How to Paint White Wall Tires on Scale Model Autos

Written by f.r.r. mallory
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How to Paint White Wall Tires on Scale Model Autos
White sidewall on a vintage car tire. (white wall image by John Sfondilias from

Painting lines on curved surfaces, such as tires, can seem difficult for a model maker. But these white lines, or red lines (with some makes of cars), often make a critical difference in the realistic appearance of the model. To achieve a good, smooth line may take some practice, but with a little effort you'll quickly be able to draw the line at the size you want in the colour you want on the tires.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Bow compass
  • Pen adaptor
  • Flat white model paint
  • Black construction paper
  • Tape

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  1. 1

    Remove any flash or rubber nubs from the sidewall of the tire. You'll want to paint the side of the tire that doesn't have the lettering. You may need to insert a wheel pushed in from the reverse side so you can position your compass correctly.

  2. 2

    Tape black construction paper to your work surface. Measure where you want to apply the sidewall paint on the tire and adjust your compass. Mix your flat white model paint thoroughly and add a few drops to the pen.

  3. 3

    Draw a circle on the black paper. The paint should be on the inside of the paint tip. Adjust the thumb screw on the compass to make the line more narrow or thick and to move the adjustment of the compass point to make the circle larger or smaller. When you're satisfied you can manage the compass and pen, snap the wheel centre into the tire.

  4. 4

    Position the point of the compass in the wheel centre. Check the position of the pen head to verify your calculations are accurate. Load the pen and draw the line. If the first line doesn't look the way you want it, simply clean the paint off, dry off the tire and try again.

Tips and warnings

  • Clean your pen tip as soon as you are done with all of your tires. You will now be able to add painted circles with some accuracy to other areas of the model.

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