Am I the only one who always ruins canopies.

Started by chrisonord, November 15, 2008, 01:20:32 PM

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Every, well nearly every model I build regardless of how careful I am I seem to make a right pigs ear of the canopies. Be it glue or paint or glue or paint finger prints, I seem to be cursed when it comes to getting canopies right. I model in 1/72nd, and some canopies can be quite small and devoid of any solid detail/framework thus getting a good line for the masking tape can be difficult. Any ideas would be appreciated as I am sick of being a club fingered idiot when it comes to canopies,oh and windows.
The dogs philosophy on life.
If you cant eat it hump it or fight it,
Pee on it and walk away!!

Brian da Basher

I'll start the ball rolling with a couple of tips, Chris.

Getting the canopy to look good breaks down into two parts; attaching and painting it.

I gave up using Testor's cement on canopies a long time ago. White glue like Elmer's is good because it dries clear and you can clean up any excess with water. I used to use Elmer's but now I use Gator's Grip glue as the bond is stronger. Since canopies aren't normally a load-bearing part of the model, you can get away with something weaker than model cement and you don't want to use CA as it will fog.

For painting the canopy, I'm lucky as I've got a fairly steady hand, but you could use Post-It notes as a guide. Another tip is cigarette papers as you can wet the sticky part to get them down and they'll conform to the curves. Rumor is you can pull them up without leaving behind any residue, but I've yet to try this technique. When masking the canopy, I'd mask off the longer sections first. Once those are on, you might be able to paint the shorter lines free hand.

I hope this helps.
Brian da Basher


I'm still old school...I use Scotch clear tape, and then razor off the bits to be painted.


Nope, your not the only one!  No matter what glue I use, I always seem to run into problems.  I was told that super glue wont fog if you use three coats of Klear, but it still happens to me.  White glue, I'm a bit cack-handed & tend to knock it off, although I've found if it's left for 24 hours that this is a bit better.

Canopy masking I'm trying to get the hang of, but mine don't turn out much better than hand painted.  I've tried using thin pieces of Tamiya tape cut to size, but that tends to give me a step.  I've been told to paint a layer of Klear once you've masked & that prevents runs, yet to try it.

Another one I've been told good things about is using Parafilm M.  It's expensive, but they use it where I work & they aren't going to miss a few lengths!  You stretch it until it's two to three times longer (try to keep the thickness even) then place it on the model & use the panel lins as a guide.  The problem I had is that you have to cut it on the model so you can leave marks from your knife/scalpel.

Only second hand tips I'm afraid, but I'll be watching this thread closely for ideas myself!  :thumbsup:
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Thanks for the info lads, I have tried masking with tamiya tape and pressing the tape down where the raised bits are to try and get the outline to come through so I can cut the tape,but, not all canopies are so generous with their detail, my current s-2 whiff is the most recent, as it is a hobbycraft kit and the canopy does not fit correctly either! I think I will try some of the micro scale stuff to see what that does, I too have used small blobs of super glue here and there when canopies don't want to fit and the only means of clamping them is with the fingers, the worst case of this was with an amodel Yak 130. that thing makes me shudder just thinking about it LOL.
The dogs philosophy on life.
If you cant eat it hump it or fight it,
Pee on it and walk away!!


I use model cement to attach my canopies but take out some insurance by handleing my canopies with masking tape.I cover the canopy with some tape then use it as a handle so if i have any glue on my fingers it wont transfer to the clear part. as for painting the frames sorry I do mine Freehand I have steady hands and a very short focal legnth (AKA REEEEEALY nearsighted) I use a #000-#00000 brush for 1/72 scale and #0-#00 for larger scales just remember to use a full arm motion to get a straight line not a wrist motion,Always keep your wrist Stiff for straight lines  :thumbsup: an old tip from my classical art instructor."Wrist for smooth curves,Arm for straight lines...No No Chris...No wrist for straight lines :banghead:"
Chris"PanzerWulff"Gray "The Whiffing Fool"
Self proclaimed "GODZILLA Junkie"!

Captain Canada

The boys pretty much have it all covered.....

My only tip : I take a cheap Testors flat brush ( the white plastic ones ) and cut all but four or five hairs off of it. This leaves a flat tip that is very narrow, and makes it easier to apply paint free-hand to the panel lines on the canopy.
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I model in 1/72, and hand-paint my canopies with a 000 or 00000 brush. I have had many successes and many failures, too, believe me. I am pleased to say that my latest whif is one of my better jobs. The pic below suffered a little in the blow-up, but shows the canopy of my latest Jinpu-Kai in 1/72. The entire canopy length is 30mm. I was able to get some nice, straight lines in this small scale.

I am curious what your particular "problem" is--lines not straight enough (wiggly or crooked?), uneven paint application (streaks of thin/thick)?

One problem, fairly easily solved, is "pointy" canopy frames.  That is, the molded frames, in cross-section, are somewhat triangular. These are the most difficult to paint, because there is very little actual flat surface--the brush is always going side-to-side as it tries to stay on top of the frame. A very fine file may be able to take the "point" off and give a flat surface to paint. This is usually only a problem on old kits---most newer kits have nicer canopies.

If there is a (or more) long, thick frame(s) somewhere on the canopy, consider using liquid mask to mask it (them) off when you spray-paint the rest of the model--if you get a few very nice, straight lines on the canopy, you can hand-paint the short ones and even if they are a little off, the overall view of the canopy is pleasing with SOME nice lines.

A steady pressure on the brush is essential. You want the paint to come off the brush at a consistent rate. If you lift up and down miniscule-ly, that varies the application of paint. Heavier pressure flares out the brush and puts out a wider stroke. Conversely, a light touch with just the very tip of the brush will produce the thinnest line.

Fortunately, I'm blessed with a pretty steady hand. But if "wobbly" is your problem, try bracing your painting hand against some solid, immovable object, and using a 3x5 card or other straight-edge as a painting guide. That is, place your brush-tip at the start of where you want to paint, sidle up the card to the brush shaft, near the brush end, parallel with the canopy frame to be painted, then slowly move the brush and "scrape" along the card.

Also, have a pre-determined start and stop place, depending on the amount of paint you can reasonably get on the brush. For me, 4 or 5 mm is about the maximum I try to paint on one stroke.

Something else you might try is the "Cutting-gutter" method. That is, if you can razor-cut a small, straight groove directly alongside the canopy frame on either side, the paint, when applied, has a "stop-zone". Kinda like a tank trap, the paint flowing sideways will hit the groove, and its own surface tension won't allow it to "climb" the other side very easily, but will align itself with the groove. Some kit canopies have this feature built in as "recessed" panel lines, but you can do your own.

If "slopping over", especially on corners, is your problem, you can take a pointy, wooden toothpick and "push" the paint out of the corner and create a sharp 90-degree angle. The human eye likes crisp line demarcations, so if you can make the edges of lines crisp, the eye is pleased. The wooden toothpick is usually not hard enough to scratch the plastic canopy, but can "scrape" a little, especially if the paint has not yet dried hard.

I hope the above helps.

My mind is like a compost heap: both "fertile" and "rotten"!

Brian da Basher

That canopy appears flawless, SR! Those are some excellent pointers.

Captain, I'll be trying out your tip regarding the Testor's brushes as I have a few that seem to be useless for anything but applying paint to large areas.
Brian da Basher


Wow sequoiaranger you certainly know your stuff, that canopy is immaculate!!
I seem to be cursed with either getting glue everywhere I shouldn't and/or making a mess of the paint. On some of my aircraft models I can mask off and cut out where the frame rails are, I use Tamiya masking tape and a very sharp knife, but not all canopies seem to play ball with this method. I think I will have a look for some liquid mask some clear tape and see how I go. I like to use my airbrush when ever possible, and if I can spray the frame rails in situ I will do, but unfortunately with some of the kits I do (the S-2 Tracker) don't always allow this as the canopies are a nightmare to fit properly. Oh and my hand is not the steadiest either and I suffer from Carpel tunnel syndrome, which can make things a bit interesting!!
The dogs philosophy on life.
If you cant eat it hump it or fight it,
Pee on it and walk away!!


I've started to use painted "decal" strips for my more complicated "greenhouse" canopies if I can't get an Eduard mask. Works ok for me.

As for glueing then I use Humbrol "Clearfix" and then coat the canopy in clear after it's fixed but I give it 24 hours or so
Do not condemn the judgement of another because it differs from your own. You may both be wrong.


 >my hand is not the steadiest either<

A steadying technique I use comes from my extensive pistol-shooting tournaments (long ago, but the technique is valid). Typically, one tightens the diaphragm and holds one's breath when trying to be steady. Unfortunately, that means a minor oxygen deprivation to the small muscles just when you need it most. The result is a bit of twitching.

In pistol-shooting, I would remember to take a quick, full breath and pull the trigger on slow exhale. I found it steadied the hand (I have found it works when putting on the golf green as well). So it can be with modeling.

If you have a particularly difficult stroke to paint, you might take TWO full breaths, preparing yourself to paint as the second breath exhales. You exhale slowly and steadily, but if you have taken the breaths beforehand, the oxygen supply to the muscles will be retained. You DON'T want to be tightening your diaphragm when doing small work, so when you have finished exhaling normally, stop painting until you breathe again.

All this may seen a bit esoteric, but I have found it WORKS.

>the canopies are a nightmare to fit properly.<

"Dry-fitting" here is the key. In essence, the canopy should fit if PLACED gently in its position. If you have to squeeze or push, then the canopy is not fitting properly. Carve the fuselage opening in the appropriate places,  shave down the canopy, or add a little bit of sheet plastic to "gaps", etc., until the fit is perfect WITHOUT glue.

As others have said, the canopy should not need to withstand weight or handling, so the bond does not need to be "melted" together like landing gear or fuselages. A strong white glue (radio-control stuff or "Gator's Grip") will do, and not very much is needed. I hold the canopy in one CLEAN set of fingers, then I put a drop of glue on a toothpick and run it along the bottom of the canopy, "wiping" a thin bead as I go. It might take several drops, but most white glues have plenty of set-up time, so I can take my time to get the bead consistent (no blobs or gaps). When it is all around the base of the canopy, I CAREFULLY (taking breaths again!) set the canopy in position. One trick is to take a tiny bit of paint and, while the canopy is dry-fitted in its correct position, make a short stroke on a canopy frame that slops onto the fuselage so you can line up the stroke for perfect position once you have glue on the canopy.

If some of the white glue runs up the INSIDE of the canopy when you place the canopy on the model, take the canopy off and start over (white glue comes off with water--spilled chemical glue is virtually impossible to remove!---another good reason for using it). If the glue runs up the OUTSIDE, hold the canopy in position and moisten a Q-tip (tiny cotton swab) and rub/wipe off the excess. After the glue is THOROUGHLY dry (and the whiteness will disappear to clear), you can add a small bead of white glue to the outside contact edge, and moist-Q-tip it to create a small fillet to smooth the transition from fuselage to canopy frame (look at real aircraft--there is rarely any noticeable break between fuselage and lower canopy frame).
My mind is like a compost heap: both "fertile" and "rotten"!


Look for the pre-cut masks for canopies. They take most of the work out of masking.

To keep your fingers from gumming up the clear plastic, try a product called finger cots. They're plastic or cotton, and cover your fingertips, thus keeping your sweat and skin oils away from the part.

In want of hobby space!  The kitchen table is never stable.  Still managing to get some building done.


hi chris.maybe you you want to try maskal from humbrol to coat it be for you handle it and stick it with clearfix.works for me! :thumbsup:


I have tried every kind of tape  :banghead: I have NEVER been able to mask a canopy with it. Then I discovered liquid mask . Solved every problem :wub: :wub: :wub: :wub: :wub:
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