Painting Heli Canopies (Work in Progress...) - RC Groups
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Oct 04, 2008, 09:34 PM
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Painting Heli Canopies (Work in Progress...)

OK. I've been asked to post my painting techniques. So here goes....

First here's a gallery of some canopies I've painted.
Last edited by DriveWRX; Nov 07, 2008 at 10:12 PM.
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Oct 04, 2008, 10:21 PM
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Paints and tools

First, paint.
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
  • Sandpaper
  • Airbrush/air supply
  • Paint brushes
  • Computer

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.
*TIP* 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.
Last edited by DriveWRX; Oct 06, 2008 at 10:42 PM.
Oct 06, 2008, 10:10 PM
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While at IRCHA this year, I had Corrado and David (designers/owners of the Protos/MSH, if you didn't know) sign my original canopy . I can't/won't fly it anymore .
Can't fly a naked Protos, so I painted a blank canopy.

Click here for my step-by-step painting of the Protos.
Last edited by DriveWRX; Mar 26, 2010 at 11:32 AM.
Oct 06, 2008, 10:53 PM
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more to come...
Oct 07, 2008, 07:34 PM
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Here is my progress on the other side. Came out pretty well, minus the part where the paint pulled up. Shading is still off
Oct 09, 2008, 01:08 AM
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I ordered a Pinstriping brush, Did you use faskolor for the striping work?
Oct 09, 2008, 06:13 PM
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I used Testors Acryl paint in the bottle, plain old blue in the Dragonus' case.
FasKolor is meant for airbrushing. I find it's hard to work with using a brush.

I used to build model cars, mostly race cars and still have paint and supplies left over from that hobby. I used a lot of Testors (Model Masters) Acryl paints.

So naturally, a lot of it goes into painting helis.
Oct 11, 2008, 05:47 PM
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There is the latest. I think it came out better.
Oct 12, 2008, 12:46 AM
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Looking good! I like it!

Are you going to paint the windscreen? I wonder how that would like with this scheme...

Hope you don't mind me linking your pic (easier too see)
Oct 12, 2008, 12:59 AM
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Yeah no problem dude. If youll notice the rip is almost exactly like yours
I actually used a printed negative to make this mask.
I wondered about the windscreen as well, Im trying to think of something that would go well without being too busy. Thought about a coat of arms, but thinking it might look weird. I also used foto film (frisket) for this job, and I think its a bit easier to work with. Doesnt have as much of a tendancy to deform when you apply the pre-cut mask. But im happy with it, I think when I get it all trimed it will look great. I flew with the prototype today and noticed what a difference a bright color makes. Think I did any better on the shadowing? I didnt over-do it this time.
Nov 07, 2008, 10:05 PM
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Mini Titan Custom Canopy

Newest project: Mini Titan

I painted this for a friend. He liked the mesh effect on my Dragonus but wanted black lines, so I had to come up with a technique to do that. I think I worked OK.

Step-by-step How-to

The original paint scheme was going to have checkers, but we decided the checkers won't work. So, I changed the scheme halfway thru the process. That's why the paint sequence is off. The white area should be painted before the "arrow". Because how it worked out, I had to paint the white area afterward. It still came out OK in the end.

BTW, the mesh I use is fishnet stockings. You can use plastic mesh bags that some produce come in (like potatoes, garlic, etc.). You can even try mesh shirts or actual fish nets.
Those other meshes will work but, stockings stretch nicely and they come in different patterns (don't ask how I know... )
Last edited by DriveWRX; Mar 26, 2010 at 11:34 AM.
Nov 07, 2008, 10:42 PM
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Good choice on skipping the checkers, I like the black lines too. I'm painting a pretty cool one myself at the moment. Ill post some pics up after I am finished.
Nov 15, 2008, 09:06 PM
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How did you fix the bleed through on the dragonus canopy?
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