Cleaning: it’s boring, un-fun, and completely essential for good results.
Yes, before you even reach for the glue you need to grab your files, clippers, and hobby knife. Today I’ll have some pics and tips about the important steps before you paint.
When you’re dealing with plastic on sprues, you want to go with clippers. The temptation will be to use brute force to tear those suckers off. Don’t do it. This can leave big chunks missing from your beautiful models. For best results, leave a little bit of the sprue attached to the model.
Then you’re going to want to go in with your hobby knife and carefully slice that bit of sprue off the model. This can be done with more care than the clippers allow, and will create a cleaner surface to work with. Use utmost care when dealing with a hobby knife because of course they are sharp! If for any reason you don’t think you can handle one without the risk of cutting yourself, don’t do it!
While you have that hobby knife out you can use it to get rid of mold lines. Use the edge, not the point, and just drag it along. This is probably the easiest way to eliminate mold lines from larger areas.
For deeper areas a good file is helpful. Files usually come in sets that can be purchased in most hobby stores. They’re typically inexpensive and worth the cost to buy if you plan on working with miniatures a lot. Smaller files like these are called needle files. There are only two I really use. One is flat-ish but still has curved sides. The other is similar but one side is completely flat.
In the above picture I was able to clean out the grooves in these treads by pushing the very tip of this half round file down along them. Next I’ll use the flat side of it to even out the lines on the treads themselves.
For the grooves along this GEVs skirts I’m using the side of a slightly rounded file to really get in there and clean them out.
For these gun barrels, the flat side of the half round fits in just right to clean off the interior corners. These parts can be pretty annoying and hard to reach.
When I have everything filed down, I go at the areas with this wire brush. It helps clean off the plastic dust, and can also help to free any burrs that might still be stuck in places.
While this wire brush may look harsh I’ve never had problems with it damaging the material. I’ve even used it on soft resin and it doesn’t seem to do any harm.
The next step is basically optional. The tower on this Ogre had a small depression in it. This is because plastic can shrink as it cools. The thicker the plastic the more likey you are to encounter this problem. It’s something I’ve seen a lot in plastic over the years so I’ve had to come up with a fix for it.
You start by squirting some medium thickness hobby-quality cyanoacrylate or “super” glue into the depression. Not too thick…
You may have to add a second layer after the first dries.
Then you just want to file off all the glue until that sucker is nice and flat. Out of the whole process these were probably the least fun steps.
Then you want to assemble everything as completely as you can. By that I mean, assemble everything completely enough that you can still paint it easily. I left the towers and auxilliary guns off most of the Ogres I painted, but glued on the turrets barrels. I also left the turrets off the tanks so they could be swivelled into any position desired. If you just want to paint things up quickly though, you can assemble them more completely. This will come up more in future painting articles.
After the glue dries you will want to soak them in some warm soapy water. This will get off any oils from the mold release agent used during casting or from your fingers. It will also take off any last bits of plastic dust. If you want to go one step further you can also go at them with a toothbrush while they’re all soapy. I found that swishing the bowl around a bit was enough.
Then drain them. Run some more hot water over them to make sure there is no soapy residue. Spread them out over a paper towel to dry. I was in a hurry so I used a hair dryer to dry them quickly. It didn’t seem to warp the plastic at all, but I was sure to keep it a good distance away. Heat can warp plastic so try at your own risk.
Some of you may be wondering what those grayish rings are. Those are miniature bases I had around and I’ve glued the Rear Batteries to them. This makes them easier to prime and hold on to in the early stages of painting.
Cleaning any model can be quite a bit of work. This may be more than most people need to get their models to a tabletop standard. How much effort you put into cleaning is of course up to you. We veteran modellers tend to be a little obsessive about going through all these steps though.
~And here is the finished Ogre Hunter was showing off the other day. Soon I’ll have some WiP shots I took while painting a different Ogre. This one is yellow!