You’ve traced your armor templates, cut them out, heat-shaped them to fit your body, and decided on an attachment method. Now it’s time to move on to painting your Mandalorian armor. But before you start painting you’ll want to decide how much weathering you want? Do you want heavily weathered armor with lots of paint layers like the original Boba Fett? Or do you want the newer cleaner Boba version? Maybe the metal-looking Jango-style armor instead? Or maybe the shiny new Beskar armor that Din Djarin wears?
Painting Tips & Things To Consider
Cost – Spray paint can easily end up costing more than the actual Sintra material. This will depend on how many armor pieces your kit has, if you layer multiple colors, or if you decide to use specialized paint. Also, costs can quickly add up when you factor in sandpaper, painter’s tape, multiple coats of primer, or protective topcoats. And note that depending on where you live some paints may not be accessible to you.
Skill Level – While shiny armor looks impressive, reflective chrome-like paint can be challenging to work with. You will need to wet sand to very fine grits between each coat of paint to get a smooth almost glass-like surface. Feel the texture of the surface for any bumps. Chrome-type paints will show every defect, dust, or dimple. Also some of these paints, like Alclad or Spaz Stix chrome, will require an airbrush. Metallic spray paint from rattle cans have gotten better but they still might not have the high reflection most people want. You might want to also consider using Rub n Buff on your armor to get a convincing metallic effect, or doing a Graphite rub.
Environment – Even if you have some experience using spray paint, there are many variables that can affect the final result. Spray paint issues can happen if the air temperature is too cold, too hot, too humid, or windy, Bugs or dust landing on your fresh paint is another concern. Even the nozzle or spray gun pressure can affect your paint job.
Beware of mixing different brand-name spray paints. Stick to the same brand or the same type (acrylic vs lacquer vs enamel). Some paints don’t interact well together. Lacquer paint has the fastest dry time, which can help reduce dust settling into the paint.
Read the fine print on the back of your spray paint can. Those are instructions, not suggestions. Pay special attention to the recoat times.
And when choosing a paint finish note that matte paint gets the best paint adhesion, gloss paint is “slippery” and can show more imperfections, and satin is in between the two.
Don’t let these concerns prevent beginners from spray painting. They are just things to keep in mind and plan for. If you don’t have much experience using spray paint, practice on some scrap to get comfortable. Painting takes patience along with some skill. To make painting your Mandalorian armor easier watch the video below for some other tips to help you get a good paint finish.
Basic Steps to Painting Mandalorian Armor
Preparation – For resin helmets, you’ll want to clean the surface of any oils or to make sure no mold-release agent is still on the surface. Also ensure your armor plates are clean, smooth, and dust-free. Sanding is especially important if you’re using 3D prints. You really should remove any visible print lines. This means lots and lots of sanding, and possibly using Bondo Spot Putty as well. Sintra needs minimal sanding, 320-600 grit should do. But if you’re going for a chrome-type finish, you’ll probably want to do even higher grits like 800-1000. After sanding, ensure your piece is clean and free of dust again. A tack cloth is handy here.
Primer – Depending on your armor material (Sintra/3D print/abs/resin cast), you may want to use an adhesion-promoting primer or a filler primer. Usually, 2-3 light coats are sprayed, and you may want to wet sand in between coats for a smoother finish. Again, this is more important if you want a very reflective smooth metallic finish.
Base Coat – Most Mandos like to have a silver metallic base coat to give the appearance that the armor is metal. (Obviously, if you’re using real metal armor plates, you can skip this step.) Spray a metallic silver-grey paint color for the base coat. For Beskar-style Mandos, apply a base coat of glossy paint underneath chrome-type paint, or do a graphite rub. Again, apply light coats so you avoid the dreaded paint drips or runs. And when you’re sanding between coats, you shouldn’t need to apply heavy pressure, let the sandpaper do the work to remove any surface imperfections.
Top Paint Colors – Apply a paint color on top of the base coat (and any masking if desired). Layer multiple colors for special effects. Refer to the can instructions on when you should apply additional coat layers. And by using masking fluid or other weathering techniques, you can let the underneath metallic layer peek through to give the illusion of weathered metallic armor. Again I want to emphasize light coats, each coat doesn’t need to fully cover the surface. Build up the coverage slowly with each paint coat. Watch the video below to see the masking/layering process.
Protective Top Clear Coat – This step is optional. Some people want a protective layer on top, some people like the natural weathering and damage that armor will get during use at special events or conventions. Note that topcoats dull most metallic paints. If you want a super reflective finish, beware that a top sealer may turn a metallic finish into a flat matte finish. Test before using if this is important to you.
Adding Stencils/Stripes To Your Armor Plates
Wait until the paint has fully dried before adding any decals, stripes, or stencils. I like to wait at least 24 hours before applying the tape. Any sooner and you run the risk of the tape peeling off some of your fresh paint that hasn’t had time to somewhat cure.
When using painter’s tape for custom details, remove it while the paint is still tacky or wet, before it dries fully. If you wait too long you risk peeling the paint layer underneath. Sometimes a little bit of peeling will give you a nice worn look but too much peeling will just look like a bad paint job. You may want to use a tape made specifically for delicate surfaces, like Frog Tape. This should help you get cleaner lines.
And you can easily make your own stencils with wide painter’s tape. Just apply the tape to your computer screen, trace the image, and cut it out with an Exacto knife. Adding Aurebesh or Mando’a writing is also a nice detail to add to armor or helmets.
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