Saturday, December 22, 2018

Painting the Cape Cod House

(This is the 2nd part of building the Walthers Cape Cod house kit #933-3776. For part 1, click here)

Sometimes, to get to a particular destination - whether a beautiful waterfall or mountain top view - the journey is part of the fun. And sometimes it's just something to get through to get the reward. Those journeys often take longer and the going is rough - there may not even be a trail, and you have to go hacking your way through the brush and overgrowth just to make some forward progress.

So it is with grooving new synapses when you're learning a new skill. You have to go over the same path over and over again and the going is pretty slow. I wanted to get my latest structure build all nicely painted, but I don't paint - nevermind airbrush - nearly often enough, so each time I do it, it's like I'm having to learn it all over again. So out comes the machete and off I go, hoping I have a large enough block of time to at least get to a good stopping point along the way.

Today's journey took about 5 hours, from set-up to clean-up. I can only hope that as I do more painting more often that I'll get faster at it. Here's what I did. . .

The house is going to be basically 5 colors. Fortunately, two of those colors ("concrete" for the foundation & steps and Hunter Green for the shutters) were available in rattle cans. The other three colors I used were craft paints I mixed for airbrushing (click here for how I do that).

Note sharpie marks on the side to get the paint/medium ratio correct.
I'm painting the walls an ivory color, the windows and trim will be white, and the roof will be a dark grey. I mixed 1/2 oz of each craft paint with 1/2 oz of airbrush medium and 1 ml of flow aid to make a 1 ounce bottle of each color. And (thanks to Roman) I used a fancy labeler to keep track of them all.

All that figuring and mixing took a fair amount of time, and then the airbrushing took even longer. In the spirit of full disclosure . . . although I like the price and availability of craft paints, and Greg LaRocca's article showed me how I can shoot them through my airbrush, I'm still learning how best to do it. "Your Mileage May Vary", as they say. I, for one, discovered that I really needed to apply multiple (at least two) coats of each color to get full coverage. The first coat just came out really blotchy - especially on the roof sections which I hadn't primed. I don't know if I added too much airbrush medium or flow aid - I didn't even add any thinner! - but it seems that the paint could actually stand to be a bit thicker.

That said, the roof sections actually ended up coming out the best (and that craft paint was by far the thickest of the lot, but I used the same mixing ratios), and the ivory colored paint I used on the wall sections, which seemed to be the thinnest, kept clogging up the airbrush and still needed multiple coats. I kept a Q-tip dipped in airbrush cleaner on-hand to keep the nozzle clean, but I still needed to run a lot of cleaner through the brush from time to time to keep things going.

All that took quite a bit of time.

Fortunately, the concrete and green colors were applied with literally just a few shots from each can, held a long way away from the parts (18" or so) to keep the paint from building up.

By the way, you may want to try what I did - taping the parts to cards and cardboard for ease of handling while painting. That certainly made it easier to move things around for the best coverage.

Speaking of coverage, I was still not really happy with how the walls came out. Since the dormer windows are molded into their walls (unlike all the other windows, which were separate parts), I knew I had to at least brush paint those. So I figured, while I was at it, I'd go ahead and brush paint the walls with another coat of the ivory (straight from the bottle, not thinned with anything).

This photo shows how mounting the parts to cardboard makes painting a lot easier.

One thing I forgot to take a picture of were the trellises and pergola. Actually, it was those details that first prompted the whole airbrushing option rather than just brush painting everything. I figured a rattle can of white would obscure too much of the "lattice-y" detail, and I certainly didn't want to have to brush paint all those little mullions and thin wood parts. Having said that BEWARE: even airbrushing acrylic/water-based paint on those wood parts risked causing the glue joints to fail. So certainly don't saturate them.

Now that everything is painted and drying - and I'm not looking at it all from a couple inches away - I'm really happy with how it's all looking. And one of the best things about using acrylic paints is how fast they dry (not to mention the lack of toxic fumes) - so I should be able to start assembling the house tomorrow!

All in all, not a bad way to spend a long afternoon. Sure, everything took a lot longer than I anticipated, but I had the time, I'm blessed with a comfortable work space, and I (almost) got all caught up with my favorite podcast in the process. So even a tough journey was made a lot more pleasant. And a nicely-finished structure for the layout will certainly make the trip worthwhile.


  1. Did you ever invest in a set of micro mesh strainers? The strainer funnel set from Micro Mark has made my acrylic airbrushing much more enjoyable...

    1. They're actually on my Christmas list :^) so hopefully Santa will bring them! One concern I have though: if the paint is really thick, won't it take forever for it to get through the strainer? Heh - I suppose though the idea is to thin the paint for flow and then do a final strain to be sure any particulates are strained out.

  2. I usually thin before I strain, yes.

    Here's hoping you don't get coal in your stocking, though we both know how useful it is for modelers.

    I usually thin with the blue windshield washer fluid, but your recent post has encouraged me to try the Airbrush Medium. I've got a pair of cabeese in need of paint, eventually, so I'll have to purchase some before then.

    Have a Merry Christmas!