How to Paint a Smoke Effect on an RC

Written by amanda hevener
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How to Paint a Smoke Effect on an RC
Airplanes have smoke damage and oil residue on their fuselages. (Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images)

Unlike real aeroplanes, radio-controlled (RC) aeroplanes do not have smoke and oil stains on their fuselages. They come out of the box looking shiny and perfect. In order to make your RC plane look just like the real thing, you need to paint special effects onto it by hand. It takes a bit of work to make the plane look authentically weathered and smoke damaged, but it is worth it in the end.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Newspaper
  • Palette
  • Acrylics in black, white and brown
  • Brushes
  • Glass
  • Water
  • Rag or paper towel

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  1. 1

    Lay newspaper down on a flat, smooth surface. You will need sufficient room to paint freely. The table or floor must have enough space for the fuselage of the aeroplane.

  2. 2

    Pour about a teaspoon of each colour paint on your palette. In a separate section of the palette, mix some of the black and white until you get a dark grey. Mix a little of your brown paint with some of the dark grey until the colour looks sufficiently dirty.

  3. 3

    Choose where to paint your smoke effects on the fuselage. Good places to put smoke effects are near any guns and exhaust stacks, but you can place the effects anywhere you feel they are necessary.

  4. 4

    Dip a thick brush in the black paint. This will be the first layer of colour. Dab the paint onto the fuselage thickly.

  5. 5

    Pour water into a glass and wash the brush. Dry the brush with a rag or paper towel. You will use this brush for the next colour.

  6. 6

    Paint your dark grey and brown paint mixture over the black paint before the black paint has had a chance to dry. Do not cover the black paint entirely. Make sure to leave a little peeking through. The two paints are supposed to smudge together.

  7. 7

    Pick up a smaller brush and dip it in the grey paint. Dab some of the paint on the top of the area that has already been painted. You should also smudge it over the edges of the painted section so that it looks like the smoke has travelled across the fuselage and got thinner as it dissipated.

  8. 8

    Use the smallest brush that you have for the white paint. Dab it very lightly over sections of the entire area. This will add some contrast and bring the smoke stain to life.

  9. 9

    Allow the paint to dry. This will take two to three hours. Do not follow up with finishing spray. In order for your effects to look authentic, they will need to weather and age on their own. Finishing spray will prevent that from happening.

Tips and warnings

  • Always paint in a well-ventilated room.

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