Ask DH – A Primer on RC Body Painting

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Sometimes there are questions you have about RC you’ve always wondered, but for one reason or another, never asked. Whether you’re a seasoned veteran or brand new, we’re going to bring you up to speed. Have a question you’ve been wanting to ask? Let us know in the comments!

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There’s nothing like getting a new body and a nice set of wheels for your truck to give it a new lease on life, not to mention a great platform to show your own creativity! Getting a clear, unpainted body can be a bit intimidating, but with a few simple steps you can get a custom body exactly the way you want it!

Preparation

Most RC bodies are made out of Lexan (a brand of polycarbonate thermoplastic) which is both incredible durable and pliable. Bodies are created by vacuuming a sheet into a mold which leaves a lot of extra on the edges of the body. You will have to trim the body first. Using special curve scissors or a dremel will be easiest – this is no time to use chunky straight scissors. this is also a good time to drill out the body post holes.

You’ll also need a few tools:

  • High Quality Masking Tape or Liquid Mask
  • Permanent Marker
  • Sharp Hobby Knife and/or curved scissors
  • Clean Cloth
  • Lexan-compatible paint (e.g. Duratrax)
  • Dish Soap
  • Latex gloves

Design

Once the body is cut the way you want it, draw your design. Most bodies now come with the outside of the body covered in overspray film which will protect the outside of the body until you are finished. This also means you can draw a sketch of your design with a permanent marker on the outside and peel off later. Make sure your body has an outer film before you go all creative on it and accidentally permanently draw on your new body – not all manufacturers come with outer film.

Wash

For the paint and masking tape to adhere properly, you’ll need to give the body a good wash in warm water and dish soap and then let it dry completely. You don’t need to wash it with anything special – just avoid anything with moisturizers (put that Essence of Jojoba Fruit Body Scrub down). While you’re painting, it might be a good idea to wear latex gloves to avoid getting oils, finger prints and Cheetos dust on your new clean body, not to mention avoiding some undesired finger nail polish.

Mask

Once the body is clean start masking the inside of the windows, along with any sections that are getting different colors if you’re doing multiple colors. Remember: contrary to everything else you’ve painted in your life, you’re painting the INSIDE of the body. It’s important to clean up the lines with a hobby knife so that you have a straight edge exactly where you want it. Don’t press too hard – all you need is light pressure or you’ll cut right through the body.

Painting

Not every rattle-can paint will stick to the plastic. Make sure to grab your lexan-compatible paint. We’re going to assume that you know the basics of using a rattle-can (outdoors, not too close, etc) Very Important: start with your darkest color first. Why? If you paint white first and then black second, black overspray on the white will show through. Just take our word for it. Start with light coats, and let the paint dry every time (it will turn from glossy to flat). You can use a hairdryer to speed up the process, but keep the heat to a minimum.  It will most likely take three or more light coats to get complete coverage. Use a hobby knife to peel back each layer of masking as you start painting the rest of the colors from darkest to lightest.

Pro Tips:

  • Backing colors with white or silver will improve brightness and protect your paint
  • Use a hairdryer to speed up the drying process – just take your time with minimal heat
  • Once painting is done, place some masking tape on the inside around your body post holes (and any other contact points) to protect your paint from chipping
  • If you forget where your design lines are, hold the body up to a light and you should see the outlines.

And you’re done! Just peel off the outer overspray film and get outside!

More Info

Feeling ambitious and want to try some airbrushing? Check out the bottom of this article.

More of a video person? Super helpful video from RC Truck Stop.

Want to put some flames on your truck? Put a little vintage style in your design.

 

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