Panel lines

Written by Tom Norrbohm / Bernie Kugel

Panel lines on any model add a certain amount of realism. A model without panel lines is just 'missing' something. How we apply those panel lines is up to us as individual modelers. Many like to use the 'wash' method. Frankly this scares me to death and I prefer to use the less invasive method by applying them with a pencil. The only piece of equipment we need is a good quality electric pencil sharpener, and we're ready!

For the most part I use any #2 lead pencil. If you can find some with a little softer lead go ahead, but they have the tendency to smear more. Sharpen your pencil in the electric sharpener and gently break the point of the lead by dragging on some paper. I also wear a cotton glove on the hand that holds the model. This helps prevent the smearing of panel lines. Use tape, straight edges, or the panel line itself as guides. Remember, lead sticks better to a flat finished model than a glossy one. Plan accordingly!

The #2 pencil will work on most paint schemes with a light to medium colored finish. If the scheme is dark, I use a good quality gray colored pencil. Colored pencils come in a wide range of colors and can be purchased at any quality art supply store. I use FaberCastell's Spectracolor pencils, using #1454 Cold Gray Light the most. Since color pencil lead is quite soft, so you have to sharpen frequently to maintain the point. After each sharpening, be sure to gently break the point as done with the #2 pencils. Apply gently as the tip can break easily.

For control surfaces I use a single '0' Rapidograph ink pen. You can also use this for rivets. For rivets I use a Gunze Sanyo 'Gundammarker' in gray or black. After seizing the panel lines with a clear coat of your choice, decals are applied, final coat is applied and final panel lines on decals can then be applied. Check out my models in the 'Meet the Members' area to see how these techniques look on the finished model. All the models in this gallery had panel lines applied this way. Good Luck!

by Bernie Kugel

I use artist watercolors. It's not the stuff that we used as kids in the plastic cups. It's in tubes that you can find next to the acrylics and oil paints at any art or craft store. I use Newton and Winsor "Lamp Black".

The first step is to give the model a gloss coat. I apply the decals next, you can go right ahead applying the black wash and put the decals on later, just make sure to apply another gloss coat before you apply the decals. Then in an empty bottle, make a mixture of about 80% water and 20% dishsoap. I keep some in a eyedroper for use. Then in a mixing cup I squeeze a little paint out and drop about 5-6 drops of the water/soap mixture and mix with a paintbrush into a slurry. If it looks to thick, add more of the water/soap mixture. Then apply liberaly to the models panel lines and working surfaces. Don't worry if you get it all over the model, you are going to take it off in the future. You can do sections at a time or you can do the whole model at one time it doesn't matter. After that let the model sit for 24 hours to dry, don't worry it won't damage the model or the decals.

After the slurry has dried. Take a box of Q-tips, and get the real Q-tips, the generic ones shred and make a mess of one's model. And you going to need alot of them, I use on average about 100 Q-tips on each model I build. Just barely dip the Q-tip in water, and blot it on a paper towel. Take the tip and gently wipe it on the model. It will take the dried slurry off the surface, but leave the stuff in the panel lines. It will first look like a mess, but if you keep wiping with fresh Q-tips, it will eventually come clean. If you make a mistake and push too hard and lose some of the panel line detail, just make more slurry mixture and reapply, and let dry, and wipe it down again.

After you are satisfied with your panels lines. You can seal it with a flat or gloss coat, whatever type finish your model needs. You can see this technique on my models in the "On the Table" section of this website.