Cricut masking

As I mentioned, I’m not finished with Morrisey Fernie and Michel #61. I’ve had another technique rattling around my head, looking for an opportunity to leap out on an unsuspecting model, and this little car was the perfect victim.

Masked and painted insignia are all the rage in the aero modelling world these days. When you paint the shape, it is guaranteed to sit flat on the surface without bubbles, and there is no decal film to deal with, just like dry transfers. Not only that, but you can easily fade or distress the marking just as with any other bit of paint. A small cottage industry has arisen to cut circles and crosses out of pieces of masking tape and slip the resulting donuts into envelopes for use around the world.

The Cricut is really made for cutting vinyl, and there are hundreds of varieties available to choose from, including “removable.” So, along with the idea rattling around my head, I’ve had a roll of “removable” vinyl and some transfer tape rattling around my drawer for ages.

Lining is a capability I will require for #622, and so, I tried cutting some masks and spraying lines for the combine. I actually did both sides. The first was a 0.125 mm line, which the Cricut actually cut, but which didn’t admit enough paint to leave a consistent line on the car. The second was a 0.25 mm line, which worked very nicely from a cutting standpoint (but not, as can be seen, from a painting standpoint). I suspect the actual limit is somewhere between these two numbers.

While the painting leaves a lot to be desired, the masking actually worked quite well.

With the 0.25 mm line, I also attempted to scallop the corners. The scallops have a radius of 0.327 mm, which the Cricut valiantly attempted to trace, but wound up dragging the knife around a square corner, rather than a quarter circle. So, I doubt if the technique will work for producing small lettering like reporting marks. Still, the idea is worth exploring further.

Correction: the original version of this post indicated .25 and .5 mm lines. These were in fact .25 and .125 mm.

12 thoughts on “Cricut masking

  1. That’s a really, really neat idea. Since it’s a drawing file you could even print an initial copy on some transparency film to test its fit before cutting the mask. I would think the vinyl should press nicely into surface textures like between boards or over rivets too. This would seem to be a brilliant opportunity for masks for obvious things like a CP Multimark but also for things like a painted patch applied by the shortline railway painting out the previous engine’s owner’s name.

    1. As for the bleeding issue could that be solved by sealing the the masking with the base coat of paint. I recently learned this trick. Apply base coat, apply mask, reapply base coat then apply top coat. Any bleeding that makes it way through is the “right color”.

      Hope this helps.

      I’ve seen guys cut green/blue tape but I’m not understanding how they are attaching the tape to be cut. At least with vinyl, you have a backing and don’t loose the stickiness.


  2. Guessing at an alternative technique: a “negative space” approach. I.e., paint clear decal film in the green body colour, and cut the decals to overlay the yellow or gold “lining” to create very slim, clean edged shapes. Cut the corner bits and float into place. Etc.

    1. To tell the truth, I was just curious about the limits of the technique. But you’re right, if I was serious about scalloped corners, that might be an approach to take.

  3. I’m guessing that you can’t but if the drive ratios aren’t super coarse and it is possible to alter the gcode you could slow it down , set the follow to deviate less . In some drag CAM you can tune the turn geometry. A lot depends on the physical resolution of the system but if you’re seeing a consistent deviation it might be something to look at.

    Have you looked at getting a ghost cartridge for your printer? I had an order ready to go before the government stepped in.

    That bit about sending crosses and donuts around the globe is chilling. It gets worse every day. There’s probably a hierarchy of circles and crosses that the more discerning modeller is burdened to navigate. The lengths we go to!

    1. There’s probably a bunch of people on the Internet hacking their Cricut g-code. It sounds like too much work for me, when there are other solutions to the problem.

      I will have to look into cartridges.

      Chilling times indeed.

  4. Instead of spray painting how about using a pointed tip such as the Prismacolor-Premier-Double-Ended-Art-Marker. They have 4 gold/yellow colors. You’ll find them at hobby lobby or michaels.

  5. Update: I also tried a 0.25 mm line with a Posca paint pen. This applies too much paint and leaks under the mask. A 0.16 mm line worked, but leaked due to the boards and misusing a spray can. I think the key is a dry spray.

    Simple letters like ‘L’ and ‘S’ at 1.3 mm high worked, but but others like ‘K’, and those with islands like ‘A’ and ‘O’ did not.

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