Monday, March 30, 2015

Mask Your Fins With a Skirt

So, you've got a rocket that's to be painted multiple colors. You start with the light colors (the undercoat), then move onto the darker colors (the topcoat).

Here's a cute little scratch build I'm working on - Sounder I.

This color is Rust-Oleum 2X Marigold, if you're curious.
I love this color! But I'm putting a black roll pattern - a black checker pattern - on the upper portion of the airframe. Obviously, I want to keep from getting flecks of black paint on the lower portion of the rocket, so I'm going to mask it off.

I'll use tape to mask the lines where the black will go down, but instead of taping up the whole rocket - which takes a long time and uses a lot of tape - I'll do a large section with masking paper.

The lines are masked off with clear Scotch tape. Masking paper
is wrapped around the body of the rocket and taped in place.
Despite what some kit instructions tell you, do not use newspaper. I learned this the hard way. The print will transfer to your paint job, like Silly Putty. Nobody wants to see Marmaduke end up on their rockets. Any plain paper will work fine. Brown masking paper comes in long rolls, and can be bought at hardware stores.

Now, you could take the time to carefully wrap all the fins with tape and paper, but again, this is a lot of work. I prefer to make a masking skirt from a plastic shopping bag.

To do this, you need a plastic bag - and I'm sure you have a whole bag of bags in a cabinet somewhere - a pair of scissors, and tape.

Make sure there are no holes or tears in the bag, or you'll have to tape those up.

Start by cutting a small slit in the middle of the bottom of the bag. You'll probably need a smaller slit than you think.

Open the hole in the bag, and slide the bag down onto the body of the rocket, bottom up.

Tape the skirt in place using a couple of pieces of tape.

Now, twist the skirt around the masked area of the rocket, and tape off any gaps.

Finally, twist the bottom of the bag closed and tape it shut. If you're using a painting rig like mine, where the rocket is held by a stick from below, you can tape the skirt to that. If you're using a paper wand, you can either tape the skirt to the wand (if you have it coming out the bottom or aft end of the rocket) or tape the skirt shut completely (if you have the wand coming out the top or forward end).

Now your fins are masked safely, and you've spent a lot less time.

Paint away!

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