Thursday, January 23, 2020

Micro mini prepping tutorial

I'm home safe and sound, but jet lag is really taking its toll on me. Fortunately, I have another great guest post to share. Thank you, Megan Namaste!

Micro Mini Prepping Tutorial

by Meghan Namaste

With the ever-increasing number of micro mini resins, pewters and Breyers out there, a lot of people have questions on how to prep them. Prepping is incredibly important and is the foundation for your paint job. I see prepping flaws and inadequate prepping across the board but wanted to focus on the micro scale here as there are a couple unique concerns when prepping these tiny guys. 

The most common issue I see with micros is a loss of detail. This happens most commonly in the prepping and priming stage. It's also fairly common to see seams not properly removed on micros, especially in hard to reach areas. I have developed my prepping method over the years and am satisfied with the results. I don't use any different tools or primers on my micros than I do on the bigger guys, and my method is pretty much the same across all scales except for a couple special considerations for micros.

The first thing I do is sand any seams that I am able to sand out. I will use a needle file and/or sandpaper for this. I might use the file a bit more on pewter castings but otherwise I don't treat pewter any differently than resin. I use the file quite a bit on resins as well because it helps to reach the seams in cramped areas. Pewter is a soft metal so anything I use to file it won't hurt the resin. I don't spend a ton of time on this initial sanding, any seams that I can't easily sand or file down all the way will be addressed in the next stage.

Next comes the filling stage. I used to use Bondo spot putty for this but I no longer use it for several reasons. I always had problems with it drying up in the tube, the fumes are terrible, and most importantly, when I have stripped models that had Bondo used on them, the stripping agent would dissolve the Bondo completely. Obviously epoxy is not one hundred percent foolproof, and there have been cases of lifting epoxy over time, but I prefer using something that oven cleaner doesn't dissolve. I also find epoxy goes on smoother and sands out easier than Bondo. It can also be used to re-texture areas when needed, such as manes and tails on very rough castings. I like Aves Apoxie Sculpt in White for prep work. It gets very soft with water and can really smush down into small areas to fill divots and seams. I will sometimes get it so diluted that it goes on almost like a glaze and barely even has to be sanded. I don't want to put anything thick on micros, especially small, heavily detailed areas like their faces and legs.

This horse has had the initial sanding and filling done and has been sanded smooth. Depending on what else I find after the sanding I may do more filling with epoxy, or if he looks ready for the initial primer layer I will wash, dry, and then prime.
This micro has had an initial primer layer. I use my go-to primer, Painter's Touch in White, which is a relatively thick primer. When priming micros you want to have a VERY light hand. The initial layer should look very spare and grainy, and you should be able to see the colored resin or pewter through it. This is just an initial test to see what other sanding or filling work your horse needs. 
After allowing the initial primer coat to dry for at least twelve hours or so, I go back in and do more sanding and/or filling. You can see where I have found areas that need additional attention, but the initial primer coat is so thin that it allows for subsequent coats to go on without filling in the detail.
Depending on the horse, I will repeat this process at least two or three times. Always remember to wash your horse before each primer coat, and allow them to air dry. Even if you wear gloves, you will still want to wash all the dust off. Make sure the horse is dry before you prime it, and remember to check underneath it where water droplets tend to flow and hang out for a while even when the rest of the horse is dry.
This horse is almost ready for the final primer layer, but has a couple issues that need to be addressed. Can you see those little raised bumps on his shoulder and hip area? Those need to be lightly sanded out. Otherwise, he looks good to go. Don't be in a rush and give yourself a deadline to get horses prepped, this process can take a while. It can be annoying, but your careful prep work will pay off in the end.
When I'm finally ready to do the last primer layer, I will spray a slightly thicker coat than the previous layers. You can see that this horse is shiny and the primer isn't grainy, but the detail is still intact. The primer doesn't look thick, and isn't pooling in the crevices. 
What do you do if you get all the way to the end, get that perfect primer layer, and find a spot that you somehow missed? Don't worry, it happens. Let the horse dry (give it a full day of drying time to be safe, you don't want to be trying to sand a sticky mess, and remember that a thicker layer will take more drying time), sand out or fill the spot in question, wash and dry per usual. Then when you go to re-prime the missed spot, hold your thumb or finger over critical areas of detail such as your horse's face, and spray away.

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