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To Paint or Not Paint? - bodyshells


aa240sx
01-09-2014, 02:07 PM
Hello - tried search function, but key word and topic is somewhat vague, so just thought I would ask a general question here - that's probably been asked hundreds if not thousands of times and for that I apologize in advance.

So - My modelling skills have gradually improved to the point that I now consisently paint the bodies of all my automotive subjects. However, from time to time, I do skip the paint process and simply go with the unpainted plastic surface if it's the same color I was going to paint the body anyway. I usually like racing cars and these often are covered in decals, so I always think to myself, 'what's the point if the body is covered in decals anyway?' I still clear the exterior with laquer or future or whatever, but I have been known to do this from time to time.

I'm definitely not a pro, never entered any contests, and have no plans to, simply a hobbyist/collector. My subjects are almost always 1/24 scale tamiya cars or 1/12 scale tamiya motorcycles.

What's the general consensus here? Do you always paint, sometimes paint or never paint? Or does it depend? And if it depends, what does it depend on for you?

The example below is of the Tamiya 911 GT2 and both cars are in JGTC liveries. The Taisan came out of the box stock in black plastic, but I did AB several topcoats of black acrylic and then future. The white 911 GT2 is a WIP, airbrushed the bright red on the bumpers, but most of the body is unpainted and then I did put in panel lines. Next step for me on this will be decalling, then clearing.

http://i849.photobucket.com/albums/ab57/aa240sx/photo_zpsc7b3c898.jpg (http://s849.photobucket.com/user/aa240sx/media/photo_zpsc7b3c898.jpg.html)

MPWR
01-09-2014, 02:37 PM
For me, I always paint bodies.

I guess the best way to explain it is that 1/1 cars are always painted(with a few odd exceptions). That paint is a critical (probably the most critical) thing to replicate, in order for a model to look like the real thing. Painted cars are EVERYWHERE you look in the real world, and so we all know very well how they look. To my eye, an unpainted plastic surface looks nothing at all like a painted automotive finish. And if my eye it telling me I'm looking at a plastic toy, there is nothing (decals, detailing, etc) that will convince me otherwise.

I enjoy painting bodies, and I especially enjoy when they come out looking good. Otherwise, I might very well build something other than cars.

bradfordian
01-09-2014, 03:23 PM
More skills to master if you paint.also the challenge.you might as well glue half of the tamiya kits straight out the box otherwise as suspension arms are black so why bother painting them?

Because its all part of the challenge to paint them and developing modelling skills and techniques.

and not to mention the satisfaction of a job well done when everything is painted.
:)

360spider
01-09-2014, 04:19 PM
Definitely paint.

aa240sx
01-09-2014, 04:22 PM
For me, I always paint bodies.

I guess the best way to explain it is that 1/1 cars are always painted(with a few odd exceptions). That paint is a critical (probably the most critical) thing to replicate, in order for a model to look like the real thing. Painted cars are EVERYWHERE you look in the real world, and so we all know very well how they look. To my eye, an unpainted plastic surface looks nothing at all like a painted automotive finish. And if my eye it telling me I'm looking at a plastic toy, there is nothing (decals, detailing, etc) that will convince me otherwise.

I enjoy painting bodies, and I especially enjoy when they come out looking good. Otherwise, I might very well build something other than cars.

appreciate the comments - i have an e36 m3 myself btw. anyway, i agree for the most part. For example, if it's a bone stock skyline GTR street version with no racing livery at all, paint is really a main factor in how that model will ultimately look. But what about kits that are nearly covered in decals like the Avex Dome Honda JGTC NSX? Would it be safe to say bypassing the paint would be ok in this instance? Probably overanalyzing I know, but the reality is in my collection I probably have about 15% of my cars with unpainted (but cleared) bodies.

The example below was painted in the required areas, but the white (beneath the decals and clear) is just the plastic finish of the body.

http://i849.photobucket.com/albums/ab57/aa240sx/photo2_zps0f1dba80.jpg (http://s849.photobucket.com/user/aa240sx/media/photo2_zps0f1dba80.jpg.html)

MPWR
01-09-2014, 05:16 PM
I certainly won't tell you that it can't- or even that it shouldn't- be done. There are definitely people who build without painting (or completely painting) bodies. If that is how you enjoy building, don't let anyone tell you that it should be done another way. Personally, I strongly prefer painting/painted bodies, and I dislike the look of unpainted plastic on a body.

An elaborate decal scheme might help to hide an unpainted body, and honestly I've never tried to clearcoat one without paint. But plastic has a very distinctive, unique appearance- a kind of waxy translucence that looks like nothing else. (Fortunately this is not an effect that has to be simulated very often in modeling- it would be very difficult to paint or otherwise finish a nonplastic surface to look like plastic.) If it doesn't bother you, please don't let me convince you that it has to be covered. But leaving a body unpainted for me would be like leaving moulding seems visible- it seems incomplete, and would bother me just for being there.

i have an e36 m3 myself btw.

They're still great cars. I just wish the wheels weren't so easy to bend.

Some_Kid
01-09-2014, 11:15 PM
Painting is the craft of the hobby. Perfecting it is what hobbyist do for years. It kind of sounds like you are intimidated to perfect it. The hardest thing about painting is keeping dust out of the paint.

Do you paint the interior parts and engine? One way to start out could be to invest in airbrush and only spray acrylics. Or paints that are easy to clean up. Use your airbrush to all the bits inside the car and then use spray cans to paint the body. I recommend Tamiya, Duplicolor for body colors, and TS-13 for clear or Testors Wetlook.

Kjenjak
01-10-2014, 05:08 AM
Most plastic bodies have mold lines, "patterns" in the plastic, and/or you have to glue several pieces together, which leaves lines as well. To cover them and get a top result there's no other way than priming and painting the body. Also you will never get plastic to shine as a polished paint.
Only exception might be if the WHOLE body is covered in decals.

aa240sx
01-10-2014, 12:41 PM
Intimidated? Maybe partially. Lazy? More than likely. I am more of a collector than a builder, so it's partly my impetuous desire to see the finished product vs. sitting in the box unbuilt that prompted me to bring up this topic. You can all see by my newbie status here that I really do value the veterans of this forum that have provided very salient opinions.

There's levels of expertise and committment in this hobby just as in anything else, so believe me when I say I'm comfortable with my skill level currently. But lately, I have been leaning towards painting my bodies rather than not painting them. However, and just as a guideline, if more than 75% of a given unpainted body does require decal coverage, I'll probably still continue to contently pass on the painting process for that particular subject.

I currently AB, and paint brush most parts including the body (no I don't paintbrush the bodies) and generally use a spray can for things like the chassis and some interior bits. My preference is for MM or Tamiya acrylics, but lately really appreciate the qualities of humbrol enamels (even if they do take forever to dry...)

stevenoble
01-10-2014, 01:35 PM
I think that for me, creating the final finish on the body using paint is the best part of building a kit. You really can have some fun with the painting, trying out new techniques and stuff. You can't remove mold lines and sand and fill joints properly if you're not going to paint afterwards. I also feel that an airbrush is an investment every modeller should make. Spray cans are fine. But after a fair few models an airbrush will pay for itself over the cost of cans and you can mix your own custom colours/shades not having to rely on what's available in cans.
However, if you prefer not to paint bodies and stuff then that's ok too and you should build how you want to. Everyone builds differently in the end and nothing is wrong if it's right to you..

drunken monkey
01-10-2014, 01:44 PM
I just like the building process.
The finished product isn't half as interesting as digging around for old wiring documents is or, in this case, the painful slow process of painting and polishing a car body.

I could easily just prep and paint every kit body I have and be sort-of content if it weren't for the fact that I'd also want to go build the rest of the kit too.

It's satisfying knowing that you have a complete and accurate brake line set up hidden underneath the body, just as it is satisfying knowing that last paint job was your best yet.

MPWR
01-10-2014, 09:25 PM
I am more of a collector than a builder, so it's partly my impetuous desire to see the finished product vs. sitting in the box unbuilt that prompted me to bring up this topic.

And that makes your questions make more sense.

Honestly, I've never really approached modeling as a collector. Collections have simply resulted as a result of my finding kits of cars that I like. And so I do have nice little collections of, say, V8 Ferraris, or Porsche 911s, or 1/72 rescue helicopters. But having builds completed and displayed has never been the primary focus of modeling for me. I suppose it's been more about the process than the results.

If I was more focused on having a 308, 328, 348, 355, 360, etc all completed and displayed together, I might change (reduce) the level of attention that I give to each as I build them. Honestly, that might not be at all a bad thing- and I would have more to show at the end. Maybe I would get stuck less if I placed more value on finishing.

You might very well find yourself here in the company of a majority of builders who are like myself more focused on the building then on the completed results. But that certainly doesn't mean that your motivations and priorities in building are not as valid and valuable as others of ours. We just may wind up doing things a bit differently.

aa240sx
01-11-2014, 08:33 PM
And that makes your questions make more sense.

Honestly, I've never really approached modeling as a collector. Collections have simply resulted as a result of my finding kits of cars that I like. And so I do have nice little collections of, say, V8 Ferraris, or Porsche 911s, or 1/72 rescue helicopters. But having builds completed and displayed has never been the primary focus of modeling for me. I suppose it's been more about the process than the results.

If I was more focused on having a 308, 328, 348, 355, 360, etc all completed and displayed together, I might change (reduce) the level of attention that I give to each as I build them. Honestly, that might not be at all a bad thing- and I would have more to show at the end. Maybe I would get stuck less if I placed more value on finishing.

You might very well find yourself here in the company of a majority of builders who are like myself more focused on the building then on the completed results. But that certainly doesn't mean that your motivations and priorities in building are not as valid and valuable as others of ours. We just may wind up doing things a bit differently.

Your insight here is shockingly spot on. Having seen several WIP threads and hundreds of completed works displayed here in what I can only say looks like a professional photographer took the detailed shots, I feel I am definitely in a group that is devoted to perfection and painstaking detail in their kits and that's ok with me. Prior to getting back into this hobby about 2 years ago, I was content with paint, glue and done. Now I've slowly introduced, as a result of this website, airbrushing, photoetch, microsol and other miraculous products of its ilk, tamiya masking tape and the seemingly endless uses for this product, cf film and some shading techniques. I'm far from being a pro builder, but as long as I hang out here, I know I can only improve (at my own pace of course). So, specific to this thread I'm actually about to embark on another build, a Tamiya Suzuki RGV Gamma XR89 Motorcycle 1/12 scale and even though most of the fairings will be covered in decals, I will be painting it!

OWhite3
01-12-2014, 09:58 AM
I think on some you can get by without painting. If the plastic is in the color you were going to paint it and it doesn't have any swirls in it, I don't see why you couldn't either polish and/or clear the body. I am willing to bet that if you posted one and didn't say it wasn't painted, no one would notice.
Please don't get me wrong when I say some people are anal about this modeling thing. I've been back in it about a year after a 30 year break. I'm getting more detailed in my work, but sometimes I just let things go. Like leaving a chassis not detailed. I rarely will flip them over to see what I did. Now these have been few and far between. I wont be entering any shows, just do this for personal satisfaction.
As has been said several times on several different forums, build the way that makes you happy

aa240sx
01-12-2014, 03:13 PM
Chassis detail is definitely not something I get into either.

In fact, even though I plan to paint the fairings on my next motorcycle project, it can probably be argued that for accuracy and detail's sake you don't need to paint them and that painting might even be overkill because in the case of a sportbike, their fairings aren't made out of aluminum or steel, but ABS plastic. So the unpainted finish of 1/12 scale plastic sportbike fairings are actually already an accurate rendering of the original part. And thus, if tamiya or whoever chooses to mold the plastic in the original fairing color or white, you could say they've already done the paint job for you.

Taking this argument a step further, one could almost make that case for vehicles that use plastic body panels, or maybe even CF, though I don't see myself building any 1/24 scale Saturns in my future.

OWhite3
01-12-2014, 07:18 PM
Taking this argument a step further, one could almost make that case for vehicles that use plastic body panels, or maybe even CF, though I don't see myself building any 1/24 scale Saturns in my future.
Don't forget about your friendly neighborhood Corvette;)

hd221813
01-13-2014, 04:35 AM
I always paint the models, using an airbrush. In case of plastic models, the first coat of paint is always matte black, because black absorbs light and so the translucency of the plastic is canceled. In this way, the finished plastic models look like they are made of metal. I really don't understand why plastic model manufacturers like Tamiya don't mold their kits in black plastic... it would be an inexpensive choice and the finished models would be much more realistic.

http://a.modellversium.de/kit/bilder/5/8/5/1585-17104.jpg (http://www.modellversium.de/kit/artikel.php?id=1585)

mvaneersel
01-13-2014, 10:56 AM
I just did what you are talking about(OP) and cant really say that I minded the end result. I am getting back into the hobby after a 5-6 year hiatus and just wanted to have some fun and didn't want to bother with the whole body painting process. I build for fun and very few people that will know the difference will see the result, so who cares?
If it was a hotrod or something like that I would paint it but for a decal heavy race car, I think you'll be fine.

thijs37
01-14-2014, 06:37 PM
If you got the means...Airbrush! spray-can!...Paint the body shell! (its a few minutes work...most of the time! and so much satisfaction!!) if you have to resort to brushing by hand...you have to be very skilled!! to get some decent results! So nobody will blame you for not painting, If you dont paint/clear...you can get a lot more shine by polishing the shell before you put any decals on!

potsie
01-14-2014, 09:41 PM
I find this quite an interesting conversation. For many years I did not paint bodyshells, though at that time almost every model I did was a Tamiya racing subject of some type. In that case I appreciated that Tamiya used plastic the same colour as the 1:1 car. I did not have an airbrush and was young enough that I was not allowed to use spray cans. In some cases, e.g. the metallic dark green of the Castrol JTCC Primera, the requirement for mixed paints for the correct colour meant there was only two options for me; paint with a brush or leave unpainted.

I guess as my skills improved, with access to spray cans, and most importantly with my enjoyment of the painting process increasing, I now paint all bodyshells. Not to the meticulous level of some on this forum, where hyper attention to detail and multiple primer + sanding + light coat + sanding + ... produce amazing paint, but I still take about two weeks in total to prepare and paint a bodyshell. I have to be honest I find the super-deep mirror finish to be an unrealistic representation of a 1:1 car anyway; the majority of full-scale automotive finishes have "orange peel" in the colour coat.

Having said all that I firmly believe that this hobby, and forums such as this, should be all about how you as an individual derive enjoyment from the hobby itself. Indeed, that is why I like this hobby so much, as there is a broad spectrum of people and an equally diverse way in which we enjoy our hobby. Some people are the automotive equivalent of the "rivet counters" producing near perfect replicas, there are those that produce an homage to a favourite racing car, those that just love to build, those that spend hours scratch building and those that build strictly out of the box, and there are those who collect models and rarely build at all. I recall a modeller on one forum whose entire collection consisted of every single 1:24 scale Tamiya road car; only Tamiya, and only road cars. Me? I build Conceptual Representations of Actual Phenomena.

It take all types, and there is no stereotypical modeller. And there is certainly no "right" or "wrong" way of building a model.

Enjoy!

Scale-Master
01-17-2014, 07:25 PM
One thing to consider when decaling (like the NSX example) is that decals are not designed to adhere well to raw plastic, they should be applied to painted surfaces for best results.
If you clear coat them afterwards, even if applied directly to plastic, you will help with their longevity.

Specie
01-20-2014, 03:44 PM
On a side note, many racing cars are not painted any more, they are covered in pre-printed vinyl wrap. Also I notice on superbikes and even F1 cars they will leave the black portions of there paint scheme in unpainted carbon fibre, probably to save time and money on painting.

freakray
01-20-2014, 03:49 PM
Also I notice on superbikes and even F1 cars they will leave the black portions of there paint scheme in unpainted carbon fibre, probably to save time and money on painting.

And weight - paint has mass, unpainted carbon fiber is lighter.

We've even been known to strip paint of aluminum parts to reduce mass when it matters.

drunken monkey
01-20-2014, 05:31 PM
And weight - paint has mass, unpainted carbon fiber is lighter.

We've even been known to strip paint of aluminum parts to reduce mass when it matters.

and that reminds me of that random F40 fact, that in order to reduce weight, the paint is reduced to the point that it is transparent on close viewing.

MPWR
01-20-2014, 06:31 PM
But while all this about full scale vehicles that aren't actually painted may be true-

-is unpainted styrene a good simulation of the appearance of these vehicles?

Generally, I would have to say no. To my eye, unpainted styrene looks like unpainted styrene- and not much else. It doesn't matter if unpainted plastic might somehow be more correct (if it did, we would all build diecasts instead of plastic kits). What matters is if it looks like the real thing.

Personally I have never yet seen a car that actually looks like an unpainted model.

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