Recommendation - Convincing gunmetal for models

Hi, all.

Just bought a resin model kit of a weapon, and I'd like to paint it up.

Did some initial research on the group, and I found a few posts about the 'legality' of making real-looking gun models.

I also spotted a couple of posts about using an airbrush with a certain kind of paint - but I lost track of the post and haven't found it again. ;-) Oh well. Not sure how I feel about the airbrush idea, because I don't have an airbrush and am reticent to spend $100 on a whole kit for one model.

As well, I noticed some techniques involving putting some silver paint on the edges of some of the pieces to provide a 'worn' look.

Can anyone suggest additional tips for making the metal parts look convinving?



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"BD" wrote in news:1140460580.054920.313620

It really depends on what kind of weapon, where it was made and for what purpose it was made.

Bluing is a chemical rust that creates a protective outer layer on the metal, but depending on who did it and how it can be very light to very deep and dark. Earlier weapons tend to have a brownish finish.

Civilian weapons can be blued, color case hardened or even black. Military weapons are truly varied as it depends on the technology available in the period. I have old bolt rifles that appear to be dark blue or black with a low luster, parkerizing is a protective finish that leaves the metal most nonreflective (useful in a military arm) but I've seen parkerized finishes range from a medium dark grey to black and green. Some single action revolvers and lever action rifles had lots of brasswork. Nickle plating has been used for at least 110 years and gives a very nice shiny reflective surface when polished right. Stainless steel has also been used both in a matte and a shiny finish and ranges in between.

I have 2 of the Williams Bros aircraft machine guns, I'm probably just going to go semi gloss black and them maybe wash it down with some gunmetal and nick it up with some steel.

What type of weapon is it and what period and degree of use will it depict?

Don't worry about legality, I have no patience for dullards who are so afraid of guns they want to restrict replicas. If you keep it in your house I doubt there is anything anyone can say about it. Providing you live in the US, that is. Your mileage may vary in more paranoid countries.


Reply to
Mustapha, P

It is the m41a Pulse Rifle from the movie Aliens. It can be seen at

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Much of the surface is colored in the green/grey color you mention. My interest is not so much in imitating the color/texture from the film, but more to make it convincing and have it look like 'real materials', and not 'plasticy'.

Granted, many weapons are in fact _made_ of plastic, but I'd like to provide the illusion of metals and heavy materials...

I'm toying with whether or not an airbrush would be a good investment for this - a 'weathered' weapon would have variations in the color around the edges of the various components, and I haven't done enough experimenting to see what would provide a convincing look.

As to legality, I'm in Canada, and if it turns out well I'll mount it in a glass case and put it up on the wall.

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"BD" wrote in news:

Making plastic look like metal is tricky but with a scifi weapon you actually have some squirm room. What usually gives away a replica or model is it's weight.

Fortunately a good deal of that is plastic. What I might try is this and you will need an airbrush or spray cans. I would probably paint all the metal work either steel or aluminium.

(Plug alert: company called Alclad makes what are probably the best metallic paints on the market today. They were designed to replicate bare metal surfaces of aircraft, jet engines, etc and as such have a very realistic finish. They dry very quickly and they dry hard according to everything I've heard. They have a range of finishes so you could vary it bit, thaere are probably 4 or 5 shades of aluminum.)

Any way you go on the metal, put on enough coats to make a solid surface. Get a very dark grey or black, flat of course. Spray one or two coats to get a nice even finish. Now go back and look for wear areas, polish the area with something like micromesh until the metal starts to show. Don't be to neat real wear patterns are varied. Look for high points, corners, edges and work those areas to bring out the metal underneath. These areas might be the easiest as the wear usually appears fairly regular due to the wear like a sling or holster hitting the same spot every time.

When firearms are cleaned usually the last thing you do is put a light coat of oil over the whole thing as a protectant and then rub it in. Plactic and well kept wood will get reflective, even matte finished metal will pick up a glow. Try rubbing the whole thing down with a very soft cloth (look in the car modeling section for soft polishing cloths for high gloss paint finishes.

The amount of wear is up to you, a newly issued or reissued arm will be very neat and unscracthed. Rack and handling wear add thier own nicks and fading. The longer it's in service before it gets back to the armory the rougher it gets. But also remember a soldier is betting his life on this weapon and even if it is in service for a long time if he has enough down time he will probably clean it up pretty good, if only to keep the sarge from busting his ass. Tear down and cleaning usually doesn't take that long and that time will be built in to the soldiers schedule unless he is in continuous contact for a long period of time.

Good luck and let us know.

Reply to
Mustapha, P

Thanks kindly for the tips.

I agree that weight is usually a dead giveaway. The resin pieces for this kit weigh 10 pounds. Not sure how close that is to what a 'real' weapon would weigh, but I'd considered gluing little bundles of lead shot to the inside surfaces of some of the pieces to add to the overall weight.

As to finishes, I already have some (what I deem) excellent stuff - it's NOVUS plastic polish. I used this stuff to buff the shellac finish on an acoustic guitar that I built - brought it up to a near mirror shine, which is likely more of a shine than I would want.

And weathering - I hadn't envisioned the look to be 'beat to crap' or covered in mud or anything - I've recently spotted a finished variation of this weapon in which the edges of the larger body components show raw metal, as if the paint had worn completely through. That's a bit more than I'd envisioned as well.

Personally, I've gotten an effect similar to what I'm looking for by taking flat paint, and gently rubbing it with a cloth or a bare hand before it's completely dry: the un-rubbed areas will maintain their flat look, but the areas which were contacted have a slight shine to them as the 'grain' of the flat paint is rubbed smooth. Strategically picking these areas during the painting process should help me get a 'worn, but not abused' look.

This project will take time, but once I'm done I'll post photos. Thanks again!!


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Seeing that it is a model, of what is in actuality, another "model" (a movie prop)...probably makes the task easier. The movie prop(s) probably had a lot of non-metal components as well. See if you can find photos of the actual movie props (*not* screen-shots), to possibly get an idea as to how the SFX people painted these things. Keep in mind how the props look in actuality, as opposed to how they look on-screen. There would probably be a difference. For example, the SFX people may have painted the props in an overly exagerrated (sp?) manner, so as to make them "look right" on screen.

Reply to
Greg Heilers

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