Bare-Metal Foil Application
While there are many types of foil products on the market, the one I prefer is 'Bare-Metal' foil. I find it the easiest to work with and very accessible.
Here are a few hints for using foil products. If you have never used foil before, take an un-painted body and practice. Wash the body and then follow the hints. If you make a mistake, you can easily start over without ruining your paint or body work. When using a self-painted body, make sure the paint is fully cured. While your paint may look dry, it may not be dry enough to handle and work on. I let paint dry about a month, thereby making sure the surface is ready to work. If you are using a pre-painted body, the paint will be cured. Whenever possible, use a bare body, one without windows, interior or other parts or trim attached. It is easier to handle and allows you to trim closely and to trim the inside.
Put a coat of NON-SILICONE wax or polish on your paint. This will give you a smoother surface to work on and protect the paint from any adhesive residue. The non-silicone finish will not deter the adhesive from sticking. Any silicone-based product will fight the adhesive. I use ‘Novus’, ‘Bare-Metal Plastic Polish’, 'Treatment Model Wax' or 'Meguiar's Professional' series marked 'paintable'.
Dedicate a handle for foil cutting and mark it. Use as light a handle as possible. Too much weight may cause cutting problems. Use a new blade. Don't try to save money by using an old blade. It's not worth it. A good blade will last 3 or 4 models. Then change the blade and put it in your cutting knife. An old blade may tear the foil or tear into the paint.
When cutting the foil to apply on the model, cut straight strips. They are easier to handle. Compound curves are more difficult to handle but can be easily overcome with a series of straight strips. Apply the foil as straight as possible, making sure to allow excess foil to straddle your trim.
Press the foil down onto the trim, first with your fingers and then with a soft tip, like a Tamiya stick or other such tool, until you can see all of the detail under the foil. On a long piece of trim, start from one end and work to the other or start in the middle and work towards the outer ends. (some people like to use a Q-tip to press down the foil, but I find that the strands may come loose and get stuck to the foil) You can also try those neat little ‘Microbrush’ glue applicators. They fit into many nooks & crannies and don’t leave strands.
Cut with a very gentle hand. You are not chopping wood or driving nails. You don't need a lot of pressure or strength, just the weight of the handle. Make sure you have cut through the foil, but not the paint. When you have made your cut, use tweezers to remove the excess foil. Some times you can re-use the foil for smaller pieces of trim such as door handles. In most cases, just scrap it as the adhesive will be lost and may fall off when you least expect it.
When you are finished applying the foil, go back and get your NON-SILICONE wax or polish and apply another coat on your model. Use very little pressure. Now, how does it look? Satisfied? If not, peel it off, clean it and start over. Like it? Good, you're done. See how easy that was! If you have been watching the clock, and you shouldn't be when you're building a model, you may find you have spent up to 3 or 4 hours foiling a model. Don't worry about the time, it doesn't matter. Only the results matter.
Howard Cohen, Toronto, Ontario, Canada