Now for the good stuff.
Use the right tools for the job. Don't use a detail brush to paint the camoflage pattern on a 1/32 Tornado. Get a good selection of tools, keep them clean and in good shape, and they'll return the time you spent getting and maintaining them with good results on your kit.
Resist the temptation to rush! This is probably the hardest one to do, believe it or not. Build subassemblies (or as some people say - treat subassemblies as models in and of themselves) *after* checking the instructions! But give the glue, paint, etc. time to dry. (This is going to get many "significant others" mad at me, but it's a good reason to have two or more kits going at once - while one assembly or paint job dries, you can work on the other one.)
Dry-fit assemblies whenever you can ahead of time to identify problem areas. It's easy to fix before you glue it.
If you get frustrated, stop for a while. Watch TV. Read a book. Go out to dinner with your S.O. (they'll probably be so shocked, they'll pick up the tab...) Come back to it tomorrow. What seems like a really impossible problem will look different when you come back to it fresh.
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Don't over or under-do it with the glue. Too much glue can soften parts and mess up the detail, not to mention give nice thick "welds" for you to sand off later. Too little in the wrong areas can lead to a weak joint. A thin line seems to work best with liquid cement.
If you get glue on the model (somewhere it's not supposed to be, that is) - don't wipe it away! Let it dry, resand, rescribe, and you'll never be able to tell it was there.
Be careful with cyanoacrylates (CA, or Super Glue.) If you fog a clear part, use Future floor wax to clear it up. And keep the nail polish remover handy to unstick yourself, if need be.
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Try not to mix paint brands on a model - at least, not where they'll make contact - unless you've tried them on a scrap model first and know they work, or you *really* want that crinkley finish. If you absolutely MUST, give them a few days to dry between applications to be on the safe side. Aeromaster and Model Master Acryls, for example, don't work well on top of Gunze Sangyo Acrylics.
Spray paint in a well ventilated area! My spray area is open (somewhat) to the outside. If you get a headache, STOP IMMEDIATELY and go outside for half an hour. When you come back, see what you can do to ventilate the area or improve circulation (a fan works wonders.)
Thinning for Airbrushes - Ask around! I prefer using acrylics, Gunze Sangyo Aqueous in particular, for airbrushing. They're easier to clean up (just a good spray of water) and GS Aqueous can be sprayed straight from the bottle with no thinning.
A general rule of thumb is to thin to the consistancy of milk.
If you have to thin acrylics, you can use water or denatured (isopropyl)
alcohol.If you use alcohol (check with the paint manufacturer before doing
this for types and compatibility) it will dry faster than with water.
With enamels, you should be able to get a bottle and a half to two bottles of airbrush-thin paint out of a single "straight" enamel paint, depending on the paint brand and thinner. Experiment.
Future floor wax makes a good glosscoat, and cleans up easily - it's acrylic after all.
CLEAN that airbrush thoroughly!For acrylics, spray water, alcohol, Windex, or the reccommended thinner through, and make sure the nozzle (or needle, if you're using an airbrush of that sort) is clear. For enamels, I use a multipart cleaning process (note, below, that I use Aztech airbrushes, which don't need disassembly for cleaning):
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For most of my kits, I use Testors products to assemble them. Their line of glues works out as well as it has for years. I will also on occasion use various cyonacrylates ("super glues,") the best line of which seems to be the Zap line. Their line includes fast and slow drying CA, as well as accelerating agents.
For metal finishes, I use the Model Master series of Metalizers, both buffing and non buffing (the majority are non-buffing) as well as their sealers and thinner. Recently, I've begun working with Rub'n'Buff - it looks fine, just be sure to seal it! For sealer, use Future floor polish (also known as "Kleer" in some areas.) I will soon be experimenting with SNJ Model Products buffing metal finish - reports say it's the most durable of the lot.
For most other painting chores, I've started using the Aeromaster or Pollyscale line of acrylics.. Depending on color availability, I will also use Gunze Sangyo Aqueous, Model Master enamels and acrylics, or Tamiya acrylics. Recently, I've also been trying out Model Master's Acryl line - acrylic paints. They seem to cover decently, and have a good color range. After a little experience, they seem to be working out fine - just be sure to prime to avoid having them lift off, and don't use them to brush paint, they're too thin. As always, your mileage may vary.
I like good sablebrushes for hand painting and Testors/Aztech airbrushes. If you haven't tried them, take a look - unlike "normal" airbrushes, there are no needles to clean (or worry about bending,) you don't have to disassemble them, and you can switch nozzles for effects within seconds. I'm using both their single action and dual action brushes - very nice, but the "lower end" dual action brush ($40) is a little "sloppy" in the controls. The A470, their top end airbrush, is great and has much better feel.