Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Zenith Undercoating Fail and Dettol Paint Stripping

So, I gave this Zenith undercoating / highlighting a try on my Corporation Dreadball team.
The Zenith technique is to undercoat a model in black and then from a high 45 degree angle spray with white to cover the upper area of a model.
This is meant to give instant highlight and shadow when a model is painted.

As you can see here, the underside of the models is much darker. The overall effect looks good.
I messed up. A bit too heavy on the black and far too heavy on the white. Think it looks alright? Look closer.

Around the helmets and shoulders of the above models, the undercoat ended up that thick that it ran slightly and started to obscure some of the small details and markings in the armour. Whoops!

The second half of the team wasn't to bad. I went a lot lighter on the white and they look ok.
But what to do with the ones that have been messed up?

A couple of people on the Miniature Addicts Anonymous Facebook group suggested trying original 'brown' Dettol to strip plastic models.

A 50/50 mix of Dettol and water with a Corp Jack in the bottom. Left for 24 hours a a test.
The next day is was brushed off with  toothbrush under warm water.

Its gone! All that thick undercoat has gone!
The plastic seems to have been stained with the black undercoat but a close look lets you see there is no paint left and the detail are still sharp. (As sharp as DB detail gets anyway)

The rest of the team are now in soaking. I hope they come out as well.
If they do I can try again. But this time I will do a light coat of black from underneath and a light coat of white from a higher angle. Want to try and not overlap them too much to avoid paint build up.

If you have any plastic models that need stripping, I suggest giving this a go.

Attempt #2.

These pictures are a little bright but I have tried the Zenith undercoating again.
This time it was a much lighter and shorter spray from a higher angle and a little further away.

It worked! 
You may not be able to see that well above but the white to black effect has a nice transition.
Time to see if it affects the paint over the top!

Hendybadger awaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay!


  1. For the zenith undercoating technique to work, you really need to use thinned paint over it (not wash thin, but getting close).

    As an alternative to spraying the white, I found that using a fan brush to dry-brush the white using only downwards strokes worked well when I was doing my 28mm Normans.

    1. Thanks Tamsin.
      Will try the thinned paint on these and the large brush for the white on the next team.

  2. You can strip paint, even primer, with Fairy Powerspray. It works a treat and has the advantage of only taking a few minutes.

    1. I have heard that mentioned before.
      Will have to give it a shot.

  3. When I use Zenith undercoating I use a 3 colour approach: black for the base, then grey at 45 degrees, then white straight down from the "12 o'clock" position. I find it gives a smoother transition between the light and the dark.

    1. I had considered using grey bit after my fail the first time around I didn't want to risk getting even more paint on them.

  4. Just read the post again and have to apologise for the spelling and grammar mistakes.

  5. Very good second attempt sir... but (at least from the pics) it looks like the white might still be a bit heavy. You've really, *really* gotta go easy on the throttle with it.

    The three-color approach I've found works better as well- just again be very, very careful. I like to use my mid-color in the primary tone the model will be painted in.... it helps to unite the hues of the paintjob. Give it a short on some spare bits and bobs.

    As Tamsin said, you've really got to be very thinly layering, or you loose all the hard work you put into the zenithal priming. I'd assume this is much easier with an airbrush, but I'm strickly a bristles kinda guy myself. ;-)

    Best of luck bro! Can't wait to see how they turn out!!!

  6. With the next lot I will try it thinner again. Then if that works, go for the 3 tones.
    Painting should hopefully begin soon!
    (Sorry for the late reply)

  7. I have just installed iStripper, and now I can watch the sexiest virtual strippers on my taskbar.


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