Scribing Panel Lines


No mater how careful you are, or how well designed a kit is, messing up panel lines happens.  I recently screwed up a panel line on one of the easiest kits ever, and as this question often comes up, I figured it was time to put a tutorial together.  I can’t say I have the best method, but I can say what I do is simple to set up, easy to do, and produces fantastic results.  I certainly have no desire to go looking for any other method as this has worked every time I needed it.


What you need:


  1. Dymo or similar labeling tape (easily found in office supply stores)

  1. A hobby knife (I use X-Acto and Olfa)

  1. A screwed up model


Below is the part I need to fix.  When assembling the MG Char’s Zaku II 2.0, I ran into a little trouble with the bazooka.  The middle section joins/traps 3 parts—front tube, back tube, and the pivot mount for the scope.  The pivot mount, despite my best attempts, made the back tube bulge out a bit.  I originally tried to putty over the seam.  While that covered the bulge, it left a noticeable depression along the seam that I couldn’t get rid of.   I decided to rescribe the seam line I had covered, so the bulge and depression would be cleaned up.


The first step in the process is to cut a length of label tape.  In the picture above, you can see one edge of the tape is straight and the other is bent.  What I usually do is cut the tape the length I need, then cut it again lengthwise in a zigzag pattern so I can double the usage.  The zigzag pattern helps me tell the “true” edge from the lengthwise cut edge.


Next, place the “true” tape edge along the seam you need to scribe:

Now comes the scribing.  To do it, carefully place the back tip of the blade (so the razor sharp edge is facing UP, away from the part) and gently draw the tip along the tape edge.  Because you are using the back edge of the blade, you are more gently scraping than cutting.  This helps in two ways—by using gentle pressure, the blade will follow the tape, and by using the back edge instead of the cutting edge, you can easily maintain a smooth, even depth.  Simply repeat the process, keeping, even, gentle pressure.  This will keep you line smooth and even depth.  To make the line wider or deeper, don’t press harder; simply do a few more gentle passes. 


The results on the bazooka are shown below (the line is visible in the center of the photos, by the lighter gray putty).  Since this kit has thin, shallow lines, it only took about 4-5 light passes to get the line I wanted.  In this case, I used my preferred scriber, the X-Acto #10 blade.  Olfa blades, after the tip has snapped off (always happens), work fine too.

Feel free to drop me a line if you have any questions. scribing panel lines