It is our attempt to teach the modeler a few tips and tricks to add to their present degree of modeling skills for use both on the Titanic or other models in general. These can be applied to modifying existing material or scratchbuilding from parts and other `household' items not normally associated with model making.

Making your own decals

There are some sections of the tutorial in the tutorial where you may like to create your own decals. eg. the flag section. Here is how you can do this...

Step 1
Buy a sheet of decal paper, suitable for your printer, either injet, colour laser or Alps printer. You can purchase decal paper from most good hobby shops or online from Bel There are generally three colours.

  • Clear - for printers that can print solid white. eg the Alps 5000
  • White - for printers that cannot produce solid white
  • Blue - for printers like the Alps 5000 that can produce solid white it makes the decals easier to see.

Step 2
Create your artwork.

This can be done using your word processing softwared or any number of graphics and CAD programs. eg. Adobe Illustrator, Macromedia Freehand, Deneba Canvas, or CorelDRAW. There are also a number of smaller drawing programs that are part of a windows or mac operating system.

Step 3
Print your decals.

As mentioned you can use one of three types of printers, or take your artwork and a decal sheet to a local copy centre and have them copy it for you.

Step 4
Apply your decals.

A few tips for working with decals:

  • Always use a sharp hobby knife
  • Ttrim these as close to the image as possible
  • Apply setting solution BEFORE and AFTER the decals have been placed
  • To place extremely small decals use the toothpick method listed above.

bruce beveridge's advice for applying his decals:

"The modeler will achieve the best results by first removing the model's original window mullions and then replace them with the decals." He states that the decals are of a high quality so acetate backing is -not- required (although still optional). It is recommended that the you fill in the larger windows with white glue or KK like product, this gives the decal a bit more backing and once applied no decal setting agent should be necessary.

The smaller windows should be fine with just the decal placed over the opening."

Bruce Beveridge's advice for applying his deck decals:

"The plastic Decks need to be pre-coated with a wood centre of the modeler's choice. If too dark of a centre is used the decals will not be seen. I feel that a lighter centre is more appropriate for realism as yellow pine is a light tan centre. For the prototype I used Pollyscale "TH&B cream" as a base coat then Testors' Model Masters "WOOD". I dry brushed the "WOOD" over the TH&B cream with a wide artists brush always going parallel with the direction of the planking. I then dry brushed "TH&B cream" over the "WOOD". This gives the effect of wood with grain.

The modeler has to follow all of the usual water slide decal application rules on this project because the decals are so big. I applied a clear coat over the wood centreed painted plastic. I then brushed Microscales "Micro Set" over the area where the decal would be placed. I applied the decal after cutting it on a cutting board to square it off and get it ready to be "butted" up with the next decal strip. After tapping it down with a Q-tip and applying a whole side, I applied Microscale "Micro Set" to the decals to ensure proper setting.

The modeler should apply the "Micro Sol" after the whole decal job is done for that one piece. Extra care should be taken in this step because air bubbles can easily occur with decals this big. I applied a flat clear coat over the dry decals when I was done."

  • Note: Q-tip is a name brand for a cotton swab.

To use the decals the Deck planking and markings will have to be sanded off. There is an article on Deck Scribing at Titanic Reasearch and Modeling Association that can be used as a reference for Deck modifications to be made before application of the decals.

1. Pulling Sprue

Throughout the course of this Tutorial is numerous references to `pulled sprue'. What do we mean by that? Simple. As you well know, model parts come on `racks' or `trees' in their unassembled state. These trees are made of the same material as the parts therefore lend themselves well for scratchbuilding projects.

Pulling sprue allows the modeler to create various diameter rods from pencil thick down to spider web thickness, based on the amount heated and the speed of the ends being pulled apart.

Pulling sprue requires at least two things, a heat source, and a length of plastic tree (or other source plastic material).

We use a stubby broad based candle for the heat source. The candle is placed inside a discarded Testors spray paint can lid more maximum stability from tipping over.

When the candle is lit and you have the section of sprue you wish to modify there are several techniques for determining the thickness of the finished product:

First, holding the sprue length on both ends with your fingers, place it 10mm to 20mm above the flame in the heat plume. Do not place it IN the flame! Now we roll it around in our finger tips like a rotisserie so all sides are heated equally. Now for.....

a) Thin sprue:
Heat a narrow band of the sprue tree, say 5mm in length. By holding the sprue above the heat you will feel the plastic get soft and start to bend being unable to support its own weight. When it becomes soft pull the two ends in your fingers away from each other at a steady pace. If you go too fast, it breaks. Practice on several scraps. Just pull quick enough to achieve the diameter you are after and allow to cool.

b) Thick sprue:
To achieve thicker diameters for pipes, posts, etc., heat up a section of sprue to a greater distance, say around 10-25mm in length of a thicker plastic stock tree initially. The longer zone being heated (10-25mm) allows the modeler to pull the opposing ends away at a slower rate, controlling the thickness of the sprue and keeping it from becoming too thin, too fast. Again practice on scraps.

Rules of thumb:
Small heated sections will produce ultra-thin threadlike sprue. Longer heated sections will produce thicker sprue.

Original diameter of plastic stock sprue tree and speed of the `pull' can effect the outcome.

Learning to master this technique will allow you to construct poles, pipes, conduits, rigging, rails and just about anything you need.

We have also pulled sprue to thicker diameters and then sanded them down to square or rectangular shapes for ducts, motors, pulleys, trunks etc.

2. Sanding Block

It is highly recommended that you make a sanding block.

Take a small scrap of wood about 4"x4"x 1/2" and glue a piece of sandpaper to it with white glue or carpenters glue and allow to dry.

This tool then allows you to powersand parts by holding the block and then scraping the parts along it, rather than holding the part and moving the sandpaper. It gives the modeler great control.

3. Making the "glusquito".

Have you ever found it difficult to glue small pieces together or small pieces in and around other objects? Has retrofitting become more of a chore because of the hard to reach angles? Well fear no more. With the aid of the GluSquito all of these type of gluing projects need not be difficult any longer. What is a GluSquito and where can you buy one?

Well a GluSquito looks like its bug cousin and is an aid in gluing. Where to buy one? You can't. You MAKE one instead!

To make your own GluSquito you need four things:

  1. Plastic stock from the "parts" tree.
  2. A heat source like a candle .
  3. A common pin .
  4. Pliers.

Take the pliers and cut a 5cm section off the sprue tree. Choose a 'T' piece with a short "arm" off to one side approx. 3cm long. This will be the handle to hold and control the GluSquito. Next grip the common pin with the pliers in one hand and the sprue stock in the other. Hold the end of the sprue tree over the candle until the end becomes soft (almost to a melt point). Push the pin into the soft plastic until it is buried.

Let cool. What you now have is a plastic stock with a pin sticking out of the end. Once cooled you should be able to bend the pin any way you need to be able to reach in and around objects to apply glue or whatever. Being metal the pin won't be bothered by the glue and you can also use the point of the pin to "spear" a small part for placing or dabbing glue or paint as needed.

We found 1001 uses for the GluSquito, cleaning out holes, adding glue to railing points, Kristal Klear to small windows, glitter dots to the Grand Staircase's railing panels, etc. Having had to retrofit parts on our models (as we were finding details AFTER certain parts had already been constructed) made the placing of mats, doors, and pipes in recessed areas all the easier. It only takes a few minutes to construct one but believe us when we say it is a worthwhile project to undertake.

4 .Rigging Substitution

The model rigging thread is subject to humidity changes, fraying, and otherwise undesirable effects, so we replaced it throughout with monofilament fishing line (Trilene 4lb. test and 10lb. Test). You will need to paint these lines to a color of your choice. For us, the bulk was done in dark gray with others in black, or brown.

5. Rigging Line Tightening

After the model was complete we tightened up the monofilament lines by applying quick passes with a hand held hair dryer device. The hair dryer was held high enough to not melt plastic parts (and yes this can happen as we experimented on scraps to see how hot it can get!). Then make passes similar as to what you use in spray painting.

6. Gluing

To keep from making a mess while gluing model parts together we ALWAYS use the least amount of glue we can get away with. Small parts had glue dabbed on with the end of scrap pulled sprue, or toothpicks. For hard to reach areas we created and used the GluSquito. To see how to manufacture one, check out the MISCELLANEOUS segment.

In the case of the brass photoetched parts, all parts were dipped into a small pool of CA type glue and then joined together until set a few seconds later.

We found using a -gluing block- of indispensable aid. These gluing blocks were fashioned from fishing box tray dividers, or from discarded sections of our model's B deck. They were about 50mm x 50mm square. One for CA glue, the other for regular model glue.

7. Absorbing Excess Glue or Paint

In times were we might apply too much paint or glue we always kept a highly absorbent paper towel handy with the corners in tight twists so they could be applied to the problem as quickly as possible. If you slop regular model glue, it is best to let it dry, then sand or file it off. Trying to rub it off causes the plastic surface to mark.

If you have ruined the finish, allow to dry, and sand, putty, and sand to a desired surface texture then repaint as needed.

8. Puttying

Like glue, do not overdo it. If you are puttying in a large area or deep section, do it in stages rather than all at once. The putty will bond better. Apply only what you need. Allow to dry thoroughly before sanding and/or shaping.

9. Steel Wool

This provides for a great back up after you have sanded. Once we use the sandpaper we always follow up with steel wool to remove as many scratches as possible. This worked great after we had removed the ugly hull mold seam markings.

10. Spray Painting

Do this in a well ventilated area. Protect from over spray. We found holding the can 100mm away helps, using short bursts and quick but uniform passes the best. Mask areas where sharp lines between pigment changes are desired with masking tape.

11. Brush Painting

Clean brush frequently during use, apply small amounts, paint with tip of brush only and use a variety of brushes for different projects. We used wide brushes for the funnels, narrow brushes for detailing, and trimmed one brush down to 3-5 bristles for ultra-fine painting. Purchase decent brushes. You do not want the bristles shedding as you paint! We dislike model brush paint in silver and gold so we spray pools of those colors with the spray version into their can lids and then dip our brush into that. Much brighter and uniform finish (in our opinion).

12. Mixing Paint

Do not be scared to mix colors to achieve a tone or pigment you need but if you do this make sure you make enough the first time out to include the main project AND touchups. Try and write the formula down if you need to make a second batch. Guessing always leads to a mismatch in pigment.

13. Dry Brushing

Not all paint will need to go on opaque. We dry brushed the following for example, rust on the hull seams, fairleads, doors, etc., and multi-toning the deck's wood planking. What is dry brushing?

The name describes it accurately. What the modeler is doing is applying pigment in a thin semidry method as opposed to the usual wet and more solid application style.

How we achieve it is by dipping the brush in the color we are using and then dragging it across a paper towel to lift off the majority of pigment. Rather than a solid streak of color, the brush will start to just leave traces of pigment. You are now ready to dry brush.

With the paint now in this semidry condition we just touch the model in the areas we wish to apply this technique to and deposit translucent hints of the pigment color so the base color underneath still shows through. For rust along seams we have also just dabbed the tip of the dry brush color into a thinner and when applied to the hull for example, the very thin color bleeds into the cracks and crevasses carried along by the thinner. The end effect is very realistic. As with other techniques mentioned ALWAYS practice on scraps first until you feel confident enough to try it on the actual model.

14. Using the Hobby Knife as a Third Hand

There were times when gluing minute parts on the model was very difficult, with parts being too small to hold with our fingers, small pliers or tweezers. One method we found that worked was applying the glue to the area we were working on, then with the extreme tip of the hobby knife, `spearing' the tiny object to be placed. Spearing means pressing the cutting edge of the tip into the object with just enough pressure for it to pick it up. We then carried the object to the glued surface and then applied it. The glue's grabbing and bonding properties would be greater than the holding power of the hobby knife's tip and would always pull it free from the knife. The cut mark is so fine as to not be seen in any instance and this allows you to also spin the knife around and position it perfectly before applying it to the surface.

In instances where the hobby knife would not fit, we used a toothpick with a tiny bit of spittle on the end to hold the micropart and again the glue would extract it off once lined up and pressed against the glued surface. This makes the application of extremely small parts now feasible and always results in a more pleasing and detailed model.

15. Working with Decals

Always trim these as close as possible and apply setting solution BEFORE and AFTER the decals have been placed. For extremely small decals we found the toothpick/spittle method listed in item 13 above to work.

16. Protecting the Painted Hull

After we had prepared the hull with the new port holes, hawse holes, and other items, we painted it the 4 primary colors it had. However the hull still required handling after the superstructure was added. To protect the finish from chips, scratches, fingerprints or other damage we wrapped it up with a combination of masking tape and white papers up to the yellow line. It is cheap insurance and allows you to handle the hull as much as you like without ruining the finish. We caution you depending on the climate that you live in that masking tape may not be the best suited for your area if the tape is to be left on for any length of time. Use a tape suited for your climatic conditions as long as it will not peel the paint off beneath it when removed.

17. Dry-fitting

If you have modified or scratchbuilt parts it is always best to dryfit them on first. What is dry fitting? The placement of parts in their final positions on the model without glue. It is a temporary measure to see if you have achieved the results that you desire before permanently attaching them via glue.

In fact we recommend that you dry fit EVERYTHING first, for most models `out-of-the-box' require some type of adjustment. Especially with the deck levels, superstructure weather covers, funnels, bridge bulkhead, you name it. It will pay off in the end if you do this.

18. Building Procedure Logic

Though it is recommended to usually follow the instruction manual's steps, we did find times when we abandoned its order. For instance, we did not put ANY rigging on until after all decks were assembled. We found dipping the monofilament line into the CA glue and placing them in the holes later allowed a more accessible method for deck work than trying to work around the threads or line laying all about. The rigging and flags was the LAST THING we did.

While working on the deck, or retrofitting as new details come to light (and believe us this happened almost DAILY) we found it always best to work from the inside out towards the edges. The less you need to reach over and around things the better. How many have lost the tips of the masts for example!

Work on things as a unit and then assemble the units later IF possible. This is not always feasible, but when it is it is highly recommended to do it that way. There is nothing worse than breaking two things off for every one new thing added. We have been there and done that so we know, being the result of new detail retrofits.

19. Gluing the Decks Together

Following on from item 18. Our decks were shaped more like bananas when they came out of the box. Getting them to lay flat during the gluing phase looked to be a challenge until we pulled out the weights and "C" clamps. This is the way we did it...

After we had glued our segmented B deck (see HULL for details) it was time to make the superstructure.

Step 1.

File the front edge of both decks to ensure that they fit nicely into the grooves on J39.

Glue the bridge bulkhead (part J39) to the BOAT DECK NOT A-deck as the manual recommends. This makes alignment to A-deck much easier with virtually no gaps showing in the corner seams.

Step 2.

Glue the A and B deck assemblies to the decks clamping them down with 'C' clamps to ensure a tight fit. Glue parts J13 A & B to the bottom of the A deck piece NOT to B deck as suggested.

  • Note: When using the clamps make sure you place pieces of scrap plastic or wooden shims under the jaws of the clamps to prevent deck damage.

Step 3.

Glue A deck and the Boat deck together and clamp.

Once the glue has set and the clamps removed attach the side weather/promenade bulkheads on port and starboard, Wrap about 5 elastic bands around the assembly equidistant along the section. Then place larger "C" clamps over the deck assembly so the jaws pressed against the opposing weather covers, again placing shims (wood or plastic) between the jaw and model to protect the finish. These were just snug up so the weather covers sat completely flush along the superstructure assembly.

Step 4.

Once dry it's time to glue the superstructure to the hull. Having removed the gluing tabs from the hull (see HULL segment) means that your superstructure is free to move about for making micro-adjustments. Once lined up place beads of glue on the underside of A-deck's overhang . Again use elastic bands and large "C" clamps between funnels 3 & 4 and on the bridge roof with the other jaw on the ship's bottom keel (again with shims).

Step 5.

This ensures that there are no gaps showing at the bases of the A or B deck forwards.

Sit a small 5 pound weight on the lounge roof (the #3 funnel deckhouse had NOT been installed yet). The result when dry is a perfectly joined series of decks with no unsightly gaps or seams showing. We left each stage of deck gluing in the clamps for 24 hours before proceeding to the next one and the decks have held together perfectly since.

The glue beads underneath the A-deck were later masked effectively using the long pipes that ran under the superstructure.

  • Note: If you plan ahead of time you can bypass the manual's order of instruction and improvise when addressing areas that present any problems.

If you use this approach ensure that you only have the forward deckhouses (i.e. bridge/officer's quarters, gym,etc.) installed prior to gluing. Keep the remainder free except the raised roof area. Snug the clamps but don't tighten them too much or you can break parts or plastic.

19. Working with Acetate

We used model glue, white glue and adhesive tape to hold this material in place. Do NOT use CA glue unless you are after a `frosted' glass appearance.

20. Part Substitution

The purchase of the brass photoetched parts from Gold Medal Model's and Tom's Modelworks allows the modeler to use the Academy/Minicraft parts for other projects. For example, we used the A/M railings to make skylights, rails, window frames, etc., while the supplied thread rigging was replaced by fishing line, making the thread available for the manufacture of deck ropes about the Titanic's forecastle and poop deck. The model's Tank room covers were used for trellises, skylights, etc. Most of what was replaced by external support products were reused in other projects to keep price costs down and waste material to an absolute minimum.

21. Sheet Plastic

This was of a great benefit for deck replacement, bulkhead/bulwark manufacture, hatch work, etc. A MUST have in our opinion.

Likewise for the Evergreen plastic strips used for signage backing, kickstrips about the decks, etc.

22. Trimming Parts

Always use the hobby knife. If the parts are very fine, such as the liferings, we first cut the holding tabs with the part off of the sprue tree, then separated the tabs from the part afterward.

This keeps the main part from cracking or breaking. It is worth the effort.

23. Using the Computer

Dan used his computer to aid in the design of the floor tile pattern and then reduced it to the appropriate scale and made a hardcopy print. This was then trimmed and fit to the decks in the interior sections that required them. He also used it to make the Crown and Glory wall ornament seen on the forward end of the Boat Deck's and A-deck's Grand Staircase wall.

Others have used it for decal designing.

24. Keeping the White Areas Clean

Try not to handle the painted white areas of the ship too much with your hands. The oils from your skin can help turn it yellow. If you do find the odd fingerprint on it or dirt mark we found using a gum eraser like that at the end of a pencil works great for removing the mark on a least flat white. Do not rub too hard though.

25. Making Soot

To make soot for the funnel tops we mixed baby powder with flat black paint and then applied it to the funnel tops. You can seal it with dullcoat to keep it from rubbing off if you wish.

26. Realistic Flags

Most models have a tendency to make the flags look like they've been starched. Even though the decals are fragile there is an easy solution to make flags look more lifelike.

Cut out a small section of tinfoil (the food covering kind is ideal).

Most flag decals require you to fold the two halves together around a pole or cable. Instead, once the decal is ready to come off the backing, place one side of the decal on the tinfoil so its folding line runs along the straight edge of the tinfoil sheet. Now fold the other half of the decal around to the opposite of the tinfoil making sure it lines up correctly and is not offset. When the decal dries carefully cut out the flag(s), making sure to not leave any tinfoil flashing around the edges.

Use CA glue to mount the flag to a cable. When the glue has set you can give the impression of movement by using the tip of a paint brush handle, small straw or any cylindrical object to create small furls in the flags.

You will need to dab a bit of touch up paint the same color as the flag along the edge between the two decals as tinfoil will show like a knife edge, even with careful trimming.

The tin foil allows the animation of flags while preventing the decals from cracking and gives the model a more lifelike appearance.

27. Odds 'n Ends

Look around the house for materials to use. For example.....

  1. Minute Colored Beads became our running lights.
  2. Light bulb filaments became our A-deck aft springs.
  3. Common pins became our flagstaff, steam valves, crane pulleys.
  4. Fishing line became our rigging, hull knuckles and hand rails.
  5. Sequins became our capstan covers.
  6. Watch gears became our windlass tops.
  7. Staples became our crane boom securing brackets
  8. Finishing nail became part of the bow's anchor crane.
  9. Ball-point pen ink cartridge became or #4 funnel internal pipe.
  10. Plastic food wrap became our canvas covers.

Use your imagination!


What follows are a few of Dan's quick tips also covered in detail elsewhere in the Tutorial segments.

26. Forecastle

For the steam valves on the forecastle deck, you may wish to use minute gears from an old, broken wind-up watch (make sure the watch is not a valuable antique before you destroy it!!!!) for the steam valve tops and windlass caps.

Paint the gutter along the edge, approximately 1 plank width, or, up to the edge of the bitts and bollards.

27. Stern

For the aft docking bridge, I used the GMM wheel here, where it is more visible than placing it in the wheel house or bridge. I also used part G14 in the kit here (the directions says this won't be used. Not so.) Part C2, with the plastic wheel, will be cut apart and used on the bridge itself.

Again, paint the gutters on the deck edge.

28. Cranes

All cranes with an exposed deck beneath them have crane support poles. The A-deck crane poles run from the ceiling to the B deck planks. The best way to mount these is to drill a hole through the center of the molded base before installing the crane and run a Evergreen .040 rod through. Don't glue it yet. Once you sandwich the upper deck to the lower one, push the rod so it touches the lower deck. Clip the rod so a small amount remains above the molded base. At this point, go ahead and glue the rod in place.

29. Boat Deck

Along the first class smoking room's and first class lounge/R/W rooms' raised roof contours on the boat deck is a gutter. I painted this rust brown, approximately 1/2 a plank (on the model) out from the edge. See Leo Marriott's book, pages 38 and 73.

Just on the outside edge of each bridge wing cab on the bulkhead is a small, tan-brown box. This is likely a binocular box. I used a small square of scrap plastic for this, the top of the box sanded at a 45 degree angle.

I plan to use the Lusitania 3-bar rails for the railings separating the officer's promenade from the passenger area on the fore end of the boat deck, as well as the after end near the 3rd funnel.

30. Funnels

On the #4 funnel there was a galley steam pipe that ran up through the stack and ends at the cap. On the kit there is a circular nodule on the cap. Hollow this out and fabricate a pipe from a Bic pen cartridge. Paint the pipe black or dark gray.

There were steel supports between the exterior shell and the interior workings of the funnel. Glue Evergreen M-2 strips between these two layers.

31. Hull Detail

Whether or not you choose to paint the anchor wells red as indicated in the kit directions is up to you. Personally, I am not going to paint them red, but rather black with a dry-brushing of rust.

  • Editor's note: Mike painted his anchor wells rust red

The stern's plates around the name are missing their lines on the model. I lightly scribed them into the hull. The picture on page 24 of Leo Marriott's book is the only one I've seen that shows that at least Titanic's name and registry were cut into the stern before her launching. Drill all ports and scribe all lines, add missing doors before you paint the hull.


Here is some further tips taken from assorted websites on modeling techniques that may be of interest or benefit ...mainly military modeling but some of the procedures can be applied to the Titanic model as well.


32. Klear

  • Klear (or similar) acrylic floor polish is an amazing finish for painted surfaces. It dries quickly and I have never known it to "yellow" like a lot of other varnishes. It can be thinned with alcohol although I have always been able to spray it "neat" and it gives a lovely finish. It can be cleaned up with water.
  • I mix it with TAMIYA flat agent (a waxy cream) to give a range of finishes. 70/30 Polish to flat agent gives a semi-gloss surface. At close to 50/50, you get a nice matt surface.
  • I also use Klear for decalling. I perforate the decal while it is still on it's backing sheet with the tip of a No.11 scalpel blade. Just enough to break the decals surface and not hard enough to make much of an impression on the backing paper. Then paint the region of the decals intended location with Klear using a small brush. While the Klear is still wet, apply the perforated decal in the usual way. When the decal is in the right spot, press with a paper towel (not tissue, too "fluffy") and the excess Klear beneath the decal will come through the small holes and pull the decal onto the surface. Then lightly coat with more Klear. Using this technique I have never (touch wood !) had decal "silvering" due to trapped air. The small holes made by the scalpel are invisible and the decals are firmly secured, even around curves and have a painted-on look. It is also possible to move the decal to reposition it. Just brush on some Klear and wait for 30 seconds. Manipulate the decal with a small brush and it with become unstuck and you can move it. Just stick it back down using Klear.

33. Correction Fluid

Correction fluid (such as TIPEX) is excellent for filling small gaps and sink holes. Use the spirit based type (NOT the water based) and it is dry within a minute. It can be gently sanded with wet-and-dry and painted as normal. To get a smooth surface and to blend the Fluid into small cracks, try brushing on a touch of liquid cement.

34. Super Glue

Super Glue can be accelerated with baking powder !! Just sprinkle the white powder onto wet superglue and it goes hard very quickly. It can then be carved and sanded as per usual. In fact it is often harder than the plastic it is stuck to. I use it for reshaping part and for reinforcing hidden joints quickly, such as when attaching cockpit tubs.

35. Waterproof Black Pen

Don't be afraid to use a waterproof black (or brown) pen to add detail. I use a fine tipped pen of the type used on Overhead projectors to put fine lines on missiles and to add depth to panels and control surfaces. I have also used colored pens to draw outlines of decals on clear sheet. For example, the no-step markings on my 1/48 Harrier GR7 were made using a small stencil, outlining in pen and then filling with paint. The crosses through the foot marks are black rub down letter Xs.


36. Blending Photoetched Parts

I have found a super way to blend in photo-etch; after the super glue has dried, apply a runny paste of Tamiya putty and liquid glue with a fine paintbrush around the areas you have attached the etch. You can then use an older stubble brush to "stipple" the paste to blend it into the surrounding area.

37. Simulating Weld Beads

A really simple way to simulate weld beads is to use very fine Evergreen strip plastic. (I use the .010 x .020 strip Item # 100 K-1) apply a liberal coat of liquid glue and after a few minutes use a #11 X-acto blade and simply texture the "weld"

38. Rescribe Panel Lines

A great way to rescribe panel lines is to purchase some "dynatape" hard plastic tape. Remember to cut the tape in half so as to get twice the amount. Apply the tape in the areas you wish to scribe and simply scribe your new panel lines. For curved surfaces simply cut the tape closer to the edge as it is very flexible and very stable.

39. Cheap Scriber

A cheap scriber is made from a #11 xacto blade. Simply snap off the very tip and then use the blade in an inverted matter. The scribing process will remove a spiral of plastic that is easily removed. After a while the blade will dull and you then use this blade as a "weld maker".


40. Rust

A great way to simulate rust is to apply a liberal coat of liquid glue to the area that is rusted and then sprinkle very fine sand, baking powder or some other suitable material and then dry brush with various shades of rust. For newer rust add a bit of yellow.


The following are various modeling tips and ideas from the members of IPMS "Buzz" Beurling.

40. Showing up problems before painting

When finished sanding, I usually brush on some Testors non-buffing metalizer paint. The metallic color shows up any glitches that still need work really well, and because it dries in a couple of minutes I can putty and/or sand the problem almost immediately, without having to wait ages while normal primer paint dries.

41. Fine detail painting

Check in arts supply stores for something called a `Pigma brush.' This is a device like a disposable pen, but with a sharply pointed, flexible, brush like tip. It's ideal for touching up or other fine work. There's no need to worry if you've got enough or too much paint on your brush, and because the tip isn't made of separate hairs or fibers, it keeps a sharp point and doesn't bush out.

42. Masking over delicate surfaces

3M makes a tape called ``Post-it Correction & Cover-up Tape'' which is designed to temporarily cover places on a page while photocopying. This is essentially a tape form of their Post-it notes The adhesive covers the entire undersurface as with any tape, unlike standard Post-it notes, so you can cut a piece whatever size you want, and it even comes in many different widths from thin enough to follow curves, to wide enough to cover large areas and be cut to shape. The gentle adhesive works well for things like masking over natural metal finishes, and can likely be used to provide a soft edge, just by adding a gentle curl to the edge of the tape mask.

43. Use Gloss Varnish / Future/Klear as Photoetch Glue

When gluing photoetched parts to a model, especially things like instrument bezels, I find using clear gloss varnish (I use Xtracolour, though even the ubiquitous Future/Klear would likely work) works really well. It gives you time to move the part into place, unlike superglue which often locks the part instantly to where it first touched, and it is much thinner than epoxy, so it doesn't obscure details. Note: It doesn't necessary work well for parts that are
butt-joined or attached at a very small point such as an antenna, but for most flat photoetch parts varnish is much easier to work with.


44. Use Artists Watercolors in Tubes for Washes and Weathering

You can get artist watercolor paints (not acrylics) in tubes at most art and craft stores that work well for doing washes and weathering.
A set of three colors (Black, White, and Brown) will let you make just about any color you might need (gray or brown washes usually look more realistic than straight black). Mix then with just enough water, and a tiny drop of liquid soap to cut the surface tension, then flow them into recessed panel lines, or along raised panel lines. The best thing about using watercolors, is that any mistakes are easy to wipe off, and start again. A dampened Q-tip, or cloth will let you clean away overflows, or entirely remove areas to be redone.

45. Use Calligraphy ``Scratch Knife'' as Inexpensive, Excellent Scriber

A calligraphy scratch knife makes for an excellent scriber. It produces amazingly fine lines (actually removing a fine hair of plastic, rather than plowing a furrow), and due to it's shape, and unlike even most expensive and purpose designed scribers, allows you to produce scribed lines for things such as ailerons with one edge vertical and the other beveled (e.g. |/ ). It also has the added advantages of lasting longer than other scribers, and being very inexpensive to replace the tip should you ever wear it out. For that matter, the entire cost of the handle and tip is very inexpensive. Calligraphy ``scratch knives'' are simply a sharp triangular tip designed to fit into a `standard' calligraphy pen handle. The actual ``scratch knife'' tip is intended for use as an `eraser' to scratch away the inked part of the paper to remove the mistake. You can get a Calligraphy pen ``handle'' and ``scratch knife'' for about $2.50 and $0.50 respectively at most arts stores which carry calligraphy supplies. Buy yourself a few ``scratch knife'' tips and you'll have a lifetime supply for far less than the cost of a more expensive scriber.


  • Most SLR cameras will not focus sharply on objects closer than about 18 inches. To take tabletop photographs you can get a sharper focus by using CLOSE-UP FILTERS. They are inexpensive but effective.
  • A lens hood helps reduce flare caused by rays of light falling on the lens.
  • Use fresh film ASA200.
  • If shooting pictures outside in the sun, either use a backfill light or be conscious of how the shadows are falling on the model, dependent of course on the time of day you are taking pictures.
  • Take interesting angled photos.
  • Use a tripod!
  • Shoot with the sun behind you or overhead but not into it. Colors are richest in hues between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. when the light wavelengths are the most direct.
  • Fill the photo up with the ship and less background.
  • Be aware of what is in the background as the camera will often see what the photographer doesn't. Keep the backgrounds simple and not eye distracting or "busy".
  • Make sure the ship is on a steady platform.
  • Avoid strong wind as it plays havoc on the rigging.
  • Frame the photo with the camera so you get balanced shots.
  • Use panoramic techniques if you want to show the deck detail rather than trying to fit it all in to a single photo.
  • If you used glass in the windows be aware of flash unit flares or other light sources which could wash out important detail.
  • Vary the distance of your shots using close-ups when and where available subject to your Camera's abilities.
  • Changing the depth of field, using filters, and various speed films can create interesting effects.
  • You can also use black and white film to create that 1912 "feel".
  • You are limited only by your imagination.
  • The finished photo should also represent a piece of art so if you like you could have the photos enlarged which in turn are suitable for framing.
  • Once a photo is scanned you can also make alterations to it via your favorite Paint program software.
  • Use quality cameras and lenses. It -does- make a difference.


When you decide to order or construct your own model display case it is important for you to remember take measurements of your model and record the sizes in the order (L)ength, (D)epth and (H)eight.

If the model is sitting on blocks, pedestals or cradles make sure to include those dimensions also into the (H)eight calculation!

To make the model look scaled to the case and not too small or overcrowded then it is advised that you:

  1. add 2 inches to the (L)ength both fore & aft. (i.e. = 4 inches longer than the model itself)
  2. add 1.5 inches to the (W)idth (beam) on both sides. (i.e. = 3 inches wider than the model itself)
  3. add 1.5 inches to the (H)eight. (i.e. = 1.5 inches above the model and any raised mount it is on

See SUPPORT PRODUCTS for companies who make display cases in the USA, Canada and the UK.


If you have anything you wish to include, feel free to send your tip and/or trick to us at the following e-mail address;


This site was created by David Cotgreave January 2000