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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I'm trying to get into modeling and I was wondering when should I paint? Right now I'm doing the revell titanic, should I paint the parts while they're on the spruce? Should I cut them off the spruce then paint them? Or should I fully assemble the model and then worry about painting it? Also any other tips and tricks would be greatly appreciated, no matter how obvious they may seem (I'm very, very new to this).

Edit: the plastic tree is called a spruce, right?
 

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I'm trying to get into modeling and I was wondering when should I paint? Right now I'm doing the revell titanic, should I paint the parts while they're on the spruce? Should I cut them off the spruce then paint them? Or should I fully assemble the model and then worry about painting it? Also any other tips and tricks would be greatly appreciated, no matter how obvious they may seem (I'm very, very new to this).

Edit: the plastic tree is called a spruce, right?
Sprue, trees, runners, whatever you want to call it is fine.
I recently helped a friend build this same model. We started by assembling the hull halves and then painting that first. Then we painted each deck piece separately, first with the white walls and then the deck color. After all the deck parts were painted and glued in place we started with the small parts and painted each of these before they were glued in place.
Each model is different, but generally I build sub assemblies, paint those with either spray cans or an airbrush and then after those dry I go back and paint in small details by hand with a small brush. I then assemble the sub assemblies and touch up the paint where necessary.
I also find that the colored sharpie markers are excellent for picking out real tiny details. On my friend's Titanic I used a brown sharpie to simulate the wood on top of all of the railings on the model. There are also silver and gold sharpie markers, I use a silver one to touch up the chrome parts on model car kits where there are sprue attachment points that are visible on the parts.
The main thing is take your time and always check the fit of parts before gluing.
Also, don't stress out over making it perfect, this is supposed to be a relaxing hobby. I find that 95% of the people who see my models don't see the glaring flaws that I see in them myself. I find that even after 40 years of building models I still learn something new with every model I build.
Above all have fun building your model.
 

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Actually the plastic tree is called the sprue but you were close :thumbsup:

As regards the painting, I've not built the Titanic kit but I'm guessing the hull is largely black with a red underside, the walls of the cabins are white and the decks are a wood colour.
The difficulty with painting it when fully assembled would be getting a sharp demarcation between the colours...lots of tricky masking.
Painting on the sprue is possible but will result in lots of touching in at the sprue attachment points when the parts are removed. Also it can be difficult to cement the parts together if there is paint on the matching faces.
The best solution, and one which most modellers employ, is to buiold the kit into several sub-assemblies then paint them prior to final assembly.
This method allows parts of a similar colour, for instance the lifeboats, to be cleaned up and painted together.
Good luck with the build and don't be afraid to ask more questions as there is a huge amount of knowledge among the members here...:wave:
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for the advice, also I keep hearing that I need a primer before painting, what is that and what does it do? Also, with the titanic, the parts are molded in white and I'm wondering if I need to paint the areas that are white or not do anything and have the white plastic showing instead of white paint.
 

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I rarely paint anything on the sprue. As these others have said, you kind of need to look the kit over, how it goes together, and then figure out a logical point to paint parts. If the hull is in halves then I would say that you glue the halves together and work on the seam line sanding and puttying it as necessary to remove the seam completely. Then give it a coat of a gray primer like Rustoleum or Krylon from the can. This primer also assists greatly in showing any flaws that need further work. If it is a good size hull then you can finish it up with a coat of the final color from a spray can or airbrush. If there is a different color below the water line I would mask that off with standard masking tape and then spray the lower hull with that color. The decks and such I would again figure out the most logical way to build prior to painting and do the same thing. It is quite a bit like when they assembled the real ship. Detailing work can be done by hand brushing or Sharpies or whatever gets the job done best and easiest. But one key thing for most of my painting is to get assemblies together where a seam is not in the final product and get rid of those seams prior to starting any painting at all.
 

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I recommend painting all of the parts even if they come in the color you are going to paint it. The reason is that bare plastic looks like just that... bare plastic. Its shiny and usually translucent, or has mold flow marks, etc. You may want to fill and sand seams here and there, requiring painting anyway.

You can paint SOME parts on the sprue/runner (spruce is wood) but often you may want to remove the parts so you can clean up the mold attachment points, remove seams, test fit them, etc. Nothing is worse than painting up a bunch of parts for an assembly, and then finding they don't fit.

You can take the cleaned up parts and tack glue them back to the runner or onto some wooden skewers to serve as painting stands. I do this a lot, especially on cars. I will clean up all of, say, the motor parts, then mount them back in groups on skewers using tiny drops of CA glue on the back side of the parts. Then, I can spray paint or airbrush all of the parts that need to be color X at the same time.

Having said that, I do have a fairly large Academy Titanic that comes molded in multiple colors. I have thought about just painting the lower hull red (the kit comes in black, tan, white, peach and gold) and then spraying the finished model with a clear flat finish to cut the plastic shine. But, I bought the kit with the idea of a simple, fast, build in mind. For my 1/350 Minicraft kit... its painting all the way !
 

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Thanks for the advice, also I keep hearing that I need a primer before painting, what is that and what does it do? Also, with the titanic, the parts are molded in white and I'm wondering if I need to paint the areas that are white or not do anything and have the white plastic showing instead of white paint.
Primer is a neutral base coat of paint that will help the other coats of paint stick better to the plastic. I rarely use a primer unless I am painting light colors on dark colored plastic.
Painting the white will look better since the white plastic tends to yellow over time, but do what you are comfortable with doing. Some of the first kits I built as a kid had minimal painting. Sometimes now I will buy and build a simple kit with minimal painting. I built the Revell Big Boy Locomotive like that for a friend, I left the black plastic and just painted in the details, he was thoroughly pleased with it.
As always, just relax and have fun with your build.
 

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I normally do not paint parts while they are still on the sprue for one good reason, when you eventually cut the part off you have to go back and touch up the attachment point. I agree with the previous posts in that I study the kit beforehand and develop a painting strategy and then do sub assemblies before painting.
 

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PRIME IT! The paint goes on much better. Use spray paint; white, grey or black, depending on how you're going to paint it (white for bright colors later, black for dark colors later, grey if you can't make up your mind). Spray very lightly and quickly; you're not trying to drown it in paint - that'd lose all the details.

If you're painting with the old fashioned Testor's enamels, they're so thick that you probably won't need primer. However, craft acrylics come in many more colors, clean up with water, and need a primer.
 

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I agree 100% with Tim Casey's post. Priming is essential. Not only will it improve paint adherence but also point out any flaws such as popped seams, sanding marks etc. before applying the color coat. I typically use spray pimers such as Testors white primer lacquer or Tamiya surface primer. The Testors lacquer primer can be found in their automotive line.
 

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I do not always, mechanically, prime a model. There are good reasons to do so, but also many times you do not have to.

For one, a GOOD QUALITY paint will usually adhere well to bare plastic. I use a lot of lacquers, acrylic-lacquers and enamels and all of those have a very hard, durable finish and bond well to bare styrene plastic. I find paint not intended directly for models (like the $.99 water based craft stuff) has poor adhesion (and coverage) so a primer is needed there.

If I have a kit with a mix of styrene, resin, photo-etch metal, etc. then I may prime that to give a smooth, neutral, base coat for the paint to adhere too. Plus paints often don't adhere as well to resin or metal as they do plastic. I also prime a kit if I have to do a lot of sanding, putty work, etc. Just to make sure the seams are nice and smooth, etc.

You should prime a kit if its molded in some icky color like black or yellow, and you want to paint it, say, white. The white paint by itself will not cover a dark plastic very well without many, many, coats. Likewise, bright plastics will bleed through light colored paints.

Some people prime models and wind up with thick gloppy layers of primer and paint, making the kit look bad. You don't want to obscure details on the model with too much or too thick of a primer.

You can also use a base coat of paint as a primer. I do that a lot... On an armor kit, for example, I often spray a good bit of the kit a dark grey-brown base coat of paint. Then I apply the camoufalge paints on top.

Everyone has their own favorite primer. I like Tamiya fine white and Tamiya grey surface primers. They come in spray cans and go on super smooth and thin. The grey stuff has a bit more tooth and the fine white is super smooth. You could use it as a flat white paint finish.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Thanks everyone! Also I bought a testor flat gray, but when I applied it, it's very shiny. Flat does mean it dosen't have a shine to it right?
 

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Actually the plastic tree is called the sprue but you were close :thumbsup:
Actually miniature sun, Mat Irvine (from your side of the pond) insist that the molten styrene that's injected into the mold is called sprue. He went on to call it the parts 'tree'. But most call it the sprue, as I do too. I suppose you could say it's sprue in a different form? ;) Or, is that like calling a chicken an egg? :confused:

hal9001-
 

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I typically paint small parts on the sprue and then touch up as needed. My reasons for doing this are spray painting or air brushing small parts tends to blow them all over the place. It is also much more efficient to paint small parts all at once than individually. In addition small parts are more easily lost once off the sprue.

The only time I paint large parts on the sprue is if the sprue connection point is going to be hidden.

I'll admit it can be a problem if you get paint on an area that gets the glue. A quick swab with a qtip containing some solvent will usually take cire of the problem.
 

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Are you using a jar paint or spray can? Jar paints must be very thoroughly stirred, and usually thinned out a bit. If they are not well mixed, they do not cover as well as they should, and often dry glossy. I have noticed too that a lot of Testors enamel paints (because they have changed the formulas) do not dry as flat as they did in the 70s and 80s. Same with the new Humbrol "Super Enamel" range. The old colors dried dead flat, and very quickly. The new formula dries blotchy or glossy and can take days to dry fully without being sticky.
 

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The term sprue goes back to metal casting. The hole in the mold where the molten metal is poured is called the sprue hole. The excess metal plug on a raw casting, that must be cut off, is also called a sprue. I suppose in relation to plastic models, the tabs that connect the kit parts to the frames are sprues. Metal parts are usually cast one or two at a time on a short sprue and don't have the big molding frames or gates that plastic kits have. Spruce is a wood and has nothing to do with molding terminology.
 

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Discussion Starter #20 (Edited)
Are you using a jar paint or spray can? Jar paints must be very thoroughly stirred, and usually thinned out a bit. If they are not well mixed, they do not cover as well as they should, and often dry glossy. I have noticed too that a lot of Testors enamel paints (because they have changed the formulas) do not dry as flat as they did in the 70s and 80s. Same with the new Humbrol "Super Enamel" range. The old colors dried dead flat, and very quickly. The new formula dries blotchy or glossy and can take days to dry fully without being sticky.
It's one of those small jars, how do I thin the paint? Do I just pour a little paint thinner into the jar? Also is there an effective way to clean brushes when using enamel paint? Right now I'm just dipping them into a container of paint thinner and Wiping the brushes on a paper towel. Thanks everyone! :D
 
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