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Techniques: Making negative masks

A negative mask is one that is grumpy and has a bad outlook on life. OK, that’s not true. 🙂 A negative mask is one that shows an area to be painted, while a positive mask covers an area already painted. Anyway…

On the rare occasion that I get adventurous and try to do a paint scheme that I don’t have decals for, I may try masking. Normally I go with a positive mask, as it’s a bit easier. I’ll paint an area of the aircraft the color of the marking, add a mask over that, and then paint the rest. But sometimes I forget to do that first, and rather than going back through the entire paint process, I’ll create a negative mask. Of course, the process for creating a positive mask is pretty much the same, you just use the part that is cut out. So this step-by-step has dual application, really.

One step I did not show was after these photos where taken, I gave the painted area a light rub down with a coffee filter to smooth out the bumps and ridges. You may also need to use a small brush and dab paint here and there to make some corrections. It’s also possible to carefully use the sharp tip of a new #11 blade to lightly slice away some area and lift them up before the paint fully cures. If you do try that, be very careful though.

This same technique can be used for very complicated designs, utilizing both negative and positive masks together, and applying one color and element at a time.