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How-to: Panel Lines

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Well I promised Bill I'd do a "how-to" on panel lines and here goes... Understand that this is mostly borrowed from others from around the net and a few tips I've found myself.

Start by getting all the research on the plane you are ready to add panels to... 3-views, pictures, and plans. You should study these several time prior to the day you're ready to add the lines. (I don't compete but, my understanding is if its on your 3-view for documentation you'll want the lines on the model)

If there are any special shaped panels or scoops etc. that will be depicted by lines drawn on the model, it pays to make a pattern from a plyable material such as thin sheet acetate/plastic like those found on some fancy greeting card boxes or thin cardboard from cereal boxes. These can be cut and shaped to any usable size or design to assist you making the required panel lines. I make a few curved (using artist french curves, ovals, and circles) and irregular shapes to assist in reaching tight spaces and joints between wings and fuselages if the components are already assembled. Here's a picture of all the stuff ready for starting...

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I use Sharpie Permanent markers thin and medium point pens in various colors depending on the markings I'll be doing. Usually it's just black with an occasional white gel pen (ball point) from Michaels Craft store in the scrapbook section. I just found a silver marking pen that I may use in the future. Get everything ready before starting.

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I make several sizes (width and length) straight edges from cereal box cardboard. This allows me to bend it around the fuselage and hold it over curved surfaces to draw panel lines...a light touch is key. Felt tips need to be cleaned frequently by making short lines or scribbles on paper or the cardboard ruler itself. I also mark off dimensions on the rulers to aid laying out the various panels. If I don't have the same size 3-view I scale it up for one side and then mark the dimensions on the ruler for the opposite side....here's a ruler and aileron showing what I've just talked about...Note that the short marks on the straight edge are to clean the tip of the markers and pens...they tend to dry and clog up as you mark on the tissues and painted areas, which require cleaning frequently.

As you can see I mark the ruler for dimensions of the part and mark the corners with dots and then connect the dots.... I tried a new technique on the ailerons on the bottom wing making the leading edge of the aileron with the medium point pen and the side with the fin point to simulate the break of the rounded edge of the aileron leading edge. Notice the lower wing ailerons in this pic...

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For long lines that I cannot hold with my hand, I use blue painter's tape that usually (not always) doesn't pull up paint or damage tissue. I don't rub it down very good so it will pull off easily. I also tape the flexible straight edges when I can't hold it...

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To show some definition on some rivets etc I use two pen, black sharpie and a white gel pen to accent the marking...

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Here I'm holding a thin straight edge to draw the panels on the fuselage...caution needs to be used when the stringers are prominent, as on this model, they can cause the pen to jump/shift as you cross them, which leaves a wiggled line Shocked Embarrassed Cry don't ask me how I know! In this picture you'll see four shapes cut into the pattern that represents the exhausts on the nose behind the cowl on this plane. They were taken from the plans and cut with an exacto knife with a new sharp blade....

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The pattern was the same on the opposite side of the fuselage, so I just flipped the pattern over to the proper alignment and used it again. The marking were done with black sharpie and white gel pen using the painter's tape cut to 1/4 inch strips and used as alignment for the printing of the squadron and vehicle numbers...

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I completed the panel lines and mockup the components, here's some pics...the panel lines are much easier to do with the wings flat on the building board so if possible do the panel lines before assembly. Most WWII models do not allow this convience Shocked Grin

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This is a brief "how-to." I hope it was helpful.

Tom

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