How To Make Plastic Models Look Realistic: The Epic Guide

  • By: Richard
  • Time to read: 13 min.

The process of modeling can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be! Many people are intimidated by the prospect because they feel like they don’t know where to start. This article will give you valuable insights into making plastic models look realistic and provide reviews of some of the top products on the market today.

Gather all the supplies you need

Before getting started, make sure that you have all the supplies and tools needed to complete your project. If not, be prepared to make a quick trip down to your local hobby shop or big-box store. This can save hours later on when it’s crunch time!

For any model to look realistic, four key things need attention: paint, weathering (also called aging), diorama/background, and scenic bases.

First off is the color palette itself. There are hundreds of different shades available in every imaginable hue, so don’t feel like it’s impossible to find what you’re looking for! To select colors that work well together, take a sheet of paper and divide it between making a “color wheel“. Choose three colors to start with and paint swatches of each on the paper. Once you have all your samples, put them near one another to form an arc from lightest to darkest. This will allow you to see how different shades interact with each other when close.

Next up is weathering or aging, which can be done using dirt pigments, washes (often used for shading), rust powders, and oil paints, depending on what effect you want it to give the model. My personal favorite is acrylics because they’re easy to use and dry quickly, but there’s no wrong way!

A diorama/background includes any materials needed to create a scene: figures, buildings, trees/bushes (usually made from wire and paint), a base that will hold the model.

Finally, scenic bases can be made with Styrofoam or clay to create hills or any other raised surfaces for your models to stand on. Think of them as stands in this context, but they’re not always necessary depending on how you want your projects displayed!

Follow the instructions carefully.

Once you have all the materials, read through the instructions carefully and follow them step-by-step. This will ensure that your work goes smoothly and save time by eliminating any mistakes before they happen!

A few tips are: Read everything first (including diagrams) so that there are no surprises later when it comes time for assembly; cut shapes out of foam or clay with a knife beforehand rather than after they’re assembled because this can lead to damage during handling; dry paintbrush bristles before using again to reduce clumping.

It may seem like a lot, but once you get started, these steps become second nature, and if anything ever seems unclear, ask an expert at your local hobby shop.

Apply glue to one edge of a piece of plastic and attach it to another piece

Emerge was originally founded by a group of passionate hobbyists who were frustrated with the lack of products that could easily allow them to create realistic-looking models. The company’s first product, called “The Detailer,” solved this problem and became an instant hit!

In addition to assembling plastic model kits, it can also be used on other surfaces such as your furniture or toys. This is because the glue is safe for most materials and comes in two different grades: one which dries clear and another which will tint whatever surface you’re gluing so that they match (for example, if you want stained glass windows). There are no harmful fumes released when dry either! Before you buy glue, make sure that you get the right type. You should think about what kind of project you’re doing and then get the glue before starting.

The Detailer is perfect for assembling plastic model kits because it delivers such a stronghold without harmful fumes.

If you’re looking to glue objects together that are not made of plastic, please be sure to use our other product line (such as Bond or Woodglue).

Once the pieces are attached, paint them with acrylic paints for a more realistic look.

When assembling plastic model kits, one of the most important elements is making sure that you apply glue to both edges. This will ensure a solid hold so that your kit doesn’t fall apart and can be handled without fear of falling off or crumbling in on itself.

Once dry, paint with acrylic paints for an even more realistic look! Paint made of acrylic dries quickly. You can start working on your project right away without having to wait until the paint is dry. Acrylics are safe to use, even for children and animals. It typically takes two coats of paint at a minimum and then some detail work afterward to achieve a perfect finish. 

You can also use acrylics on other surfaces such as your furniture or toys! The great thing about these paints is that they are safe enough for children and animals, so you don’t have to worry about them getting into the paint before it dries. The only downside of using acrylics is that there’s no guarantee it will be durable in outdoor conditions.

If you’re looking to make something more permanent, please see our Bonding Line (Bond) or Woodglue products we offer — both options dry clear and come with different drying times, which might work better depending on what type of project you want; to achieve!

Allow your model to dry before adding any details or painting.

One of the most important steps in making plastic models look realistic is to allow your model to dry fully before you add any details or paint. Modelers often make this mistake and end up with a warped mess that’s impossible to fix. The drying time for different types of glue is different. The drying time for standard stretched PVC or vinyl rubber band latex is at least 24 hours. If you are planning on doing two projects simultaneously, try drying one out in an area where the light will not shine directly onto it, so they do not suffer from heat damage when the second project needs attention with painting. Once both pieces are cured thoroughly, then start detailing them as desired!

Add decals for an even more realistic effect.

Many modelers go too far with the weathering and painting, making their models look unrealistic. Instead of doing that, try adding decals to simulate real wear on your plastic models. You can use a sticker to make it look like dirt or rust. It is easy. This will allow your project to be ready for display in no time since it was an easy process for installation!

Don’t have any decals? We have you covered! Our Decal section has a lot of different options to choose from. You can find everything from vintage car stickers, military logos, and even rust effects for your caked-on paint jobs on these models.

We have a variety of decals from different companies, with each one having its unique style. The best part is that all our stickers are made to look realistic for any model type! You can choose from matte or gloss finish depending on your preference and the surface where you’ll be applying it as well.

Stickers vary in size, but thankfully most models will fit at least two-three medium-sized sheets. This means there’s plenty of room if you want to weather them out even more by adding dirt and other things like tear stains too! And don’t worry about getting leftovers because we offer discounted prices when buying larger quantities (most packages come with ten pieces). So put away those painters to get that realistic dust effect!

You can also buy sheets of decals for less than five bucks. This is much cheaper than buying individual stickers, and it’s a more economical way to create custom art on your models too. You won’t have to worry about running out of supplies or wasting money if you’re dabbling with these types of hobbies since the kits come in bulk packs!

Therefore, we recommend adding real wear and tear effects onto your plastic model by using decal stickers instead of painting them all over. It will make your work look even better because there’ll be no need for excessive weathering techniques when you use this technique instead. Besides, who doesn’t like saving time? So stop spending hours trying to

Scale Modeling Tips And Techniques

Scale Modeling Tips And Techniques list. Here’s my list of useful tips and techniques for anyone interested in scaling down a model.

  1. Read all the instructions before you start.
  2. Prepare an even working surface with plenty of light to work from. This will help keep your project looking tidy when it’s finished!
  3. Make sure that you have enough paint, brushes, sponges, or whatever else you may need to finish your project up properly. You don’t want to be stuck halfway through because supplies ran out! And always make sure they’re fresh, too, so we can avoid any unwanted mistakes caused by dried-out tools!
  4. Try to plan as much as possible before starting on anything at all. You don’t want to get halfway through painting a model and then realize it needs something that you forgot to add on!
  5. If you’re going for realism, try adding some weathering effects. This can be done by using paint or even dirt. Dust is also a good technique if done properly, so give this one a shot too!
  6. Keep in mind how much detail will be lost when scaled down from the actual size. Many details may not show up unless painted thickly using extensive brushes, which can take longer than anticipated (and ruin brush bristles)! So before starting, think about how detailed your finished product should look at its smaller size.
  7. Buy some cheap decal stickers instead of painting your model or adding weathering to it! This will save you a lot of time and effort since these things come in bulk packs, the cost is under five dollars each if bought individually, they’re much easier than using paint when applying them (especially for beginners), and there’s no need to worry about running out of supplies because packages come with ten pieces at most. So stop spending hours trying to make models look as realistic as possible by hand when this technique does all the hard work for you! We recommend that anyone who wants their plastic model kits looking awesome should add real wear-and-tear effects onto their project by using decals, too, so that way they don before they even start painting!
  8. You can also use decals instead of applying weathering effects. This will save you time and effort because there’s no need to worry about doing it all by hand when the technique does all that work for you! Just make sure the effect is realistic, such as an exhaust or something like that, and not something unrealistic like raindrops on your model; otherwise, it would be better if they were painted on with brushes than using this kind of material. And don’t forget to add dirt or dust around where these stickers are placed, so it looks more believable too!
  9. Try working from smaller pieces whenever possible, which I know may sound counter-intuitive but trust me, we’ve found through trial and error that frequently starting with the smaller pieces will make your project easier to finish. So instead of starting by painting a kit’s hull, try working on its windows first and then adding it to the overall model afterward!

Model Building Weathering Techniques

  • When it comes to weathering, there are two types of techniques: wet and dry. Wet is when you paint the model with water or acrylics mixed with various colors such as brown, green, black, etc. Dry is where you brush an enamel-based pigment, creating little cracks that look like mud in your paintwork. The best way to know what technique will work for each situation is by experimenting!
  • If you want your model car to look like it has been in a collision, use the dry powder. It will leave behind a thin film that looks like rust, and it also leaves color contrast from the rest of the car since most cars are white or silver.
  • If I wanted my model’s car body to look wet after being in flood, then using a mix of water and acrylic paint would be the best route. This technique will make it look like the car is rusty. It will also leave color contrast from other parts of the car. Enamel-based paints will give you lots of cracks, and they won’t fix them.
  • If you are interested in painting your model to look weathered by sand, using a wet technique is the best option. This would include brushing on some acrylics mixed with brown colors, or as an alternative, use enamel-based pigments that will leave behind little cracks and multiple different shades of color. The only downside to this technique is if there are any tiny details such as logos painted onto the car body, these will be lost and have to be re-painted after weathering has taken place.

There are various paint types and colors to choose from, with some having more durable properties than others.

Please refer to my article on airbrush paint selection for more information.

The type of paint you use will depend on whether you want your model to have a realistic or stylized appearance. Different companies make different types of paint for each style.

This includes enamel paints which can be used for more detailed work like panel lines on airplanes. At the same time, acrylics offer great coverage and the ability to show depth through shading quickly, but they’re not as resistant to water damage (if that’s something you need).

You can add dirt to your model with pastels. This technique is used with tank models because it makes them look better.

But if you’re more of a hands-on person, using flour and water on your models will give it that dusty look without any need for paint at all — this is great for adding on top of decals as well!

Frequently Asked Questions

How Are Plastic Model Kits Made

  • Plastic models are made by a machine that pours liquid plastic into a mold.
  • In the injection mold process, a model kit manufacturer will create two steel plates with engraved shapes in them, which they then press together and inject liquid styrene plastic into.
  • When these parts cool and harden, they can be removed from their respective “tools” (two halves of steel plate).
  • This creates one sprue worth of model kit pieces.

How To Make Plastic Models At Home

-In this section, I will be discussing the different tools and materials needed to make models at home for those who want something convenient.

Even if you don’t have a lot of spare time, some things can help make your model car look much more realistic.

The following items are needed for airbrushing: several different size tips (0 – 50), masking tape, touchup paint thinner (or turpentine), oil-based paints, and pastels that can be mixed with water to create textures on walls if you’re building a scene from scratch.

How To Make 3d Models Look Realistic

-Once you have your model made, the process to make it look realistic is a lot easier. Things such as polishing out seams with putty will help cover gaps in between parts of the car where dust and dirt would accumulate.

A coat or two of primer followed by some paint should do the trick! However, if you need to paint a tiny detail like a logo onto the model, I recommend using an airbrush for precision.

In this article, you’ve found answers to common questions about making plastic models look realistic; please feel free to read my blog post for tips that work best based on what type of material you’re working with.

How To Make A Model Car Look Realistic

– To make a model car look realistic, you’ll need to start by finding something that looks even more real. The best way to do this is through an online company like Amazon or eBay. You can also find them in hobby shops and some hardware stores if necessary. They are called ‘road signs.’ Road Signs

*are made of metal with adhesive backing for easy installation.*

Your base layer will be so accurate with these road signs. You can also get creative and experiment by using some of the materials you have on hand (paper clips, binder clips).

The next step would be getting out those paints.

How To Make Plastic Models Look Realistic

– The best way to make a plastic model look realistic is by using the right paints and following these painting tips:

*When picking your paint, be sure that it matches both in color *and consistency.* For instance, if you are making a toy car for a young child, consider getting bright primary colors like red or blue. If you are looking for art to bring out the child in everyone, pick something with bright colors like blues and greens.

To start, the key will be layering on thin layers of paint so you can control how much coverage there will be while still protecting the work underneath from being covered up… The number one rule is to start with a lighter color and work your way down into darker colors. Consider using a base coat, shadows, highlights, and the darkest shade for recessed areas or detail lines.

– You’ll need some patience while you paint, but it will be worth it in the end!


I have a lot of plastic models, and they’re not always the most realistic looking. Sometimes it seems like my model is missing some details that make it look authentic. Here are three ways to add more detail to your model!

  • You can improve your model’s realism by adding weathering effects or battle damage using paint chips or salt on top of the base coat. This will give your model a weathered appearance that makes it seem older and more worn than fresh out of the factory new in box condition!
  • Second, you should try dry brushing with different colors for an effect similar to what would happen if dirt were rubbed off the surface.
  • Finally, consider using decals from hobby shops rather.

Hi! I'm Richard Baker, a miniature painter who has been painting for about ten years. My website is packed with great advice that I've learned from both books and personal experience on building and painting miniatures.

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