.: Natural Metal Finish.

Words: Peter McKinnon
Pictures: Phil Pietsch


I have been meaning to pass this tip on through an internet article for many years now, but my computer illiteracy has been a convenient excuse in the past not to.  Now that our club has its own website, and with our website editor Phil Pietsch's help, I have finally been pushed into action.

One of my favorite things about this hobby is problem solving or thinking of new techniques to try, or just devising easier and quicker ways to do things.  The quicker way of doing things was the prime motive for the almost accidental discovery of this technique.  But I must stress that just being quick to do is not why I'm posting this article.                                                      

To set the scene here a little, at the risk of boring you: Our club had been involved in building display models for the various Australian distributors of labels such as REVELL / MONOGRAM, TAMIYA, ITALERI and TESTORS AMT, all to usually crazy deadlines but still to a high standard. We had to learn fast methods of construction and finishing; it was during one of these builds that I first discovered this technique. 

After a session of Metalizer airbrushing I noticed that I had missed a part to be sprayed, rather than go to the trouble of setting up the airbrush again, I thought that I might be able to just brush some on, because it was an engine component on a car and bonnets didn't get looked under in these display models, it wasn't critical if it didn't look that good, so out came the brush.  Anyway enough of the waffle let's move on.

Peter McKinnon

.: What You Need To Get Started

1. Testors Model Master Buffing Metalizer and/or Gunze Sangyo Mr. Metal colour, both these paints are essentially the same formula, although the Gunze is somewhat denser in pigment level and thicker; no matter they work equally well and are in fact intermixable. Gunze have three shades, brass, copper and a rather strange shade of green bronze as well as their aluminum shades that when intermixed allow a wide colour spectrum.

2. synthetic bristle brushes such as Taklon or Golden Sable; flat chisel ones are best with short bristles, don't use your good sable brushes here as the aggressive brushing action will quickly ruin them for anything else, these brushes are much cheaper than sable.   

3. some soft clean cloths 

4. latex or cotton gloves.  

5. particle dust mask, if the inherent dust bothers you.

6. choose a fuselage half or wing from your collection to practice on, something that would look cool, say an airfix Lancaster; you can always clean it off using a toothbrush and cream cleanser the type used for cleaning kitchen bench tops.  

.: Lets Begin

1. VERY IMPORTANT shake bottle well until all metallic particles are free from the bottom of the jar, do this EVERY time you reload the brush for it settles very rapidly in the jar.

2. You need to prime the brush first for best results, do this the same way you will be doing each and every time you reload the brush, shake jar, unscrew cap, thoroughly collect all the contents you can from the lid using your brush, now let it dry for a few minutes and repeat. Once brush is dry and primed in this way you will be ready to go. Metalizer brushes need never be cleaned as there is very little binder present in these paints so they will not harden, just leave them in their primed state. Some of the darker shades will leave your brushes a bit stiff as these have somewhat more binder but a reload will quickly soften them again; if you feel the need to clean them you will have to use lacquer thinner for this. 

 3.  Now reload the brush from the cap only, NEVER be tempted to use it from the jar, the solvents are far too strong for Polystyrene and will attack the plastic; from the cap, is a measured amount that will ensure no accidents.

4.  Now start painting by using a brisk, firm, back and forth scrubbing motion, chord wise on wings and along fuselage; do this quickly for it dries very fast, looks horrible doesn't it; don't stop- keep rubbing, a little harder maybe, it might take 10-15 seconds of this...... then all of a sudden MAGIC yes? I would love to see the look on your faces right now and hear your first words. I know how I reacted when I first did this, pure modelling joy.

5. Keep repeating until whole part is covered, buff if you like with a dry soft cloth but the brush will do most of the buffing because the impregnated metallic particles in the brush act as the polishing medium.

 6.  You may by now be asking why would you brush Metalizer on rather than spraying it ? Well despite it being quick and easy to do, it just works better using a brush. One wonders what Testors would think having in effect discouraged a good proportion of modellers from using their product by labeling it for AIRBRUSH USE ONLY.                                                           

.: Special Effects

The surprises don't end there with this fabulous product; I won't tell you where or when to use this next tip on a model, I leave it to you. Metalizer can be polished way beyond what you can achieve with just buffing. You will need to find yourself a burnishing tool, I use a spoon shaped stainless steel dental probe, but you could easily make one from brass rod suitably shaped. Whatever you use it must be polished to a microscopic smoothness or it will mark the metalized finish. Now all you do is rub this tool on any area of metalizer you wish to highlight... you're smiling again I see, neat huh?  Using this tool you can even make your own panel lines and rivet detail without marking the plastic, use your imagination and have some fun.

.: Panel Variations And Sealing

As a general rule I don't put a sealing coat over metalizer it looks better without it, however I do use it where I want panel variation on aircraft models; and once again this is brushed on using one of the usual floor finishes such as Future or Pledge, but don't use it neat, thin with water using around a 50-50 mix and apply using a soft bristle brush such as squirrel very sparingly, avoid pooling at all costs, dry using hairdryer. This simple finish alone will give you variation, however you can vary this by adding tiny amounts of colour to the mix, using art type acrylic water based paint such as white, black, grey, burnt umber, and even just varying the gloss level with a flatting agent.  Another interesting effect I stumbled upon here using this thinned finish is, that if you thin it beyond say 60-40, on drying it takes on a color spectrum effect like a rainbow, but very subtle, almost imperceptible, and not everyone spots it at first; it's not something that will show up in photos I expect, but looks stunningly realistic in person.

.: Masking Over Metalizer

This one is probably out of sequence, because one thing you simply cannot do with metalizer is mask over a finish that has been applied over it, it will lift straight off, because nothing really adheres to metalizer to any degree, so any markings must be applied prior to any sealing.

Happily masking is possible over metalizer itself, but the metalizer is best given a good hard buff with a soft cloth to make sure there are no loose particles to come adrift; and then use a low tack tape. Never tempt fate by covering large areas with tape it's bound to bite you, use the minimum width of tape to do the job and back mask with paper.    

.: Painting Over Metalizer

Both types of paint can be sprayed over metalizer, but never attempt to brush enamel over it as it will lift the particles.

The only way you can safely do this is to seal the area to be painted first; on the whole though acrylics work best .

.: Decaling Over Metalizer

This is where it can get tricky sometimes, regarding carrier film that needs to be clear coated to blend into the finish on a model; if you do this on metalizer you may lose some of the general look of the metal finish. This is not to say that it destroys the finish it doesn't but it does alter it somewhat. To preserve the untouched finish of the metalizer you will need to trim the carrier film on the decals you will use in these areas.

 When decaling over metalizer that hasn't been sealed, it pays to use a little extra glue under them, clear office gum is good because the excess is easily removed when dry unlike PVA; decal softener can still be used and is recomended as any adhesion helper here is useful, the usual caution needs to be used in relation to it's use over Future of course.

Apart from these few points there's nothing to really be concerned with.               

.: Handling Finished Metalized Models

Make no mistake this is a delicate finish and needs to be handled carefully; be prepared to do some touching up here and there, but leave it to as late in the build as possible, but don't worry, this is very easy, you may want to use a smaller brush for this. 

While working on the model, never handle with bare hands, as the oil and sweat in your skin will quickly remove the finish; wear a glove on the hand you hold the model with, and one free for comfort; latex gloves are best, for you may find the model rather slippery to handle with cotton gloves, however these are useful during the buffing process.

Lastly and very importantly, any weathering needs to be done after all assembly is complete, including rigging, weapons, canopies etc, otherwise you will rub it off.

.: Metalizing Resin Kits

For those modelling in resin I can cheerfully report that it seems to work even better on this material than styrene. It spreads quicker and further with each brush load, and seems to buff up quicker. Resin also has the added advantage of being impervious to it's solvent.

.: Last But Not Least !

A remarkable advantage of this finish is the total lack of even the tiniest speck of dust or airborne lint to worry about, it simply will not adhere to it, you could be in a lint storm as you paint and still would not be able to find one speck on the model.

However you will see absolutely every tiny defect on the model kits surface, so any blemish not wanted will need to be seen to.

Well that about covers it, sorry it was so long, but i wanted to cover most of the frequently asked questions i thought you might ask, to save some of the email replies Phil might receive. 

Hopefully you found this article useful to achieve that most elusive of model finishes, Phil and I look forward to seeing some of these on HYPERSCALE sometime soon, happy modelling.

Regards Peter McKinnon

.: Images and Captions

(Courtesy of Phil Piesch)

1. MM Metalizer (buffing type), brush, gloves and model, all you really need to create stunning NMF paint jobs. Phil is about to shake the bottle prior to reloading the brush, this must be done each time for the pigment settles rapidly.      

2. To ensure the volatile solvent won't attack the plastic on your model, paint must only be used from the contents remaining in the cap after shaking bottle, work fast as Metalizer dries quickly.

3. Here Phil has primed the brush and is blowing on the brush to dry it. Patience mate, it dries by itself in a minute, and by the way, get a shave.  

4. Vigorous scrubbing motion is needed for the Metalizer to work properly. Phil is brushing in the direction of the airflow. This is how much you typically cover after two brush loads.

5. This is the sheen you get just using the brush, buffing with a cloth will further enhance this if you wish.

Click the image below for a closer view

6. Areas pre painted have been masked off to protect them, it is wise to pre paint where possible rather than after Metalizing.

Click the image below for a closer view

7. One whole wing nearly covered, and just a few minutes work.

8. Once covered, Phil  gives the whole wing just a quick going over to blend the effect.

9. Masking the the cockpit is essential as metal particles will migrate to these areas if not protected

Click the image below for a closer view

10. You will notice some streaking occasionally, a second application may be required in these areas. This is more likely to occur with a new bottle, older bottles tend to thicken after prolonged use and won't do this as often. However further buffing removes most of it, personally i think it adds to the realism for it is quite a subtle effect. Gunze being a little thicker is  not as prone to do this.             

Click the image below for a closer view

11. Notice the flawless finish on the cowling, too bad it will be covered in anti glare OD. Dent on RH leading edge of wing is intentional if you were wondering.

Click the image below for a closer view

12. All done in under an hour, beautiful don't you think?

Click the image below for a closer view

Here's Phil Mustang - Sealed - Decaled & Weathered.

Click the image below for a closer view

If interested more images can also be found here

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