Greetings Por'la and welcome to a special briefing by Kor'ui Ma'ngo'Zac on a topic I am often queried on: creating clean panel lines on models. As with any modelling topic, pictures are worth a million words so whilst doing some scribing today I decided to take some pictures for this article.
- Painter's masking tape (the plastic stuff, not just $2 masking tape)
- Scribing tools (more on this later)
I'm going to be adding a new panel line to the lower leg of my Superheavy Walker. Actually, that's a lie - I'm redoing a panel line that I did before I was any good at this! You can see the original line that I have filled with putty.
1. Decide how you want you panel lines to look.
This is probably the most important step because if you don't design them correctly then no matter how good your scribing technique they simply won't look any good! I will generally use a pencil and eraser and just sketch lines freehand on the model until I have a design I like. Since I didn't take a picture for this step I've shown the planned panel line in yellow:
2. Draw precise lines.
Precision is of utmost importance here. Measure everything and try to do the absolute minimal possible using freehand. I also use a square to ensure that applicable lines are perpendicular.
3. Lay down a guide.
I use some painters tape that I "borrowed" from my Dad but I believe that something like Tamiya masking tape would also work well. Lay the tape onto the model so that the edge runs perfectly along the pencil lines you have just drawn. Depending on the tape you may need to do it a couple of layers thick - I did this on the 45° line here after I took the picture.
So what we want to do here is gradually make a scribed line. I'll again stress the word gradually. If you use too much pressure you're more likely to a) shift the tape you're using as a guide or b) accidentally nick off in another direction to what you're supposed to. The plan here is to get a groove that's probably 1/3 of a millimetre deep. I haven't counted but I probably make somewhere between 15-25 passes. It all depends on the material you're scribing into also - putties like Magic Sculpt, Milliput, etc. are a dream but styrene not so much.
By the way, you should be using two hands for this - I'm just posing for the camera in my other hand here!
4.1. A little aside on scribing tools.
I'm using a little Hasegawa tool that came with one of my scribing template packs as my main scribing tool. It works well but is a little small so your hand gets a bit sore after a while. I'm going to have a go at building my own scriber from a bit of stainless steel rod with a hole drilled in one end. I'll then stick a sewing needle in there as the scribing tip. The beauty is that once it gets blunt I can just pull it out and put a new one in!
5. Remove mask.
Simple. Carefully peel off the tape and inspect your line. Its should be nice and straight.
[optional] 6. Deepening the line.
I will most of the time now carefully use my scribing tool to deepen the scribed lines to the depth I want. It's probably a better idea to do this whilst the tape is still on but I feel I can see what's going on better without the tape. For this particular line I want the line to be wider that that made by the scribing tool. For this I use one of my sculpting tools with a knife shaped end. I just drag the pointy tip around exactly the same way as I did the scribing tool.
OK so I stuffed up with the widening step and made a bit of a gouge at the 45° section. Don't panic! It's easily fixed with a bit of putty - Milliput is my putty of choice for this kind of repair. Note that things can get a bit ugly looking in the widening step on styrene. A bit of priming and this will look much nicer. The problem is that styrene tends to rip rather than grind away like putty does.
Hopefully people will get some use out of this. Of course if you have a technique you think is better than please do share! Have fun!
Part of the Official ATT Modelling Resource [Model Guides & Tutorials]