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Advice Painting Plastic Model Structures

Steve models N scale and asks:

“I am assembling a Walthers Santa Fe Station for my layout and I do not like the pre-colored molded parts. The building has brick textured walls with indented grout joints. I am thinking I need to paint the walls with a realistic brick color and let dry. Then paint a lighter color on the walls, rubbing off of the brick surface. This should leave the paint in the grout joints. Am I on the right track? Any advise as to type of paint?”

Contribute your comments below.

8 Responses to Advice Painting Plastic Model Structures

  • Nigel says:

    It depends on the paint you’re using I think. I had all sorts of difficulties getting a good finish with embossed plasticard and it was particularly frustrating when I watched YouTube videos and they made it look so easy!

    There are effectively two ways you can approach it:

    1. As you have suggested, paint the brick colour first. The potential pitfall here, particularly if you’re using matt paint is that your grout/mortar paint will then stick to it and be difficult to wipe off. It’s also a problem if the brick paint was too thick and fills the grout detail so there’s no place for the grout colour to hide while you’re doing the wiping and it all comes off. I think the answer is to make sure that the grout colour is thinned down a bit so that it flows into the crevices without sticking to the raised brick detail.

    2. Paint the grout/mortar first. I have had better results doing it this way round. Just paint everything with the grout colour and then, once it’s dry, dry-brush the brick colour very lightly over the top. Brush diagonally so that the bristles in the brush do not run along either the horizontal or vertical grout lines but just skirt over them and make sure that your brush has the tiniest amount of paint on it – it’s a lot easier to brush a bit more on than it is to fix things when you’ve used too much.

    The best strategy is to get yourself a sheet of brick embossed plastic and practise on it until you find an approach that you feel comfortable with and gives you the results you are looking for.

    Good luck!

  • Jim Jansen says:

    I paint the brick i in a red color and then use off white paint thinned so that it is like water. With the wall laying flat the white will run into the mortar lines with little left on the brick faces. What does stay on the face just gives a dull look.

  • Will Johnson says:

    Am alternative is to use an enamel paint for the brick colour, wait for it to dry completely (a couple of days) then use an acrylic paint for the mortar. When you come to wipe the mortar colour off, the enamel paint will stay even with a lot of rubbing off. This way you can get very fine lines of mortar colour.

    • Finn Sartor says:

      just one thing, the enamel will be very glossy so it might be a good idea to give it a spray of matt lack finish.

  • Steve says:

    Thank you everyone, seems like it will be good to practice on scrap.

  • Morgan BIlbo says:

    My comment is: Whenever I wind up with a glossy finish I don’t want. I just spray Dullcote over it.

  • David M Markoe says:

    Something else that may be worth a try is to get a “rigger” brush from a watercolour shop to paint the grout lines. The brush will lay in the grout groove very well and it may seem like an endless task, but it actually moves along pretty well with a rigger.

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