I use and recommend FasKolor
paints by Parma
. They have a good range of colors, including fluorescent and color changing (I have not used these yet though). These paints are water based so clean up is fast and easy.
Another big plus is that this paint is specifically made for plastics. I find they stick really well if the canopy is prepped correctly.
After much research, I find the easiest clear coat to use is Duplicolor Auto Spray DS125
. It is a automotive clear that comes in a rattle can. It doesn't give a mirror finish, but for my purposes, it was perfect.
Also, I use an acrylic clear (Model Masters Acryl Clear Gloss
) for a specific technique that I'll discuss later.
Ok, now for the tools I use.
- Masking tape
- X-Acto knife
- Cutting mat
- Canopy stand
- Dish soap
- Airbrush/air supply
- Paint brushes
I use regular blue painters tape that you can get at Home Depot, Menards and such. Easy to find and much cheaper than specialty masking tapes at the LHS.
Since this tape isn't completely flat (it has a slight texture to it) and it's not very flexible, it might need some help keeping the edges to stay stuck down. Here's where the Model Masters Acryl Clear Gloss paint comes into play. After laying down the masking, I make sure all the edges are stuck down as much as possible then I seal the edges with the clear gloss. The paint may bleed under the tape, but since it's clear it won't be seen. This "invisible" layer prevents following layers (colors) from bleeding under the tape! This leaves nice crisp paint edges when the masking is removed.
The X-Acto knife and cutting mat are used for making custom shaped masks, letters, striping and whatever else I can think of.
Canopy stands hold the canopy in place while painting, either with an airbrush or adding details with a bristle brush. I manipulate the canopy by holding the stand so, the canopy in never handled directly. The stand I use most often is a bent wire clothes hanger. The canopy is then secured to it by tape. I also use glass bottles (i.e. beer bottles) to support small canopies. I like glass because it's got some weight to it so it helps prevent tip overs.
Dish soap is used to clean the canopy before paint is applied. A clean canopy is critical.
Sandpaper. 300-600 grit used in surface prep and 1500-2000 grit for final finishing. Get water proof paper.
Airbrush. I use a Paacshe
dual-action airbrush for most of the painting and a $20 Harbor Freight airbrush for details (it works surprisingly well, it has it's quirks...). I have a cheap airbrush compressor that I got a while back. No tank so it runs when the airbrush is in use. It works, but a compressor with a tank and regulator would be ideal.
Paint brushes. I use a variety of sizes for applying paint by hand.
Computer. Great for research. And for "prototyping" a paint scheme using Photoshop or some similar program. Make your own decals with special papers... Lots of stuff.