Until I can afford an airbrush and do things *right*, I thought I'd make do with spray paint.
While the coverage is much more even than hand painting, using the stuff can cause unsightly drips. Does anyone have a technique for dealing with these drips that is different from "sand 'em down and paint the spots by hand"?
The best way - ONLY way, really - is to prevent drips from happening instead of trying to fix them after they've started. And the best way I've found is to spray two or three light 'dusting coats', with the can held farther away than usual, several minutes apart allowing it to tack up. Once these have tacked up you can lay it on somewhat thicker and closer so you get a nice glossy smooth appearance.
Some other useful pointers; paint only on dry days with low humidity, warm the can in the sun for 30 minutes first, and shake, shake, SHAKE until *long* after you think the paint is mixed - a few seconds after the ball starts to rattle is NOT going to break down all the clumps and you WILL get gunk clogging the nozzle which is going to ruin your paint job right in the middle. Finally, if you can slowly turn the rocket on a rotisserie spit while the paint sets up, do it.
One last thing, the saying "practice makes perfect" is usually overlooked but it's not bad advice where paint is concerned, because every brand and formulation is different and will run (or not run) according to its own peculiarities. Spraying a small test article, right before doing the real thing, gives you an idea of just how much you can lay on before it starts to sag and run.
Good tips so far, I'll add a couple of my favorites that let us achieve results like these Pinewood Derby Cars we painted:
After painting, move the item to another area clear of the airborne paint particles. It helps if you have whatever your painting mounted to something so you can handle it safely while the paint is wet. This will prevent the dust from settling on the fresh paint and dulling the finish.
Invert the paint cans immediately after finishing each coat and spray them until they run clear. This will keep the nozzle clear and ensure the next coat goes on without splatters.
One trick I use for multi-coat projects in the colder months is after spraying the first coats, I move the project inside and hang it on the chandelier with the light on to cure it a little quicker. For the final coat however, I keep the project in the cooler air (after moving it out of the airborne dust from painting) so the final coat has more time to flow out for the highest gloss. I'm not suggesting a wild swing in temperatures here, that would cause problems. We've used
55=B0F (basement) to 68=B0F (first floor) for a differential, but it does make a difference.
For what it's worth, we've been using MetalCAST paint from Wal-Mart on a variety of wood and paper projects with great results. The primer we use is either Zinzer BIN or Kilz depending on what's handy, then the silver MetalCAST base coat followed by the transparent top color coat.
That's the system we used on the Pinewood Derby Cars and those were painted by my Sons. I'll post the Estes Big Daddy I recently finished using MetalCAST later tonight.