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Armor Painting Tutorial



Here's a little how to on armor/prop painting for anyone who's interested.  This piece is part of the hip armor for my Scyther cosplay

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- Multiple paint brushes-  I recommend a large brush, a medium sized brush, a small angled brush, and a small liner brush
- Paint-  make sure you have whatever color you want to use, along with black and white.  If you want to mix your colors, get whatever you need to mix your main color, and also its opposite (ex. green's opposite is red)
- Something to mix in/on- I like to use small cups to mix large amounts of colors in and a tray to mix smaller amounts
- Water- You'll need to clean your brushes!
- Wood Glue- For priming
- Sand Paper- For smoothing

1.  First off, this is going to be a very long process, so be prepared to spend hours on your painting! Start with your piece of armor. In this step I paint on layers of wood glue for a primer. You can also use gesso, but my personal preference is wood glue. How many layers you put on will be determined by how smooth you want your finished piece to be.  You put a layer of glue on, wait for it to dry, sand it down, and then repeat until satisfied.  

2.  In the next step, you can put on a layer of white or black paint as a base for your color if you would like to. It will make your color go on smoother and it'll make it easier to hide the color of the worbla/wonderflex/whatever your armor is made of.  After you have your base on (or not) you'll put on your first color. Put on multiple coats if necessary. You want this color to be slightly darker than what you want your armor to appear when its done.  I'll normally mix up the color I want my armor to be, and then darken it for this step. You can also use a little bit of water to make your paint flow nicely. I use a larger brush for this, since I'm covering a larger area.

Side note: You can use a color straight out of the tube, but I like to custom mix all my colors.  To make your color darker, add its opposite (my color is green, so I added a tiny bit of red). If you're not sure what your color's opposite is, just look at a color wheel.  Its opposite will literally just be on the opposite side of the wheel. But be careful, if you use too much of the opposite color you run the risk of turning your color brown. You can also add black to make your color darker as well.  I normally use a little of both in mine. I mixed my green with a combination of a little blue, a lot of yellow, a tiny bit of red, a tiny bit of black, Just play around until you get a color you like.

3.  Here, you will add a lighter layer on top of the last. I use a medium sized brush for this. This is why you made your first layer slightly darker.  So take your original color, and add a little bit of white to it to lighten it up. When you paint on this layer, use a method called "dry brushing."  All it means is that you take a dry paint brush, load some paint on it, and paint in a criss-cross pattern from the inside out until you run out of paint so that the color blends out. I will also blend the edges with my fingers to make it a little smoother.  Also, be sure to leave some space around the edges unpainted in this step so that the darker layer shows through on the sides. If you mess up and get to close to the edge, its ok! As long as the paint isn't completely dry, you can take a little water and wipe away the paint where you don't want it. This step can be tricky, but with practice its very useful. it makes the shadows appear a little more obviously and makes the middle more shiny and bright.

4.  In this step, you're going to darken your color even more than the first time and paint in around all the corners with it. I use a small angled brush for this.  Be sure to blend here too!  you don't want a really harsh line here, you just want to darken up the shadows some more so they show up even better.  

5.  Next you're going to take some black paint, and small liner brush, and paint a tiny line in all the corners.  This is, once again, to make the shadows darker.  You don't need to blend this step, just paint the line and your done!  If you want to, you can also add a little bit of your color to the black in this step.  It will make it a tiny bit less harsh and in my opinion, make it look more natural. If you decide to do this, just make sure its more black than color.  

6.  For the last step, take some white (no mixing this time!) and paint a line along all the edges.  You can use a liner for this or your small angled brush. Either one works about the same for me. This step really makes your armor pop!

It may seem like a lot to do when painting your armor or props, but it's well worth it.  It takes time and practice to get right but you can use this method for anything and it works really well.  The color will show up better and It'll look amazing in pictures!  If this didn't answer all your questions, there are plenty of other tutorials out there for painting as well.  Feel free to message me or comment if you have any questions! Heart 
Image details
Image size
1600x1605px 672.4 KB
Shutter Speed
1/30 second
Focal Length
18 mm
ISO Speed
Date Taken
Jan 4, 2010 4:17:08 AM -05:00
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LucaLouise's avatar
Would you also recommend using this technique on craft foam armor? Because my foam has to be sky blue and it's white. Also, if I were to use spray paint, would the foam absorb it, and is there any way to prevent this?