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Silly putty masking

I will say right off that I donít like liquid mask. At least not the two brands Iíve tried. Where Iíve had problems is both with paint going underneath the mask, or being very hard to lift up the mask without messing up the paint underneath. This is why I was excited to try out using Silly Putty as a mask.

Silly Putty, to those who have forgotten their childhood, or who never had one, is reusable putty that kids play with. When itís stretched it can bounce back, and it can be used to pick up newsprint, comics, etc. It was pretty fun stuff as a kid.

There are various brands of this that is like Silly Putty. I got an off brand at Wal-Mart but Iíve also seen off brands at places like Hobby Lobby, Target, dollar stores, etc. What I got was a package for $1.00 that had two ďeggsĒ with a small amount of putty in each. I used the amount from two packages, four eggs total, for my Priest.

What I did is I painted two colors on the Priest, dark green and military brown from Model Masters first. Once they both dried I then got to work with the Silly Putty. I donít know if itís because I used an off brand but I found it left strings like melted cheese from a pizza when I tried to separate it into smaller pieces. I found that by pinching it with my fingernails it kept the strings down to a minimum. Taking a small amount of putty I kneaded it and flattened it out to a shape roughly like the section of paint I wanted to mask. Once I got it nearly the right size and shape I put it onto the model and pressed it over the shape I wanted. The one trick here is to make sure you cover the entire shape. I found it best to leave a narrow band of the underlying color to make sure that I didnít leave blank areas. Then it was just a matter of covering both the green and brown areas with putty.

Here is one thing I messed up so learn from my mistake. When I was putting putty on one side of the Priest I laid it on its side. When it came time to lift it up it left a good deal of the putty I had already laid down on the surface I was working on. Fortunately I was on the granite counter top of our breakfast bar, so it came right up off that. If youíre going to do something like that be sure to lay it on some wax paper to keep sticking to a minimum.

Another ďDOHĒ moment was when it came to leave the Priest to dry after spraying the base color tan. I left it out in the sun for a few minutes, and when I came back all the putty had ďmeltedĒ down the side. It looked like it had been covered in Pepto Bismal. I really panicked, thinking I had ruined it. The putty was so soft that it was a gooey mess. I put it into the freezer for a few minutes, thinking it would firm it up. That worked like a charm. When it came time to peel off the putty it came up perfectly fine, and didnít pull up any of the paint below it.

Best of all the putty is totally reusable. As long as you donít lose any of it any putty you buy should last as long as you need it. You will want to store it in the plastic it comes in, so it wonít dry out.

Since I make mostly American tanks I donít think Iíll use this technique a lot, but I can see it being used on British vehicles, as well as other countries planes and ships. Give it a try.

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About Rodger Cole (Halfyank)

American Father, English Mother. Mum was in some British auxiliary, I'm not sure which, and Dad was a truck driver who ended up on a half track towing a 57mm, in the Big Red One. I was a modeler in the early 70s but got out of it. I'm just getting back into modeling after about 25 years. I'm planni...