Advanced Model Building - Part 2 of a 4 part series

So, you've built your first few models and now you want to try using some more advanced techniques. In this blog we will discuss advanced model building tips, what you need to know about both brush-on and spray paints in acrylic and enamel, and different types of glues and cements.

Advanced Model Techniques - Weathering and Detail


Mud on your tanks, or rust on your ships; these can be applied to your model to give it a realistic feel.  One product we recommend is Weathering Master by Tamiya. This very soft, light powder, is applied in specific combinations to give your model a natural weathered look. If you are hoping to paint perfect colour transitions, or need to protect parts from being accidentally painted consider Tamiya Masking Tape, or if you want nice straight lines try Trim Tape which is used for pinstriping.

Acrylic Paint – What do I need to know?

Tamiya PaintsHobby and Toy Central carries acrylic paints by Tamiya. When still wet these paints are water soluble.  To correct errors and clean brushes simply use regular soap and water. Acrylic paint applies in a thinner coat; as a result it has the potential of requiring a second coat. The benefit is that brush strokes are nearly invisible, which can be helpful for both beginners and experts alike. With a wide variety of both military and commercial colours to choose from you may never need to consider other types of paint!

Enamel Paints - What do I need to know?

Modelmaster's PaintHobby and Toy Central carries enamel paints made by Testors distributed under the brand names of Testors and Model Master. Enamel paints are oil based therefore you will need thinner to clean up small mistakes and your brushes. Enamel paints are thicker than acrylics, and while this allows them to brush on very smoothly requiring less touch-up, they have a tendency to show brush strokes if you are not careful.

Acrylic and Enamel Paints - Can I mix these?

If you need to use an acrylic paint and an enamel paint together on your model they must be applied in the correct order.  Acrylic paint must be applied first, and allowed to dry.  If the acrylic paint is applied after the layer of enamel paint, they will begin to chip and peel once dried.

TestorsSpray Paints - No more brushing!

Both Tamiya (Acrylic) and Testors (Enamel) make spray paints for model kits. Tamiya uses a lacquer based acrylic paint which allows the paint to dry fast. This is an advantage for people who want to move onto additional paint colours without waiting overnight for their paint to set. Testors has a small selection of lacquer based enamel paints which are also fast drying, but the majority of their spray paints are simply spray versions of their popular enamel brush-on paints.

Tamiya Spray Paint

Tamiya and Testors both offer clear coat sprays.  When applied to completed kits, they can give different effects depending on the finish you're looking for.  Clear or Glosscoat gives a shiny finish desirable for cars and trucks. Flat Clear or Dullcoat gives the model a "worn" finish, prefect for military vehicles. Other options include Semigloss which provide a satin finish and Pearl Clear which makes your models sparkle.

Clear Colour Paints

Sometimes on a model kit you will be asked to use a clear paint (often on cars for brake lights and turn signals). These paints will dye your plastics different colours but remain transparent. Only use clear paints when the model asks for it or you will have problems getting the realistic effect. You should only use clear paint on clear plastic parts.

Using Glue or Model Cement with Clear Plastic Parts...

Using the wrong glue or model cement can cause your clear plastic parts on your model to appear foggy.  This can be avoided by using Testors Clear Parts Cement & Window Maker. This special model cement has been formulated to keep clear parts fog free while providing an excellent bond.

Glues and Model Cements

Tube CementWe have already discussed Testors Clear Parts Cement & Window Maker. Using this particular model cement to assemble your entire model would not be cost effective. Most model kits are put together using a standard model cement in tube or brush-on liquid varieties.

Tube style model cements are what we recommend most often for plastic models. Testors makes a fast drying cement and a non-toxic version. The non-toxic cement takes approximately 50% longer to dry but has a milder odour than the standard tube. Start by putting a small amount in a foil bowl or clean dry bottle cap and use a toothpick to apply the cement to the model. As you become used to the flow you can apply the cement directly from the tube onto your model.


Liquid style cement is great when you want your finished kit to be as clean as possible. Liquid cement is a precision tool, you can dab just a small amount in very specific locations or pieces making it ideal for complex models with lots of small detailed parts. As with the tube variety they are available in a non-toxic formula called “Limonene” (which has a pleasant citrus smell). Liquid cements come in regular and thin varieties which dry even faster!

Perhaps you would like to try your hand at a wooden kit?

To check out Part 3 of our 4 part series where we focus solely on wooden model kits click here

Too Advanced? 

If you are just getting started, click here for Part 1 of our model building series - the beginner's guide.