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  • How to ; Mask

    “How to”


    Recently I was asked how I cut my masking tape and how I can achieve ultra clean lines on my 1/144 scale models. So here is the first in several “How to” articles I will write for the forums.


    This is something that is often overlooked but when it comes to masking tape it is essential that you keep it nice and clean. I actually have a separate airtight container that I keep all my masks in as the tackiness of the tape attracts lint, dust and dog/cat hair like nobody’s business, especially on the edges which is exactly where we don’t want it!

    Size is Everything

    The first tip is to see if they do a masking tape the size you want it, there is a whole array of sizes from 1mm all the way up to 10cm across. But if you can get the size you want and there is no need to cut it!

    This is just a small selection available!


    This is the first step of the process and again very important, many of you I’m sure will just lay the masking tape on the cutting board and away you go, right?

    However If your cutting board is anything like mine then it’s probably covered in paint, dust, sanding and all manner of other things we don’t want sticking to our mask.

    So for cutting I use the read side of an old CD/DVD. Its ultra smooth and you can see if there is any micro debris on it which is easily cleaned off. The other reason is that it doesn’t reduce the tackiness of the masking tape and this is essential for clean, bold lines.

    • In order to do this the process is very easy, clean the CD.
    • Lay the tape on the CD and press down to remove any air bubbles.

    • Using a metal ruler and a scalpel – I have a scalpels just for cutting papers, tapes and decal sheets and before I start any project I always change out the blade.

    • Cut along the metal ruler the width or shape that you require for the mask.

    • Remove the unwanted masking.

    • Slowly peel off the mask and apply to the model.

    The other great thing about the CD cutting board is that if you need to leave the job for a long period of time the Masking tape will happily sit for several days, allowing you to return and use it whenever you need it.

    Applying the Mask

    Applying the mask can sometimes be fiddly and I will often use my magnification glasses to be able to see better what I am doing and will I also use a set of high quality tweezers for ultra fiddly parts.

    Once you have positioned the mask where you want it, use an old paint brush to press the mask down fairly. Pay close attention to the edges as you do not want any bleed seeping under the tape.

    Also don't forget to protect the rest of the model!

    Now you are ready for paint.


    I use an airbrush for pretty much all of my builds and If you are building a lot of models and don’t have one I would suggest getting one ASAP! As it speeds up the whole painting process as well as giving much better results on masks with less risk of bleeding.

    I tend to work very slowly at first laying down several thin even layers and then allowing it to dry. Once this base colour coat has dried I then go a little heavier with the paint. The reason for this is that it locks the mask down and reduces even further any potential bleed.

    One point I would make is that I would not suggest speed drying, such as using hair driers and the likes as this can make the paint too hard and again cause damage to the painted area as you peel off the mask.

    Removing the Mask


    If you are anything like me you’ve probably been work on several models at the same time, and your hands are filthy. The last thing you want to be doing is touching a model that you’ve just spent a good few hours on painting, masking and painting again, only to ruin it by putting a dirty finger print on it.

    So now you’ve got clean hands you can remove the mask.

    I always use a pair of tweezers for this and slowly peel the masking tape off work slowly and don’t be tempted to rip the mask off. You may have a thick laying of over spray/brush that as you rip away take off the area you just painted and it might result in not only starting that part over again but in worse case scenarios you might have to scrub the part/model down to bare plastic and start again.


    It’s always a good idea to give the model a lick of gloss/matt varnish (Depending on the part/area) over the area you just painted. This will protect that fine piece of work you have just done and offer a layer of protect as you continue working on the project.

    I hope this was of help to you and let me know if you want any other “How To” articles.

    This article was originally published in forum thread: How to ; Mask started by FarEast View original post