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Metallizer bottles & airbrush
Painting with Metallizer Lacquers

Getting a good metallic finish on those parts of a model which require it has always been a holy grail of sorts. To date, bare metal foil and Testors Metallizer line of lacquers are the best options.

Metallizer comes in two types, buffing and non-buffing. Both are "airbrush only," however I have applied it with paintbrush when the area needing it is small. After applying buffing Metallizer, the lacquer must be buffed to bring out the metallic sheen. The non-buffing type doesn't require this step. In either case, the final step in a Metallizer finish is a sealer coat to protect it.

Metallizer works best applied to a smooth surface - either clean, bare plastic or a gloss coat. I prefer applying it over bare plastic. If the model has had extensive filing and puttying, apply a gloss primer or clear gloss-coat first.

As with all paints, shake or stir Metallizer well before using it. If you look at the bottom of the bottle, you'll be able to see when it's completely mixed. Metallizer's particulates settle out of the vehicle quickly, so shake/stir it often while using it.

Metallizer rarely requires thinning for use. But, if you happen not to have closed a bottle tightly and find the lacquer has thickened due to vehicle evaporation, add some of the Metallizer thinner until it regains its normal consistency.
Apply Metallizer using several thin passes of the airbrush. It dries to the touch quickly, so you can apply several thin coats fairly quickly in one airbrushing session.

Here's the Fine Molds Jedi Starfighter after it's been given its gunmetal coat. This is about five passes of Metallizer.

After 10 minutes, the finish will be ready to buff.

You can use any clean, soft (or fairly soft) tool to buff out the finish. My three most-often used buffers are (top to bottom):
  • a felt ball - a square of clean felt rolled up and tied off.
  • cotton swabs
  • a short, medium-soft flat brush
  • Use the felt ball for general surface buffing. If you have large areas - such as an entire aircraft - don't bother balling up the felt. A shoe-buffing brush would work well for that.
  • Use a cotton swab when you need to buff inside a small opening. Use a twirling motion or in/out motion. Be sure to press the swab into corners to buff them out too.
  • The brush works when you need to buff an edge or inside an undercut.

With some index cards for masking, you can vary the buffing technique and intensity to give the appearance of metal panels.


Here's the final "before and after," the unbuffed and buffed surfaces. Finally, apply a coat of the Metallizer sealer and let it dry. This will protect the Metallizer's sheen and afford some scratch-resistance.

If you have other painting to do on a model, be sure to mask off the Metallized areas. Also, when applying a dull-coat finish, be sure to keep it off the Metallized areas.


The Model Citizen's "Sprue U" pages are �2000 Roger Sorensen
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last updated 04 December, 2007