Monday, August 30, 2010

Masking Basics

Masking is an old painter’s trick dealing with one of the most commonly used masking materials in custom painting, masking tape. Masking is a very basic part of painting any object, however masking often takes a long time to do and is therefore often skipped or done quickly and poorly.

Masking however is as important as the painting and when mastered it becomes a valuable tool that will give what ever your painting a truly professional finish.

In the beginning there was only one type of masking tape, crepe (as in crepe paper, pictured above) and takes some time in acquiring the skill to lay it down so that the paint doesn't bleed under it.
These days there are also new types of masking tape available on the market made from plastic  called 3M blue Fine Line. It's known for its ability to produce a nicely defined sharp edge (line) for even the most inexperienced painters.
Because this tape is plastic it can be manipulated to go around corners and curves with relative ease but again it will sill take a bit of practice. If you can not get the plastic type tapes regular crepe masking tape works just fine, and has done for a long time. Do not feel that you can not do it because you don’t have the new wiz bang product, focus on your technique first and foremost.

Masking tape comes in varriety of different widths so finding just the right width for your project is pretty easy, it also comes in many different qualities’, however it really pays to use the best quality masking tape available to you. The best masking tape that I know of is 3M and all of there masking tapes are readily available online.
3M also now have a huge range of different masking types for different projects inclding masking tape developed especially for automotive custom painting (very similar to custom toy painting, dont you think?). You can find their full range of products on their website…

3M also have a whole bunch of masking product information, tips and tricks(which in time I will also supply here), product demonstrations and custom sizes shapes and rolls…You can also check your local hardware stores, paint shops/ suppliers or if there is one, a automotive paint specialist.

As lot of the custom painting we do is on surfaces that are not flat, masking tape seems to work the best as it will conform to just about any shape object with out producing a bunch of wrinkles. Wrinkles not only make design lay out difficult but are areas where under spray is likely to occur defeating the purpose of masking the surface to begin with.
Most masking tape is solve proof which is very important as most of the better paints (auto and metallic’s) used in custom painting are usually solvent based. This is important because the solvent (in the paint) will not cause the adhesive to separate from the tape leaving your painting surface a mess or allowing the paint to bleed under the edges of the tape (this is also called “creep”)
This shouldn't happen with a good grade masking tape however it will often happen if you try to use cheaper masking material with solvent based paints.
If you are using water based paints (acrylics) this is not as much of an issue but I would still ere on the side of caution and buy a good quality tape.

If you are not sure about the quality of your tape (as is often the case for me here living in Japan and unable to read the packaging and labels) do a quick test. Lay some tape down on something (ice cream container plastic bottle whatever) and spray/brush/sponge your paint over the edge, just as you would if you were painting your figure... watch as the paint goes on and wait for your paint to dry a bit, then peel and check the edge of the tape and paint… if it is not solvent resistant you will see it almost straight away. This test will only take you a few minutes but I guarantee it will save you tears later down the track.

*Tip Avoid laying your tape down on its side as doing so will allow dirt, dust and shit to collect and stick to the sides of your tape, possibly getting onto the painting surface when you go to use it. It will also produce a fuzzy edge on the masking tape something you want to avoid. One way to avoid this is to keep your tape in a zip lock bag, not only will it keep your tape clean but it will also help keep you organized.

During the custom painting process we often need to mask over areas that we recently painted. For an added measure of safety you can make the tape less likely to pull paint up if you reduce how much tack (stick) the adhesive of the tape has. This is easy to accomplish by simply sticking the tape to your CLEAN (not flannel) shirt or jeans before applying it to your paint surface. You can also take some of the tack (stick) off with your fingers but be aware that if you wish to paint the area being masked again your fingers may leave unwanted oil on the surface. This is a good trick when painting hard surfaces like plastic and metal.

What brands and materials a custom painter devotes his loyalty to, is decided by personal experience and preference.
One more thing you should consider when using masking as a customizing technique is what else can I use, masking in the end is just blocking paint from a particular surface area which could be achieved by using all manner of things.
Like Gmunny who customized this black and silver munny here with rubber bands... Awesome! check out more of there work and munny goodness here....

So most importantly be creative play around, test out a bunch of things and have fun... Oh and if you find a great product or technique come back le us know so we can share it.

Also if you have any cool examples of masking techniques and would like to share email me and we so we can put hem in our gallery...

I hope you found the above information helpful and you can apply it to your next custom painting project. Please book mark this site and come back often as I will add more info as time allows.

Ps: The photos here were found using google image search if you are the artist who painted the awesome red/ white Munny let us know so we can give you credit ad link  to our site or photo gallery...

have an awesome day


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