R/C Car Painting and Airbrushing
(written for R/C Tech by HauntedMyst)

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Thank you for taking the time to visit my article on learning to paint r/c cars. In the nine short months this article has been on this site, it has become the most popular "Painting How To" on the net receiving nearly 100,000 hits. I have received hundreds of emails as a result of it. The version posted here is now version 3! You'll find sections have been expanded and simplified, hyperlinks added for manufacturers so you can visit them while you are here, and new sections on additional paint styles and types! The goal of this article is to help you learn more about how to paint and the tools of the trade. I will continue to expand it as long as people continue to innovate paint processes and painting tools!


Let's face it, one of the coolest things about RC cars is the wide variety of bodies and paint schemes out there You've probably seen some of the incredible airbrush work on R/C car bodies in magazines or on the boards and thought "It would be very cool to have one of those on top of my ride!" You've also probably thought it would be cool to spray your own bodies like that but the idea of learning the techniques seems mind boggling. It is my hope that this tutorial on painting will help you learn to enjoy the process as much as I have since painting and seeing the results is one of the most immediately rewarding parts of our hobby!

For those of you who don't know me, I am known as HauntedMyst on R/C Tech, Xtreme RC Cars and HPI and other popular boards on the net. I've been involved in R/C for about 10 years and have been painting and building my own kits since then. I don't claim to be the definitive expert at painting by any means but my work has been very well received. I am also freelance writer in the R/C industry, frequently covering painting topics. I am learning new tips and tricks all the time and my goal here is to share them with you! You will also find tips I've picked up on my cyber travels through RC bulletin boards and will credit the users who posted them when possible.

When it comes to painting, everyone has his or her own opinions on what is right and wrong, what works and what doesn't. If you ask 10 car painters for their opinion on something, you'll get 10 different answers, which only adds to the confusion around painting. I have definite opinions on some things and will share them, but only you can determine if they work for you, so experiment! Learning to paint R/C car Lexan bodies, like anything else, takes practice and commitment but the results are well worth it. I will cover doing basic one or two color spray can painting as well as more complicated paint schemes. I've sort of made a specialty out of painting wicked looking bodies that don't take 5 to 6 hours to mask and paint. You can get some really great results without the painstaking work concourse cars require. The whole purpose of this article is to show you how you can get into airbrushing and lay down some great paint with your first airbrushed body. How much experience do you need? Well, I've been airbrushing for a few years now and my painted RC bodies consistently sell for between $40 and $90. If I can do it, anyone can!

Table of Contents

Section I: Equipment, Paint and Supplies

A Quick Word on Health
Rules for Safe Painting
The Two Biggest Tools of the Trade
A Brilliant No Compressor Option
Other Equipment and Tools
A Word on Paint
Lacquer Based Paints
General Rules for Spraying Lacquer
Water Based Paints
General Rules for Spraying Acrylics
Precut Masks
How To Apply Precut Masks Like A Pro
Liquid Mask
A Word on Bodies

Section II: Painting Basics

Prep Time
Getting Started With One and Two Color Painting
Applying Backing Coats
Completing a Body
Fortifying Your Body for Racing
The Super Method
The Super Duper Method

Section III: Spraying Techniques and Styles

Spraying Fades
Neon Rip
Lightning Effect
The Hard Way
The Easy Way
Completing The Night Sky
Molten Body
Painting Carbon Fiber Pattern
Spattering Paint
Pictures in the Body
Cool Granite Paint Finish

Section IV: Specialty Paints

What is It
Chrome Application
Tinted Chrome
Window Tint
Can Tint
Airbrush Tinting
Glow In The Dark Paints
Color Change Paint
Spaz Stix Color Change and Alclad Prismatics
Parma Intense Color Change Paint
Original Parma Faschange Paint
Four Cautions When Spraying FasGlitter
Internal Graphics
Applying Team Orion Graphics
Applying Jackal Hobbies Graphics

Section V: Correction and Clean Up

Stripping Paint & Correcting Mistakes
Airbrush Clean Up

Section VI: Miscellaneous

Pushing Cans to the Limits
OK, I Don't Really Like To Paint, I Just Like Cool Paint Jobs
The End, But Not Really

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