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"Help with panel liners" Topic

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Yellow Admiral24 Mar 2020 8:13 a.m. PST

A couple years ago I bought a set of AKI panel liners. I can't figure out how to get good results with them.

I've been using them on 1/144 plastic aircraft models with lots of nice panel lines some gashopon pre-paints, some plain styrene kits I painted myself.

The panel liners appear to be very sensitive to the finish of the surface. A really dull surface (like brushed-on flat acrylic) just absorbs panel liner all over, staining badly outside the panel line. On a really glossy surface, the fluid puddles and beads and does not work like a proper wash, and all comes out of the panel lines when the excess is wiped off. The best flow seems to occur on spraypainted surfaces somewhere between matt and satin.

If I use a superfine brush to pick out each panel line, there is still overflow that has to be wiped away (quickly), and the wiping action takes most or all of the fluid out of the depression it's supposed to be staining. This multiplies the effort of an already intense and laborious process, and produces results that don't seem worth all the effort.

If I just brush an entire surface in the liquid (e.g. a wing, a fuselage, etc.), the whole model ends up looking dirty and artificially dirty, like somebody rubbed it down with soil. If I wipe the excess off the surface after this, some does remain behind in the panel lines, but not really enough. Also, as above, wiping multiplies the effort by requiring that I do this several times to get enough stain into the panel lines, and produces a very "meh" result at the end. It also leaves behind streaks and stains on the panel surfaces that must be touched up later.

The best results I got by thinning the panel liner about 1:1 with lacquer thinner, and painting deliberately in the panel lines. This requires multiple applications, and each must dry completely before the next application, so the spirits don't just pick up the panel liner and remove the previous application. I don't really want to spend days painting each model; I'm a wargamer, not a model builder, and I want to crank out dozens of models in quickly (which is really the entire rationale behind using gashopon pre-painted models in the first place…).

Has anyone found a way to use these effectively? What does work?

- Ix

khanscom24 Mar 2020 8:40 a.m. PST

Offered as an alternative to the product described-- one of the expert modelers at our local club had fine results with the following technique. Varnish the finished model with Future (but probably any gloss varnish would do); mix a sludgy solution of tempera/poster paint (water soluble) of an appropriate color and apply generously to the panel lines with a brush or Q-tip. Allow the poster paint to dry and proceed to clean the paint from the panels with Q-tips or swabs. A fair bit of care is needed to avoid removing paint from the engraved lines, but the nice part is that you can repeat as needed until the look is satisfactory; being water- soluble the poster paint can be removed easily without damaging the model's finish, while the glossy finish won't "stain" from the paint application. Finally, spray with a matte varnish to seal the poster paint in the panel lines.

Yellow Admiral24 Mar 2020 9:07 a.m. PST

Thanks, but that sounds like a lot of work per model, a problem I'm distinctly trying to avoid. I already have some alternative panel lining techniques.

Normally I use acrylic paints or FW acrylic inks, thinned with water and applied as a wash. The problem with this is that water tends not to flow well in really shallow features, so it ends up being a lot of work to make acrylics work right.

I've begun experimenting with tinting Future with FW inks to make a homemade "dip" that cleans up with water (and that I can tint to any color and darkness I like, unlike Tudor Minwax). This combination might also work as a panel liner, since the medium used to liquify Future flows differently than water, even when thinned with water.

I had hoped the chemically suspended AKI panel liners would work better, since spirit-based mediums flow better than water. Before I abandon them completely, I thought I'd ask for advice here.

- Ix

bobspruster24 Mar 2020 9:47 a.m. PST

Why not just a black wash? Failing that, I've seen soft charcoal pencils used with the excess brushed away (perpendicular to the panel lines) with a large soft brush, then top coated.

Yellow Admiral24 Mar 2020 10:08 a.m. PST

Why not just a black wash?
That's really the synopsis of my query. If there is any advantage of the AKI panel liners over any ordinary wash, I haven't found one.

I've never tried charcoals, or the somewhat similar weathering powders that seem to be popular right now. I tend to work with fairly small models, where liquids are easier. The 1/144 fighters are far and away the largest models I've ever worked on.

- Ix

bobspruster24 Mar 2020 10:41 a.m. PST

If 1/144 is big, then for sure use a wash.

Beowulf Supporting Member of TMP Fezian24 Mar 2020 11:02 a.m. PST

I have had very good results with Tamiya Panel Line Accent Color. You can apply it over decals without affecting them, and a Q tip with spirits takes the excess away, even after several days.

Karellian Knight25 Mar 2020 5:51 a.m. PST

"Normally I use acrylic paints or FW acrylic inks, thinned with water and applied as a wash. The problem with this is that water tends not to flow well in really shallow features, so it ends up being a lot of work to make acrylics work right."

Apparently adding a small drop of liquid dish soap will help with this.

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP25 Mar 2020 12:24 p.m. PST

Yes, if you want the wash to settle in the panel lines you need to add something to the mix to break the surface tension of the water. A drop of Dawn type sish soap will work just fine. Or you can buy surface tension breaker from an art supply store.

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