Paint Masking

Over the last few years, I have gotten a lot of questions and suggestions about paint masking, but I never actually tried it until this past weekend. And I might never have tried it if I didn’t have this blog! My first effort is a little rough around the edges, but I think this is a powerful tool that I will continue to use in the future.

Paint masking means protecting part of a surface from receiving paint while you paint other parts of the surface. I used a liquid paint mask called Micro Mask. Let me show you how it works:

I used a paint brush to put a thin, smooth coat of Micro Mask on the minimate’s chest. I set it aside and let it dry for 2 hours. After it dries, the surface feels like rubber. I used a hobby knife to carefully cut out my design. I was carefully to use the knife lightly, so it wouldn’t scratch the minimate plastic.

This pi symbol is now masked from any paint I add to the surface. When I am done painting, all I have to do is peel away this mask, and I will (in theory) have a perfect white pi symbol on his chest.

This part did not go as smoothly as I had hoped. I grabbed my paint brush and began painting the surface black. Most of the paint mask stayed in place, but the lower right leg of the pi symbol shifted to the left. At this point it was masking the area beneath it, and there was now black paint in the area that is used to sit in, so I decided just to ride it out.

I left the paint dry for 2 hours, and then carefully peeled away the pi symbol using the end of my hobby knife.

If you compare the end results to the original mask above, you can see how the design shifted when I painted it. I still think it looks cool, but the paint mask didn’t perform as expected. I tried to use slow and gentle paint strokes, but maybe the direction of my strokes was a problem? Or maybe my design was too intricate? Also, maybe I should try a different brand of masking fluid?

I will keep experimenting with it, and post my results in a future update. I definitely see the potential of this tool, and the top part of the pi symbol came out nice and clean. If anyone else has experience using masking fluid, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments. 🙂

The customizing contest is only a few days away from starting! Details coming soon!

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1 Response

  1. Lobsterman says:

    I’ve used liquid mask on a few customs, and have had much better luck using an airbrush for the painting step. The mask isn’t quite tacky enough to resist the friction of the brush.

    Also, I’ve been experimenting with using that laser printer sticker paper, or even avery clear laser labels as a more traditional airbrush frisket. I print the pattern or whatever I’m masking on the label paper, apply it to the minimate surface, and carefully exacto out the areas I want to paint, basically as you did with the masking fluid.