Python Patrol Vehicle Painting How-To
Find a Subject
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
Tools and Materials
Tools and materials I use for the job:
- One mesh jersey available at any sporting good store.
- Scissors and/or hobby knife for cutting mesh and string.
- String for tying mesh to vehicle in smaller areas.
- 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.
- Masking tape for masking and holding additional pieces in place, I use both sizes shown.
- Black Marker for marking mesh.
- 6 to a dozen-2" to 3" cheap hair clips. Using clips is much faster than tying whole the mesh in place with string.
- 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.
The Base Coat
Use the burgundy as the base color and paint all parts. 2 to 3 coats at least.
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.
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.
Drape mesh over vehicle so the vehicle is fully covered by the mesh, the mesh pattern is aligned and excess mesh on all sides.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Once satisfied with the mesh its time to paint. When painting through the mesh, try to do one quick, even coat that is not too heavy because the paint may soak through the mesh in the wrong places. Place the meshed part in a designated painting area. Shake the black paint well and in even passes, cover the meshed vehicle with one good coat. I apply the paint perpendicular to the surface of the mesh so it goes on evenly. Spraying through the mesh at odd angles will cause distortions in the pattern. That is why I say do one coat, because if an area is painted over twice, the can might be held at a different angle, causing distortions in the pattern.
Allow the black paint to dry for 20 to 30 minutes before applying the silver 'stripes' to the pattern. Try to apply the stripes at even intervals. Shake the silver paint well and use quick, even, side to side passes until you are satisfied with the size and spacing of the silver 'striped' areas. Remember where the silver stripes are on your vehicle, you may need to know later on.
Allow the silver paint to dry for at least 30 minutes because the mesh is to be removed next. Remove all clips and cut all strings and line and gently remove the mesh from the vehicle. In this case with the Moray, the rear of the deck had been masked. Now the masking must be removed and reset to mesh the back of the boat. I will only remove the masking from the engine and troop carrying area. The end of the boat will be meshed separately.
Reset Masking, Mesh & Paint
Now the masking must be reset to protect the finished parts of the vehicle. Once reset, the sleeves of the jersey can be cut down to size to fit into the areas left to mesh. If you notice the picture on the right, pieces of mesh have been cut to fit into the areas and taped into place. The mesh fits loosely but will still create a very nice pattern in this area. Also notice the masking on the tail of boat hasn't been removed, and the engine compartment has been remasked.
Once the pieces are in place and lined up nicely, this area can be painted with the black paint. Follow the guidelines in the step labeled "Black Coat" above.
Once the black paint is dry, the silver can be applied if you can remember where the silver is located under the masked areas. Once applied, allow to dry for at least 30 minutes before handling the vehicle again.
Unmesh & Unmask
Once the silver paint is dry, unmesh the vehicle and unmask the final section only. Reset the masking over the compartment and reset the mesh over the tail of the vehicle. Another piece of mesh can be cut to fit for this area as well. Fit the mesh loosely over the depth charge tray handles and pinch the mesh with tape, securing the mesh around the handles as shown. Secure the mesh as necessary to hold it in place. Remember to make sure the pattern is aligned.
Final Painting & Finish
Once the final area is meshed and ready, the final paint application can be done. Apply the black paint, wait to dry, then the silver striping if need be.
Once completely dry. The mesh and all the masking can be removed to unveil your final results.