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Full-scale airplanes see lots of wear and tear in regular use.  The surface skin panels often have uneven wear, with the center of the panels becoming lighter than the edges.  To recreate this wear on models, we use the pre-shading method.  The panel lines on the model are first darkened, then over-sprayed with the base color.

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The model on the left below has been pre-shaded.  Highly thinned black acrylic paint was airbrushed at 15 psi.  The panel lines molded into the plastic were sprayed with 1 or 2 passes.  The lines can be a bit uneven, as real wear is not even.  Both bottom and top of the airplane are done.  This is easier than it looks; use the airbrush to practice making lines on scrap material.

Below right, the base color has been sprayed over the pre-shaded airplane.  Note that the darkened lines are still slightly visible, don't cover them completely.  The camouflage colors and top clear coats will lighten the panel lines some more, so don't overdo the base coat. 

pre-shading panel lines,step 1       

pre-shading panel lines,step 2

pre-shading panel lines,step 3

This technique can be used on any model with visible panel lines.


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