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Gloss Coating using an Airbrush - advice wanted

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Nik Olliff06/06/2012 01:51:36
641 forum posts
378 photos

I am having problems with getting a gloss finish using my airbrush. The best I can get is an egg shell finish. I have been using Humbrol satin paints on a Sea Vixen followed by Testors Gloss coat at about 15psi. I also dont seem to get a full gloss finish with Johnson Plege One Go floor polish either. Although I quite like the finish I am getting it is not smooth enough for decals to always adhere as they should.

Can any one give me some ideas please?

Cheers Nik

Geoffrey Charman06/06/2012 09:53:57
603 forum posts
471 photos

Hi Nik,

A high gloss finish looks too much on models, a satin finish is all you really need.

When applying decals I have found that 2 thin coats of Kleer/Pledge is OK under the decal without the decal "silvering" this can be followed by another Kleer coat and that looks OK for a gloss finish.

I do the above over Matt paint and get no "silvering"


Paul the Military modeller07/06/2012 09:07:34
428 forum posts
83 photos


If you want a high gloss finish then with an airbrush the way to get it is to apply a realy wet coat of paint, which is very difficult to do properly, but very easy to do incorrectly. the seacret is to apply the paint wet enough for it to settle into a good gloss finish but not wet enough to run.

You could also do what they do in the car modelling world, which is basicaly the same as in the full size car world and that is paint, then sand with a very fine sanding pad, and then polish to a high gloss with a very fine polishing compound.

Another option open to you is to paint, sand smooth and then use a high gloss clear coat.

It might also be worth thinking about using enamels for your paint and clear coats as the slower drying times over acrylics give the paint more time to settle into a smooth finish which is needed for a high gloss finish.

Hope this has been of help.


Nik Olliff07/06/2012 13:11:23
641 forum posts
378 photos


I think what you describe is very similar to what I am doing. So perhaps the actual bedding of the decals is what I am doing wrong.


Yes I can see the dangers of going too far with a wet coat. But i will try a fine sanding or polishing and then try another coat of gloss coat.

thanks guys for your assistance.


Geoffrey Charman07/06/2012 15:02:02
603 forum posts
471 photos

Hi Nik, I actually bed my decal on wet Kleer, you do have to be fairly quick as the Kleer dries fairly quickly and do not use tissue to dab the decal as it can leave bits in the Kleer, I use a largish flat brush for that.


Neil doman07/06/2012 19:41:06
2866 forum posts
1820 photos

Hi Nik.

The best way to acheive a gloss finish is.........................

1. Use a good quality automotive primer straight from the rattle can.

2. Wet sand the primer with some fine grade micro mesh,i use 4000 grit.If you break through the primer just re apply and wet sand the area.This will give you a nice smooth finish to lay your colour onto.

3.Load up your airbrush with thinner and your desired colour try about a 50/50 mix,i find Tamiya acrylics are the best for spraying and are easilly available.

4.Apply the paint evenly at the lowest pressure that your set up can spray at.10,12,15 psi should do your needs but you want the paint to go on wet.

5.Wet sand the colour you have just sprayed with 4000/6000 micro mesh,if you break through the paint re apply to the area.

6.Spray your acrylic gloss coat at the lowest pressure your set up can achieve.I only use Alclad Aqua gloss for this part of the models finish.I never liked nor got on with Johnsons Klear,so Aqua gloss is the stuff for me,there should be no need to wet sand the gloss finish.

7.Soak decals in warm water and apply to your model then dry with a soft tissue.

8.Apply your decal setting solution,(i use Tamiya X-20A thinner) and leave well alone until its dry.

9.Spray another gloss coat to seal the decals and add your choice of weathering and panel line wash.

10.Final coat of matt/satin varnish to finish the model.


Nik Olliff07/06/2012 23:44:01
641 forum posts
378 photos

Geoff and Neil

Geoff, I'll try floating them on the next AFV I do because they are usually few and far between. But not sure I could do that on the Sea Vixen which has a lot of decals, some quite large, all over the airframe. I think I would get into an awful mess with it.

I'll try the very fine micro mesh to get a smooth finish and have another go with the gloss coat. Our local Model Show in Melbourne is on this weekend so I will look out for micromesh and Alclad gloss products.

Neil, did I read you correctly. You use the Tamiya thinner as a settling agent for the decals? As opposed to say Micro sol?

Thanks for your ideas.


Neil doman08/06/2012 20:16:14
2866 forum posts
1820 photos

Hi Nik.

Yep you did read correctly Tamiya X-20 Acrylic thinner can be used to set your decals in place.All decal setters/softeners soften the paint that you are applying them to.Just place the wet decal where you want it to go dry with a soft tissue,then brush on some X-20A.This will melt the decal into the Aqua gloss and leave you with a perfect decal.

I use this method on all my aircraft models and can guarantee you will not suffer from any silvering. Do not touch the decal until it has dried.



Nik Olliff10/06/2012 02:12:44
641 forum posts
378 photos

Thank Neil I'll give it a go.

Cheers N

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