Tuesday, 30 December 2014

How I Paint A Body Shell

So, I haven't painted many RC drift bodies and painting bodies can be quite daunting for some but it is a very simple and easy process as long as you are patient and take your time.

This post concentrates on the process that I go through when painting a body shell. The outcomes of my previous attempts have improved with each attempt due to the experience I have gained and researching the topic area. As with anything, please read through the whole document before attempting anything.

Here are my previous attempts:

As you may notice, aside from the R32, these all have a same painted livery; an effect that is easily achievable. This is one that I decided that I was going to use as my own for any body shell that didn't come with a decal set that included a livery or fancy decals aside from sponsor decals.

Any who, this post is about a Toyota 86, not just any 86 but the Yokomo replica of the D1GP 86 driven by Manabu Orido (Max Orido Racing). A very nice example of one of the 86s driven in motor sports but the GT86 has always had a special place in my heart and a 1:10 version of my own was well overdue.

(Image source: CML Distribution)

I chose the Advan Orido GT86 because pure and simply, I liked the way it looks. Plus I'd been looking heavily into Yokomo bodies as I hadn't tried them before and was intrigued to try one, plus I'd get an awesome body shell at the end of it too.

Right, let's get into it...

Contents of the bag:
1 x instructions
1 x Toyota GT86 with Digicam Rocket Bunny aerokit
1 x window and headlight masks (pre-cut)
1 x spoiler with tailgate mount
2 x windshield wipers
2 x wing mirrors and
6 x decal sheets!

Very impressive. Having said that though... I don't see any light buckets. I'm not really fussed by light buckets, the standard stickers work for me but as I was looking to go all out on this one, light buckets will need to be ordered along with a lighting kit. As a side note, the HPI, Tamiya and Pandora bodies I have previously had have all come with light buckets. Maybe it's just this model..?

As always, carefully cut out the body shell from the surrounding plastic. Take your time with this, I didn't take any pictures of the process as I was concentrating but I did use an array of cutting tools. For the straight lines, I used a simple pair of scissors, the rest was cut by scoring a line using an exacto knife and gently popping it apart. I used a combination of the knife and some curved lexan scissors to do the wheel arches. Part of the aerokit that fixes to the bottom of the rear bumper came separately which I also cut out with the knife. It's also worth mentioning that I smooth off any sharp edges with some light sandpaper particular around the wheel arches.

I use body posts, I had considered changing to stealth mounts but having seen friends try them and then revert, I decided to stick to them so the next step was to align the body shell onto the chassis and mark where make the holes. Fortunately, Yokomo's dimples for the rear body posts line up perfectly for my R31-16FM but I did have to manually mark out the front ones. Once marked, I used a reamer tool to create the holes. I have used a drill in the past but was recommended to use a reamer. A note to make: if you can get a reamer with steps on it, it will work a lot better in my opinion. I got a little too carried away on one of the holes and it ended up slightly too large. Not to worry though as it won't affect the end result too much.

At this point, many people will opt to washing the body shell before applying the masks. I do it the other way around. "The other way around?! How dare he?!". Hold your horses and put the pitchforks down, there is method to this madness. The reason we wash the bodies is so that we can get rid of any release residue left over on the body shell from when it was molded, left unwashed, the paint will stick to the residue and not to the body shell and end up falling off. The reason I apply the masks first is because I'll be handling the body shell as I struggle to fit the masks as perfectly as possible. And with that, natural oils from my hands will "soil" a washed body shell, hence the opposite order.

I also like to paint in the window borders instead of using the stickers so I apply some custom made masks to achieve this. I forgot to take an image of the GT86 so here's a shot of the LFA.

Custom masks can also be used to create other effects. As I mentioned earlier, my livery is painted on. This is done using different colours, custom masks and a painting routine for the desired effect. On the R32, I strategically placed my masks so that I could paint the red, then the blue, then the black (I'll explain about the black later).

Now I wash the body shell. A little washing up liquid diluted in water and cleaned using the rough side of a sponge. I use the rough side so it lightly scratches the surface so that the paint will stick better. Once thoroughly washed and rinsed, take care not to disturb the masks but do get as close as possible. I take a hairdryer to it set on the warm mode to dry it off. Alternatively you can also use a heat gun on low or let it dry overnight.

OK so, body shell cut out.. Check. Aligned to chassis and holes made.. Check. Masks fitted.. Check. Custom masks fitted.. Check. Body holes covered to stop over spray.. Check. Body shell cleaned.. Check. Masks rechecked after wash.. Check.
Good. Let's get painting!

I'm using Tamiya paints, I find that they're easy to use and work best for me but there are others available. The D1GP version of the 86 is supposed to be black but I'm going with something different. I'll be sticking with all the livery and decals that comes in the kit but to make it my own, I'll be painting it with Tamiya PS-21 "Park Green".

Again, another photo opportunity missed purely due to concentration. I haven't painted many bodies so I try to be in a zen-like form when doing so. Tamiya paints have to be warmed before use so I get them hot enough to the point where I can still handle the cans; this makes for better painting. I also warm the body shell a little in what I like to call "my scale paint shop" (it's just a box with a hole in the side for a hair dryer to fit). I apply the paint in these 3 steps:
  • The first layer should only ever be a light mist, you only want to get some paint down. We're not looking for an end result here but to set a foundation.
  • The second layer goes on a little thicker but only after the first has completely dried. You can use a heat gun (or hair dryer) set to warm NOT hot to shorten drying times but be careful not to melt the plastic or boil the paint.
  • The third layer is the filler, hold the body shell up into the light and look through it. This step will be to fill in all the patches that are still thin and then leave it to completely dry. You may notice that the colour is still dull, read on and you'll see why.
One of the great things with painting your own shells is that you can mix and match paints to get a specific colour or hue. The Lexus LFA that I painted was supposed to come out pink; not just any pink but bright pink. "Then why is it so dark" I hear you say. One of the things I have learnt is to always back the shell with black. This neatens up the shell and makes it look more appealing. You also don't get a flash on random paint strokes through the wheel arch, but a nice simple black instead. I backed the pink with black and colour came out completely different to what I wanted. Learning curve here is to back with white first and then the black depending on colour choice or outcome. Because I want to keep this Park Green as vibrant as possible, I'm backing it with Tamiya PS-1 White before backing it with Tamiya PS-5 Black. I'm 100% sure that if I didn't use the white, the green would lose it's brightness and that's not what I'm after. I also removed the window border masks so that the black would create the borders that I wanted.

The colour still looks dull. This is because there is an over spray film fitted. This is the LAST part of the process and should be kept that way. If you're not at the last step and you're taking off the film then you're doing something wrong. If you have done everything, take off all remaining masks and gently take off the film from one end and take a proud look at an almost finished body shell.

You may notice that I missed the window borders in the side windows. This can be remedied by various means; I could take a sharpie to it and colour the lines in from the inside. I could use body tape to line them up. I could refit the window masks or create my own to go over them with some PS-5 black. Plenty of options. I'm undecided at the moment.

Final finishing off of the body shell includes fitting the accessories that come with the shell and carefully placing all the decals on. The Yokomo kit came with instructions that were very basic but had images to show the way. One thing that they didn't mention is that the decals weren't precut. THEY WEREN'T PRECUT!! Took me forever cutting out each piece and placing it onto the body shell but I have to say, all that effort was well worth it.

I also used some body line tape to accent all the panels and decided to go with the sharpie for the missing window borders. Matched it up with a set of MST white X603s and we are done.

So there you have it, one man's opinion, a nobody in most people's eyes but his opinion nonetheless on painting body shells. Please don't take this as the law on painting body shells, there are plenty of ways of doing this as you'll find with a quick search on YouTube. This is just the way I like to do it and wanted to share it.

Thanks for reading and I hope this helped. Have fun doing yours!