Airfield Models - Painting Scale Wheels

Scale Painting Techniques

May 05, 2015

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Airfield Models ( Scale Wheels

The wheels are now clean, masked and ready for paint.  As I mentioned in Part 2, you should avoid handling the areas to be painted.  Skin oils can cause problems with the paint.

The first thing you should do is select all your paints and prepare them for application.  Mix the correct colors if you don't have them already.  Thin the paints properly for whatever method you plan to use to apply them brush or spray.

If you are using a 2-part paint such as epoxy, then mix Part A to be the correct color but do not add Part B until an hour or so before you will apply it.

If you really care about authenticity then you should gather reference materials to ensure the colors are right.  These wheels are being painted for a stand-off scale model so color match isn't important.  I just want them to look "right" and pulled my colors from thin air accordingly.

Also see


Painting the Wheels

Paints and tools used

  • The base coat of Klass Kote epoxy was applied using an Aztec airbrush.
  • Testor's Model Master Metalizer for the rims was applied with a fillister brush.
  • Testor's Model Master enamel for the grommets and spokes was applied with a round #1 brush having a good point.

Before you apply the paint be sure to wipe the surfaces with a tack rag to remove any dust or lint.  Most dust that ends up in paint is already on the surface or in the paint.  I don't know of any paint strainers small enough for the small quantities of paints we use in an airbrush but I've had no problems so far.

I mix the paint thoroughly and then give it a few minutes for heavy stuff in the paint to fall out and light stuff to float up.

To get paint into my airbrush I use a disposable pipette to draw paint from the middle of the bottle.  Don't draw paint from the bottom of a bottle or you stand a good change of having to disassemble your spray tools to remove paint clumps that are clogging them.

When I'm using a larger spray gun I use a regular hardware store paint straining cone.  I look in the cone every time after the paint has run through and have yet to see anything left behind other than a thin coat of paint.

Personally, I don't think paint is as dirty as it is claimed to be.  I've yet to see any real evidence.  I suppose if you let paint dry around the rim of the can and then chip it into the paint can when removing the lid then you need to take better care of your paint cans.  Clean paint can rims and lids before closing them.

The wheel ready to paint with the base color. I wanted to paint these wheels a slightly gray cream color.  The first attempt was too yellow.  This is the second attempt.

I mixed red and black to make a chocolate brown.  I also mixed some black and white to make a dark gray - probably about 70%.

I mixed these two colors together to make a gray-brown.  The bottle shown was filled about halfway with white.  I added gray-brown a couple drops at a time until the color was as dark as I wanted.  I then added a little yellow to arrive at the color shown here.

The wheel painted with the base color. I sprayed the base color with an Aztec airbrush and allowed it to cure overnight.
The rim was brushed by hand using Testor's Aluminum Metalizer. The rim is painted with Testor's Aluminum Metalizer paint using a brush.  Note that metalizers are intended to be sprayed only.  Because the rim is so narrow it looks fine but for a larger area I wouldn't even consider brushing a Metalizer.
The wheel is ready to have detail items painted. The jig didn't work very well for me.  I used it for the first rim of one wheel and then gave up on it.

Maybe you'll have better success with this method.  My problem was that I didn't find a way to brace myself well enough while turning the wheel with one hand.

Grommets and lacing is painted. I spent about an hour and a half painting the grommets (Testor's Gold) and the lacing (Testor's Model Master Leather) on all four sides.  You will see a more detailed photo in the next article in this series.

These details were applied with a round brush having a good, sharp point.  I wore magnifying glasses with built-in lamps.  They work extremely well for me.  Depth of field is narrow but for detail work that usually isn't important.

I am pleased with the paint work but the wheels are too shiny, new and look painted.

The task now is to blend it all together.  When that is done we will darken shadows and highlight highlights to make details pop out while having a natural look.



Masking Components for Paint
Blending and Shading with Washes

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Copyright 2005 Paul K. Johnson