Airbrushing metallic finishes
By Geoff Coughlin
This entry in your Techniques Bank (TB) is the first of a number of parts created to help you to achieve realistic metallic finishes on your models. I guess depending on the type of scale modelling that your spend your time on, you may have more or less of a need for this mini-series on how to use Alclad II lacquer. Having said that, there aren’t many areas of modelling that never need us to create something that looks like metal!
I have had more requests for help with using Alclad II than anything else – several requests from fellow modellers at the shows we attend and a few by e-mail so here’s the first part: Alclad II – Part 1 – what it is and what we can achieve.
We have shot a few HD videos that we’ll use when appropriate in this mini-series as we work through the different stages, so plenty for you to actually watch later on and look forward to; my intention is to press on and complete this mini-series in a reasonable time.
I’ve been around a while, maybe modelling for over 40 years or so (how old is that!!), and for much of that time modellers struggled to find a paint that was easy to use and created a range of realistic metallic paint finishes. Mostly what seemed to be available wasn’t bad but often unstable in the sense that you often left finger marks on the finish and sometimes these were hard to remove. Additionally, the finish wouldn’t take a varnish or, if it did, this would destroy the metallic effect that you had worked hard to create so not very useful all told.
Enter Alclad II lacquer!
Alclad II Lacquer – what is it?
It’s a solvent-based lacquer (I still call it paint, sorry!) that’s designed to be sprayed onto your model to create multiple metallic effects. You can find out much more about this product here on the Alclad II website – some good info that will help you. Especially check out the ‘How to’ section as there are instructions, videos and all sorts of stuff in multiple languages.
The benefits – a personal view…
From having used this stuff for several years now my honest opinion is that it about the best product on the market for the job (as I write this in Jan 2013). This is why:
- It’s easy to use
- You can create an infinite number of tones, shades, effects using different bottles in the range
- There is a large range readily available, it’s growing and it’s easy to obtain (in the UK, Europe and USA that I know of)
- The paint dries quickly and generally doesn’t leave finger marks, allowing you to handle your model
- Because you spray the lacquer (paint) very thinly, you can build up the effect you want gradually and achieve a subtle, realistic finish
- You can use any of the Alclad ‘varnishes’ (Klear Gloss etc) and spray these onto their metallic lacquer and it doesn’t affect the metallic look of the model too much – just play with the different ‘Kotes’ on scrap to see how your finish changes
- It’s easy to clean your airbrush using a solvent airbrush cleaner.