September 27, 2017

TRENCH RUNNER REVIEW: The VMS Paper Shaper System

All the way from São Paulo Brazil our resident model geek Julian Conde takes a look at the all new Paper Shaper from Vantage Modeling Solutions of Poland...

You can order VMS products from MTSC HERE

Once again, I’m excited to review another VMS product, I’ve tested 4 or 5 products from them so far and they all have become instant favorites. This time we have a huge promise : a product that turns regular paper into molded canvas, tarps and flags, maps, whatever you can think of. The promise is that using the Paper Shaper (a kind of liquid resin) it will mold paper, and dry out to a solid, scale accurate tarp, canvas, etc. I’ve never seen anything like this, so I was anxious to get it going. I love tarps and canvas on model kits, I've just made a Canvas from Greenstuff of a Tamiya Simca 5 Kit, and was very happy with it. And now this is the cherry on top, a product to make molded tarps on gear, cargo, vehicles and infinite other applications ! Let’s begin a very thorough review….

There are 2 ways of using Paper Shaper, and the second way we need some extra products, that I will show you in a bit. But to make a molded tarp (I will refer to all molded stuff here in this review as a tarp, but it could be a canvas, flag, map, etc) we need the Paper Shaper liquid and some paper and that’s it. VMS has it’s own paper set (VMS-WFU), a very delicate silk-like paper (their paper feels like homemade cigarette paper, those used to roll out cigs, or cooking paper). I know what you are thinking, But I don’t smoke (anything) but have my share of being around those who do…so what I mean is that regular A4 printer paper may be too thick for a great looking result but it does not mean that it won’t shape up. 

VMS says the right paper is 50 grammes (I’m not familiar with paper types, but this is a good reference if you want to buy it separately). I recommend that you get VMS paper set along with the product, so you can have a ready to use set and to use as a reference to get it later from your local store if you like it. Either way the paper set from VMS is very nice, good size sheets and I’ve used just half of one sheet to make this review, so it will go a long way. Maybe if you are thinking of making a whole truck cargo tarp (yes you can!) you need a bigger sheet as to not show any joints and mold a one piece part.

Once you get things going, the basic principle is to soak the paper with the Paper Shaper fluid, apply it to the part or model, mold it the way you want it, leave it to dry and that’s it. It’s molded on, hard and ready to receive paint.

But this means that the paper is glued to the part and you may have to paint everything together. Some people like to go this way, so it won't be a issue, it’s like placing all the accessories on a tank and painting it while already glued to the model. I don’t like this way, I like to paint and handle every possible accessory separate, so in a ideal world after the paper is shaped and dry I would like to remove it from the part to paint it as a separate part. This is possible, just adding some extra steps and products, and the results are very nice. It's pretty straightforward to achieve this, and here are the products you will need to remove the paper after it’s dry from a molded part


They are the following: 1:) VMS Paper Shaper to mold the paper. 2:) MS Clean Slate Remover to soak the paper that was molded. Slowly and carefully remove it from the part and clean any excess Paper Shaper fluid that is left on the model. 3:) and 4:) VMS Acrylic Binder and Thinner to give the shaped paper a resin-like finish, that will be flexible enough to adjust it perfectly to your part.
Sounds like a lot of trouble but it’s not. You can use any acrylic binder on the market very diluted (that’s why you need the thinner) so you can airbrush it and make sure you don’t clog up your airbrush (Acrylic resin binders are rock solid after dry).

VMS Clean Slate is a very clever product, since it slowly removes the molded paper of the part, also is a amazing paint remover (that will be a separate review) without damaging plastic. It’s on the very edge of what would melt and affect the plastic and taken a step back, so it will be fine. So, now I will make some tarps and will remove all of them from the part after dry to be painted and manipulated separately, so I will use the whole range of products as instructions says…. lets begin choosing some subjects to test...


Yes, they are pink. These are home made resin copies of parts, and I used the pink one because I like the Pink Panther a lot. Moving on…here's a VMS sheet of paper. See the nice size, but now I will cut it down to the desired sizes, remembering that you will mold it around the part, into recesses, curves, and fold it, etc, so a slightly bigger cut is good to have some material to work with...

Now, let’s try it on the model...

and the resin parts...

I cut up several other paper sizes to fit some other parts which I will show later on… So now let’s apply some Paper Shaper in a small bowl. By the way it's always good to work with the nozzle applicator from VMS. Best there is on the market...


Here I moistened a sheet of paper with the Paper Shaper fluid...

Here I'm applying it to the model so we can begin shaping it up. Note: the paper does not get any more fragile after being soaked, actually I think it makes it more resistant and very flexible. Now you can use a soft brush to mold it and begin the first shapes with your fingers (make sure you get them wet with paper shaper so it does not stick to your skin)…


here I begin folding, and since this was my first trial, I did not use any extreme angles and folds, but I will get to that later on the other parts...


Make sure the paper is always wet with the shaper fluid while working on it....


Ok, so now I have it to the the shape I wanted and now we leave it to dry…


Now on to the resin accessories tarp, same process, soak the cut paper and begin gently molding it to desired form...

I added a box on top to give it some “weight”. The whole process is very easy and at no time did the paper rip or get harder to fold. While its wet it handles very well. The paper seems to absorb this and becomes very flexible, making some very natural folds and shaping up around the objects very nicely...

Ok, I got it the way I wanted in a couple of minutes working on it and folding it to the desired shape, and making sure it would “print out” the surface below. Now, while this was drying I wanted to try to shape a Verlinden Road map, a very thick paper (even more than regular A4 printer paper) to see how it reacts…

This is a Sovereign 2000 Resin SD.KFZ. 247 kit that I am working on, and I have sculpted some sand bags out of Greenstuff, and wanted to fold the map on top of it… let’s begin, same process, soak up the map…

Now, I can feel it’s not as easy to shape as the VMS paper. This is a thicker paper, but it will shape up if you go easy and gentle working with two brushes like Japanese food sticks. The shaper fluid will not erase or ruin the map if you are careful…just take your time and work slowly…


Great! Now I leave it to dry and try some other shapes...


This is a cooling fin part from a V-150 kit I’m also working. The kit is already primed so I used a spare part to mold on the Paper Shaper and later I can apply the whole part to the actual model. NOTE: You cannot use the Paper Shaper on painted surfaces, it will ruin the work. You must shape the paper on non painted parts, models, etc. Just think ahead, dry fit the parts, and leave it to paint all together after dry, or as I am doing with this fin, removing it to paint it separately...


Great looking so far. Now let’s leave everything to dry out for a good 3-4 hours. No rush since this process (removing the paper after dry from the model) will take a day or so to accomplish, but it’s rewarding... I promise :-)

You can see while drying that the Paper Shaper is a kind of resin, that will leave a mark after dry. But no worries since we have VMS Clean Slate to clean everything afterwards…


Now, it’s dry. The paper is very solid and feels like a stronger lead foil. It will bend if you press it but not too hard, so you can hold it, paint it, etc…To show how resistant it gets, I will hold the whole piece by the paper using a tweezer...


It’s shaped up good and is ready to paint if I wanted to paint everything at once…


But nope. I wanted to remove the dry paper for later painting and weathering. Let’s use the VMS Clean Slate Remover…

VMS says you gotta soak the whole molded paper with Clean Slate remover and will take up to 1 hour to remove a complex shaped paper from the part. You need to make sure the paper is always wet and begin slowly working with a soft brush to begin lifting it from the model…nothing too complex, just take your time. If you want to paint the tarp on the model just use the Clean Slate to clean up the excess Paper Shaper...

Here I’ve added the Clean Slate Remover to an empty 17ml. Vallejo style paint bottle (love those empty bottles) so I can soak the parts while not having too much waste. Make sure you have a bowl or tray below to catch and work up the Clean Slate. It's a solvent but does not evaporate quickly, so no worries. Just make sure you get it wet every 15 minutes or so and go watch ESPN...


Now I want to remove the map from the sandbag but I could not use the Clean Slate on it because it would ruin the printed map so I removed it using a sharp blade and being careful. Since the paper from the Verlinden map is quite thick, this is not an issue, and after I will remove the glued paper residue from the sandbag using the Clean Slate.

Map is safe and sound. Good to go after a matt varnish spray...


Now waiting for the Clean Slate to take effect…


Ok, so after about 20 minutes, I begin using the brush to carefully remove the tarp off the model…


Get the brush wet with the fluid and begin working it on the paper…allowing it to flow below and around it. You gotta take your time and be gentle, but not because it’s fragile, but just to not distort the shape. Clean Slate is very well formulated, it will remove excess Paper Shaper fluid from the model but it will remove paint, but it will not ruin the paper soaked with Paper Shaper. I'm thinking these two products are some heavy researched laboratory stuff. Maybe it was made by the C.I.A. to turn people into zombies… 

See how it begins to get deeper below the shaped paper…


After a few minutes of work, it’s off the model!...


Now, with the same patience and care, I will remove the other tarps I’ve made…


No issues here. The tarp on the pink accessories took the longest to get it off but it did come off with just a very minor tear on one edge, which when painted looks like real tear on the fabric which makes me want to explore making some rips and tears on future shapes…

Now, on to using the Clean Slate to remove the excess Paper Shaper residue from the model…


VMS recommends that you should test the plastic before using Clean Slate Remover. If you are using some old, vintage or vacuform, etc model, dip a small part of the sprue or casting block on the Clean Slate to make sure it won’t melt. As I said, it’s a product developed to remove residue and paint but my tests on a Hobby Boss and Tamiya kits it was 100% safe. Now, to smooth things up and give it some extra strength and flexibility will use the acrylic resin binder diluted with VMS Airbrush Thinner (VMS-TH015)…


First a rule while airbrushing resin binders- always add some thinner first in the cup. This way it will not have a chance of drying out and making your airbrush a two day cleaning project...


Here I used 60% thinner and 40% VMS binder...


Mixed it up and sprayed it on my tarp…Go for thin layers, like using varnishes. 2 or 3 layers is good. The shaped paper is tricky to hold but you will find a way. Just make sure you don’t touch the external area while wet as it will leave a print…

Ok, my parts are now drying out and next...I prime them!


They already look amazing!

Ok..lets see how it fits to the model…



The fit is great and you have also made it flexible and stronger with the binder, so you can gently reshape it to look as you want. No glue or tricks here, just forced into place and around the edges with my fingers…

Now to the pink parts…

This is more tricky with some complex shapes and I use some glue for definitive fix. But it will get re-shaped with some care and patience…


And now the small one made on the V-150 model part...


Just Great. Can’t wait to paint all those tarps and make some more. I will for sure have a small tarp on every project from now on.

Just a tip, to make flags using decals….Just cut the paper in the size of the decal you want to use, mold the paper like shown above, and after dry (removed or not), paint it and apply the decal as you would on any model. Use decal softener and make the same folds on the decal as you did on the paper. It will get in shape and will look like you shaped the flag with the decal on it. Can’t wait to try it out on a good flag on a future model.

Now, some pictures of the finished, painted and weathered tarp on the pink accessories...


My Conclusion: AMAZING !!!!  This is a breakthrough product. Never thought it would be so easy to make scale accurate tarps and fabrics for models. I really liked the result. Gotta make some more tests, bending it to more natural looks, and also add some depth by making some tears, holes, patches, etc. This product gives you a infinite array of possibilities when it comes to making a tarp or similar items. It’s far more rewarding than using lead foil, because it will harden it out to a resin like finish, and it has just the right flexibility to work on later. Also you don’t get Leukemia like you could after handling lead. It's very easy to drill out small holes to tie it down simulating a rope tie, to fix it on the model. Very, very realistic results. I can’t think of enough ways to use this, even making a whole canvas for vehicles like kubelwagens, jeeps and others. You can also try out different papers, those fancy office stores have 400 types of papers, textures, fabrics. So, just go on and try it out on different papers! I will for sure start testing some more! It’s very rewarding to make your own parts, like this. It truly makes your work unique!

NOTE: Please follow VMS products closely. They have new releases very often and their products are one step above the others. What a great era for modelling!! Go for it!!

Please watch the VMS Paper Shaper tutorial below for some extra insights on how to use the Paper Shaper!
JC 09-2017

Products featured in this review:
VMS Paper Shaper
WFU Modeling Paper
Clean Slate rmvr 2.0 PS Friendly Paint Remover
Acrylic Binders Finishing Resin
You can order all VMS products from MTSC HERE

1 comment:

  1. Could you not apply something to the surface, such as plastic cling film to act as a release and to protect the surface? For those times when you can only apply this to a painted surface, or you are using a printed paper where you can't use a knife to cut it off?

    ReplyDelete