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To scribe or not to scribe?

8 replies
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  • Member since
    July 2019
Posted by diamxion on Tuesday, January 21, 2020 3:48 PM

I do the same thing . Thanx 


  • Member since
    May 2008
Posted by cruz missile on Tuesday, January 21, 2020 1:41 PM

Just scribe them deep on the plastic, give them a wash and you are done. No need to  even wash them after the paint is applied. It's what I have been doing for years....

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  • Member since
    December 2019
Posted by amt68 on Tuesday, December 17, 2019 9:30 PM

I generally scribe panel lines on most of the models I build. What has worked for me is the back side of a slightly worn #11 Exacto blade. It is time consuming but I actually consider it relaxing in a sense. The key is even pressure which helps to keep the blade from "jumping out" of the line. I've gotten better but still need to improve. I learned the importance of scribing after building one of my earlier models which is this '69 Chevelle convertible. As you can see in the pictures the door panel lines are nearly invisible. 


  • Member since
    December 2007
  • From: Portland Oregon: Tree Country. Most beautiful area on the West coast.
Posted by Treehugger Dave on Monday, December 16, 2019 6:46 PM


Obviously it depends on how the panel lines were molded by the manufacturer, and also how much body work you will do modifying, and how much primer you'll use when body working, and then how much paint..

If it's a stock kit and the lines just need to be deeper, I use a fairly new #11 Exacto blade and cut a deeper trough for the next blade to follow with the sharp edge, then use an old dull #11 Exacto blade with a worn off tip, or I'll take a old blade (I save my old blades)and break off a little of the tip to help keep from slipping, and use that upside down to deepen a bit further and also keep the with of the door panel line about the same as original.

OR... If your making a 4-door out of a two door, as an example, before any primer, I use DYMO TAPE (What is used in a DYMO LABELER) cut to shape to act as a pattern or guide to run your #11 blade against so the blade won't slip and you get a nicely shaped line that looks factory.

The DYMO TAPE adhesive is VERY sticky and will remove primer and paint when the tape is removed, so as I said, use against bare plastic.

I use 2 layers as it's taller (Thicker) and way less chance of slippage of the blade.

Is it time consuming?? - ABSOLUTELY, but the results are well worth it to me, and in the end you'll probably spend as much time or more doing it by hand and trying to fix all the slips and crooked lines.

No matter what technique you use, you'll need to be familiar with some kind of plastic body filler, as slippage, even a minimal amout is guaranteed, so you'll need to have some experience with body work and Exacto blades - WE ALL BLEED Bang Head.

Anyway, good luck on whatever you choose to do Thumbs Up.

Remember that model building is a skill and takes time to learn any technique, so practicing on a spare scrap body or piece of scrap plastic is always a good idea to develope your abilities.








  • Member since
    December 2003
  • From: Nova Scotia
Posted by Bainford on Tuesday, December 10, 2019 9:09 AM

I am a strong advocate of scribing. Making the panel lines deep, sharp and clean will improve the realism of the final project. I often scribe deep to the point I nearly cut out the panel. One must be aware, though, that this can weaken the body in some instances, so beware when handling it. I scribe before block sanding the body, which keeps the gap edges sharp 90*. I scribe all door, deck lid, and window trim lines.

I have a number of scriber tools. My BMF scriber is a great tool, though a bit wide at the tip for some panels. I have a couple of dental picks which I have trimmed the tip for good, narrow cuts. Perhaps my most used scriber is one I made by grinding an Exacto blade into a scriber cutter, with the tip ground to .010" thick, which makes for nice, narrow panel lines. This is especially useful for the thin window trim lines.

Slips happen often at the corners. I use Gunze Sangyo Mr. Surfacer (either 1000 or 1500) to repair the slips. This stuff is like a thick, brush on lacquer primer. It dries quickly, and feathers out extremely well, making the repair of very small imperfections easy and invisible.

Well scribed panel gaps often make black washing the panel lines unnescessary. Simple, deep, clean panel lines look much more realistic in most cases. For light coloured cars I will black wash the gaps in the primered body before I lay down the colour coats. This adds just a little subtle darkness in the deepest parts of the gap without overpowering the look with stark, black panel lines, which do not look good.

"It would be unusual, if the unusual didn't occur."

- Steamboat Gariepy


  • Member since
    February 2016
Posted by Plowboy on Monday, December 9, 2019 7:35 AM

I use a Zona razor saw. The photo etch blades can also work pretty well. I'm not familiar with those in your photo. So, I can't comment on those.  

  • Member since
    December 2019
Posted by Energo on Sunday, December 8, 2019 8:38 AM

Thank you, Plowboy.
Wanna ask you about the "saw" just because my current Tamiya tool is tricky to use in most cases and also I'm not ready to make my own tool = I'm currently waiting for the following tool set:

Will some of them work as a better line scriber or you meant something else?

  • Member since
    February 2016
Posted by Plowboy on Sunday, December 8, 2019 7:44 AM

I started scribing panel lines back in '00-'01. I was still using Testors enamel and while I could do nice paint jobs with it still, I was also filling the panel lines with paint. If they weren't very deep, they could fill up easily making them almost non existant.  

Then I read about blackwashing panel lines in one of the magazines and thought I would give that method a try. I tried it on a Monogram '65 Impala that is yellow and black. It looked horrible! Especially against the yellow. Not only did it look bad. It also made the panel lines look wider. So, never again! 

When I first started scribing, I used the back side of my Xacto blade. And yes, I made slips etc. that had to be fixed. But, with each build, I made fewer mistakes. But, even with improved skills, the panel lines would sometimes come out a touch wide for my liking. 

I then began using my razor saw to scribe with. Much easier! No slips and it would follow the lines much better! Not to mention finer, straighter lines. I used that method for several years.

A few years ago, I bought a dental pick set and modified one with a Dremel and files to make it thin and sharp. It's been my tool of choice since (I still use the razor saw to make new lines). It cuts whether I'm pushing or pulling. It has never dulled and it will follow even the faintest panel line. No corner too rounded or too sharp. I even use it to cut lines around window trim to separate it from the body. Makes foil work a breeze! The only issue is the panel lines are so fine that I have to brush paint the body color into them sometimes with certain paints.

For me, there's no substitute for the natural look that deeper panel lines gives a model. Especially compared to a blackwash. The only way I've seen a blackwash look decent is if it's done before primer and paint. Even then, the panel lines won't match exactly with the lines that are actually open like hoods and or trunks/doors.

The only things I blackwash are cowl and dash vents. I open cowl vents whenever possible. But, they have to be engraved well. I don't like the way it they look blackwashed. But, it looks better than nothing. 

Scribing panel lines is like every other skill. It takes time to develop. You have to do it to develop them.

  • Member since
    December 2019
To scribe or not to scribe?
Posted by Energo on Sunday, December 8, 2019 3:24 AM

Well... I'm not taliking about new panel lines and everything like that. What I mean is... the fact that a lot of modelers "re-scribe" (make deeper) an already existing lines on car bodies. Now I want to figure out if it costs all that mess I'll have to face with. Even having Tamiya's 0.2 mm engraving blade which is not bad at all I understand that I will not be able to do every line abs. fine. I'll get some "branches" for sure when the blade slips from the existing line on curves and even more - after 2 hrs of tests on cheap old model kits I found that even if I do everything well enough the "new" line sometimes looks not so good as it was right from the kit. Yes, it is now deeper but in some places (mostly on curves) it does not look super accurate. On 1:1 car it would be much more than superior quality but with 1/24 even an extremely small deviations are striking... 

Well, after all I'll have to use putty on "branches" trying to rescribe these places later without the putty get crumbeled. Polish it, maybe use some glue to "set" all the lines etc. etc.

On Youtube I see that not all modelers use scribers. Most of them simply airbrush their models with mass of thin layers and later use something like Tamiya panel line accent color. Also, looking at Tamiya's kits I always see accurate panel lines. They are not VERY deep but always are accurate with vertical edges. 

Maybe someone could write here when and why he decided to stick with scribing panels lines to make them deeper or, maybe, when he decided to not do it at all.


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