How to Use Zero Paints

How to Use Zero Paints

Zero Paints are a brand of solvent-based paints primarily used for airbrushing model vehicles. They’re primarily known for color-matching paints used on life-size vehicles so you can make your model look realistic. Zero Paints don’t require any thinning so they’re extremely easy for you to use, even if you haven’t painted with an airbrush before. As long as you take time to clean and prime the model first, your model vehicle will look brand new when you finish applying the final coat!

Part 1 of 3:
Sanding and Cleaning the Model

1
Sand down mould lines with a 320-grit sanding block. Models come attached to other pieces of plastic and can leave raised mould lines along the sides. Hold your sanding block against the line and apply light pressure. Work in a back-and-forth or circular motion to smooth the mould line until it’s flush with the rest of the surface. Work your way around the entire model, removing any raised edges. [1] X Research source A sanding block will give you the most leverage, but you can also use sandpaper if that’s all you can get. Avoid sanding the entire surface of the model since you could scratch and ruin intricate details.
2
Wash the model with warm soapy water. The model may have dust, wax, and other contaminants on it, so rinse it under running water. Put a few drops of mild liquid dish soap on the model and work it to a lather over the entire surface. Once you coat the entire model with suds, rinse it off with warm running water. [2] X Research source If you have trouble working the soap into small and detailed areas, use a toothbrush to lightly scrub the surface.
3
Rough up the surface with 600-grit sandpaper. While the model is still wet, rub the entire model with your piece of sandpaper using light pressure. Work in circular motions to add small abrasions to your model so the primer and paint stick easier. Focus on areas where you sanded down mould lines since to remove any coarse scratch marks you left earlier. [3] X Research source Avoid using sandpaper with a lower grit since it will leave deeper pitting and scratch marks that will be visible through the paint.
4
Rinse the model under running water. Turn your faucet onto the warmest setting you can handle and run your model underneath it. The water will rinse off any residue you just sanded so it doesn’t affect your paint job later on. [4] X Research source
5
Let the model air-dry completely. Keep the model in a well-ventilated room to help speed up the drying process. Depending on the temperature in your room, it may take a few hours for the model to dry so you can start painting it. Check the model periodically to see if it still feels damp, and leave it to dry for longer if it does. [5] X Research source Try wrapping the model in a paper towel for an hour before setting it out to dry to help absorb some of the water.
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Part 2 of 3:
Priming with an Airbrush

1
Set the model on a paint stand in a well-ventilated area. A model paint stand has wires or metal prongs that support the model off your work surface so your paint doesn’t smudge. Set the piece you’re painting on top of the stand’s supports. Work in a room that has good ventilation or where you can open windows to help prevent harmful fumes from building up. [6] X Research source You can buy a model paint stand online or at a hobby store. Fumes from Zero Paints can irritate your eyes and nose. If you aren’t able to work in a well-ventilated area, wear safety goggles and a respirator to prevent irritation.
2
Connect an air compressor to an airbrush stylus. Airbrushes use pressurized air to spray light coats of paint onto a surface. Set the air compressor next to your work area and push one end of the air hose onto its outlet port. Locate the thin air nozzle on the bottom or back end of the stylus and push the other end of the hose onto it so there’s a tight fit. [7] X Research source You can buy airbrushes online or at a hobby store. Many come in kits that already include an air compressor and hose so you don’t need to buy them separately.
3
Shake your primer for 2 minutes to mix it. Get a solvent-based primer from Zero Paints so you don’t have to worry about thinning it out. Keep the bottle sealed and vigorously shake it for at least 2 minutes. Once the primer has a consistent color inside of the bottle, you can stop shaking it. [8] X Research source Avoid using the primer without shaking it, or else it will be separated and won’t have a consistent color. You need to use a primer whenever you use Zero Paints, or else the paints could eat through the model’s resin or plastic.[9] X Research source Zero Paints sells primer in white, grey, black, red, and pink. If you’re painting the model a light color, opt for white or grey. For very dark hues, start with a black primer. If you want the model to have a vibrant red finish, choose the red or pink primer.
4
Fill the airbrush’s reservoir halfway with the primer. Look for a cylindrical reservoir on the bottom or top of the airbrush stylus. Unscrew the reservoir’s cap and slowly pour the primer inside. Only fill the reservoir about half-full before replacing the cap. [10] X Research source Typically, a 2  fl oz (59 ml) bottle of primer will cover 2–3 models that are 1:24 scale. Avoid filling the reservoir to the top since airbrushes don’t use a lot of paint during application.
5
Set the air compressor between 15–40 PSI. Start the air compressor and find the pressure control buttons or dial. Adjust the pressure setting within the range so you get an even application while you’re spraying. Avoid setting the pressure any higher since you’ll waste paint and won’t get an even finish on the model. [11] X Research source The pressure controls how much paint you apply with your airbrush. Higher settings will produce the most overspray while lower settings create more droplets and leave a rougher texture. Check the manual for your brand of airbrush and compressor to see if they recommend any specific settings.
6
Press down on the airbrush’s button to spray the primer. Hold the airbrush in your dominant hand like a pencil so your index finger is on its button. Keep the end of the stylus about 2–3 inches (5.1–7.6 cm) from the model so you don’t apply too much primer. When you’re ready to start, push down on the button to spray your primer. Spray the primer in short back-and-forth bursts, keeping the stylus moving so you don’t apply the primer too thick. Work along the bottom edges of the model first and work up toward the top until you’ve coated the entire piece. [12] X Research source Some airbrushes require you to pull the button backward to apply paint. If you don’t see the primer coming out when you hold the button, try pulling the button backward. Your airbrush will spray more primer the further you pull back the button. Test your airbrush on a piece of scrap paper first to make sure it sprays evenly. Wear a rubber disposable glove on your non-dominant hand so you can hold and turn the model while you’re spraying.
7
Let the primer dry for 5 minutes. After you finish the first coat, leave it alone for at least 5 minutes so the primer has time to dry. Touch the surface lightly to check if it feels tacky, and if it does, let it dry for another 2–3 minutes. [13] X Research source Avoid applying more primer while the first coat is still wet, or else it may have an uneven finish or take longer to set later on.
8
Apply 2–3 additional coats of primer. Alternate which directions you spray the primer in between each coat so you get even coverage. For example, if you used horizontal strokes on the first coat, use vertical strokes on the second. Allow the primer to dry for 5 minutes between each coat so it has a smooth, even finish. [14] X Research source On your final coat of primer, use a criss-cross pattern when you’re spraying to cover any areas you may have missed. Always clean your airbrush stylus whenever you’re finished using it. If you have leftover primer, you can pour it back into the bottle.
9
Leave the model to dry for 24 hours after the final coat. Keep the model in a well-ventilated area so the primer has time to dry and cure completely. After 1 day, you’ll be able to handle your model without the primer lifting or smudging. [15] X Research source Drying times depend on the climate in your area. Paints will take longer to dry in humid conditions, so test if the primer feels dry in an inconspicuous spot.
10
Smooth the primer with wet 1,200-grit sandpaper. Apply light pressure as you work in circular motions over the surface of the model with the sandpaper. Focus on any areas where the primer looks raised or rough. Carefully sand the entire model until the primer feels smooth to the touch. [16] X Research source Avoid using sandpaper with a lower grit since it will leave visible scratch marks that will show through the paint.
11
Rinse the model with warm water to get rid of any residue. Turn your faucet to the warmest setting you can handle and run the primed model underneath the stream. Lightly rub the surface by hand or with a soft washcloth to remove any dust or residue leftover from the primer so it doesn’t affect the rest of your paint job. Shake off any excess water before setting the model on a paper towel to dry completely. [17] X Research source Since Zero Paints are solvent-based, they won’t wash off with water.
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Part 3 of 3:
Applying Your Paint

1
Choose a color that matches the model you’re painting. Zero Paints specializes in matching colors from vehicle dealerships, so search their website for the specific make and model of the one you’re painting. Pick the color you want to use and order a bottle. If you’re unable to find the make and model online, you can still paint your model vehicle with any of the other colors listed on their site. Look for the color-matched Zero Paints here: https://www.zero-paints.com/Colour_Matched_Paints--category--157.html. You may be able to find Zero Paints in some art and hobby stores. A 2 fluid ounces (59 ml) bottle of paint will usually be enough to cover 2–3 model vehicles that are 1:24 size.
2
Shake the paint for 1–2 minutes. The paint color and solvent can separate when it’s left in the bottle, so you have to mix it first. Keep the paint container closed and shake it well by hand. After 1–2 minutes, check the bottle to see if it has an even consistency. [18] X Research source Avoid using unmixed paints in your airbrush since you’ll have an inconsistent application and the stylus is more likely to clog.
3
Load the paint color into the airbrush’s reservoir. Unscrew your airbrush’s reservoir cap and slowly pour your paint inside. Airbrushes don’t require a lot of paint to get even coverage, so only fill the reservoir halfway. Secure the cap back on the reservoir so it doesn’t spill. [19] X Research source You do not have to thin or dilute Zero Paints before using them.
4
Set your compressor between 20–40 PSI. Turn on your air compressor and leave it running. Locate the pressure control buttons on your compressor and adjust the settings within the listed range. Higher PSI settings will give you a more even, consistent finish while lower pressure works better for finer details. Test a few of the pressure settings on a sheet of scrap paper to see what works best for you. [20] X Research source Avoid setting the PSI any lower or higher since you’ll either overspray or cause the stylus to clog.
5
Spray the first coat of paint onto your model. Hold the airbrush 2–3 inches (5.1–7.6 cm) away from your model and press down on the airbrush’s button to apply the paint. Work in straight back-and-forth movements, working from the bottom to the top of the piece. Always keep your airbrush moving so you don’t apply too thick of a coat, or else the model will have an uneven finish. [21] X Research source It’s okay if you still see the primer through the first coat of paint. Wear a glove on the hand you use to turn and rotate the model just in case you overspray the paint.
6
Let the paint dry 5–10 minutes between coats. Leave your model alone while it’s drying so you don’t smudge or ruin the paint job. After about 5 minutes, try touching an inconspicuous spot on the model. If the paint feels tacky, let it dry for another 5 minutes before moving on. [22] X Research source Avoid applying another coat of paint while the first one is still wet, or else you may have an uneven finish.
7
Add an additional 2–3 coats of paint to the model. Switch the direction you paint with every coat so you don’t see any visible paint lines. Make sure you focus on areas where you can still see the primer through the paint so it’s not visible later on. After each coat of paint, let the model dry for 5 minutes, or until it doesn’t feel tacky. [23] X Research source Some paints require more coats to get a vibrant color. For example, you may need to use 1–2 additional layers of paint to get a vibrant yellow color.[24] X Research source
8
Leave the model to dry overnight. Keep the model on the stand in your work area so it doesn’t get disturbed. Allow the paint to dry and cure for a full day before you take it off or do any more work on it. [25] X Research source If you notice any blemishes on your paint job, use 1,200-grit sandpaper to sand it down before repainting the area.
9
Add a clear coat finish if you want the model to have a glossy appearance. Zero Paints always dry with a matte finish, so they need a clear coat if you want them to look like a real vehicle. Get a premixed clear coat from the Zero Paints website and load it into your airbrush’s reservoir. Spray the clear coat in a thin layer over the entire surface and allow it to dry for at least 5 minutes. If you want a glossier finish, you can apply another coat. When you’re finished, leave the model alone for 2 days so the finish hardens. [26] X Research source You do not need to apply a clear coat to your model if you don’t want to.
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Part 1 of 3:
Sanding and Cleaning the Model

1
Sand down mould lines with a 320-grit sanding block. Models come attached to other pieces of plastic and can leave raised mould lines along the sides. Hold your sanding block against the line and apply light pressure. Work in a back-and-forth or circular motion to smooth the mould line until it’s flush with the rest of the surface. Work your way around the entire model, removing any raised edges. [1] X Research source A sanding block will give you the most leverage, but you can also use sandpaper if that’s all you can get. Avoid sanding the entire surface of the model since you could scratch and ruin intricate details.
2
Wash the model with warm soapy water. The model may have dust, wax, and other contaminants on it, so rinse it under running water. Put a few drops of mild liquid dish soap on the model and work it to a lather over the entire surface. Once you coat the entire model with suds, rinse it off with warm running water. [2] X Research source If you have trouble working the soap into small and detailed areas, use a toothbrush to lightly scrub the surface.
3
Rough up the surface with 600-grit sandpaper. While the model is still wet, rub the entire model with your piece of sandpaper using light pressure. Work in circular motions to add small abrasions to your model so the primer and paint stick easier. Focus on areas where you sanded down mould lines since to remove any coarse scratch marks you left earlier. [3] X Research source Avoid using sandpaper with a lower grit since it will leave deeper pitting and scratch marks that will be visible through the paint.
4
Rinse the model under running water. Turn your faucet onto the warmest setting you can handle and run your model underneath it. The water will rinse off any residue you just sanded so it doesn’t affect your paint job later on. [4] X Research source
5
Let the model air-dry completely. Keep the model in a well-ventilated room to help speed up the drying process. Depending on the temperature in your room, it may take a few hours for the model to dry so you can start painting it. Check the model periodically to see if it still feels damp, and leave it to dry for longer if it does. [5] X Research source Try wrapping the model in a paper towel for an hour before setting it out to dry to help absorb some of the water.
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Part 2 of 3:
Priming with an Airbrush

1
Set the model on a paint stand in a well-ventilated area. A model paint stand has wires or metal prongs that support the model off your work surface so your paint doesn’t smudge. Set the piece you’re painting on top of the stand’s supports. Work in a room that has good ventilation or where you can open windows to help prevent harmful fumes from building up. [6] X Research source You can buy a model paint stand online or at a hobby store. Fumes from Zero Paints can irritate your eyes and nose. If you aren’t able to work in a well-ventilated area, wear safety goggles and a respirator to prevent irritation.
2
Connect an air compressor to an airbrush stylus. Airbrushes use pressurized air to spray light coats of paint onto a surface. Set the air compressor next to your work area and push one end of the air hose onto its outlet port. Locate the thin air nozzle on the bottom or back end of the stylus and push the other end of the hose onto it so there’s a tight fit. [7] X Research source You can buy airbrushes online or at a hobby store. Many come in kits that already include an air compressor and hose so you don’t need to buy them separately.
3
Shake your primer for 2 minutes to mix it. Get a solvent-based primer from Zero Paints so you don’t have to worry about thinning it out. Keep the bottle sealed and vigorously shake it for at least 2 minutes. Once the primer has a consistent color inside of the bottle, you can stop shaking it. [8] X Research source Avoid using the primer without shaking it, or else it will be separated and won’t have a consistent color. You need to use a primer whenever you use Zero Paints, or else the paints could eat through the model’s resin or plastic.[9] X Research source Zero Paints sells primer in white, grey, black, red, and pink. If you’re painting the model a light color, opt for white or grey. For very dark hues, start with a black primer. If you want the model to have a vibrant red finish, choose the red or pink primer.
4
Fill the airbrush’s reservoir halfway with the primer. Look for a cylindrical reservoir on the bottom or top of the airbrush stylus. Unscrew the reservoir’s cap and slowly pour the primer inside. Only fill the reservoir about half-full before replacing the cap. [10] X Research source Typically, a 2  fl oz (59 ml) bottle of primer will cover 2–3 models that are 1:24 scale. Avoid filling the reservoir to the top since airbrushes don’t use a lot of paint during application.
5
Set the air compressor between 15–40 PSI. Start the air compressor and find the pressure control buttons or dial. Adjust the pressure setting within the range so you get an even application while you’re spraying. Avoid setting the pressure any higher since you’ll waste paint and won’t get an even finish on the model. [11] X Research source The pressure controls how much paint you apply with your airbrush. Higher settings will produce the most overspray while lower settings create more droplets and leave a rougher texture. Check the manual for your brand of airbrush and compressor to see if they recommend any specific settings.
6
Press down on the airbrush’s button to spray the primer. Hold the airbrush in your dominant hand like a pencil so your index finger is on its button. Keep the end of the stylus about 2–3 inches (5.1–7.6 cm) from the model so you don’t apply too much primer. When you’re ready to start, push down on the button to spray your primer. Spray the primer in short back-and-forth bursts, keeping the stylus moving so you don’t apply the primer too thick. Work along the bottom edges of the model first and work up toward the top until you’ve coated the entire piece. [12] X Research source Some airbrushes require you to pull the button backward to apply paint. If you don’t see the primer coming out when you hold the button, try pulling the button backward. Your airbrush will spray more primer the further you pull back the button. Test your airbrush on a piece of scrap paper first to make sure it sprays evenly. Wear a rubber disposable glove on your non-dominant hand so you can hold and turn the model while you’re spraying.
7
Let the primer dry for 5 minutes. After you finish the first coat, leave it alone for at least 5 minutes so the primer has time to dry. Touch the surface lightly to check if it feels tacky, and if it does, let it dry for another 2–3 minutes. [13] X Research source Avoid applying more primer while the first coat is still wet, or else it may have an uneven finish or take longer to set later on.
8
Apply 2–3 additional coats of primer. Alternate which directions you spray the primer in between each coat so you get even coverage. For example, if you used horizontal strokes on the first coat, use vertical strokes on the second. Allow the primer to dry for 5 minutes between each coat so it has a smooth, even finish. [14] X Research source On your final coat of primer, use a criss-cross pattern when you’re spraying to cover any areas you may have missed. Always clean your airbrush stylus whenever you’re finished using it. If you have leftover primer, you can pour it back into the bottle.
9
Leave the model to dry for 24 hours after the final coat. Keep the model in a well-ventilated area so the primer has time to dry and cure completely. After 1 day, you’ll be able to handle your model without the primer lifting or smudging. [15] X Research source Drying times depend on the climate in your area. Paints will take longer to dry in humid conditions, so test if the primer feels dry in an inconspicuous spot.
10
Smooth the primer with wet 1,200-grit sandpaper. Apply light pressure as you work in circular motions over the surface of the model with the sandpaper. Focus on any areas where the primer looks raised or rough. Carefully sand the entire model until the primer feels smooth to the touch. [16] X Research source Avoid using sandpaper with a lower grit since it will leave visible scratch marks that will show through the paint.
11
Rinse the model with warm water to get rid of any residue. Turn your faucet to the warmest setting you can handle and run the primed model underneath the stream. Lightly rub the surface by hand or with a soft washcloth to remove any dust or residue leftover from the primer so it doesn’t affect the rest of your paint job. Shake off any excess water before setting the model on a paper towel to dry completely. [17] X Research source Since Zero Paints are solvent-based, they won’t wash off with water.
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Part 3 of 3:
Applying Your Paint

1
Choose a color that matches the model you’re painting. Zero Paints specializes in matching colors from vehicle dealerships, so search their website for the specific make and model of the one you’re painting. Pick the color you want to use and order a bottle. If you’re unable to find the make and model online, you can still paint your model vehicle with any of the other colors listed on their site. Look for the color-matched Zero Paints here: https://www.zero-paints.com/Colour_Matched_Paints--category--157.html. You may be able to find Zero Paints in some art and hobby stores. A 2 fluid ounces (59 ml) bottle of paint will usually be enough to cover 2–3 model vehicles that are 1:24 size.
2
Shake the paint for 1–2 minutes. The paint color and solvent can separate when it’s left in the bottle, so you have to mix it first. Keep the paint container closed and shake it well by hand. After 1–2 minutes, check the bottle to see if it has an even consistency. [18] X Research source Avoid using unmixed paints in your airbrush since you’ll have an inconsistent application and the stylus is more likely to clog.
3
Load the paint color into the airbrush’s reservoir. Unscrew your airbrush’s reservoir cap and slowly pour your paint inside. Airbrushes don’t require a lot of paint to get even coverage, so only fill the reservoir halfway. Secure the cap back on the reservoir so it doesn’t spill. [19] X Research source You do not have to thin or dilute Zero Paints before using them.
4
Set your compressor between 20–40 PSI. Turn on your air compressor and leave it running. Locate the pressure control buttons on your compressor and adjust the settings within the listed range. Higher PSI settings will give you a more even, consistent finish while lower pressure works better for finer details. Test a few of the pressure settings on a sheet of scrap paper to see what works best for you. [20] X Research source Avoid setting the PSI any lower or higher since you’ll either overspray or cause the stylus to clog.
5
Spray the first coat of paint onto your model. Hold the airbrush 2–3 inches (5.1–7.6 cm) away from your model and press down on the airbrush’s button to apply the paint. Work in straight back-and-forth movements, working from the bottom to the top of the piece. Always keep your airbrush moving so you don’t apply too thick of a coat, or else the model will have an uneven finish. [21] X Research source It’s okay if you still see the primer through the first coat of paint. Wear a glove on the hand you use to turn and rotate the model just in case you overspray the paint.
6
Let the paint dry 5–10 minutes between coats. Leave your model alone while it’s drying so you don’t smudge or ruin the paint job. After about 5 minutes, try touching an inconspicuous spot on the model. If the paint feels tacky, let it dry for another 5 minutes before moving on. [22] X Research source Avoid applying another coat of paint while the first one is still wet, or else you may have an uneven finish.
7
Add an additional 2–3 coats of paint to the model. Switch the direction you paint with every coat so you don’t see any visible paint lines. Make sure you focus on areas where you can still see the primer through the paint so it’s not visible later on. After each coat of paint, let the model dry for 5 minutes, or until it doesn’t feel tacky. [23] X Research source Some paints require more coats to get a vibrant color. For example, you may need to use 1–2 additional layers of paint to get a vibrant yellow color.[24] X Research source
8
Leave the model to dry overnight. Keep the model on the stand in your work area so it doesn’t get disturbed. Allow the paint to dry and cure for a full day before you take it off or do any more work on it. [25] X Research source If you notice any blemishes on your paint job, use 1,200-grit sandpaper to sand it down before repainting the area.
9
Add a clear coat finish if you want the model to have a glossy appearance. Zero Paints always dry with a matte finish, so they need a clear coat if you want them to look like a real vehicle. Get a premixed clear coat from the Zero Paints website and load it into your airbrush’s reservoir. Spray the clear coat in a thin layer over the entire surface and allow it to dry for at least 5 minutes. If you want a glossier finish, you can apply another coat. When you’re finished, leave the model alone for 2 days so the finish hardens. [26] X Research source You do not need to apply a clear coat to your model if you don’t want to.
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