This topic is something that irks me sometimes and many has been asking me on how to achieve perfect chrome. Well, all I can say is that it lies to your basecoat 😉
Why do we chrome parts? Well, there are certain factors and the most common is to achieve candy tone. Honestly, I’m not quite sure the difference between using silver or chrome as your basecoat, but I find it quite intriguing if they are really any different.
Oh, BTW, silver and chrome are DIFFERENT. Again, D-I-F-F-E-R-E-N-T! Okay, got it? Most people think that they are same, but they don’t. Chrome is reflective and silver is just silver. It can be glossy or reflective, but once silver is reflective, then it becomes chrome. Actually, chrome is just reflective silver, so calling it chrome silver is quite redundant. I have said it quite sometime when I was a beginner so that’s okay.
Let’s now proceed in the steps to achieve chrome. First of, there are 3 known ways to chrome your part/kit and they are as follows:
2. Graphite Powder (aka magic powder)
(obsolete)4. Gundam Marker
*image credit from google*
The most common brand in my country, Philippines, for industrial type spraycans is Bosny. They even have chrome and that’s the most popular around.
The first option seems the easiest thing to do. Spraycans that you need for this is readily available in hardware stores as they aren’t hobby grade. I don’t know of any hobby grade spraycans that can achieve chrome, only bottled paints. So for this, what do we need? They are as follows:
1. Black/White Gloss
First of, if you opt in using a primer, go ahead and put the primer first. After it cures, put a coat of black or white gloss. Make sure that you make the basecoat as glossy/reflective as possible. Lastly, the chrome! Yay, we’re done? Well, these are spryacans so before doing this, you must make sure that you shake the cans very well. Like I always say, there’s no such thing as over-shaking a spraycan. Also make sure that the weather is hot and nice. The hotter, the better. If it’s raining, even a bit, then just stop.
Downside of using spraycans is that you won’t be able to buff it up. Buffing can pertain to either using microfiber cloth or putting some clear topcoat on it. Basically anymeans in order to add reflectivness or gloss on the finish. Also, spraycans are quite weak. Avoid touching them afterwards as your fingerprints might be left on it.
Graphite Powder/Magic Powder
The two most popular brands are MGM and Kisutte Ginsan. IMO, they both work fine so there shouldn’t really be much of a difference.
Second option can be done in various ways. Steps 1 and 2 for are basically the same for all the options to achieve chrome. Using primer is always optional and basecoat is a must. The more reflective the basecoat, the more reflective the chrome will be, get it? So for this, it’s totally up to you whether you want to use spraycans or AB. But most likely, you bought this powder because you have no AB at your disposal. So just do the earlier steps, then once the basecoat is dry, put some of the powder.
To really maximize the powder you have as its amount is limited, apply it to the part using a cotton swap (q-tip or whatever you want to call it). It’s only important that there will be powder applied on every surface. It doesn’t have to be thick, actually, you can’t make it any thicker. Putting some more won’t make it thick, trust me. After applying some of the powder, you can already see that it’s starting to get chromed. Get a cotton swab or simple a cotton then buff it. You can either be gentle or push it further but not to the point that you’re removing the paint.
Easy too right? Well, like spraycans, they can’t be buffed using clear coat. We made it reflective by buffing it using cotton, so in that area, this one passed. However, a BIG HOWEVER, we can seal this up and there’s a technique we can use. Sadly, it’s AB exclusive and I’ll do it someday and just edit this part.
Result in using option 1 and 2:
*image credit from wondermodels.com*
The only two products that I know that can achieve chrome are Alclad II Chrome and Spaztixx. The latter is very rare to get I don’t even know how to get one locally.
The last technique available in us today is by using an AB. Why AB specifically? Well, you can’t handpaint lacquer right? Well, technically you can, but I doubt, I highly doubt that you can make it reflective as you can when using AB. Besides, the paint I know is already pre-thinned, meaning the manufacturer thinned it down for AB use. AB thinned paints are more thinned than paints that are meant to be handpainted.
The product we’re gonna use is no other than Alclad II Chrome. It’s good it’s good, it’s known to the world so there’ no time to doubt it. Did I mention that it’s already pre-thinned? Of course yes, so let’s just pour it on the AB and start spraying. Oh BTW, do the earlier steps beforehand. I’ll repeat, the mroe reflective your basecoat, the more reflective your chrome will be.
Alclad II Chrome’s finish is definitely good. Good news is it can be buffed by any means. Sometimes, its finish is like it has powder over it. buffing it with microfiber cloth will to the trick.
Now that it’s reflective, you can now buff it using gloss topcoats. Since it’s lacquer unlike spraycans that are mostly enamel and graphite powder being too sensitive.
*image credit from google*
The last option is, well, not possible unless you have the product and it’s more geared towards small areas. Long ago, GsI Creos sells Chrome Gundam marker. Its serial is GM100 and damn it’s good! Sadly, it’s been discontinued so, nah, don’t resort to this as it’s not reliable.
So IMO, if you have no airbrush, the best option would be the 2nd one. Avoid the first option as much as possible, I beg you, haha! The third is the best, well not really. 2nd and 3rd option can achieve the same result it’s just that the 3rd option is easier to do because it’s lacquer.