Realistic Tarps!

Initially I tried using the PVA glue method but found the result too stiff and unworkable (probably my fault), so I tried various methods until I hit upon one that worked well for me. It produces a tough sheet of silicon treated tissue that is very hard to tear, takes paint really well, and can have creases imprinted and removed at will. You will need the following:
  • A water based bathroom silicon sealer (Photo 1)
  • Extra strong pocket tissues
  • An airbrush
  • A good half to three quarter inch flat paintbrush
  • Getting started
    The pocket tissues used are generic Walmart, but they have about 3-4 ply and the edges are pressed together. They are also a good size for this work. The first thing I do is iron the folds out of them, as I want the central area smooth (Photo 2). Next squeeze about 3 inches of the bathroom sealer into a small sealable container and add warm water (ratio about 1:2). Seal the container and shake it for a few minutes until most of the sealant has liquidized and its foamy (there will be some residue, don’t worry) (Photo 3). Take a tissue and lay it a flat surface (I use paper card), and using short strokes with the flat brush, paint the solution onto the tissue, making sure each area is soaked through, before moving to the next (Photo 4). When one side is done, turn the tissue around and do the other. When both are wet, hold the tissue between your fingers and gently tease the major creases from it (similar to how you work a pizza base). When done, take a hair dryer and dry both sides of the tissue. Now peel the single coated outside ply from each side of the tissue and repeat the steps above for the uncoated side of each. When finished you will have two rubberised textured sheets of fabric. At this point I roll them against a flat surface to further force the sealant into the fibres, and remove creases. I then cut the patterned outside edge from each side, retaining the 6x6” area in the middle. At this point you should have two sheets of treated tissue that are tearproof, flexible, and will retain a fold or imprint (which can also be removed if its not right).

    Base Paint
    I do not use primer as it makes the tarp too smooth when finished. Take a tissue and spray both sides with your chosen colour. I use a 1:1 mix of XF-65 Field Grey and XF-26 Deep Green mixed 1:1 with IPA (don’t use water, the alcohol ensures a dense paint coverage). Mix quite a bit of paint, the tissues are thirsty! When dry, take the tissue in one hand and draw it gently between your thumb and first two fingers of the other to smooth out the final creases - expose any unsprayed areas, and fix them. (Photo 5).

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    About Brian Steven Balkwill (dsotm)

    Spent time in specialised sales to militay, non-destructive testing, risk engineering, engineering underwriting surveys on mines and mineral processing plants. Modelling from Airfix days, I took a 25yr break and came back to the hobby 18month ago. Currently working on a Sturmtiger with fully detaile...