Thursday, August 3, 2017

Estes Nemesis #2175 Build, Part 11, Canopy Painting TIP

I've painted canopies before by masking and spraying. It's not easy to mask around a curved surface. Here's another way to do it with smoother results than hand brushing enamel paint.
You'll need three permanent Sharpie markers - Ultra Fine, Fins and Broad chisel pointed pens. If you don't have a steady hand you might have better results by masking and spraying.

The canopy edge was deep enough to use the pens. If the edge isn't well defined it's hard to keep the pen tip in to outline the canopy. Note the angle of the pen, about 45 degrees to the surface. This helps keep the pen in the outline rut.
Draw an inch then lightly scribble on some scrap paper to keep the point clean and the ink flowing. These ultra fine points can dry out quickly.

After you've used the ultra fine point for the outside line, switch over to the fine point pen widening the black line towards the center of the canopy.

Move to the wide chisel permanent marker to fill in the rest of the canopy.
Take the nose cone outside into direct sunlight to see if you have good even coverage.

If you end up with a rough spot where the ink passes have overlapped and have a raised line, sand lightly and ink over again.

This canopy inking only works with permanent black inks only. Don't try other lighter felt tip colors.
It all depends on the "trough" depth around the canopy edge. If it is shallow the ultra fine tip might slip out when doing the initial outline.

EDIT: I just opened up the Estes Puma kit. The edge trough isn't as deep as the canopy edge on the Nemesis nose cone. So keeping the ultra fine Sharpie in the edges of that nose cone won't be as easy.

EDIT: In a comment (below), Naoto Kimura mention problems using clear coats over permanent marker ink. The ink can run if a clear coat is applied. Don't apply a brushed on Future acrylic coat over an inked canopy.
I don't use overall clear coats (brushed or sprayed). I only apply a clear coat over decal area surfaces using a Q-tip. Overall acrylic clear coats get very sticky in humid Summer weather.


  1. Great tip, Chris. Must be about a million times that I wished I could hand paint fine details with a brush and jar of paint, and no tape. Like those petite girls in the Asian porcelain factories painting exquisite details on vases, dolls, plates, whatever.
    I remember seeing somewhere that house painters rarely use painter's tape. If they want to paint a straight line, like on a window molding, they use a sash brush and a steady hand. Years of experience, I guess. Laters.

    1. P.S. As luck would have it I just finished assembling my mini engine space plane set (Lynx/Puma/Scorpion). So I decided to try this tip out. Guess what - silver works too! Will send a pic to your Odd'l rockets e-mail. Tally ho!

    2. Hi BAR,
      Interesting that the silver worked for you. I only have experience with the black permanent pens. I was concerned somebody might try this with a non-permanent color felt tip pen. It's got to be a very opaque ink.

  2. You do have to be careful with inks and any topcoat you might apply. On some model aeroplanes, I discovered that if I applied clear model aeroplane dope over Sharpie inks -- the colour would bleed. On the other hand, brushed-on dope is OK if applied over surface "painted" using inkjet inks (which are generally water-soluble), or with water-based felt pens. Inkjet ink and water-based felt tip pens would run if you brushed on a coat of Future floor polish. On painted surface, Sharpie ink would sometimes "float" off the surface and end up suspended on the brushed-on Future coat. As long as I mist on the initial coats using Testor's glosscote and dullcote, I don't have problems. I've not yet tried applying dope or Future with an airbrush however -- I suspect that similar misting of initial coats and let dry to help "fix" the colours.

  3. Hi, Chris,
    I used this technique last year with the Estes Lynx, except that I rendered the outline with Sharpies, then finished the remainder of the canopy with plain ol' enamel paint and brush. Like you mention, it works well on a canopy with a well-defined outline. wish we'd had Sharpies back in the old days!

    1. Hi Ed,
      We did have Sharpies way back when, except they called them laundry markers. I doubt they produced the ultra fine line pens in the 1960s though.