Silly putty masking

I will say right off that I donít like liquid mask. At least not the two brands Iíve tried. Where Iíve had problems is both with paint going underneath the mask, or being very hard to lift up the mask without messing up the paint underneath. This is why I was excited to try out using Silly Putty as a mask.

Silly Putty, to those who have forgotten their childhood, or who never had one, is reusable putty that kids play with. When itís stretched it can bounce back, and it can be used to pick up newsprint, comics, etc. It was pretty fun stuff as a kid.

There are various brands of this that is like Silly Putty. I got an off brand at Wal-Mart but Iíve also seen off brands at places like Hobby Lobby, Target, dollar stores, etc. What I got was a package for $1.00 that had two ďeggsĒ with a small amount of putty in each. I used the amount from two packages, four eggs total, for my Priest.

What I did is I painted two colors on the Priest, dark green and military brown from Model Masters first. Once they both dried I then got to work with the Silly Putty. I donít know if itís because I used an off brand but I found it left strings like melted cheese from a pizza when I tried to separate it into smaller pieces. I found that by pinching it with my fingernails it kept the strings down to a minimum. Taking a small amount of putty I kneaded it and flattened it out to a shape roughly like the section of paint I wanted to mask. Once I got it nearly the right size and shape I put it onto the model and pressed it over the shape I wanted. The one trick here is to make sure you cover the entire shape. I found it best to leave a narrow band of the underlying color to make sure that I didnít leave blank areas. Then it was just a matter of covering both the green and brown areas with putty.

Here is one thing I messed up so learn from my mistake. When I was putting putty on one side of the Priest I laid it on its side. When it came time to lift it up it left a good deal of the putty I had already laid down on the surface I was working on. Fortunately I was on the granite counter top of our breakfast bar, so it came right up off that. If youíre going to do something like that be sure to lay it on some wax paper to keep sticking to a minimum.

Another ďDOHĒ moment was when it came to leave the Priest to dry after spraying the base color tan. I left it out in the sun for a few minutes, and when I came back all the putty had ďmeltedĒ down the side. It looked like it had been covered in Pepto Bismal. I really panicked, thinking I had ruined it. The putty was so soft that it was a gooey mess. I put it into the freezer for a few minutes, thinking it would firm it up. That worked like a charm. When it came time to peel off the putty it came up perfectly fine, and didnít pull up any of the paint below it.

Best of all the putty is totally reusable. As long as you donít lose any of it any putty you buy should last as long as you need it. You will want to store it in the plastic it comes in, so it wonít dry out.

Since I make mostly American tanks I donít think Iíll use this technique a lot, but I can see it being used on British vehicles, as well as other countries planes and ships. Give it a try.

About the Author

About Rodger Cole (Halfyank)

American Father, English Mother. Mum was in some British auxiliary, I'm not sure which, and Dad was a truck driver who ended up on a half track towing a 57mm, in the Big Red One. I was a modeler in the early 70s but got out of it. I'm just getting back into modeling after about 25 years. I'm planni...


I've used blu tack in the same way also. I haven't seen silly putty here in Ireland maybe it goes under a different name in Europe.
JUL 30, 2005 - 11:04 PM
Good article. Could we see a picture of the finished Priest?
JUL 31, 2005 - 01:06 AM
Good article Rodger. Have used SP for quite some time now. Excellent for making hard edge patterns, splinter patterns, etc. I find it is a lot easier to use than trying to cut tape or use liquid mask around delicate items. Have had no problems at all with it. No residue, no sticking and not wanting to come free. As to the strings you mentioned, I keep a small ball of Silly Putty on the side, When one of the strings apprears, I touch the ball of SP to it and the strings grabs on allowing me to snip/cut it off. I thinkif more people give it a try they will find out it is very easy to use and manipulate where you want, and best of all, it is re-usable. Once again, good write up. "Q"
JUL 31, 2005 - 07:13 AM
i looked up the article and its sold at toys R us,we have a store in amsterdam i believe.so i can try that
JUL 31, 2005 - 07:47 AM
I've used it and was very happy with the results. Easy to use, didn't seem to leave a residue. I'd like to try lifting the edges to see if you can get a softer edge. Jim
AUG 01, 2005 - 03:31 PM
i have used this method with success. and yes the putty will leave oil residue on matt surface..so u need to put on gloss/semi-gloss surface to model prior to putty application... here is what i have archived with my King Tiger for ardennes offensive campaign https://armorama.kitmaker.net/forums/42709&page=1
AUG 01, 2005 - 04:49 PM
Good article Roger, but I have found that Blu Tack (or Fun Tack) is much easier to come by and is a lot cheaper than Silly putty. I have never had a problem with Blu tack leaving any residue on my paintwork. Cheers Darren
AUG 01, 2005 - 06:19 PM
Well something very simular is a product called poster buddies by Pritt, which you can find in most book shops.
AUG 04, 2005 - 08:30 PM
ok.thanks for the info.i will try that out
AUG 05, 2005 - 02:01 AM
Silly putty.... Man we are inventive aernt we?
AUG 05, 2005 - 02:05 AM