Skip to content

Natural Metal Finishes, Pt. I: Clean Finishes forum member Pruz- otherwise known as Al- posted some great tips for achieving a natural metal finish (NMF). Today, he outlines steps for a clean, natural metal finishes using painted methods.

If you’re looking for a place to enjoy Christian fellowship and modeling discussion, I invite you to join our forums!

Getting good results for an NMF starts with the surface. Try to use minimal sanding during construction if possible. I use Squadron White Putty for filling, which can be smoothed into seams using nail polish remover. This saves a lot of unnecessary sanding later. Lost detail can now be rescribed. Use grades of sandpaper down to 1200 grit, then micromesh to 4000.

28-5After micromeshing, wash the surface with dishwashing detergent and air dry. Don’t handle the surface with bare hands after this, wear cotton or rubber examination gloves.

I use Tamiya Fine Surface Primer from a rattle can as the first coat. When it’s dry, correct any more seams or imperfections, sand down using 1200 grit to a smooth finish.

35-3When happy with the finish, I then use Mr Surfacer 1000 from a jar thinned 50% with lacquer thinners, and airbrush all over the surface. When dry, this can also be micromeshed down to 6000 grit. Then give it another coat of primer and micromesh down to 6000 again.

39-3Still with me? OK, now spray the whole thing with gloss black. I use automotive spray paint from Halfords, a large chain of automotive supply stores. I don’t know what the US equivalent is, sorry! Any acrylic-based spray paint will do, but it’s important to get an even finish. I know other guys at my club use Tamiya X-1 gloss black or Humbrol 22 gloss from the airbrush, but I prefer to get it all in one hit!

When completely dry, micromesh down again to 6000 grit. You should now have a completely smooth, glassy black finish. Over this i get a large, flat, soft brush and brush a coat of Johnson’s Klear (Future) polish to ensure a completely uniform, glossy surface. (Now is a good time to mask off any areas of the aircraft which will appear black!) You are now ready for paint!!

38-3For this finish I used Alclad 2. The main (shiny) colour is Polished Aluminium, straight from the bottle. I set my compressor to 12psi and just mist the paint over the surface. It dries almost instantly, so you can apply a second mist coat almost immediately. I then leave it for about 20mins (enough to have a cup of tea!) then come back and give it a wetter coat. Leave that about 10mins then hit it with another wet coat. You should end up with an opaque finish which looks as if it is quite deep, and highly reflective.

40-3The Alclad can be masked after about 30mins and your other colours sprayed on in the same way. The wingtips, fairing panels and part of the tail of this one were White Aluminium, the elevons and engines were Jet Exhaust with contrasts and highlights in Dark Aluminium and Magnesium, the engine burnt areas were Pale Burnt Metal, and the other panels and striping effects were Steel, all from the Alclad 2 range.

No further weathering effects were used, and no varnish or sealing coat were used before or after decalling.