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What tips do you use for centering multiple masks?


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Hello friends.
It's all in the title.
I'm going to try to make masks for the red and white stars on my Yak-9.
They are actually 3 stars that are "stacked".



I'm thinking of making an outer mask that I'll paint white, then put on an "inner" mask to protect the white and then paint the whole thing red.
The result will be a red star on the inside, followed by a thick white border and a thin red border on the outside.
The trick is to position the inner "white" mask perfectly before painting the red.
So I duplicated my masks, adding 5 circles that will be cut out and visible.




I'll use these 5 circles as a visual reference to align the 2 masks.
What do you think of this system?
Do you have another tip for me?

Thanks in advance.


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Going back a lot of years (2011) I built an Aeropoxy Yak 3 and painted the markings, I got the masks from Mal at Miracle paint masks, the fuselage side masks were one piece.


Masking applied


White sections removed and white airbrushed


White masking replaced and red sections removed and red airbrushed, after masking the flash.

And the result, I was impatient and pulled some paint off before it had dried.


The same method was applied to the underwing stars, but I did not take photos of that process..


A quick edit here is a photo I found with the wing stars in progress, white first, mask replaced then red sections removed and red sprayed.

This meant minimum mask removal and replacement.








Edited by dennismcc
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Thanks Dennis for your message.
It doesn't really look easy to get a perfect result, i.e. all 3 stars perfectly centered.
I'm going to try and try again to find out if my method of marking with these 5 circles is valid...

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If it works, it's valid.  It's certainly worth a try.  Good luck and let us know how you get on. 


The usual advice is to draw reference lines on the mask using a suitable pen or pencil: the one obvious flaw there is that once one section has been sprayed, the reference lines are obscured by the paint.  I tend to "eyeball it" these days, which works reasonably most of the time, but when it goes wrong it really looks wrong!

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Hi Mike and thanks for your reply.
I had already tried, as you write, to draw markers with a pen, but they were covered with paint and became unusable, or I even managed to erase them with my fingers when manipulating the masks!
That's why I thought of making markers that were always visible: holes in the masks.
I think I'll try it out today and give you a debriefing.

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Interesting question and possible solution Denis, did it work? I have tried various methods but in the end I use the Mark 1 eyeball. I am, however, very particular in labelling the masks during their use (wing port upper, fuselage stbd etc) and direction (ie an arrow pointing to the wing leading edge etc) because this can matter…..it probably shouldn’t but it sometimes does.

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Hi Max, and yes it worked.
At least, my system of markings on the 2 masks did.
Unfortunately, there wasn't enough space between the white mask and the red outer mask, so you could barely make out the red outer border.
So I'm going to have to "cheat" by leaving more space between these 2 masks so that the red border can be seen.
I've also numbered my masks to avoid the disasters I've come to expect...


And I've replaced the circles with triangles, which should enable me to be even more precise when placing the second mask on top of the first.


Note to myself: Denis, don't forget to mask the 3 triangles before painting with your airbrush, otherwise it'll end in tears and screaming...  :ninja:



Edited by Furie
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15 hours ago, mozart said:

 I have tried various methods but in the end I use the Mark 1 eyeball. 


Can you lend it to me and mail me your "Mark 1 eyeball"????   :P

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1 hour ago, mozart said:

If I did I wouldn’t be able to see to write your address, so I must politely decline! :P





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Here's the result of my tests.


A large star without the mask centering system.
It doesn't look good because it's off-center :



And the famous small star with the mask centering system, but the outer red border is barely visible.
The procedure is validated, but I need to resize the border to make it bigger :




Edited by Furie
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The secret to this is frisket. Draw all the stars together, i.e. you only have 1 star with each of the others inside of it. Lay out the star on the aircraft, remove the frisket leaving just the outer star on the aircraft. Paint it all white. Reposition the mask still on the frisket and burnish it down. Remove the mask for the red color. Spray your red and everything matches up perfect. 
Back in a bit with pics to help with my description.


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Ok, here’s a practice set. Frisket is on the star in the bottom of this pic. Star in top of poc has it removed and red is sprayed but not covered yet.


now everything that’s not blue is covered.


final product. Not crisp but this was when i learned about using the frisket over the whole mask so that each layer of mask stays aligned. 



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Thanks for the tip Chris.
I already use a "frisket" transfer film for all the mask manipulations I do.
Your method is good and I'm going to try it too.


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