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Monday, June 10, 2013

Making Mistakes So You Don't Have To: On Using Liquid Mask

I bought this product on impulse, barely even knowing what it was for. I mean, I knew from the name, but I didn't know such a thing existed so it was hard for me to imagine how it was used. Well, falling back on ultimate wisdom and immaculate technique, obviously the thing to do was jump in without tests and use it on a model I put hours and hours of work into converting =D Okay, maybe that wasn't so wise hehe. It did turn out fine, but more experience or research might have prepared me for some of this substance's unique characteristics. This is to be the first of many tutorials/reviews/articles where I try to help you avoid the mistakes I've made myself.

Like the bottle says, Liquid Mask is a resin. Having not looked up anything whatsoever about liquid resin, I had no idea what it would be like once I dropped some onto my palette. I dropped out a generous amount, maybe 7-10 drops and went to apply it with a generic crappy brush I got at a 100 yen shop. I don't even know if I got my brush onto my Wave Serpent's LEDs (no pics really, except in the background of the one up top) before the bristles were ruined. NEVER use a good brush with this stuff. I was damn close to using my favorite (a Loeb sable, best I've ever used) but thought better of it just in time. The Liquid Mask starts to congeal almost immediately when exposed to the air. It becomes a lot like rubber cement. This had my brush gunked up, but I spread the bristles wide and was able to use it like a tiny rubber spatula.

When I did the LEDs I had no real idea how much I needed to apply. As with any mask, all you need to do is cover the thing being masked. The thickness doesn't really matter. But I didn't know anything about this stuff's adhesion or durability. Worried that it might scratch off in handling, I applied a decently thick coat. This caused trouble when it pooled at the bottom of the LED, where it contacts the Serpent hull. Okay, I thought, no problem. I'll just scratch it off there when it dries. When it dries it gets so rubbery that it is almost impossible to cut without tearing or peeling what you need to remain. I feel like preventing it from pooling in the first place is the best option, but I haven't gotten a chance to try that out.

Here you can see some canopies I did. The one on the left has already been peeled and the one on the right has paint covering the resin. In the picture below you can see from the clear bottom what the resin looks like when dried. Peeling is easy enough. I do it with a tooth pick. Incidentally, I also applied these with toothpicks. But as with the brush they get gunked up quickly and need to be replaced because they stop sliding across the plastic.

Next time I do canopies this way I am going to remember to coat the bottom side too. I spray my primer and these windows look a little foggy because they weren't masked on the bottom side. Although on second thought, since the bottom doesn't need to be done precisely at all and because it curves gradually, tape would work just as well.

Because of the way the resin pools in crevices, I found that I had to go back and black line these anyway. I was hoping doing this would save me from having to be careful when painting around the clear plastic, but it couldn't be avoided this time around. I'd like to try again, redoing parts that pool up too much. If you try this stuff, don't worry about it if you redo parts. It peels easy and leaves no residue. It doesn't rework well at all, so try to get it right while it's still wet.

How would I rate this product after a couple small projects? Only above average considering what a pain in the butt it is to apply. If I could cut it with a hobby knife to clean it up I'd love the stuff, but as is I only like it. The simple fact is that it does something you can't do with tape: mask shapes with steep curvature. It was amazing on my LEDs where I had to spray the hull, but on small canopies that I was painting by brush, I don't know that it saved me any time at all. If you paint with an airbrush it may hold some value to you. On the other hand, Vallejo products are so cheap that it's easy to think "well, I'd rather have it than not...just in case." Dangerous thinking. That's how I've come to have a paint collection that's almost bigger than my model collection.

Have you used any products like this? Were they anything like this one? How well did they work for you?