A negative mask is one that is grumpy and has a bad outlook on life. OK, that’s not true. A negative mask is one that shows an area to be painted, while a positive mask covers an area already painted. Anyway…
On the rare occasion that I get adventurous and try to do a paint scheme that I don’t have decals for, I may try masking. Normally I go with a positive mask, as it’s a bit easier. I’ll paint an area of the aircraft the color of the marking, add a mask over that, and then paint the rest of the model.
But sometimes I forget to do that first, and rather than going back through the entire paint process, I’ll create a negative mask. (Although the process is actually about the same, you just need more “edges” for the negative mask.)
|First, I’ll put some masking tape down on on a piece of ceramic tile. Using ceramic tile gives a good, hard, smooth cutting surface, and it can be easily rotated around for cutting curves.|
|Next, I place a print out of the markings to be painted. I make sure they are sized correctly ahead of time by “testing” them on the model first- just holding it up in place.|
|I then securely tape down the print out, which is essentially my cutting guide.|
|Using a brand new #11 blade, I carefully cut out the markings. I do the small cuts first, so that the paper will stay in place securely as long as possible, and then do the longer cuts.|
|Once the paper mask has been cut, I carefully remove the tape holding it in place, leaving just the single piece of tape underneath. With the tip of my #11 blade, I carefully lift up the mask, making small cuts as needed where it did not cut fully through. Slow and careful wins the day at this point!|
|This is how it looks once the tape in the area to be painted is removed. Keep in mind, this same technique can be used for positive masks!|
|After painting, but before buffing out and clean up.|
Once you’ve finished that, you can use a small, pointed brush or even a toothpick to make any paint corrections needed. After sufficient drying time, going over the area with a coffee filter or soft cotton t-shirt will smooth out the marking, and remove and edges and blemishes.
So the next time you can’t find decals for your project, consider making your own masks!