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Ok then, here we go :D

STAGE 1: Prepping

Ok, this section will be without pic's, simply because, I didn't take pics while prepping because I didn't plan on the tutorial that this time, but I'll try to explain it as best as I can.

First, I will assume that your jet is either all composite, or you've already glassed everything.

Even if your jet is all composite, the prepping process is the same.

Materials used:

220 dry sandpaper

400 and 600 wet/dry sandpaper

dish of water with ivory soap

Icing polyester filler or similar

Masking tape

Rubber Gloves

Plasticote laquer primer (aerosol can)

Poly Urethane (or similar) clear coat paint

White base coat color paint

Reducers and thinners

Equipment used:

Gravity feed spray gun with 1.4mm tip (gravity feed isn’t necessary, but it sure works nice)

Air compressor with guage (most spraying I do is at 40psi)

Mixing containers for paint

1. The first thing I like to do, is sand the entire jet with 600 grit paper (maybe 400 if you've glassed it yourself) Sand it just until all the shine is gone. It should be a nice even matte or satin sheen. Then take warm water with IVORY hand soap in it. (you can use dishwasher detergent, but Ivory hand soap is the only soap that is 99% oil free) and wash the entire jet with a sponge.

2. Next, lets attack the mold seams. I generally start with 220 grit paper on the seams and do them dry. It is dusty this way, but you're not getting water into the fiberglass weave anywhere this way. I like to put a piece of masking tape down each side of the seam about a 1/4" away just so you don't sand away to much of the gel coat or even into the cloth. Sand the seam until it feels smooth. A good tip is put a sheet of paper between your fingers and the seam to rub it and check, you feel more through the paper than with your bare fingers.

3. There will be some pinholes or pock marks on the seam. Take a polyester filler, I really like a product called icing, it’s about the consistency of mayonaise and will fill all but the tiniest of holes.

4. Sand the filled seam smooth, I start with 220, then go to 400 wet and then 600 wet. Look very closely, and carefully feel the seam again, if there is pinholes, imperfections etc, get rid of them.

5. Once you THINK it’s all smooth, take a can of primer, I just use Plasticote laquer primer for this task. And lightly spray the seam. Now, go back, and fill all the spots you missed and sand it all out again.

6. Now, peel off the strips of tape we put on, chances are, you’ll have a line of filler, or just a sanding line from where the edge of the tape was. Hit this with some 400 grit and then 600 grit wet. Using a hard rubber block behind your sandpaper will help with all of this. Now, wash your entire model really good, from this point on, anytime we touch the model, we wear rubber gloves.

7. Now you should be ready for the next step, no, it’s not priming yet. First, I like to spray on a seal coat of Poly Urethane (or whatever clear you plan to use) I really love the Poly Urethane’s (PPG, Dupont, RM, Dominion, etc) because you can use a medium or high build clear. I spray this with a 1.4mm tip in my gun. There are a couple of reasons for doing this. 1: the poly is impervious to most fuels, including kerosene. Fiberglass is notorious for weeping, if you get fuel on the inside of the jet, inevitably, over the course of time, it may reach your paint underneath and cause it to life. 2: the high build but sprayed on finish, will fill any tiny pinholes you might have left. Spray it on in an even coat, try not to get any runs (this can also act as a practice run for when you spray your final clear). I like to do 2 coats, the first coat a fairly light coat, but with full coverage, and the second a wet coat so it’s nice and smooth. Don’t forget, with the Poly’s, you should wait 20 to 25 minutes between coats so it will flash. Also, if the finish looks a little rough when you spray, leave it, don’t try to spray it out glassy smooth or it will run, this stuff flows like crazy!!!!!

8. Ok, let that cure overnight. Then, you got it, wet sand it all one more time, I usually sand with 400 grit at this stage wet. (don’t forget your rubber gloves) Just get it nice and even satin sheen again. Wash the jet again.

9. Now we’re ready for Primer. I ALWAYS spray my colors over white, so, rather than spray a gray primer and then white, I just spray my primer coat as my first color coat. I spray a nice even coat of white base coat paint. For all my large area spraying I continue using the 1.4mm tip in the gun.

10. Once that has dried, go over the jet one more time, if there are ANY imperfections, fix them now, the color coats and clear will only magnify them. If you have to sand, just spot spray some white back in where you had to sand with an airbrush or small gun once you’re done, if you sprayed your initial white nice and evenly, you won’t notice where you’ve had to spot spray.

Ok, now you should have a lovely white Jet, I’ll take some pics of the “Hotcat” canopy as soon as I can, and we’ll get onto spraying colors ASAP!!!!!!!

Safety notes:

A: when sanding fiberglass, or fillers, ALWAYS wear a filtered mask of some sort. Some of these dusts can be toxic, and/or deadly. Carbon fiber is not good to get in your system.

B: When spraying laquers, use at least a carbon filter mask, when spraying poly urethanes, use a carbon filter mask or better with GOOD ventilation, NOT a single fan at an open window, you need fresh air coming in as well. Do NOT use laquers or Poly’s anywhere near an open flame.

C: When sanding Carbon Fiber or Kevlar particularily (regular fiberglass as well) wear gloves, small slivers from these materials can be deadly, or cause bad infection.

General notes / recommendations:

A: Use common sense, and patience, mistakes can be avoided if you have patience and think things through, when spraying your model, use some type of fixture to support the model where you don’t have to touch it and have easy access to it all the way around. Take your time, remember, you’ve already got hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars tied up, if you miss next weeks jet rally it won’t kill you, take the time and you will be happy. Remember, there is NO substitute for a good prep Job when painting a good finish….

Hopefully in the next day I’ll be spraying the first colors! Until then, get that model prepped!!!

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STAGE 2: spraying the base white

Ok, this is kind of jumping back a bit, as I already told you to spray the white base before, but here is the first steps in spraying.

1. First, here is the gun I'm spraying with, 1.4mm tip, gravity feed, it's really nice to work with B)


2. I'll assume that you are all ready to spray your base on (if you haven't sprayed your poly seal coat, follow the same spray methods as I'll talk about here for the white. Once your paint is mixed, you want to leave it sit for a few minutes, this ensures a good mix, and allows all the air bubbles to float out, air bubbles won't show in your paint, but they will cause the gun to spatter, which will leave marks. So, while you're waiting for the paint to settle (and in the case of poly's you have a 30 minute induction period to wait first anyway) Grab a tack cloth and wipe down the body, then, wipe the body gently with a rag that is just slightly damp with some reducer.

3. Don't forget to be wearing these :D


4. Now, you should have developed some kind of fixture to hold your model, I like to make something where I can easily turn the model from top to bottom.


please note that this picture is after I sprayed, but I didn't have a picture of the body upright.


5. Now you should be ready to spray. I start with all the perimeter and the area's you often forget to spray, this means edges, inside inlets, under hard to get to area's, and the tip of the nose, I've sprayed enough models to know I forget that dumb tip!!

6. Next, I put a pass on all the seams, then I start nice smooth passes from front to back and back to front, each pass overlapping half the previous pass. I'd have taken pics of this, but with a white gelcoat, you can't see it anyway, it's difficult to spray white onto white.

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7. Just a hint here, spray a small piece first to get a feel for the paint and the gun. Here is the "Hotcat" canopy. When you spray, first put on a light coat, not just a dust coat, but a light full coverage coat. Then wait a few minutes (about 25 if you are spraying your poly clear, it has a flash time) then spray a wet coat. Repeat your coats until it's nice and even, the "Hotcat" took 3 coats.


8. Here are some shots of the actual body after spraying.



9. Clean your gun and let it cure overnight. When you clean your gun, dissassemble the entire thing and REALLY clean it, don't just spray thinner through it and hope it's clean, it won't be.

Now you can start to think about your actual color scheme and how it will fit if you haven't already, here is what is going on the "Hotcat", this is a rough sketch to keep the idea in mind.


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STAGE 3: Spraying the color base

Ok, today I sprayed the base colors, first, here is the airbrush I used for this. All the colors were fades, no masking yet. This is fun to do, and simple, all it takes is a bit of an artistic eye and some patience.

It is just a simple Paasche H model airbrush with the #5 tip, I'm spraying between 30 and 40psi for this paint using it as base coat.


Here are the paints I used for the base.

all are from Createx:

Iridescent Fuschia

Iridescent Purple

Iridescent Electric Blue

Iridescent Turquoise


1. First, mix your paint until it flows nicely from your airbrush, not spattering or runny, just nice and smooth, this varies from color to color as some colors are thicker out of the bottle than others.

2. This is where I take a bit of a jump from normal, when doing fades like this, I start with the prominent color, even if it's darker, generally you start with the lightest color and work to darkest. However, My lightest color here is the fuschia (pink) and it is somewhat transparent. You can get a smoother transition from color to color if you can blend the lighter color into the darker with these kind of paints. Where you want the Pink (or light color) to be the brightest, either leave the white showing (as I have done) or you could spray white back in afterwards, but I like to put on as little paint as possible.

You can see at the top where I have left a white line for the pink.


3. Next, I sprayed my pink in to the general area's I wanted it to be. You can spray it over the dark color as well as I did on the nacelles, just put many light light coats on to build the color, not heavy coats or they will run.


4. Then, I sprayed the Blue that I wanted, be careful when you fade into your next color, keep that line straight and the fade smooth, you can make the fade wider by simply moving the gun further from the finish, but be aware of where the overspray will go or you might end up with overspray somewhere you don't want it.

The trick is to move from side to side trying to keep it symetrical. I have envisioned this model as kind of a fish shape, and trying to think where the colors would be on a brightly colored fish, and putting the darker colors where it will accent shadow, and the brighter ones where it will accent sunlight, almost a pseudo Chromallusion finish.


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5. Next I sprayed in my Turquoise color, this time, I'm spraying over all the existing paint, this is where you need to be fairly cautious with keeping your lines straight, you won't be fading another color into this as it's our last color, at least you don't have to, you can if necessary.

It's a little tough to see in the picture, but the turquoise is on the top of the nacelle and separating the purple from blue down the side of the fuse.


6. Now if you want, you can go back with the purple, I did, I tightened up a few lines from the turqoise, and also decided I wanted a purple burst on the nose so I added that, I'm not to concerned about the nose and the very side of the fuse since all the airbrushing will go over that.


7. Hint: when you are spraying acrylic paints, it's not uncommon for the paint to dry on the tip, sometimes, especially doing similar color bursts, it's hard to see if the paint is still flowing well, so use your rubber glove (you were wearing them of course weren't you?)


8. Here it is in the workshop now, just drying. This next step is optional, but I recommend it. Once you are done spraying your base, I like to put a coat of clear on it, especially with metallics or pearls or iridescents, tape, fingers, anything touching it can mark it and disturb the metal flake in it giving it smear marks. In about an hour I'll be spraying the clear on it.


I'll put some more pics up once the clear is on, I'm going to go spray the canopy now :D

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STAGE 4: First Clear

Ok, got the first clear onto the base today, just to seal it, I sprayed 2 good coats, this should give me enough room to sand out any minor imperfections before I spray again now.

So, since I couldn't really take pics while spraying, I'll write about the process.

I again used the big gun with the 1.4mm tip. I sprayed Dominion poly urethane clear, mixed 4:1 (clear to hardener, no reducer). I like this stuff for this stage, because it's decent paint, but less than half the cost of the PPG I use for the final clear, and all I'm doing here is sealing the base.

1. Mix your clear, with the poly, let it stand for 30 minutes, this is known as the induction period. During this time, take a clean towel and wipe the entire model, get rid of all the smears or anything you might have on there. Then take a tack cloth and make sure there is no dust.

2. First, I spray all the parts I know I'll forget about, edges, the nose, intakes, and hard to reach areas. now, if you sprayed those kind of heavy, go sit down for 25 minutes, just let that flash off or it will run when you do the next part. Because the "Hotcat" is basically a cylinder, I try to envision it as 4 quarters. I start by spraying the bottom (model upside down)and starting from the just past the center seam, I begin spraying. Front to back, back to front. The pattern on my gun sprays about a 6" fan at about 10" from the model. so, each pass, overlap the previous pass by 3". With clear, this can be a bit hard to see, but what you will see, is rough looking clear, and where the overlap is, you'll have smooth looking clear. Do just past the horizontal centerline now. note: I always spray from the upper most portion down as the overspray falls, so you'll be spraying into your overspray as it falls.

3. Move around to the other side and do the same thing starting from past center on the top, and finishing past center on the side. On something like the "Hotcat", you will need to tilt the gun so you're always spraying perpendicular to the surface, this means once you get down to the Nacelles, you'll need to tilt the gun down again to spray onto the flat part of it.

4. Carefully flip the model rightside up, and spray the last 2 quarters the same way.

5. Now you have 25 minutes to wait for the flash time. If you think you sprayed the paint a little to heavy, go back about every 3 minutes, and rotate the model from rightside up, to upside down, this will keep the paint from sagging to bad, it kind of just evens itself out.

6. After 25 minutes pass, do the whole thing over again, you can spray a slightly heavier coat at this point if you want, with the previous coat on there, it will stick nicer, however, if you get it to heavy, it will all run.

7. Clean your gun really good, when you think it's clean, clean it some more, clear will gum it up really fast, so make sure it's clean!

Of course, you did remember to wear your gloves and respirator right? If not shame on you!! if you didn't wear your respirator, you might want to look up the nearest clinic :D

Here are pictures of the cleared canopy so far, it's hard to take pics of this iridescent paint, it looks darker in the pics than in person!



This picture is the closest to the actual representation of the color, but it's still a bit brighter in person than this.



Later on, I'll talk about preparing the masks I'll use, and then some wetsanding before the actual detailing happens B)

If you have any questions, if I haven't made something clear, please let me know, I'll tell you what I can :D

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STAGE 5: airbrushing

Ok, so, here is the airbrushing portion, first a few things to do before we start though.

1. First, if you cleared like I did, we need to sand that out. I sanded mine wet with 1200 grit paper. You don't need perfect flat, but what we want to do, is have a bite for the new paint, as well as knock off any dust marks of flaws that might have been in there. Sand it to a nice even dull finish. sucks to ruin that nice shine, but it will be back :D

2. Now we can prepare our masks. What I did, was for the "Hotcat", the only part I needed to mask, was the outline of the woman. I first drew her on CAD so I could adjust the size....


3. Then print it out, and cut out your outline.



4. Then, I trace that outline, onto a piece of transfer tape (sign shops have this for transfering vinyl onto signs. It is a paper with an adhesive backing, low tack.


5. Now we can start to spray, here is the gun I used for this job, it is an Iwata gravity feed dual action airbrush.


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6. Now, with white, I carefully fade in the edge on the inside of the mask.


then you can remove the mask.


7. Now I freehand the rest of the white in place, I don't really know how to write about this, and since I can't take pic's and spray at the same time, all I'll say is, take your time, use smooth flowing streaks, and practice on something besides your model to get used to the airbrush :D


8. Next I added some lightning. Lighting is very easy to do, it's all freehand, and all you have to do, is set your airbrush to a very fine spray pattern, with the dual action gun it's trickier because you set your line width by pulling back on the button, but this also allows you to adjust the pattern while spraying which is really nice for the flames. For lighting, just use a jerky motion, and you can see the pattern being applied as you spray.

For all of this, I keep my paint quite thin, and spray around 30psi, put the coats on light, it might take multiple coats, but keep it light or it will spider on you.


9. Now, I add color, Yellow first (basically, the color applies fairly transparent, so you try to do all your toning with the white)


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10. Next, working the same way as the yellow, I added green and blue. I talked with Dean, the "Hotcat's" owner, and we decided putting red onto those background colors would look bad, so we used the greens and blues instead. Then I highlighted with some white and yellow again.




Well, that's it for now, tomorrow I'll look at it, decide if I need to add anything, or fix anything, and I'll do a seal clear again in preparation for decals :D

If you have any questions, please just ask!

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STAGE 6: Pearl clear

Ok, I just finished spraying my pearl clear. I wanted to clear the body with a gold pearl to bring out the flames. It also makes the irridescent paints look even more sparkley.

1. Ok, the first thing I did today, was blank out and respray the face on the woman. I've never tried doing a human figure before this project and I learned that faces are REALLY HARD!!!! so, I blanked out her face in white, and redid it all, I'm far happier now. I went over the whole thing, and tightened up some of the yellows as well.

2. Once that had all cured, it was time to clear. I sprayed the Dominion clear again but this time added a gold pearl powder, you can get this at any automotive paint store. I mixed about 20oz of clear, and you use about a fingernails worth of pearl powder in there. Mix it into your clear, and leave it for the 30 minute induction period. When you are ready to spray, give it a quick stir again as the powder will settle.

3. Again, I started with all the area's I tend to forget, perimeters, inlets etc. Then I sprayed on a light dust coat. (The Poly Urethane is generally pretty forgiving with all brands of paint, but I know that the Enamels I sprayed for the flames can wrinkle with a top coat. So, just dust on the first coat. Let this stand for 25 minutes.

4. Next, put on a wet coat, using the exact same spraying method as when we sealed the base colors, do it in 4 quarters always overlapping.

I only put on the dust coat and one wet coat because with the Pearl, the more clear you add, the heavier the pearl will look. Also, this is not my final clear, I'm now ready to add decals and it also doesn't put a large amount of clear over the detail, so if I should want to spray something else, it doesn't look like I have a layer of clear in between.

Once the decals are on, I'll mask and spray the inside of the canopy (just so it looks nicer inside) and then I'll spray my final clear, probably 3 good coats. Then I will go to polishing the final clear :D





This picture shows the pearl in the clear, and some of the flame detailing.



Probaby be a couple days before the next installment, so take this time to re-read and ask any questions you might have B)


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STAGE 7: final clear and polishing...

Ok, I won't have pictures until tomorrow, but here is the second last stage. Final Clear and polishing out the clear...

1. Ok, we've sprayed our Pearl Clear on the model, if you have any runs, or BIG imperfections, sand them out, and spray a light coat of pearl clear on again. Once you have a clear you are pretty pleased with, it's time to spray the final clear.

I sprayed 2 good wet coats of final clear on the "Hotcat". Exactly the same spraying methods as before were used. Sprayed in quarters.

2. If you spray out your first coat of final clear, and after 25 minutes, it doesn't look like it's flowed out nicely, then go ahead and add a bit more reducer to your clear, maybe 10%. But be careful, it will be more apt to run now.

3. Ok, now the fun part, polishing. I'll take pictures of what I used, but I can't take pics while I'm working, so I'll explain in detail again.

4. After your paint has cured (with poly's after 24 hours is fine to start polishing) you need to look over the finish. If for some reason your finish is very rough, you might want to start with 1000 grit. Resist the urge to use 600 or 400, you'll regret it later.

5. I started with 2000 grit (if you started with 1000, then just do the same thing as I did here but starting with 1000, then 1200, 1500, and 1800, until you hit the 2000, the trick is, take out all the previous grit scratches with the next grit)

Start with a block, I use a hard foam block from a company called Micro Mesh. I also use Micro Cut sandpaper, I find I get less heavy scratches with that then say 3M. It's a little more money, but well worth it IMO. I wrap the Micro cut around this foam block, and start to sand the model, everything in one direction, and resist the urge to go in circles, go in all the same direction. If you have some heavy dust spots, concentrate on those with the paper backed by a block of wood or something hard until it's flush with the rest of the clear. If you started with 1000, then when you go to the 1200, go 90* to the 1000, then, go 45* to the 1200 with the 1500, when you go to the 1800, go 90* to the 1500. Then go back and forth with the 2000.

Your sanding pattern should look something like this

1000 ----- 1200 | 1500 \ 1800 / 2000 ------

by this time, you should be reasonably smooth. I still have a tiny bit of ripple in the "Hotcat" but there is a bit of a trade off between perfect smooth, and excessive amounts of clear, you have to look pretty hard to see the ripple anyway.

Here are pics of the compounds etc I used and how I clamped my drill, neanderthal I know, but it works 100% :D


6. Now, you have a couple options, you can continue wet sanding with finer grits, I did, I continued with Micro Mesh paper up to 12,000 grit. Then I switched to compounds. If you continue with the paper, once you pass the 2000 grit, keep sanding everything in the same direction. Remember, sand all the previous scratches out with each grit.

7. Now, you will have a VERY clear finish by now, but, we can make it even better.

First, I started with coarse polishing compound. I use a foam pad in an electric drill clamped to my workbench. It turns about 1500 rpm, this is a good speed, but be careful on edges or you'll burn through very quick.

Do the entire model, trying to keep all the motion of the body in the same direction as well. When you are done, wipe all the extra compound off with a soft cloth. Then continue with Medium grit, and then fine grit, and then swirl remover. when you use the swirl remover, don't use to much pressure, you want it to really just buff the finish.

8. Now take a damp cloth, and wipe all the extra compound or crud off of there. Then, I take a good instrument polish (furniture polish would work too) and just polish the surface, then, stand back, and admire your work!

Here are some pics of the finished polish job B)


The flecks you see in this pic are the pearl clears, they clear itself is dead smooth.




You might be wondering what the final step could be, well, basically, it's just spraying the inside of the model if you want, and really, you could do it anytime after the clear is done. Anyway, I'll do a quick piece on that, and we're pretty well done, I'll get new pics up ASAP, and until then, if you have questions, please ask :D


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I should mention that the "Hotcat" only got 3 or 4 coats of final clear. This is because with RC aircraft, you want to keep the weight down as well. A guitar would get 10 to 12 coats total. Because of that, the Hotcat still has a tiny bit of ripple in the finish due to not putting so much clear on that it will level without risk of sanding through.

On a guitar, weight is not really an issue, so if you do put on 10 or 12 coats, continue your sanding with 2000 until it is DEAD flat, then polish. That is how you acheive a mirror like finish :D

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that is some serious detail. one heck of a job. but like anything, how does it perform? do you have any in flight photos.

:D great job

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