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Masking Tutorial
Written by Booman   
Wednesday, 13 June 2007 23:19
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If you have ever wanted to create some dramatic painting effects without having to purchase an expensive airbrush and compressor, then masking will be a cheaper and more convenient substitute. I am creating a simple two color case by using masking tools that you can easily find at hardware and craft stores.

Case panel :: By Booman

Tools needed:

  • two different colors of spray paint (hardware store, craft store)
  • masking tape (the blue kind works best; hardware store, craft store)
  • latex mold (craft store)
  • regular paper or newspaper (just about anywhere)sponge brushes (hardware store, craft store)
  • exacto knife or razor (hardware store, craft store)
  • sand paper (at least 220 grit; hardware store, craft store)
  • primer (hardware store)
  • 1 inch sponge brush (hardware store, craft store)

Step 1: Prep Work

Start by sanding down the surfaces of your case and cleaning it off with a moist towel.  Then completely cover the panel or bezel with primer.  You may only need one or two coats, just try to spray enough so its completely covered.  After that sand down the primer with sandpaper again and clean it thoroughly.  Next draw out your design where you want to separate the colors.  If your colors are light you may want to use a light colored pencil or marker otherwise it may show through your paint job.

Step 2: Mask Work

Masking :: By Booman

Now cut pieces of paper to fit around the area you want masked off.  Tape the edges down tightly so it is protected from overspray.  You don't have to mask it to the very edge but keep the paper less than an inch away.  Then use your masking tape to seal the paper against the case by taping the edges down between the paper and the edge of your separation area.  Make sure to leave at least a 1/4 of an inch for the latex.

Step 3: Latex

Latex masking :: By Booman

Pull out the latex mould and make sure it mixed up.  Some latex's separate and leave water at the bottom, so stir it up well.  Use the 1 inch sponge brush to seal the rest of your area right up to the line you drew.  If you need a straight line, it may be better to just use masking tape instead.  Latex and a sponge brush are too hard to control for perfectly straight lines, but are great for organic shapes.  Make sure to get the latex as thick as you can because it will peel off easier without tearing.  Last, let it dry over night and you are ready for some painting.

Latex masking :: By Booman

Step 4: Painting First Color

Follow the directions on the spray paint can to get the best results.  Experimenting will just waste time.  I found that the directions on the can are very specific and are allways correct.  Go ahead and paint your first few coats of the first color and let it dry overnight.  Once its dry use the exacto knife to score a line where the paint will split and you will get a nice separation.

Now start the peeling process. Start at one side of your mask and gently pull the latex straight up from the case so that it doesn't tear.  The latex is very flexible and will stretch until it reaches the scoring area and peel up.  Continue this across the masking area until all the latex and tape pulls up.  Don't worry if some of the paint areas chip because we will clean that up later.

Peel off masking :: By Booman Peel off masking :: By Booman

Step 5: Clean-up paint edges

Cleaning up :: By Booman Cleaning up :: By Booman

As for those areas where the paint chipped or the latex ripped, now we can clean it up.  Use your exacto knife to cut away the chipped edges or to peel up the rest of the latext that may have torn off.

Here is the first painting job after its been cleaned up.

Clean edges :: By Booman

Step 6: Mask for next color

Existing paint masked :: By Booman

Continue by masking off the painted side by following steps 2 and 3.  Don't forget to make the latex fairly thick so it will peel off without tearing.  You won't need to primer and sand since that was already done, but it would be smart to clean off the surface with a moist towel.

Step 7: Painting Second Color

Spray your second color according to the instructions on the can.  I know I'm repeating myself but this is crucial since some paints coat and dry differently.  To get the best appearance use the paint as directed.  I also did a clear coat while it was masked so I wouldn't have to mask again later.

Painting :: By Booman Final coat :: By Booman

Step 8: Removing The Second Mask

As in step 4, score all the way across your intersecting line so that the latex mask will peel off in a fairly straight line.  There may still be some chipping of paint, but we will clean that up again.

Scoring the mask :: By Booman Final coat :: By Booman

Step 9: Peeling the Final Mask

Now start pulling straight up on the latex so that it begins to peel away from the intersecting area.  The latex should come up pretty easily and along your scored line.

Peeling the mask :: By Booman Peeling the mask :: By Booman
Peeling the mask :: By Booman



Step 10: Final Clean Up

Once again we need to use the exacto knife to clean up any areas that appear messy or inconsistant.  This time be careful not to cut or chip at the first color.  There may be a ridge from any latex under the paint that wasn't removed.  You can either leave it or try cutting it off, but be careful because it may not have paint under it and will reveal the primer.  It may be smarter to just leave it.  Details that small are hard to see unless you put your eye right up to the case.

Clean up :: By Booman Clean up :: By Booman

Here is the final panel with two separate colors.

Finished panel :: By Booman

One final touch is to clean off some of the left over residue from the latex.  I found that a q-tip and some goo-gone cleans it up.  Now you can try to experiment... maybe try fading one color over the other instead of a halting line between the colors.

See the whole of this finished case mod here.

Got questions?

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