Friday Quick Tip: What's a Paint Shaper?

If you already know what a paint shaper is, then you'd better have one in your tool box because these are probably the best hobby tool around. If you've never heard of a shaper before, let me fill you in: a paint or color shaper (google also for "colour shaper" which is a brand name) is basically a brush handle, but instead of bristles the shaper has a flexible silicone tip.

There are a variety of sizes and shapes available and there are a million and one uses for this thing. I received a cup tip shaper for Christmas and was a little puzzled at first. But now that I've had it for a while, I always make sure that it is close at hand when I'm painting.

Here are a few things I've used it for:

Oops! Squeegee: A few times I've touched the brush to the wrong place and instead of going back later and painting a touch up, a quick swipe from a wet shaper can pick up that oops. Wedge and cup tips work best for this technique.

Paint Reveal: You might have done this as a kid; paint a design and then put another color on top and use a tool to remove the top color to reveal the design beneath. I've experimented with this a few times and it can make for some interesting effects. First put down a color and let it completely dry. Then lay down a thin coat of paint on top and while still wet, use the shaper as an "eraser" for the top color. I recommend one of the pointed tip shapers for this type of work.

Putty Smoother: This is one of the original uses for a shaper and one it excels at. Since the tip is flexible and silicone it doesn't stick to even the stickiest epoxy putty. With a little water, the shaper can really to excellent work smoothing out rough areas. Depending on the shape you're sculpting, you could use any style of tip.

Color Shaping/Blending: Another original use of the shaper is using it to smear and blend colors. I used my shaper this way for reflected light from a burning banner. I dabbled down a small line of orange and then used my cup shaper to pull the orange away from the light source. It works great over rough surfaces because the shaper will catch only the top edges were light would naturally fall.

For wargaming-sized work, I recommend the smallest (no./size 0) shapers and if you shop around you should be able to find a 5 pack of assorted tips for under $25. A real bargain for this versatile tool.

Have you used a shaper before? What good tips do you have for using paint shapers?


  1. I've never even heard of these before, very cool.

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  3. Wow, thanks for the tip. I'd never heard of these. A set of them is going to be my next hobby-related purchase. Just what I've always needed.

  4. I use these for sculpting. I never even thought of using them for paint as well!

  5. I use these for sculpting, but I've never seen them used for painting. I'll have to look into that.

  6. The things your learn!, sounds like a really cool set off tools.
    Thanks for posting about them.

  7. Just like Wienas Ive only used these for sculpting, I'll have to try it for painting too. Thanks

  8. I haven't had a great deal of success using them with paint, but like everyone else here I've sculpted with them. I recommend the "firm" version. Blick sells them under the name "colour shaper".