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Natural Metal Finishes, Pt. III: Foil

6-21In this third installment on producing natural metal finishes, Al shows us how he does NMF with real foil.

For foil finishes, the surface needs preparing as in the first step, but no black primer coat is required. Once you have a smooth, clean surface, you can foil straight on to it. Any painted areas will need to be painted and masked off beforehand, as it is very risky indeed to mask over your foil finish!

You will need:

* Kitchen Foil (I use normal household kitchen foil, the thinnest (Luckily also the cheapest usually!) you can find.)

* PVA glue (I use normal PVA white glue. It can be thinned with about 10% water to help with spreading, but I tend to use it straight from the pot.) (“Elmers Glue”…. Ed.)

* A high quality brush that doesn’t lose its bristles easily!

* Cocktail sticks

* Cotton buds (Q-Tips)

* A very sharp scalpel or #11 blade

* Steel wool (fine gauge)

14-7Cut a piece of foil slightly bigger than the panel you want to cover. Spread the PVA over the shiny side, and position the foil on the panel, pressing from the centre outwards. Use the cocktail stick to smooth down the foil over the surface without leaving creases. When pressed down, burnish it with the Q-Tip, and moisten the other end of it to mop up any excess PVA that squeezes out from the edges. When it is firmly burnished down and completely conformed to the surface and any rivet or panel line detail, carefully cut round the panel with your sharp blade. Mop up any excess PVA and carefully wipe the panel with a clean cloth, taking care not to move it.

Leave it to dry for a short while until the glue begins to shrink back, then do the same for the neighboring panels. Foil will go very well on to compound curves and uneven surfaces with a bit of patient burnishing – any pieces that tear can be removed and replaced before the glue dries, and care should be taken to avoid any dust, particles or brush hairs getting caught beneath the panel or they will show up as glaring mountains under the foil!

When the panel is dry after several hours, you can burnish it with fine steel wool. This will apply a “grain” to the panel that looks like the milled finish of aluminum, and putting the grain in different directions will lend a very realistic look to your WWII bare-metal planes!

37-1Burnt metal effects with foil
You can get great burnt metal effects with foil very easily. Just take your foil strips or squares and boil them in a pan of water with some brown eggshells. The longer you leave them the darker they will get – 2mins for light gold up to about 10 minutes for dark reddish-brown. Once dry they can be applied as any other piece, but will be more brittle.

To finish over foil, brush a coat of Future when it’s completely dry (give it a couple of days), the you can decal straight on to it. Flat coat can be added over the top as required.

I hope this has been of help – I personally love bare-metal finishes and these are the techniques that have worked best for me after trial and error! If anyone has any better or more effective ways of doing it, I’d love to know as the ongoing education of modelling for me is all part of the enjoyment of the hobby!