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Tinting Car Windows

Everybody loves a little bit of tint to the windows... well, I do at least! Since I only build JDM cars and most of the cars found on Japanese streets have tinted rear windows, I had to find a reliable solution to be able to replicate this on my miniature versions! The procedure listed below was shown to me by a local friend and now I'm showing it to you all. It gives great results and with some patience it'll give you very realistic tinted windows.

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Before adapting this procedure, I used to experiment with real car window tinting film. Attaching the film to the rear side windows wasn't a problem since they are straight, but the rear window was always a problem because of the curved shape. Seen above are the windows of the Tamiya Mitsubishi Evolution VI covered in light black window tinting film

As you can see from the picture above, for the rear window I had to cut the film into 3 different parts and attach them together to avoid any creases. This solved the problem however it wasn't very realistic to look at and to me it looked out of scale

To begin with, I have so far used both the Tamiya TS-71 spray can and the X-19 Acrylic Paint. I've had good results with both, however I prefer the TS-71 for this since the windows gets darker with less amount of layers airbrushed. I have also never sprayed the TS-71 directly onto the windows from the can. I always decant it and then apply through the airbrush. Don't know if this is really necessary, however I prefer to have full control over the amount of paint and air pressure I'm actually airbrushing on the windows. It tends to get darker very quickly, so I prefer this way! When I used the X-19, I thinned this down using Acrylic thinner and noted that I had to airbrush more layers to get the same darkness produced with the TS-71

Next step is to mask the windows you want to remain standard, in my case the front windows. Then I set the compressor to a lower pressure, usually around 1.5 bar, and start slowly airbrushing the smoke, one layer at a time to control the darkness

When checking the darkness obtained during airbrushing, always place the windows against a white background. This allows you to perfectly note the difference between the airbrushed and standard windows, as can be seen above on the BRZ windows

Once I'm happy with the tint obtained, I place the windows onto the completed interior to see how it's going to look exactly once the car is fully assembled. I always go for a light tint to keep the interior clearly visible through the tinted windows 

When checking the exact darkness of the tint obtained, I also cover the roof. This will simulate the lighting of the interior once the car is fully assembled. You can also temporarily assemble the windows to the body and then attach the body to the chassis

And this is the final tint darkness I stopped at for the BRZ! That tint was achieved with around 6 to 7 layers airbrushed using the thinned down X-19 paint. If I used the TS-71, I would have achieved the same tint with around 3 to 4 layers! When using the X-19, it is important not to thin it too much as the paint will only run to the corners! Thin it just enough to pass through the airbrush

One thing you may notice once you look through the tinted windows, is that these are not fully clear anymore. This is caused by the slight orange peel on the dried surface. Have a look at the picture above. The instruction leaflet is around a metre away from the rear window. You may notice that inside the window, the text appear slightly blurred, while the rest of the text is readable. Don't panic about this.. once you put it in place, the interior would still look perfectly clear and not blurred at all!

The reason behind this is due to the fact that objects that are very close to the window, will still look perfectly clear through it. Notice the picture above where the text on the Tamiya bottle is perfectly clear since it's very close to it, same as the interior! 

Finally, if you notice that you've added too much layers of smoke and your windows became too dark, don't worry about that! Use a very fine polishing compound and slowly polish the sprayed paint until the desired tint is achieved. Please note that for this stage you need to use a very.. very fine compound! The best I found is the Tamiya 'Finish' Polishing Compound as it simply removes a very thin layer at a time. The first time I tried this, I used the Tamiya 'Fine' Polishing Compound instead and it removed a considerable amount of layers immediately, meaning I had to start this windows tinting procedure from the beginning! Also, before starting to polish the paint, make sure that the smoke paint has fully dried and hardened!

Some other examples of windows I tinted are the ones of the Aoshima Toyota 86 (which have 4 layers of airbrushed TS-71)

And the Fujimi Evolution VII windows (3 layers of TS-71) together with the front and rear lights (1 layer of airbrushed TS-71)

To finish off this tutorial, here's a look at the Subaru BRZ with its tinted rear windows. You may notice that I opted for a slightly lighter black finish compared with the Aoshima Toyota 86 windows, which were airbrushed with 4 full layers of TS-71 spray

Finally, I would like to thank a local friend Mark, for coming over to my house and help me develop this procedure for tinting windows. Without your help, I would still be using the tape!!

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I tried to be as clear as possible about this tutorial, however if you still have any difficulties feel free to ask by signing the guestbook or on our facebook page. As always, thanks for watching and enjoy modelling!