Vinyl Model Building Guide
Beginner's guide to vinyl model building
Vinyl may seem at first to be an unusual material for model kits. However, those who have tried vinyl model making soon realize that the kits are easy to assemble, and the look of the finished figure is far superior to other kits. Also because of the characteristics of vinyl, certain modification can easily be made, creating a one-of-a-kind figure. An example of these variations are included after the selection on displaying your model.
We will introduce the basic techniques, tools and supplies used in vinyl model making, to the beginners. In addition to being a handy review. Let start from Hulk and Thing as both model kits are excellent examples to demonstrate favourable tips and techniques.
Here are a few of the tools used in vinyl model-making.
dish washing liquid
water based acrylic paint
air brush tool
clear spray enamel
First of all, make sure that all parts are there. Each model parts need to be washed off in order to remove some residual stain or dust. Just use dilute dishwashing liquid and old toothbrush to clean up all nooks, lukewarm water works well, then dry off your model before you go to next step.
Plan how you intend to build and paint the model. In some cases it is better to assemble parts before painting, and in some cases, after.
Vinyl softens and is easier to cut when warm, Heat all parts before trimming. A Hairdryer may be used , or the entire kit can be submerged in a sink full of hot water.
Cut away excess vinyl using craft scissors or modeling knife as needed. When using a knife, always cut away from yourself! It’s always best to trim too little at first rather than too much. If cutting becomes difficult, re-heat the parts. (See photo 1)
Photo 1: Cutting
Test-assemble the parts, checking the fit. Re-trim as needed.
By this point, you’ve determined which parts will be glued, which parts will snap together & remaining movable, and which parts will be painted before or after assemble. (See photo 2)
Photo 2: Joining
Using cyno-acrylate, or any other “Super Glue” , glue together the pre-paint assemblies. In some cases, it’s best to heat the edges of one part so that it can be pressed into an exact match with the other part.
Using model putty, fill in the seams between glued parts and any holes caused by air bubbles in the vinyl. Putty shouldn’t be used on seams between movable pieces as it will glue them together. (See photo 3)
Photo 3: Puttying
After the putty has set, remove excess with a modeling file. Then smooth with fine sandpaper starting with 220 grit and working down to 600 grit for a really smooth finish.
Photo 4: Filing
Photo 5: Smoothing
Remove any surface oil, grease, mold release or dirt with warm soapy water. Rinse and dry thoroughly. Be certain that the inside of the inside of the model is completely dry, or water will run out as you are painting , and ruin your work. Don’t handle the model anymore than necessary after cleaning.
Using primer, paint the entire model. This will fill in any small pin-holes, highlight any flaws in puttying and sanding, any finally provide a uniform surface for paint to adhere to (See photo 6)
Photo 6: Priming
Apply base color with either brush or airbrush. Use only water based acrylic paints because oil-based paints will not dry properly on vinyl, and may actually damage the model. If you feel like experimenting, test your paints on some excess vinyl you have already trimmed off the model. (See photo 7)
Photo 7: Airbrushing1
When airbrushing, it is often helpful to “Mask” off some areas that have been painted their final color, so that nearby areas may be painted safely. Make certain that the paint is completely dry, then use masking tape that has been made less sticky by repeated applications to a lint-bearing surface (a pant-leg or shirt sleeve) (See photo 8)
Photo 8: Airbrushing2
Creases in clothing and wrinkles in skin can be accented with a darker shade of the surrounding color, Either airbrush can be used to achieve this effect. Using the airbrush will give you a more suitable effect, but satisfactory results can be obtained by using a regular brush, with a little extra effort. (See photo 9)
Photo 9: Airbrushing3
Raised areas catch the light and appear to be light than their surroundings. This can be highlighted by accenting the raised areas with a lighter shade of your base color (See photo 10)
Photo 10: Airbrushing4
A different shading effect can be achieved using a “Wash”. Dilute paint heavily with water and brush lightly over the already painted surface. The wash will slightly tint the surface, then flow into the cracks and crevasses, shading them. (See photo 11)
Photo 11: Painting
After the face has been both based and shaded, and the paint has dried, it may be detailed with a fine brush (0000) and slightly thinned paint. Lips are slightly darker shade of the face color. When doing the eyes, paint the whites first, let them dry, then paint the irises and pupils. (See photo 12)
Photo 12: Painting2
Another valuable technique is known as “Dry-brushing”. Wipe most of the paint off the brush, then lightly draw it back-and-forth across the model. Because there is so little paint, it will cover only high spots on the model. Repeat the process with increasingly lighter shades of paint. This technique is frequently used to simulate dirt of grass stains, highlight in hair, and will simulate age and wear on smooth metal surfaces, like machinery. (See photo 13)
Photo 13: Painting3
The feet of the model may be filled with clay or plaster of Paris as ballast in order to make it more stable, less top-heavy. (See photo 14)
Photo 14: Balancing
Assemble those separately painted parts. Use glue sparingly to prevent dripping or running onto already finished pieces. When snapping movable pieces together, heat one part until it is soft. Do not use warm water for this step, as it will cause the colors to run.
Spray the completed model with a Clear Sealer. This will protect your paint job, and make the colors brighter and more vibrant. For metal use a “Glass” finish sealer. For flesh use “Semi-gloss” or “Satin” and for cloth use “Flat”. (See photo 15)
Photo 15: Coating
Even those kits designed to stand on their own may be improved when added to a decorative base. Do not display the model near a heat source (such as a heater, or even a sunlit window) as this will soften the kit. (See photo 16)
Photo 16: Standing
Vinyl susceptibility to heat makes these kits easier to convert than standard, styrene kits. Before priming, heat desired pieces with a hair dryer and bend them into the new shape. Immerse the pieces in cold water to immediately set the new position. Putty, if necessary. (See photo 17, 18 & 19)
Photo 17: Bending1
Photo 18: Bending2
Photo 19: Bending3