Moebius Conan the Barbarian Resin Kit – Learning a lot, making mistakes

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Apr 062014
Working on the join with his sword hand

Working on the join with his sword hand

I’ve been working slowly but surely on Moebius’ Conan the Barbarian.  Last time was mainly Conan’s face and torso.  Since then, I’ve painted, then repainted (and repainted) his legs, trying to match the torso.  I should have made enough flesh for the whole kit, and I should have painted all the flesh in one go.  Instead, I went at him piecemeal, then ran out of flesh tone, then forgot exactly how I got the original colors, which made it a real trial and error to reproduce.  The final colors matched fairly well, but it was a lesson learned.  Future models will be managed better.

Had similar trouble wiith his hands.  Under ordinary circumstances, I’d have scratched the whole project, cleaned him up, and started over.  This time though, my airbrush work improved dramatically and I was very proud of the paint job on Conan’s torso and face.  So much so, that I didn’t want to start over.  Not saying my airbrush work is that good, just saying that it was a quantum leap forward for me personally.

Finally, everything progressed to the point that I attached legs to torso last night.  Not wanting any accidents, Monique helped me prop him up with bubble wrap and air pillows.  If he fell, or the glue didn’t hold, no harm done.  Got up this morning for work, house dark, dogs asleep, and the first thing I did was to make sure he was still standing.

Conan02In the future, I’ll pay more attention to painting individual pieces to match better.  And I’ll experiment with pinning and pre-assembly, which should help prevent some of the mistakes of this kit.  And, I’ll pay more attention to smoothing out details.  This kit has some rough areas, such as the toes.  At first, I thought they were acceptable, but over time, I’m wishing I’d cleaned them up better.  Same for inside the mouth.  This is my first kit where the interior of the mouth is an issue.

I’ve made plenty of mistakes on this model, but that’s because I’m trying new things.  Because of that, in some respects he’s the best I’ve ever done, and in other ways, not so good.  Not going to start over, because the parts that turned out well were a personal best.  Not confident that I could repeat it.  So I’m just doing the best I can with the rest, and counting this model kit as a learning experience.

For now, here’s the current work in progress.


Moebius Conan Resin Kit – Airbrush detailing, and a bit of brushwork

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Mar 152014

Conan is still a work in progress. For that matter, so am I, in terms of using the airbrush. My Badger Anthem 155 is by all accounts a great beginner’s airbrush, but I’m not a great beginner.  More like fair to middling.  Until recently, airbrushing has just been a means of doing a base coat/color before dry brushing.  Working on Moebius’ Conan The Barbarian has been groundbreaking for me.  This time, I’m learning to draw details… sort of details… with it.

My first attempt was to try shading on the muscles. Laid down a medium flesh tone over the whole body, then started airbrushing the shadows in the creases of the muscles.  It was a big improvement, and I thought maybe that was good enough.  Until a good friend told me to try detailing the highlights as well as the shaded areas.

I had some doubts about my ability, but gave it a try. Airbrushing the darker shaded areas had been very successful. Airbrushing the highlights was even better – the contrast makes the muscles stand out.  Everywhere the light should hit received detailing with a very light skin tone.
Final result?  Some of the best skin shading I’ve ever done.  Lots of interesting brights and darks.  For some reason, this kit has been super-tough to photograph.  The flesh color and the shading just don’t show up true in a picture.  Tonight was about the best pictures so far.  It comes close to showing the trued color and detail.  Still a little off, though.

Learned an amazing new technique to use in future model-building.  Eventually, maybe I’ll get really good at detailing with an airbrush.  It’s going to take lots of practice, but even as a beginner I can see a huge improvement.  Glenn, if you’re reading this – Thanks!

As a final note, the mouth and eyes have really turned out well also.  The mouth has an actual gum-line between the teeth and mouth.  The eyes are really adding character.  The flesh of the face was airbrushed, but the features (eye, mouth) are brush-painted.  I’m very pleased with the result so far.

Really happy with the eyes and teeth.

Really happy with the eyes and teeth.

Moebius Models Conan the Barbarian – Painting the shadows

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Mar 022014

Been having a lot of fun with Conan.  He’s a great kit to work with.  Recently, I’ve been focused on doing the flesh tones.  At one point, the colors were very satisfactory, and I thought it was a good stopping point for the body.  But Monique (my Devil’s Advocate and quality control monitor) pointed out that professional model-builders do a lot more in terms of shading.  I’ve dry-brushed for years, and am learning on the airbrush.  It had seemed enough to me, but after her nudge I rethought it.  Without trying new techniques and stretching past my current abilities, there would be no improvement.  So, back out with the airbrush and the flesh tones.

After lots of practice and different attempts, I’m pretty happy with it.  Learned a few new things.  One very big one… thin my paints more.  Then more.  And a bit more.  As a newbie with the airbrush, it caused a lot of aggravation when the paint would stick and spatter, even after a thorough cleaning.  It finally hit me.  Tiny tiny amounts of paint; then about 4 times the volume with thinner.  We both use blue window cleaner to thin our paints.  Now my paints are finally spraying smooth and not clogging.  It may sound too easy, but it was a big deal to me!

The other thing was more of a progression.  Bit by bit, and with lots of stops and starts, I’m actually learning to use the airbrush.  In this case, detailing the shaded areas of muscle around Conan’s torso and legs.  It took lots of attempts, but at this point the result makes me pretty happy.

I’ve tried to take pictures to show exactly what I mean.  It’s a great camera, but for some reason, it’s just not capturing the fine detail of shading and flesh tones.  When you’re looking at these pics, bear in mind it looks much better in person.  If I can figure out what’s wrong with the pics, I’ll post better ones.  But for now, hopefully you can still see what I mean.  It’s my first time to ever attempt detail work with the airbrush.  And hopefully, just one more step along the way get learning how to use it well.

Small things causing big problems

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Feb 092014

Conans HelmetIt’s been about a month since my last post.  Beginning on a new model, Conan the Barbarian, a resin kit by Moebius.  You may have wondered what progress I’ve made since then.  Well, here it is.  This…  Conan’s hat.

Okay, it’s his helmet.  And I’ve been stuck on it for weeks.  Not all my fault, I’m not innocent either.  To begin with, I’m new (skill-wise) to the airbrush.  Figured, it’s a helmet.  Two basic colors.  Some shading.  Great opportunity for some simple practice.  Boy, was I wrong.  Actually, not so much about the airbrushing, but about having a clean edge where the two colors meet.  I’ve tried taping the edges, but there was bleed.  Tried mold-builder as a paintable frisket… that stuff always peels the paint up with it.  Eventually, I knew I’d have to just paint it with a brush.

In the middle of me being stubborn with the helmet, I dropped a part of my airbrush down the sink.  Not the first time, and it’s always a major hassle re-sealing the drain trap.  So this time, just wasn’t in the mood.  Went online, and ordered a bunch of replacement parts for the airbrush in general.  And a drain trap meant for salons.  It has an escape lid, with a hair-catcher.  I guess that’s important for hair salons, but it seemed like a pretty good solution for me, too.  Next time something important gets stuck in the trap, just pop open the lid and pull out the gunk.

When it arrived, I installed it, rescued the airbrush part, and set everything aside for the moment.  When the replacement parts arrived, they got stored for the next emergency.  Which was today, the first day I tried to airbrush again.  Cleaned the airbrush, took it to my desk for reassembly.  Not gonna drop anything down the sink from there!  Instead, a (different) piece hit the floor, bounced, and disappeared.  This wasn’t one of the spares, it had to be a completely unique part.  No simple replacement.  Monique and I hunted for maybe half an hour.  Finally, at the most extreme part of our search, I pulled the piano away to make room to pull the desk out, and shined the flash on the floor in back.

There it was.  Not just all the way back.  Not only was it up against the baseboard, it was as far against the baseboard as it could get, and then LEANING on the baseboard!  As if it was trying to climb the wall to get away from us.    We reassembled everything, including the airbrush, desk, and piano.  I told Monique I wasn’t in the mood to airbrush any more.

As a matter of fact, I’m moving forward.  The helmet is done.  Maybe it needs a bit more touch-up, but that’s not going to happen.  What you see here is the result of my work today, and I’m afraid to try any more.  Who knows WHAT catastrophe would happen if I tried to paint it again?  So, I hope it’s good enough because that’s my final decision.  Until next week.

While I’ve been working on the hat with the two pointy horns, Monique has knocked out a fabulous job on Moebius’ Dracula and victim.  And obtained her holy grail of models, Janus’ Man of 1000 Faces (Lon Chaney).  And started her first resin model, Devonian Encounter.

Looks like I’ll be busy writing up her adventures for a while.

Ultimate Captain American Resin Model Kit – Finally Finished

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Dec 212013


The final paint for Captain America

The final paint for Captain America

He’s finally done – depending on how you count the time, he took either a year and a half… or three months.  Guess I shouldn’t count the year+ that I didn’t do any model-building. :^)

Anyway, that last bit went fairly well, once I gave up trying to use mold-builder as a paint mask.  That makes twice trying to use it, and both times didn’t turn out well.  I think that’s about it for mold-builder.  Great idea, and would be cool if it worked, but my luck with it hasn’t been running too well.  The first time was on the overal body paint for Cap.  While the mold-builder worked in general, it peeled up some very sloppy edges.  Learning from that experience, I tried to do a better job on the shield, and it still just didn’t work cleanly.  Had to resort to older techniques.

I wanted Captain America to look a little field-worn, like he’d been out there for a while.  With his shield, I wanted the opposite.  It needs to shine bright and clean.  To get the look, I used metallic paints.  First airbrushed a black base coat, then a really thick coat of Metallic white mixed with a dab of glossy white.  The rest was painted by hand, using metallic blue and red.  Not as smooth as the airbrush would have done, but it worked.

On back of the shield, a black base coat with a misting of silver to give it kind of a pewter look (just because that’s a cool color).  Then a misting of black around the outer edge, for a nice shading effect.  (You can really see it in the picture with the white background.)

The last step was to make straps for the arm.  It doesn’t make sense to just glue the shield on Cap’s arm.  It needed something.  After looking online, I found where someone else had the same thought.  They used leather straps, and it looked pretty good.  While discussing possibilities with Monique, she realized she had… wait for it… a spool of rawhide!  Who just keeps that stuff in the house?

It looked like heavy-duty shoelaces in width, light tan in color.  With a bit of painting to match his gloves, the strips worked like a charm.  Perfect fit for the strap braces on back of the shield.  While I did consider attempting to fashion rivets for the leather, that seemed like going a bit too far.  Even without the rivet look, I’m very happy with everything about Cap.

My final task was to write a big “Thank you” to Mad Dog Resin.  Great sculpt, excellent details, and a lot of fun.  ‘Captain America – Ultimate Soldier’ takes a place of pride on my shelves!

While I’m starting my next model, here’s some random pics from Captain Americal: Ultimate Soldier:


Captain America Ultimate Soldier Model Kit – Detail Repair

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Dec 082013
Nearly finished with Cap

Nearly finished with Cap

First, let me apologize for the long delay.  It’s been about a year since Monique and I worked on our models.  Real life got in the way.  Literally… the hobby room turned into a storage room, and overflowed to the point there wasn’t room to work.  Since we began modeling together on our anniversary a few years ago, we decided to celebrate this anniversary the same way.  Cleaned the room out, and spent several hours painting and building.

Ultimate Cap has been waiting all this time.  I kind of dreaded picking back up.  The Mold Builder I’d used last time had left a LOT of damaged detailing.  But I sat down, picked a color, and started.  First, just kind of smoothed out everything.  Those edges where the paint had peeled up with the mold builder had a lot of loose flaps hanging off.

The rest of the process was pretty basic.  Detail paint on the edges, correcting tinier and tinier errors until I just couldn’t make it any better.  Younger eyes and steadier hands would have been nice.  :^)

Having to do so much repair work by hand was pretty disruptive.  The original airbrushed smoothness of the colors is mostly gone.  Add to that the fact that I haven’t mixed those colors in a year and had to guess for the closest match… it needed a huge amount of damage control to get the shading back.  Next model I’m definitely taking notes on which colors are mixed together to achieve a specific look.

Cap is nearly done now.  Monique suggested ‘painting’ some colored chalk on to achieve a smooth dry-brushed look for his sleeves.  Mainly in the white area.  She’s very good with that technique, and I haven’t tried it yet, so I’ll have to give it a try.  Then I’ll start on his shield.

Monique is building a Dracula Bela Lugosi Deluxe Model Kit (with victim).  I’m sure she’s taking progress pictures, which means I’ll have posts on her progress as well.  In the meantime, here’s a few more pics of the ‘nearly done’ Captain America.

Captain America Ultimate Soldier Resin Model Kit: Time to Peel Off the Mold Builder

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Sep 012012

My Captain America resin model kit hit a turning point yesterday.  Last night I airbrushed the final color.  All the blue areas on Captain America’s uniform.  Started with a basecoat of black, then a midnight blue.  Shaded it with True Blue, then mixed a bit of Titanium White into the True Blue for highlights.  The colors worked really well.  After waiting a few hours to dry, it was finally do or die time.  All those layers of colors, each protected with Mold Builder.  Time to peel off the Mold Builder.
I’d done a test peel on a small piece, but this was an entire model kit, over a couple of weeks.  Didn’t know if it would work, or not.  I expected Cap to either look great, or be a complete wreck.  Instead, it was somewhere in the middle.  In concept, the mold builder worked wonderfully.  The colors were still there under all the layers.  Some of the edges worked out very nicely.  But some of the edges peeled too far.  The acrylic paint didn’t stop where the mold builder did.  In many places, it just kept peeling.
There were also numerous tiny dots within the area that came off.  And  in one massive area on his boot, a large part of the surface just came right off with it.  Those, I pretty much expected.  Some sloppy edges, also expected.  What really caught me off guard was the paint’s tendency to continue peeling beyond the edges.  It left a really sloppy look, and will probably take a lot of work to smooth out, secure, and match the shades back up.
Last night, that really bothered me.  This morning, the answer was in my mind when the alarm rang.
In between each color, I’ve been spraying matte varnish(?)   to seal and protect the layers.  Then brushed the mold builder on.  It was an ‘additive’ process, done layer after layer without removing the previous ones until the end.  The next time, I would do the entire process on a color by color basis.
For instance, paint the boots and gloves brown, spray them, then coat them with mold builder.  Paint the white segments, and anywhere the white came in contact with the brown, peel off the mold builder.  Touch it up as needed, spray matte over both colors, then re-coat with mold builder.
Continue the process with each added color receiving a full peel and re-work.  In essence, by the time it gets to the blue, all the rest of Cap will be covered in one, single, fresh layer of mold builder.  Hopefully, this would be easier to peel off, and do less damage as it goes.
Secondly, I would peel the covering off slower, with an exacto knife to carefully trim the edges where the paint should stop peeling.  This was a beginner’s mistake for me.  When peeling off the covering, I didn’t realize the paint would come off in sheets like that.  Now I know.
Overall, my first try went pretty well.  I’m going to take my time and try to salvage the work already done.  If it doesn’t repair to my satisfaction, I’ll strip the paint off and start over.  It would be very interesting to start over and see how much better Cap came out the next time.  So either way, I’m pleased.  Learned a lot through all this.  My airbrushing and use of the mold builder will be that much better for all the practice.
Aside from all that, my Captain America Ultimate Soldier model is going very well.  When painting the red on, it kept looking pink.  Once all the colors were visible together, it looked like a very nice vivid shade of red.  The flesh tones turned out excellent.
And finally, the colors came together on Cap’s uniform in a way that blended the highlights into one cohesive whole.  That, more than anything, was what I was hoping for from this entire process.  Painting each part by hand might have given it a patchwork look.  This way, the color flowed smoothly across the entire model, with the highlights all matching.
I’m looking forward to the next opportunity to use the mold builder and airbrush technique.  Can’t wait to apply all this new knowledge.
In the meantime, Cap’s got a lot of detail work now.  Going to take some time to get everything looking right.

Captain America Ultimate Soldier Resin Model Kit – Almost done!

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Aug 282012

Almost ready to paint the blues

This was a good weekend.  Monique finished her Elvira model kit.  I made lots of progress on my Captain America resin kit.  Ultimate Soldier has been a real experiment for me.  First project to use an airbrush on (a Badger Anthem 155), and the first time I’ve ever used Mold Builder to mask paint off.

Speaking of airbrushing, our compressor has been doing a great job, but it shakes the table like an earthquake, and travels as it goes, knocking down everything in its path.  We’ve been getting around it by ‘catching’ the compressor as it travels, and pushing it back where it belongs.  Can’t set it on the floor, because neither one of us could reach it then.  It also gets very hot, so it can’t go in an enclosed place.  Can’t be anywhere it would ‘travel’ into something flammable.  This weekend we found the solution.  I was going to build a small wooden platform with a raised lip, then mount that on the table with small c-clamps.  Then I thought… why get complicated?  So I c-clamped two of the compressor’s legs to the table.  Problem solved!  It’s been working great ever since.

As of last Friday, Cap was off to a good start, with the boots, gloves, and belt packs painted.  Then Mold Builder brushed over the painted areas.  Once those were protected, white came next.  That one was a bit trickier to paint over with Mold Builder.  More detail, with the helmet wings and Capital ‘A’.  Not to mention the two big stars, and the white vertical bars of his shirt.
For the flesh, I mixed up a new batch, and thinned it down for airbrushing.  Titanium White, Burnt Sienna and Raw Sienna in even amounts gives a nice flesh tone.  The only places that needed it were on the head.  Chin and nose, ears, and back around the eye sockets.  At this point, the level of detail required to protect the paint necessitated using my magnifying lenses.  Had to double them up to get high enough detail for me to see.

I thought the red would be easy.  Spray it, cover it, and move on.  Should have remembered, any time something looks easy, there’s always some way to complicate it.  My red kept looking pink.  I finally used a bright red base, airbrushed a light coating of black over it, and then layered reds over the black until it looked kind of  ‘crimson’.  Did a couple of lighter coats at an angle to highlight it.  Won’t know for sure if I like it until all the Mold Builder comes off.

I can’t tell yet if this is a good red. Won’t know until all the Mold Builder gets peeled off.

I’m not even sure if the mold builder will work.  Did a sample peel with the browns, and it worked fine.  But now it’s getting layer after layer, and has been on for days.  On top of that, the boots kept getting the protection peeled off.  Picking up the model kit to reposition, holding at different painting angles, I kept rubbing off the mold builder on the feet.  So I put it on really thick.  Now it’s kind of hard.  I don’t know if it will peel off without harming the paint or not.
Either way, I’m going forward with it.  All the way.  Not going to peel the coating off Cap until the entire model kit has been painted.  The next step should be to spray on the blue, do a bit of detailing…  and then we’ll see how it comes out.  With any luck, the colors will be exactly as they went on, safe and protected under the layers of mold builder.
It will probably need some touch up along the edges between the colors.  Plus a spot or two where the paint will try to stick on the sealer.  Keeping my fingers crossed.

Captain America Resin Model Kit: Finally painting the details!

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Aug 242012

I’ve been stuck in one place on Cap for a long time.  Been trying to get my seams in right, but every time I re-prime the model, it always turns out I’ve missed a spot, or it was rough, or not shaped right.  It always looks good until it gets a new base coat.  Bear in mind, this isn’t the actual model that I’m talking about.  I’m referring to my own work where the arms and legs join the body.  After gluing and puttying, it just took a lot of work to finally call it done.  It may not be perfect, but it’s the best I can manage.

So finally, a chance to paint!  Working with my Badger Anthem (I’m really new to the airbrush thing) I started on the extremities.  Gloves, boots, and belt packs.  Wanted them all in brown leather.  This model kit is resin, titled Captain America: the Ultimate Soldier.  It’s done in an old costume design, during Cap’s time in World War II.  As such, his costume really lends itself to a grittier, more realistic color scheme.  I’ve seen other hobbyists work with brown, and with red gloves, and the brown just really looks good.  Natural dark leather.

My first attempt, using the Badger, went really well.  Except for the final brush-painted layer.  In trying to achieve a highlight, I went with a too-light color of brown for the dry brushing.  Took it back to that comic-book feel.  This is where the airbrush really stood out.  Rather than start over, I loaded up his base color (a mix of Espresso and Black), thinned it down, and sprayed a light wash over everything until the tones were shaded back down.  Then I used a much more appropriate mix of Espresso/brown/antique white and drybrushed again.  Came out far better!

Click to see this at Amazon

After that, a touch of black leather for the boot soles, and that part was done.  Next up was something completely new for me.  Monique and I’ve been watching Phil Lister and David Fisher’s video modeling series of videos.  We’ve learned a ton from both videos, but in Model Mania (David Fisher’s dvd) he recommended protecting finished areas with Mold Builder.  Monique already tried it with her Elvira kit, and was very happy.  So now the Mold Builder is going all over Cap’s shoes, gloves, and leather packs.  When it’s finished, I can paint the rest of the model without worrying about messing up previous work.

Just to clear it up a bit, Mold Building is not intrinsically meant for protecting paint from being painted over.  It’s actual purpose is during the making of a mold from an original sculpt or carving.  Multiple layers over time create a kind of rubbery encasement, and when it’s peeled off, you have a mold of the original.  I’ve never learned much about sculpting and creating molds, so I couldn’t tell you what happens beyond that.  For me, it’s enough to know it can be used to help me paint my resin model kit.  When I’m done with it, the rubbery texture can be very carefully peeled off, leaving my paint safe and pristine.  In theory.  I’ll find out soon enough!

He’s got one more boot to go, but it’s too late tonight to finish.  Tomorrow’s Friday, with any luck the boot will be done and dry tomorrow, and the weekend will be a great time to start on the next major colors!

Painting Captain America with the Badger Anthem 155 Airbrush (missing parts)

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Aug 172012
Yesterday I sat down at the computer to get some work done.  While finishing the first project, a thunderstorm blew in.  Powered the computers down, unplugged all the electronics, and said… “If I can’t work… then I’ll play!”  (Been really looking forward to spending time on my Captain America Ultimate Soldier resin model.)  Hooked up the Badger Anthem airbrush, (which is still very new to me) plugged in a bottle of gray… and hit the button.
Next thing I knew, I was covered in gray paint.  Took it all apart, cleaned everything… including myself… and tried again.  Same problem.  At least this time I covered the bottle lid to keep from being gray-toned again.
Tried to figure out where I’d gone wrong, but couldn’t make it out. Monique wandered into the room, and quickly pointed out the problem.  You know those little tiny pieces inside the airbrush tip?  You actually have to have ALL of them.  If the airbrush is missing even one piece… for instance, that little tiny piece shaped like a long cone… things go wrong.
Kudos to Monique for recognizing what was missing.  Last time I cleaned the airbrush, the little cone-shaped piece went into the sink along with all the other parts.  But it didn’t stop there.  It went all the way down the drain, I just didn’t notice.  Monique figured it was gone for good.  But being metal, I wondered if it’s still in the drain trap.
Being notorious for NOT being handy, Monique’s first question was “Do you know how to check the trap?”  Knowing me, that’s a legitimate question.  It looked pretty simple.  And honestly, taking the trap off was extremely easy.  Putting it back on?  Now that’s a completely different story.
The missing piece was there.  Putting the trap back was a good lesson in patience, and I used all mine up.  During the struggle, I thought  “You know, this thing’s full of crud.  Better clean it out before putting it back on.”
You probably guessed… I rinsed it out in the sink.  At least we had a bucket ready to catch the water.
Today, it went much better.  Cleaned up Cap’s seams some more.  Noticed a seam on his boot that had snuck by the other times.  Learning how to use Bondo putty mixed with Testor’s model cement.  (It smooths the putty better; less sanding, easier to blend surfaces.)   I’ve mentioned before, but it’s worth saying again – the base is finished, but makes a handy stand to airbrush Cap on.  So it’s inside a 1-gallon seal-able freezer bag.  The first time I used Saran Wrap, which worked really well.  Today, I noticed the Saran wrap was getting holes where Cap’s foot attaches.  The gallon freezer bag looked perfect, so that’s what I’m using now.  Both are good ways to protect the base from paint while working on Captain America.
All said and done… I need to be far more careful with the airbrush.  All the time I was going to spend working on the model went… you guessed it… down the drain.

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