How-To: Remove Mold Lines

Everyone's had them...The all too common and continuously critiqued mold lines.  A great paint job can't cover them up, and as you'll see below, the worst casts and misalignments can really be a hassle if you don't know how to attack the problem. 

Here's a list and picture of what you'll need to clean up those minis and have them looking sharp after the painting is done!  Keep in mind some tools will do more than one job, and not every tool is needed on each job.
Any Miniature (they ALL have mold lines)
Needle files
Pin vise and bits
Hobby knife
Scraping tools (I like old dental picks)
Hobby or Wire cutters

Here's what I'll be using:
tools
Some alternative tools that you may not have thought about:
tools2 A Swiss Army knife or old set of nail clippers usually have a file on them that will work for most of the common and easy to reach mold lines.  Remember if you're using files on older LEAD miniatures, that you wash your hands and the files thoroughly after you're finished.
Step 1:  Initial Assessment and Rough Trimming

Take a good look and carefully inspect your miniature before you start hacking with the files.  Some parts may need a more aggressive technique than others.  Use good lighting and rotate each piece to see where the lines run. This is where I cut the arms from the sprue if needed and look for loose metal hanging on the mini.

body

You can clearly see this Turkina has some heavy miscast lines along the torso.  Unfortunately it runs right across the LRM tubes.  I'll show you how to fix this soon enough.
The legs have the usual light cast lines that you commonly see on miniatures.  Look closely at the right leg and the inner left leg and you'll see them.
The arms have some light and moderate lines along the back, as well as some flash from the mold sprue.

Remove flash and sprue using your hobby knife or the wire cutters.  A gentle scraping motion should do the trick. You can also use a hobby knife to remove mold lines where you would use a needle file.  A very gentle scraping motion will work well but be careful where as a needle file won't cut you, a hobby knife will make you painfully aware of when you're getting too aggressive. 
Step 2:  General Filing and Scraping
Take a needle file and start to file away the easy to reach and most prominent mold lines.  A gentle touch will be more effective than an aggressive approach.  You can always take more away, but if you go too far, you lose detail.  After you've finished with your files, go back and look at the mini again.  Look for small lines or recessed cracks and panels that your file can't get to and attack them with your hobby knife or dental pick.

As you can see with the arm portion the circular panel lines were slightly covered by the flash and the filing done.  Just take your dental pick or hobby knife and re-trace the lines a few times to get the panels looking sharp again.
Well if you were fortunate enough to have a well-cast miniature, this would be the extent of the work you'd do before moving on to assembly and painting.  However, you saw that I had a poor casting so now I'll show you the techniques I use to make a potentially frustrating situation a lot less troublesome.
Step 3:  Aggressive Filing, Trimming and Shaping
As you saw before, the torso of this Turkina had a misalignment during its casting.  In order to fix this, I first need to see which would be an easier approach.  My options were to "build up" the miniature by using sculpting and modeling putty, or to file away and trim down the metal in order to reset the shape of the mech.  I chose to file away since most of the problem areas were going to end up flat and fairly free of details.  However, I did consider adding putty to the LRM launchers because of the amount of "slip" in the casting that made me question whether or not I could file down and regain the details.  I'm personally more comfortable with filing because I don't have a wide variety of sculpting materials, and I'm frankly a little too impatient when it comes to letting them cure before I start drilling and scoring. 
Knowing that I would have to file down a fair amount of metal, I needed to score the existing panel lines deeper than they already were.  This accomplished two things.  First it makes finishing the details after filing much, much simpler, and second, it allows me to align the panel lines where they were previously offset.  The technique I used was to use a rocking motion with my hobby blade to initially get a fine groove.  After that a bit of side to side "pushing" of the metal widened the gap and made it look normal.  After filing down over the panel lines, I ensured the smooth gap by running my dental pick through the grooves two or three times.  After a good bit of filing, you can see the result below.

The LRM launcher involved a bit more finesse in order to keep the details and still remove the gross cast lines.  In this case I chose to take my pin vise and drill smaller holes in each missle tube to try and preserve the layout of the tubes.  Unfortunately I didn't do this until I started the second side so you can see what it looks like if you just file.  Some of the holes are completely gone.  I knew there would be enough of the panel lines left to resculpt so I wasn't as concerned with scoring before I filed.  Once I was done smoothing out the shape of the mini, the result to the right was not too bad.  I went in first with my dental pick to start pilot holes for the new missile tubes, and then used my pin vice to drill out ALL the tubes.  I made them slightly larger and more defined.  Then I went in and scored all the panel lines using the same technique mentioned above.  The reason I waited to do this was if I made a mistake drilling, then the hole would not have an edge opened up next to a panel line.  From the picture you can see some of the lines are very slightly off due to the larger holes and some error on my part.  But given the condition this mini was in before I started, I was quite pleased. If you have any further questions or comments, you can reach me on the CSO forum.   Good luck!
 



 

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To players and hobbyists, the art of painting miniatures can feel overwhelming. There are so many choices to make - choosing the mini, the scheme, paint brands, paint brushes, and techniques. It seems never-ending, like there’s another whole world that you don’t understand each time you try a new project. Even once you have started to grow in the hobby and have some basics under your belt, the more advanced techniques can feel like an insurmountable wall. My aim here is to break down one of those walls and take some of the fear out of trying something new. My subject today is applying dry pigments.

 

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As part of the CSO Team's effort to support Iron Wind Metals website updates, I recently received a copy of the Tonbo Superheavy Transport VTOL, as described in Catalyst Game Labs' Technical Readout 3085, pages 52-53.

I opened the baggie to find...

Assembling the Tonbo

As part of the CSO Team's effort to support Iron Wind Metals website updates, I recently received a copy of the Tonbo Superheavy Transport VTOL, as described in Catalyst Game Labs' Technical Readout 3085, pages 52-53.

I opened the baggie to find...

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 For me weathering is something that truly makes a Mech ‘come alive’. I just love it as it can add so much detail and character to a miniature. A couple of times I have tried to paint a clean Mech with a shiny ‘out-of-the-factory’ scheme, but I can’t. I always come back and add at least a little bit of wear and tear. Hey, even with Jamie Wolf as the pilot the paint scheme will suffer scratches and wear around the feet just moving out of the factory. 

Battletech Miniature Weathering

For me weathering is something that truly makes a Mech ‘come alive’. I just love it as it can add so much detail and character to a miniature. A couple of times I have tried to paint a clean Mech with a shiny ‘out-of-the-factory’ scheme, but I can’t. I always come back and add at least a little bit of wear and tear. Hey, even with Jamie Wolf as the pilot the paint scheme will suffer scratches and wear around the feet just moving out of the factory.

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