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RC Home | RC Paint Shop | Tips



RC Painting Tips (car/truck)



When it comes to RC related tasks, painting a body can be one of the most intimidating tasks for a modeler. There are so many talented people out there who create masterpieces that painting your first body can be rather daunting. I have seen many of these people at racetracks and clubs around the country running what I call the “One-Color Wonders .” They simply went to the hobby shop shelf for a can of paint, masked the windows, and blasted the body with a single color. If this describes you, then there’s great news on the horizon.

Body Preparation:


If you’re new to the hobby, you might not realize that Lexan RC bodies are actually painted from the inside. The shine and sheen that you see reflecting off a body doesn’t come from the paint, but rather from the reflective nature of the Lexan itself. I’ve seen many bodies at the track or at club even ts with sections of paint that have been chipped away, leaving large gaping clear areas on the body. This happens because the body was not properly prepared before the layers of paint were applied. There is a mold release agent that is sometimes sprayed on the inside of the body to allow it to come off the mold without sticking. While this agent makes it easy to pull the body off the mold, it also prevents the paint from sticking to the inside of the body. You will need to thoroughly wash and rinse out the body with warm water mixed with liquid dish washing detergent to remove any left over residue that might still be on the body. It’s a simple thing, but one of the most commonly overlooked. Once the body has been washed and rinsed out, dry it with a lint-free cloth or towel. Then you are ready to mask off the body for paint.


Masking and Planning:


To make painting the body even easier, some bodies include pre-cut window masks. But if you want to create something other than a basic paint scheme, you will need to use either masking tape or some sort of liquid masking product. Many people like to use masking tape as it is relatively inexpensive, it can be applied to the inside of the body quickly, and you can immediately start painting once the masking tape is in place. There are many painters who personally prefer liquid masking products, such as Parma’s Faskolor Liquid Mask for several reasons. With liquid mask, you have the ability to work with more complicated designs if you prefer, the odds of having a bleeding problem can be reduced, and, for me at least, it’s easier to plan out the design. The down side of liquid mask is that you will need to wait, usually overnight, for the mask to dry on the body. You can speed up the drying process with the aid of a hair dryer.


Applying the Paint:


Whether you use spray cans or an airbrush, there are basics that apply to both. I’ll discuss spray cans first, since they are the easiest to use and the most common as well. Instead of simply shaking the can to help prepare the paint, you may want to run the can under the faucet with warm water flowing over it. The paint tends to flow better out of spray cans when the ambient temperature is over 70 degrees, and the additional heat input also helps to pressurize the can a little more.


While this same trick doesn’t work with an airbrush, there are steps you can take before you start spraying that will make the job much easier. Have all your tips ready to go, making sure they are all clean and rinsed from the last time you used them. Nothing ruins your day faster than to spray what you think is white and have it come out pink because you didn’t rinse the tip out after the last time you used it to spray red. Don’t forget about the body of your airbrush, too, as old paint can collect in there, fouling up the action of the airbrush and affecting the flow of paint. When you begin to spray, hold the can about 8 –12 inches away from the area where you are going to paint (6 –8 for airbrushes), moving side-to-side using a smooth, flowing motion. Don’t glob the paint on in one thick coat, as using more, thinner coats will generally result in a better looking finished product.


Basic Effects:


One of my favorite yet easy techniques I use is called the Fade. You can use just two colors to do this, but I’ve used three and four colors as well. The one big thing to remember with Fades is that you need to use complementary colors, such as Red with Yellow and Orange. You can also use half-tones or different tones of the same color. On one of my favorite bodies, I used a Candy Blue and a solid Medium Blue and I was very impressed with the result. Once you have chosen the colors you are going to use, you should spray the darker color first, gradually going to lighter and lighter colors. In the event that you have to spray a lighter color first, back it with white, and if you have to paint white first, you should back it with silver. Follow this same pattern when working on smaller detail areas, such as stripes, as well. In all cases, make sure you allow each color to dry completely before applying another over it.


For the fade, you will need to decide if you want to fade the colors from front to rear or top to bottom. You want to start by spraying the first color at your normal speed for regular coverage but as you get to the area where the next color is going to overlap you need to move at about twice the speed so the paint is very thin and almost translucent. Before you actually spray the paint on the body, test your idea out on a piece of paper towel. This will let you practice how far and fast you should go with your beginning color before you start fading it out and leading into the secondary color. When you start to spray your second color, you will start at the point where you left the previous color thin and use the same technique as for the first .




Each body has its own personality molded into it before you even take it out of the bag. Fans of almost any make full - sized car can replicate that same look and feeling with their R/C vehicles too. I happen to love the look of the full-size CK trucks, so I naturally fitted my personal Mini-T. But if you don’t actually use the included headlight and grill e decals, the body just looks like any old truck. Take a couple of extra minutes and apply the included detail decals, such as the grill e and headlights, the taillights, and any other detail graphics to add that extra touch of personality to your new shell. The reward will be well worth the effort. One little piece of advice that will save you aggravation later, and don’t ask how I know about this.


Before you apply any decals, make sure you peel the over spray film off the outside of the body. No matter how careful you are, how much time you spend, you will occasionally have a section of mask that may bleed through. While to some this may mean the end of a great body, this is where the truly creative come to life. Once a color has bled through there isn’t much you can do to fix the problem, but you can cover up a mistake with creative decal placement. Just running a blank body without any decals can look rather blah ; the use of decals and their placement can not only be the final touch to a great -looking body, but careful decal placement can also hide minor goofs and errors in the paint. Just remember that more is not always better, as a body with a million different decals can look overly busy and cluttered.


Mounting the Body:


This can be the make or break step in getting your new body ready, and yet this is the most common step people trip up on. All Team Losi bodies have mold lines in them as a guideline for cutting the front wheel wells out, along with the sides. Additionally, replacement bodies such as those for the Mini-T, LST, BK2, or MF2 also have molded -in dimples to indicate where the body postholes should be drilled. This is where the first mistake is often made, as I have seen countless bodies with jagged, oversized, or just otherwise ugly mounting holes. Put the hobby knife down when it comes to the body mount holes, and opt for a quality reamer. Remove just a little material at a time, test-fitting the body as you go along. The other common mistake happens when it’s time to open up the wheel wells. Again, I’ve seen people hacking at the trim lines with a hobby knife, a straight scissors, or other foreign object. If you have a steady hand, you can use a hobby knife to score the wheel well enough so you can simply bend it out. However, I have found that people with that steady of a hand are few and far between. Using an actual circle cutter will yield perfectly rounded and smooth wheel wells every time and won’t create jagged edges like using Lexan scissors could possibly do.




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