The common reaction by people when they see the images of these cars is "thats incredible" and " I could never do that" or " I'm not a good painter.
The truth is that anyone could do an F1 body and get similar results to mine. In fact I have come across many people around the world that have done work on par with what you see on this site.
They just haven't done as many and they keep it as a hobby, which on some days is admirable.
So what's the secret? Well I will not divulge every last trick that I know, but there are a few basics that will instantly raise the level of any body that you would want to do.
1. Patience - It took a long time for me to be able to execute bodies to the level that I do these days.
One reason was that I was always in a hurry to finish, and the focus was not on the result, just get it done. Nothing good comes out of rushing these bodies, most of the time you end up ruining an expensive body.
Take the time to wash the body thouroughly with soapy water, and let it air dry completely.
While masking make sure that all your masking material is pressed down and covering what it's supposed to. This is one area where I try and improve on everytime I do a body, and there is always one small area that lifts and lets the paint sneak by, and it drives me crazy.
Take the time to trim the body to the trimlines so they are nice and true, it makes a big difference if the edges of the body are straight and true instead of ratty and wobbly.
When painting, especially with Tamiya spray paints, use nice, light, even coats. Tamiya paint sprays great for spray paint, to achieve this the paint is very thin. If you lay it on too heavy right off the bat, it will run, guaranteed. This holds true for most paints, but Tamiya paints are the trickiest.
2. Planning and Vision- Before tearing into a project take a few minutes and think about what you want out of the body. Is it a rare shelf queen? An occaisional runner? or a Race body?. Good reference is critical to make sure the body ends up looking like the real thing.
3. Tools & Materials - I have seen many people use many different techniques for masking, painting and detailing. Its not all about buying the best or most expensive materials. Sometimes less expensive stuff will do the trick, but only for certain parts of the job.
The following is a list of essentials to do any kind of paintwork
Masking tape- This is one area where it pays to spend a little extra. I prefer the Tamiya masking tape which is a rice paper based tape. It is a little more expensive than normal masking tape, but the end result is worth the extra expense!!.
I also cut strips of vinyl to lay lines down for the bounderies of the color breaks. I use 2mil film which is very thin and very flexible so it gives nice sharp paint edges, and smooth flowing curves.
Knives- The easiest way to have a body turn out badly is to use the same Xacto knife blade over and over again. It will take some time, but after working on these cars for a bit you will be able to feel when the knife blade needs to be replaced, because it will stick in the lexan instead of cutting it and it will drag on the decals instead of cutting cleanly. Because of this it is essential to have a healthy stock of fresh blades on hand
3rd Hand/ Aligator clips- These come in handy when painting small parts and even larger ones like the front and rear wings.
Cleaning supplies- It's good to keep a healthy stock of rags/cloths, qtips, and solvents on hand for touchups and minor mishaps. For general cleanup I prefer the blue shop towels that come in rolls or in a box, it is also helpful to have microfiber cloths handy as well.
When it comes to solvents I like to have a can of automotive grease and wax remover on hand along with denatured alcohol and lighter fluid. I also use R/C body cleaner such as Fashine, but you need to be careful because these cleaners along with denatured alcohol can attack the ink on the decals. For cleaning the racing marks off of the body I recommend normal R/C motor spray.
Paint- When it comes to R/C paint that will stick to lexan, there are only a few choices. I think there is a general misconception that to do a good paintjob you have to use an airbrush. Believe it or not I only use an airbrush when I have to paint a color that is custom mixed, or an area of the body that requires a high level of detail. I prefer to use Tamiya paints because of the way that they lay down, how fast they dry, and the great selection of colors that are available. The Faskolor line of paints are also nice to work with if you need the shoot with the airbrush, be advised that they spray much better when thinned down. I dilute Faskolor paints 50% with Windex to shoot them in my airbrush, Windex evaporates quickly which speeds up the drying time between coats.
One trick that enhances the realism is to paint certain areas in matte finish, which can be achieved with a flat color or clear. This is especially true for the cockpit area and driver.
Assembly- Trimming out the parts with good quality lexan scissors and fine tuning the edges with 220 or 400 grit sand paper will give a very refined look to the body, and it will reomove the sharp corners that can scratch you when handling the body. Most of the newer F1 body sets are multiple pieces and require assembly. The body parts sets come with double sided tape and screws and nuts to assemble the individual pieces, but I prefer to assemble the pieces using Shoe Goo, found at many stores.There are many adhesives on the market, but most of them have agressive solvents that can attack the paint as well as the lexan. Shoe Goo have proven safe for this application and any excess material can be cleaned off with Zippo lighter fluid with no ill affect to the plastic or paint.
Decals- This is the icing on the cake, what brings the whole project together. This is where your reference and research will pay off. You can take a nice set of decals and make a great looking car, or something that leaves a lot to be desired. Even the best of us have a decal go crooked once in a while. For this reason I recommend mixing a small amount of dish soap with water to assist with the application. Paitience pays huge dividends here. Trimming tight to the graphic will result in a very clean finished product. Using the soapy water with a steady hand and a rag to blot the water out will let the decal lay against the surface without wrinkles or bubbles. If you use our decals you should be able to apply them without using heat, although every once in a while you might need to hit an area with a hairdryer to lay down over tricky compound surfaces . One additional note on our decal sheets, they are printed on the typical decal film that other R/C decals are. We print on 2mil clear cast vinyl which while very soft and flexible can be tricky to work with. On larger decals curling can occur, so we also recommend sticking the sheet in the freezer for 10 or 15 minutes. This will firm up the film and allow easier workability. Also our decals are not coated or laminated, when wiping excess water from the body minimize contact with the decals, excessive rubbing can damage the ink.