Paint With Stickers

Everyone loves stickers, especially in this hobby. Stickers look good on toolboxes, radios, starters, glow igniters, wings, rims, shirts, bumpers, and sometimes even RC bodies! Most people use stickers as an afterthought, peeling and sticking them into place in random fashion yet still producing the childlike wonder of sticker awesomeness. Painting is scary, at least to most. It can be time-consuming, and there are many areas to screw up that can render a paint scheme ugly and useless. And that’s where this article comes in; we’re going to do a relatively simple, three rattle-spray-can paint job and mend it seamlessly with hobby stickers to show you how simple it can be to slap together an aesthetically gnarly lid for your RC ride.

PREP IT - Thoroughly wash your body, inside and out, with dish detergent and warm water to remove any contaminants. Be sure to rinse well with running water to ensure that no soap remains, and then use a lint-free cloth or paper towel to completely dry your body. Give the body a good shake to help release water that is trapped in corners or tight crevices. Once it’s fully dry, apply the die-cut window masks that are provided by the manufacturer, being careful to line then up well before application. A firm rubdown of the mask edges with your finger will ensure crisp, bleed-free paint lines. Make sure that your hands are clean, as there isn’t much point in washing the inside of your body if you’re going to rub your oily fingers all over the inside anyway.


MASK IT UP - You have a number of options when it comes to masking your paint scheme. Liquid mask, standard masking tape, or pre-cut paint masks are all good options, so depending on your skill level and available time, you can choose the one that works best for you. We decided to go with a pre-cut Wicked Flames paint mask kit from xxx main racing (Part # M037l). After removing all of the unusable portions of the paint mask from the sheet, simply apply the included clear application tape and install the masks to their desired locations. Since we are painting a relatively small, 1/10-scale buggy body and we’ll be using stickers to decorate the outside, we decided to go with a somewhat random array of flame shapes to separate our two main paint colors. The long masks were cut into smaller pieces and overlapped slightly to create the exact shape we wanted. Just as with the window masks, you should firmly rub your finger along all of the paint mask’s edges to prevent paint bleed. As with any painting project on the inside of a clear, polycarbonate body, you want to order your painting from darkest to lightest colors. Our paint scheme will be white and black for the main body colors, with gunmetal used for separation in the flame shapes. Since we want to hit the black paint first, we’ll use masking tape to fill in the areas of the body that will eventually be painted white. Double-check your body after the masking steps to ensure that you didn’t leave any slits or openings that could allow unwanted paint onto any given area of your body.


SLAP SOME PAINT - Once all Of the masking is complete, you’ll be ready to hammer some paint down. it has been said a million times before but it is very important, so we’ll repeat it; be sure to use only paint that is meant for use on polycarbonate bodies. since the bodies are flexible, the paint has to be flexible, too; this will prevent it from chipping off every time your body bends slightly. Companies like Tamiya and Parma make great RC paint. We went with Tamiya spray cans for this project. Rub down all of your paint and window mask edges one more time with a clean finger. Start your first coat of black paint by dusting an ultra-thin layer down so you can barely see the coverage. this coat will help to seal all of the mask edges and will prevent bleed. Use a hair dryer on the low-heat setting to speed up the drying process. Spray on a second coat of black; this time a little bit heavier, but still light enough to prevent the paint from pooling around the mask edges. Again, use a hair dryer to dry the paint between coats. Finally, do one last touchup coat of black to fill in any light areas and ensure even coverage, then dry with a hair dryer.


It’s now time to gently remove the next layer of mask, and spray the white portion of the paint scheme. Be very careful when removing the masking tape, as you want the pre-cut flames, paint masks, and window masks to remain on the body. Do the old finger-rub trick on the masks again and then hit three decent coats of white paint, starting with the same dusting coat as before and using a hair dryer in between to speed up drying. Before you move to this step, it is extremely important to let the paint fully cure, as you’re about to remove the paint mask, which can cause jagged lines if the paint isn’t completely dry. Even after using a hairdryer, try to leave your body for a good hour or two at least; overnight would be even better. once you’re confident that your paint is dry, slowly remove all of the flames paint-mask pieces by pulling them away from your body, parallel along the paint line. Rub the window mask edges down one final time and then apply two coats of gunmetal paint to fill in the exposed portion, using the hair dryer between coats.


STICKERS - For this body, we decided to go with xxx main Dark Bloom external decal (Part #S034). You’ll have to cut out the specific decals that you want to use with sharp scissors or a hobby knife, trying to trim as closely to the decal edge as possible. Remember that external decals are printed on clear vinyl, so any excess border that is left around the decal won’t be very noticeable, anyway. Place your trimmed decals on the outside of your body to come up with a rough layout plan.


Once you are ready to apply your decals, don’t just peel the backs off and stick away; you may end up with air bubbles, especially with larger stickers. The trick we like to use is to peel back a small portion of the sticker backing and then cut it away. This will allow you to move the decal around over the body without it sticking; then, once you’ve found your location, simply press down the exposed section of the decal to secure it in place.


Flip the decal over, remove the rest of the backing, and roll it onto your body, being careful to avoid air bubbles in the process. This method will keep your stickers straight, lined up, and air-bubble-free without having to utilize the time-consuming and messy wet method of decal application that uses soapy water to allow you to position the graphic. Install all decals as described above, and you’re done!

CLOSING - Now you’ve got yourself a beautiful-looking body that was relatively quick, easy, and inexpensive to do. Finalize your mounting, and hit the track to show off your newly designed vehicle, and don’t forget to brag that you slapped this scheme together in just over an hour.