Turning plastic surface into a more visually pleasing metal surface

There are several common ways to paint realistic metal surface on a scale model and the widely known one is using metaliziers. The shine from the metalizer is so similar to that of the real plane, that the plastic model really looks like the real plane. At least as an overall appearance. Yet the use of metalizers has a number of specific details that you should know very well before getting started with using metalizers. There are several interesting highlights on how to make the simple plastic surface really look like metal.

  • The methods of spraying a metalizer. Usually, the most realistic metal surface is achievable only if the metalizer is sprayed with an airbrush. There are many buff-able metalizers, which also deliver a great metal finish. Choose your most preferred method or choose the easiest one – spraying with an airbrush.
  • The metalizer itself. There are numerous metalizers like the Alclad II series or other acrylic series.
(source: https://www.megahobby.com/)
  • The type and texture of the surfaces. The more the details, the greater the overall texture of the model. However, there is nothing more visually pleasing than a big, wide, flat, glossy, metal surface perhaps with rivets and panel lines only.
  • The base coat a.k.a. the primer. Spraying dark primer is usually the most used technique that ensures a better metal finish. In all cases, make sure to use a primer to make a really strong coat with the metalizer, because there are always further treatments.
(source: http://www.austinsms.org/)
  • The polishing methods. A simple polish with a cotton cloth or with dry paper towel will bring out the true shine of the metalizer. Leave the freshly sprayed coat to dry for a couple of hours and make sure that it is sufficiently dry for polishing. The polish will make the wide flat surfaces even more silvery and shiny.


A great method to make the surfaces like real is to use at least a thin coat of metalizer underneath the real paint of the model. Always use very thin, almost transparent, coats of paint, and eventually you will end up with a beautifully build up paint color, as well as with a subtle metal shine underneath.

Another great approach is to use pre-cut masks for painting different camo patterns or different panels with a subtle variation of the metal shine. A little bit of darker or lighter colors in the metalizer will give that difference in the nuance, while the pre-cut masks will provide nice right contours. Use pre-cut masks for painting camouflages over metal surfaces. Yet if you are not happy with the end result, you can always apply more weathering techniques or just another few paint coats to cancel the shine from the metalizer.

Use only gloss coats of lacquer, which will keep the metal shine throughout the main painting of the model. The gloss coats should be very light, just enough to protect the surfaces during the application of the thin paint coats.

Overall, the real world planes are made out of metal surfaces and although painted – they wear and the metal shine appears much or less under the paint. Not to mention the bare metal surface planes, which have no paint coats at all.

(source: http://cs.finescale.com/)