Working With Paper in Modeling

Materials needed:

  • Facial" tissue (e.g., Kleenex)
  • Water
  • White Glue
  • Soft, wide brushes
  • Sharp X-Acto type knife
  • Sharp scissors
  • Typing paper
  • Microscale Decal Saver
  • Computer with printer
  • Scanner
  • Internet access
  • Reference material

There are two major areas I use paper product in building models. The first, and better known, is moistened tissue paper doubling as cloth. This can be used to create torn seat covers, tarps, convertible tops, and mantlet covers for turreted vehicles.

To do this, get a small container of water and white glue (Elmerís). Cut a swatch of tissue larger than you expect to need. Mix the water and glue in a 50/50 blend. Apply a coat to the surface to be covered and apply the tissue. You may allow it to overlap. At this point you will want to give the fabric the folds seen in the prototype. Now, carefully apply more of the glue mixture. If the tissue tears, you can either start over or tear a small patch of tissue and apply it to the tear. When youíre satisfied with the look, set this aside and let it dry. When this is fully dried, the fabric will retain its texture but have a reasonably hard surface which will accept all types of paint. Trim away the excess with a new #11 blade. Paint and weather according to your references.

The next area I have found for using paper in modeling couples with the computer. You can make numerous types of patches, patterned cloth, and display accents from your color printer.


Searching the Internet, particularly Ebay, for movie posters can provide nice accents on your base. Simply do a search for the movie you want. You will almost certainly fond a poster or video box top you like. When you find this, right click on the picture and a menu box will appear. Choose the "save picture as" option and save it where you keep documents or other pictures. Itís a good idea to give it a title you can easily recognize and remember. You should also choose the "bmp" format.

Now youíll want to open a new document in your word processor program. Chose your option to insert a picture from file. Go to the directory where youíve saved your picture from the Internet and insert it in the word document. Click on it to highlight it and grab a corner marker and resize it to fit your needs. Remember, making a picture smaller will seemingly increase the picture quality while making it larger will cause some degradation. You may find that you need to go online to replace the picture. When youíre satisfied with the quality, save and print the document.

When the inks have fully dried, seal the picture with either a sprayed coat of Dullcoat or a brushed on application on Microscale Decal Saver/film. This will reduce the likelihood of the colors running. Carefully cut the image out and apply it with a thin layer of full strength white glue. Let this dry and seal this with a sprayed coat of Dullcoat or your preferred base sealant.

Patches, badges, fabric

You are working on a figure or a tank. The markings you want are in a reference book. You know youíre not going to be able to paint this. There are no readily available aftermarket decals available. What do you do?

This process is similar to above but you will need access to a scanner.

Scan your material and save it as a "jpg" where you can find it. Youíll probably need a decent photo-editing program to get good results here.

Open the file in your photo program, crop the image as close as possible. And do a "save as" command with a new name to preserve your original. Do a test print in a word document as above. You may need to try several different sizes to get the effect you need.
Since youíll be cutting with very small tolerances, make several copies of your test shot. Let the ink dry completely and seal it with Decal saver/film. This maintains high degree of flexibility and smoothes out without brush strokes. If this looks good, very carefully cut this out with a fresh #11 blade. Again, put a drop of thinned white glue where you want this. Place the image on the model. The paper will absorb some of the water and become quite flexible. Carefully press it into the folds. The most difficult part in this is following a bend such as at the elbow or knee.

Itís quite likely your image will not be what you like when you print it so youíll need to clean it up. Go back to your photo editor and reopen the saved second copy (not the original). Choose your editing tool and enlarge your image as much as you can. You can tighten up edges where colors have bled even one pixel at a time. When you have a section you like, save it. Save often. Save even more often. If in doubt, save. When you are happy with the product, save it again and drop it into a word document and again print out a test shot in several sizes and proceed as above.


Okay, not many of us are as talented as the best of our figure guys or those Russians mass producing painted kits. But you want a particular flag in your display. Again, get your references, online or from a book. A flat flag image is better than a photo with folds present for this application. Proceed entirely as above in getting your image into your computer. You will need a photo editor for this, however. Open your flag image, crop out the excess surrounding it and save it under a new name. If the flag has a canton (the field where the stars are), you will need a mirror image of the flag. Flip the image, crop it and save it. Copy and paste this image into the original image and place them end to end along the edge closest to the flagpole and save this image.
Go back to your word document and insert this and resize it according to the scale youíre using. When the inks are dry, seal let this dry then cut the whole image out. Fold sharply along the center. Apply slightly thinned white glue to the inside surfaces of the image. Consider how your flag is attached to the pole. If itís tied or on a lanyard, fold it over now. If the flag wraps around the pole, youíll need to insert the pole at this time, because you wonít be able to insert it once the flag is glued together. Using a straight edge, carefully fold both sides together. The paper should have been softened at this point allowing you to add smooth folds and furls. You may need to work with this to keep the folds the way you want them. As the glue begins to set and the flag no longer wants to straighten out, set it aside to dry. When this has fully cored, use a small awl to make the requisite number of holes and attach the flag to the pole or lanyard.