Creating a custom paint job for your new radio controlled cars lexan shell is great fun, I’ll show you how to do this with perfect results every time, no artistic skills required, you don’t need an airbrush or an entire weekend to do it, and you will be amazed at the fantastic results you can get with a little know how.
For the purpose of this article I have selected an old favorite of mine, the flames. The techniques can be applied to any design you can dream up, all you need is a little imagination.
First things first.
The first thing you need to do is clean the shell, use warm water and soap, be sure to rinse all the soap off and let it dry before your continue, it’s critical that the lexan shell is clean or your paint job won’t hold, or will have blemishes once your done.
The second thing you need to do is cut the shell out, we do this first for two reasons:
- It’s easy to line up the wheels and body posts to the chassis
- After it’s painted you will scratch the paint while you cut out the shell
Imagination is key
Now that we have the body cleaned and cut out we need to look for natural lines on the body that we can use to keep our design perfectly symmetrical, it’s often difficult to paint over vents and other highly detailed parts of the car so pick your locations wisely.
So after much debate we have decided to run a two colour flame down the side and the rest of the car is going to be black, in my example I’m going to use metallic red and purple to do the flames, and black for the rest.
Masking the Shell.
First thing I need to point out is that we paint the inside of the shell, the outside has a clear film which prevents over-spray, once the car is painted and ready for decals and stickers this can be removed, leave it intact until after you have painted the car.
For marking I normally use hobby shop masking tape, while you can use the standard masking tape you get from hardware shops, this tends to let tiny specs of paint through, while no-one will ever notice, you’ll know about it.
Mask the perfect flame
Now here is the trick, find a good image on google images or from somewhere off the internet, it really doesn’t matter where it comes from, if you have the ability you can draw your own, then scan in into a computer. Once you have your digital image, you can print this out using a standard inkjet printer.
At first I tried to to print to A4 Sticker paper, which you can get from any stationary shop, the problem with this is that the glue they use on the back sticks to the lexan, and even if you remove all of it the paint will not stick to these parts correctly. The right way to do it is to either use the wax backing of the A4 Sticker paper or get some other wax paper, apply masking take to the wax side and then print your design out on the marking tape. Remember that you will need to do this as a mirror image should you want text or numbers
Once done cut out your mask and apply it to the inside of the car. Mask out the windows and lights and whatever else you want, then apply the first layer of paint.
The First Layer
Dark colours first then light colours, it always pays to use a backing colour, silver for metallic or white for normal paint.
When you start applying the first layer of paint start very slowly, keep the can about 30cm away from the shell and do one light coat, don’t let the paint pool or it will run and look terrible. Leave this to dry then apply another coat, for best results you should apply between 5 and 10 layers for each colour. Once done remove the mask.
Now it’s time to do the two tone flame, which should be a clear area on your shell right in the middle of all the black. The black must be completely dry before you do this!
Now starting in the middle of the flame put down a very light layer of one colour, switch direction and do the other colour in the other direction, this will give you a faded two tone flame, repeat until you are happy that enough paint has been applied. The last step is to use white or silver paint to back your entire car.
Remove the over spray layer and apply your decals and your done. With a little practise you can make some amazing designs that will make you the envy of your local RC hobby club.