the first thing you will need is a place to work – preferably where you won’t be disturbed. Clear a table or work surface and cover it with paper (newspaper tend to be messy as after a while the print rubs off on your hands). Tape the paper onto the table so there is no chance of it lifting in a draught while you are working.
Before even starting your model you should always read the instructions care-fully. These will show you all the different stages of the model and you will be able to work out where and when you should paint details such as interiors and pilots.
The glue (Humbrol) should always be opened over your work surface and away from the model as there is invariably a small amount that will spill out. We recommend using Humbrol Precision Poly, this has a needle which makes it easier to apply the glue to a specific place and control the amount of glue. Also, always clean the needle before replacing the lid, this will make it easier at a later stage when using the glue.
Don’t cement the first piece until you have familiarised yourself with the content and only cut the pieces from the sprue as and when you need them. Prior to the application of glue always fit the pieces together in a ‘dry run’ (meaning put the pieces together before applying the glue).
How long does it take for glue to dry?
Poly Cement is surface dry within 10-20 minutes. It takes approximately 1 hour to fully dry, drying times vary according to ambient temperature and humidity
How long does it take for paint to dry?
Enamel Paint Gloss:1-2 hours Matt and Satin: 20-40 minutes touch dry, and 24 hours hard dry Metallic paints: hard dry in approx 10 days Drying times will vary according to ambient temperature and humidity. Recoat: 6 hours minimum (preferably over night) Acrylic Paint 1-2 hours (please allow longer for Gloss and Metallic finished paints)
Tips on gluing
Gluing is probably the most important part of model making; even if your model is well painted it will be permanently marred by errors when gluing. For example if you put to much glue on the pieces it can cause bubbles of cement to come out of the two pieces being glued. This is highly likely to affect the finish of the model.
Always keep your fingers clear from glue, this enables you to handle parts easier and avoid damaging the finish and details of the parts. Also, always keep the glue away from clothing and never anywhere near your face. There are many different methods of holding components together whilst you are waiting for them to bond such as; masking tape and clothes pegs. The drying time for Humbrol Precision Poly is between 10 and 20 minutes, this depends on the components being glued and temperature/humidity.
When gluing clear parts we recommend you use Humbrol Clearfix (click here for more details). Clearfix is a liquid adhesive that prevents clear plastic components (cockpit canopies) from frosting, to apply, just dip a cocktail stick into the solution then run a thin line across the area that is to be stuck.
Tips on painting
We recommend Humbrol paints for modelling. Humbrol paints have been used for generations in modelling. Humbrol boasts a wide range of Enamel colours and now also has its own Acrylic range. Acrylic paint has a quicker drying time and is water based. Therefore, it is easier to clean, safer for younger modellers and is more suitable for airbrushing (click here for more about the range). There will also soon be a range of spray aerosol paints coming into the Humbrol range.
When painting small fiddly items we recommend painting whilst still on the sprue, then once the paint is dry removing from the sprue, then prepare and paint the area where it used to be attached (if required). When painting parts before glueing, always ensure the areas that bond are free as much as possible of paint as glue doesn’t work well on painted surfaces.
When painting always use paints sparingly, this not only lowers the risk of the paint running but also prevents obscuring important detail. With experience you may find it easier to use thinners (Humbrol Enamel Thinners or with Humbrol Acrylic Paint, water).
When painting camouflage it is helpful to mark out areas to be painted before hand with a soft pencil. Use the instructions and box lid as guidance.
Other painting tips;
- Always stir paint well before and during use
- Allow slightly longer drying times for gloss paints
- Use Humbrol Senator or President Brushes (click here for details) and always use an appropriate sized brush for the detail and coverage required
Tips on decaling
Cut the decal out very carefully, keeping as near to the edge of the design as possible, and place in a saucer of warm water for 45 seconds. Slide the decal off its backing sheet and into position on the model. Using the tip of a paint brush is probably the best method of positioning as this reduces the chance of damage to the decal. Once in position gently dab the decal with a piece of tissue paper to absorb any excess moisture.
When handling decals always take care as they are often small and delicate. To help soften decals and secure them in position you can use Humbrol Decalfix. Decalfix can be used by simply applying the solution with a brush or immersing them into the solution for 45 seconds then sliding the decal into the required position.
Tips on Airbrushing
Airbrushes vary in specification, so its useful to do some test spraying on spare plastic or cardboard to get the right application before spraying your model. Humbrol Enamel needs to be thinned for airbrushing; 1-2 parts paint Enamel Thinners is usual. Remember, the thinner the paint the more coats you will have to apply.
Also keep the paint in the pot uniform at all times when spraying by constantly stirring. This will ensure a consistent finish.
Always spray parallel to the surface being sprayed and don’t spray to close – heavy deposits will cause runs and sags.
Clean your airbrush immediately after use to prevent clogging by flushing through with Humbrol Enamel Thinners.
If the spray becomes weak when using an aerosol power pack it is because the can is starting to chill. Stop spraying and allow the can to warm up to room temperature, or use two cans so you can easily switch between for efficiency.
Other modelling tips
Some models require balancing, models such as aircraft with a tricycle undercarriage. If this is the case then before completing the model use small metal weights to balance it (these can be found at any good fishing shop and are quite safe as they are no longer made out of lead). For example, on aircrafts often the front end of the plane is often lighter then the rear, so before completing the model add the required amount of weight or other suitable component in to the nose cone.
Having painted your model you may decide to make it super-realistic by emphasising some of the detail. This can be done using the dry brushing technique. Find a colour a shade darker than that of your own model and thin it with thinners (Enamel Paint) or water (Acrylic Paint) down to a watery consistency. Take your finest brush and using this mixture, begin to outline the details very carefully. When this has dried, mix up a shade lighter than that of the model to a fairly thick consistency. Using a bigger brush work off nearly all the colour onto a piece of scrap paper. Once there is almost no colour on the brush, gently brush over the detailed area. The finished result can be quite dramatic!
What products do you recommend to use with Airfix
Airfix recommends you use Humbrol Paints and Accessories; to see the full range please view our Humbrol Paints and Accessories section.
How do I attach my plane(s) to the stand?
Although we supply up to five arms with the stand, you only need to use one per model. You will need to drill two holes into the base of each plane for the mounting pins to go into. We recommend you position these so that the model is evenly balanced and is not trying to tip to one side or is nose or tail heavy. Finally when you are happy with the positioning of all your planes on the stand, you can if you wish, glue the ball and socket joint solid, although this will prevent you from re positioning your planes at a later date.
Should I use primer?
We always recommend the use of Humbrol No.1 primer before applying paint. This eliminates any grease etc. from the surface of the plastic and helps the paint adhere to the model.
Humbrol currently has three primers with their Acrylic Spray range;
- No. 1 Primer – For general purpose use.
- No.33 Black – Use when requiring a dark top coat, black, dark grey, dark green.
- No.34 White – Use when requiring a bright top coat, i.e. red, yellow, orange.
The Humbrol spray range can be found here.