Page updated on 11-23-2017

Chromed finish Aluminum foil Tutorial

01-15-2015, 03:36 PM

I'm new to this forums, though not to modelling. I've been building scale aircraft for years, and untill recently I discovered the hugely inmense variety of goodies Car modelling has.

Some folks here asked me for a tutorial on the chromed finish, so here it is. Its not a wow thing, but the results are worth it.

One of the hardest things to do in Aircraft modelling is mirror chromed finishes. Either the paint looks like paint, it doesn't reflect as it should, it takes FOR EVER to dry (or sometimes, it never does), or it just peels off when you try to mask it, so it demands being the last thing painted, which sometimes is impossible.

There's other options, like aluminum foil - but adding glue to it can be tricky. If you do it wrong, it WILL show. An uneven coating of glue can ruin the look of the model. Then, out came bare metal foil sheets with glue in them. They are AWESOME, but you only get a handfull of sheets at a time, plus they can be pricey.

Then we got directed to this. Aluminum tape. It is cheap, it is plenty,so if you screw up just peel it off and try it again. It has some limitations though - it is a bit too thick. Which means it won't work on small scales. For those, bare metal foil sheets are the way to go. pg?oh=2839f52fd6e1dfe35e0830599d465c7a&oe=556CE7A7

I've been asked for this technique a couple of times, so here it is.

Here's what you'll need:

The Tape, obviously.
Exacto Blade No.11. Lots of them
Stump pencils. You can find these at Hobby Lobby.
Cotton Swabs
And, Mother's aluminum polish cream. (this is optional if you want your model to reflect like a mirror). pg

First, cut a piece of tape LARGER than the panel you want to foil.

Then, peel it off and apply it to the model. The tape has some stretch, so it conforms to SOME curverd surfaces. The larger the tape piece compared to the area you want to apply it to, the easier it will conform to a curved surface.

Using the Stumps, rub the tape to the surface so it sticks. NOT TOO HARD THOUGH, you may still want to peel it off. You may also want to use a toothpick to gently scribe any panel lines beneath it for guidance.

Then comes the ughh part. Using your exacto blade, trim the excess off the tape. A new blade will last a little bit more than a dozen cuts, after that it starts ragging the tape - and will show. Just get a new one as soon as you see the tape start ragging. As I've said, be prepared to use a LOT of No.11 blades.

Once you've peeled off the excess tape, NOW it is the time to rub it in, using your stumps. Gently use the toothpick to fully scribe any panel lines. Not too hard though, they can pierce the tape if you're not carefull.

If you end up with wrinkles, you can rub them flush with the toothpick, but they won't shine. Try leaving them in a place you will decal over, as I did in the very nose of Lewis's Car. pg

Now, for CRAZY curved surfaces, like the space between the Air scoop over the Driver's headrest, and inside of the airscoop mounts, Forget about the Tape. Just use paint. pg

Now, the tape naturally oxidizes with air, so depending on you on how much mirror you want the tape to have is what comes up next. If you want a dull reflection, don't do nothing. The grease your fingerprints leave on the tape will oxidize it and leave a dull appearance.

If you want it reflective but not too much, MAKE SURE YOU CLEAN WHEREVER YOU TOUCH with a cotton cloth.

But, if you want a mirror shine, don't worry about fingerprinting. Bring on the Mother's cream. Just pick a little with a cotton swab, start rubbing the aluminum. If you haven't used this stuff before, it applies white, after rubbing it turns black. Let it sit a couple of minutes and then wipe it off. Enjoy!

The small Airliner is left as is. The Big Airliner is cleaned, Lewis' car is polished. Difference is clear. 8d82e85b6611e519ac740947b8e5&oe=54B9ADDC&__gda__=1421520552_44f6e74f9dcec503cd815c626dfdc91 1

Now, Decals LOVE glossy surfaces, so they stick fine to the tape. No undercoat needed. However, in order to protect the decals, I suggest dipping them in water, THEN IN FUTURE FLOOR POLISH, THEN in your model. Also, the decal carrier film though will dullen the area around the decal, so try trimming it off as much as you can to get the best results.

That is pretty much it. If you have any questions, drop me a line. It is a time consuming process, and you'll find bits of tape all over your bench eventually, but the results are tottaly worth it.

Hope this helps!!
Take Care

01-16-2015, 01:19 AM
Wow! Great tip. Thanks for sharing, I will have to give it a try.

Brandon Miller
01-16-2015, 09:21 AM
Why not just use this? It's made for models.

01-16-2015, 12:39 PM
Why not just use this? It's made for models.

Ha, guess you didn't read even the bold print and surrounding text....

Brandon Miller
01-16-2015, 03:38 PM
No I read it. I use BMF on large scale and aircraft and have no issues.

01-16-2015, 06:42 PM
No I read it. I use BMF on large scale and aircraft and have no issues.

Oh. There is no issue. I just got asked for this tutorial and that's what I did. Either technique works.

Take care

01-16-2015, 07:02 PM
Nicely done! Thanks for posting and sharing your technique. I hadn't thought to try alu tape, but now I am curious to.

I've done one car body with BMF. It came out very nicely, but it was definitely a serious amount of effort. When I calculated it it though, it came out to be cost competitive compared to a good paint job with quality lacquers (primer, paint, and clear).

There are many things that polish an aluminum finish like this very well. Mother's works great, but so does Flitz metal polish, McGuire's ScratchX, and even Tamiya compound. I use all of these, and can't say that one is appreciably better than the others.

Welcome to AF, hope you enjoy the community here!

(Thread added to How-to index)

01-19-2015, 03:18 PM
thanks for posting the tutorial. now i don't know why but there are two huge rolls of aluminum tape at home, gonna take a crack at doing this. :)

Add your comment to this topic!