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Pre-Painting Prep


Highlander
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I note that many minis have rough surfaces .... when the indication is that the surface should be smooth.  Skin, cloth, weapons blades and sheaths, belts, and so so.  The obvious approach is to sand down the surface until one is satisfied that is it sufficiently smooth.  But sanding is tedious and one has difficulty working in tiny areas.

 

However, I recollect that there is a technique of smoothing the surface by laying down a layer of something (sealer?) or thinning out putty to a near liquid state, painting it on, and sanding it when smooth.  I'm familiar with the thinned putty technique, but it is usually applied to much larger items.  And you gotta sand it also.  So, I'm asking.

 

Does a sealer work to smooth a "rough" surface?

How does one thin and apply the sealer?

Does it take multiple coats?

What kind of sealer does one use?

Does it require sanding (as the thinned putty would)?

Does it actually work?  If yes, how well?

Any other tips, warnings, or advice?

 

Thank you.  Thank you very much.

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Yes, sealer can work to smooth out a surface. Don't thin it too much. Do feather the edges so it isn't gloppy. I use gloss sealer over primer/paint to do it. It is a good method for minor imperfections or fine mold lines on untextured areas. Not great for a mold line through hair or similar. too easy to lose hair detail.

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Since you asked....

 

1. Give the figure a quick wash with dishwashing soap and warm water. 'Dawn' is a favorite.  Rinse thoroughly. Let air dry or use a blow dryer.

2. Fill any pits or voids in the surface and sand/file smooth.

3. Remove all mold seams - even the fine ones. This is less important for a gaming piece; pretty much mandatory for painting competition. Use a knife blade, sanding twigs, or fine files. Tight spaces are always a PITA; work it as best you can. Deep shadow can be your friend...

4. Multi-part pieces often require building and painting in layers, so assemble any separate parts that do not interfere with painting.

5. Remove the construction seams resulting from the above. Again, less important for gaming pieces...

6. Straighten any bent parts (I'm looking at you Bones' spear shafts...).

7. Wash and dry the piece again to remove your skin oil and other assorted detritus.

8. Seal and/or prime - thin coats to prevent obscuring detail.

 

HTH.

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Another option for rough surfaces if you're painting metal figures is to use a burnishing tool to polish the surface. You don't get the material loss you do with sanding tools and it's pretty quick. And the resulting surface can be very smooth indeed.

 

But yes, either gloss medium or thinned Milliput (the regular stuff, not the fine stuff) can take out much of the unwanted texture and smooth down difficult to address mold lines.

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Thank you, each and every one.  Your replies lead to another question:

 

l infer from your answers that using a gloss sealer to address rough and imperfect surfaces does not involve covering the entire figure with sealer --- just the problematic areas.  In short, you don't use the sealer as a wash.  Is that correct?

 

 

14 hours ago, Cyradis said:

... fine mold lines on untextured areas. Not great for a mold line through hair ...

 

Never thought of mold lines.  Thanks.

Edited by Highlander
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56 minutes ago, GlenP said:

Since you asked....

...

2. Fill any pits or voids in the surface and sand/file smooth.

...

3. Remove all mold seams - even the fine ones. This is less important for a gaming piece; pretty much mandatory for painting competition. Use a knife blade, sanding twigs, or fine files. Tight spaces are always a PITA; work it as best you can. Deep shadow can be your friend...

...

8. Seal and/or prime - thin coats to prevent obscuring detail.

 

HTH.

 

Yes, indeed, I did ask.

 

... and...

 

2. I infer that you are saying to sand the surface that has been sealed.  So, if I have a casting pit ( "Cast into the pit of....."  Never mind.) that I've filled with sealer, I then need to sand it smooth?

 

3. Sanding in tiny places can be eased using this technique.  Tear off a tiny bit of sand paper ... roughly a rectangle.  Fold it in half ... now it is even tinier ... with three torn edges and one edge that has the sanding abrasive doubled over the fold  ... approximating a square.   Grasp the edge opposite the fold with a pair of tweezers ... the self locking kind, if possible.  You've now created a custom sanding device with a very small sanding surface that can reach into difficult places.  Sand.  The sand paper will quickly wear off, but you will have begun sanding off the whatever you need to sand.  Repeat the preceding ... over and over.  You'll learn to customize the size of you sand paper and your selection of tweezers to fit the problem area.  And you'll have lots of tiny sandpaper bits to clean up afterwards.

 

A technique from plastic modelling. Works great with plastic.  Should work with resin and metal.  Not Bones ... nothing works with Bones

 

8.  Seal or prime?  Are you implying that one can prime with an overall coat of sealer?

 

 

51 minutes ago, Doug Sundseth said:

...use a burnishing tool to polish the surface....

 

I do.  Routinely.  With a Dremel and a polishing disk.  Over as much of the figure I can reach.

 

However, the burnishing disks I have been using have just about run out and I have been unable to locate a replacement.  What do you use for burnishing with your rotary tool?  Or is there a specific burnishing tool, not a rotary tool, that you use?

Edited by Highlander
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26 minutes ago, Highlander said:

I had no idea such things existed.  I'll look them up.

 

Do you find them easy to use?

 

Yeah, basically you just rub them back and forth over the surface to polish it. You can get various shapes to get large areas (like the one pictures) or smaller areas (that require a much smaller tip). Most of the burnishers I've picked up over the years have been from small-tool vendors like the guy at ReaperCon. You can sometimes find those kinds of tools in hobby stores that cater to model building as well.

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4 hours ago, Highlander said:

Thank you, each and every one.  Your replies lead to another question:

 

l infer from your answers that using a gloss sealer to address rough and imperfect surfaces does not involve covering the entire figure with sealer --- just the problematic areas.  Is short, you don't use the sealer as a wash.  Is that correct?

 

 

 

Never thought of mold lines.  Thanks.

 

Correct. Do not use the sealer as a wash. That will just fill in details that you don't want to be filled. That's a good way to make fur and hair and chainmail look like a blob.

 

A few gentle coats, pulled smooth with a brush, will deal with imperfections on otherwise smooth surfaces. Works better when primer or paint is already there imo. I also don't do it much for small imperfections. I like it more for "mold line through cloak" sort of trouble.

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Vallejo plastic putty and Felix Materials perfect plastic putty are water based fillers, they clean up with a wet brush, no sanding. It does not affect the paint.

With Milliput, make up a small ball and insert a divot in it. Make a soup in it and brush on the rough spots on the figure.

I use brush on sealer or Matt varnish for sealing those crevices from hell that grow during final assembly as well as erasing mold lines discovered when painting. In rough areas, I scrape, sand, repaint, and complain.

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On 9/8/2019 at 9:34 AM, Doug Sundseth said:

Another option for rough surfaces if you're painting metal figures is to use a burnishing tool to polish the surface. You don't get the material loss you do with sanding tools and it's pretty quick. And the resulting surface can be very smooth indeed.

 

But yes, either gloss medium or thinned Milliput (the regular stuff, not the fine stuff) can take out much of the unwanted texture and smooth down difficult to address mold lines.

 

Burnishers, yes! I've used sewing needles - hard steel - to burnish some raised rough(ish) surfaces. Also handy for polishing armor on assorted metal knights, men-at-arms, etc. I use Aves Apoxie Sculpt to fill dings and smooth the putty with a wet finger before it cures. Sanding is minimal.

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Burnishers are great (wish I still had mine around - bah). However, they won't work on plastics (hard plastic, resin, bones pvc... etc). They need a malleable material (metal). Plastic is either too brittle (will break) or too elastic (will go back into initial position after deforming).

 

The methods that involve milliput, greenstuff, miscellaneous clays/epoxies, glues, knives, files, and sealer will work on plastics. Some will work better than others depending on the material, but they all will have some degree of workability. I don't have luck with files on Bones, but do on resin. Some glues work better on certain plastics than others. Still can use the methods at least.

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