Python Patrol Vehicle Painting How-To
1. Select, clean, remove all decals and goo from the vehicle you wish to customize. Be sure to include all parts which are to be pythonized as well such as panels, engine covers etc. For this example I will be pythonizing the ever popular Moray
2. Tools and materials I use for the job: A. One mesh jersey available at any sporting good store. B. Scissors and/or hobby knife for cutting mesh and string. C. String for tying mesh to vehicle in smaller areas. D. Dental floss or fishing line for overspray minimization. The floss or line is thin enough where a "shadow" doesn't show up in the paint job, so it can be used directly over the surface to be painted. E. Masking tape for masking and holding additional pieces in place, I use both sizes shown. F. Black Marker for marking mesh. G. 6 to a dozen-2" to 3" cheap hair clips. Using clips is much faster than tying whole the mesh in place with string. H. Paint. The standard paints I use are Krylon Fusion Gloss Burgundy, KF Satin Black, and Testors Model Masters German Silver. I will refer to these colors as we go through the steps: Burgundy, Black, and Silver. Note: For other parts of the vehicle, gold or yellow can be used to fit the pattern, I use gold.
3. Use the burgundy as the base color and paint all parts. 2 to 3 coats at least.
4. Allow the base color to dry for 12 - 24 hours. If base paint is not completely dry, the mesh will damage the paint. Use the masking tape to hold any additional pieces to be pythonized in place. I
5. Cut mesh jersey along seams and remove all seams. The sleeves can be used too for smaller parts and specific areas as will be seen later. 6. Drape mesh over vehicle so the vehicle is fully covered by the mesh, the mesh pattern is aligned and excess mesh on all sides. 7. Use the marker to draw a centerline, so while you are working with the mesh, you can keep the pattern straight. You can also draw a line side to side if you choose.
8. When meshing the vehicle, you do not want the mesh to get bunched up. But you will find on some vehicles, that's impossible. So the vehicle must be meshed in sections. On the Moray, I will go ahead and mask off the back half of the boat as shown. I will mesh the portion separately.
9. Find a good starting location to attach the mesh to the vehicle. On the Moray I start at the Turret Mount. If you pull the mesh tight over this part, you will notice a gap between the mesh and the plastic. So the mesh must be tied here with the floss or fishing line as shown. Make sure the mesh is aligned and find where the string will go through the mesh and underneath. I usually mark these holes with the marker so I can keep track of where the line goes through. This is a tricky step because while securing the mesh in place with this method, the line my slip off. You must be careful to maintain the lines positioning around the turret as shown while tying it in place. In the picture on the left you can see the line is wrapped around the turret mount and tied through the hole in the bottom of the piece in the picture on the right.
10. After finding a good starting place to start securing the mesh, work your way around the vehicle. I find a general 'middle to outside' or 'front to back' approach works well so the mesh doesn't get bunched up or uneven. In the case of the Moray, I will secure the mesh to the front of the driver's area. I will mark the mesh evenly on either side with the marker. Then I will use the regular string to tie it on. Also, be careful not too stretch the mesh too much because that will also cause the pattern to get distorted.
11. Now that a few areas have been tied, I will use the hairclips to secure the mesh over the bow of the deck. It will take a few tries to get it lined up and even.
12. Now I will move on to the sides of the boat. If the mesh were pulled tight over the 'wings' of the boat, there would be a large space between the sides of the boat and the mesh. This space causes overspray and loss of the pattern. I will use the floss to pull the mesh closer to the boat. I will find the holes in the mesh where the line will go through at either end of the 'wing' to tie underneath and mark them with the marker as shown. Then count the holes from the centerline, and mark the same holes on the opposite side as shown. The marked holes are at the end of the lines in the picture on the right. The 2 lines on either side I drew as I counted the distances between the designated holes.
Once the floss or line is in place, you can see the mesh is pulled in closer to the sides of the boat. The line is tied tight underneath.
13. Now the remaining mesh will be secured out of the way with additional clips underneath and in the back of the boat. Make sure when the final clips are in place, the mesh is still aligned, even, not too stretched causing distortion and not bunched in any area that is to be painted at this time.