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How to Paint my Airsoft Replica? [Part 1: Materials and Methods]

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Intro

Whenever this exhilarating moment comes, a box with your brand new Realistic Imitation Firearm (RIF) is delivered, the contents are usually in plain black or steel or something equally elegant and boring. With a quick search on Google, you will notice there are various color themes depending on when and where your gun originate from.

Materials and Methods: Cans, Brushes and Airbrush

  1. Paint cans: You can also get cans of paint anywhere on internet. However, they’re not very precise and are hard to control.
  2. Brushes: You can get them anywhere in stores and online, however, this painting method is slowest and the hardest. It’s mostly used for decorative measures. Not all of your guns will be camo if you like to experiment, you might paint them in a specific way for cosplay, fun or artistic reasons.
  3. Airbrush: This is my preferred way and most examples of work will be made using one; however, these are expensive in comparison to others.
  4. DIY:  Literally anything you can think of: as mentioned before, there were cases of whitewashing guns in winter or people using socks to camouflage their guns with crude paint.

See you soon in Part 2 where we show you a Step-By-Step Walkthrough for a G36 RIF Paint Job and YouTube Video!

Spray Cans

The easiest way to paint your replica is with the use of rattle cans. It is also possible to just use generic paint cans available in any Art or DIY stores. The problem with these is that you have to be very careful that none of the paint gets inside of your replica; make sure to use masking tapes to cover any holes and gaps. I recommend using spray cans for modellers; brands such as Vallejo or Citadell.  

Use black to undercoat the RIF and Mags if going for a dark paint job.

Use white or cream to undercoat your RIF and Mags if going for a light paint job:

Choose up to 3/4 colours for your chosen camouflage pattern to finish off the job. You will be able to paint your entire gun with these, however they can be difficult to control and won’t allow you to make a detailed paint job. They are a perfect fit for a cheap and simple paint job. If you just want to paint your gun once and don’t want to spend too much; these are a great choice!

Brushes

You could potentially use large brushes and acrylic paints, however, I don’t recommend doing that for a number of reasons :

  1. Thick layers – paint will be thick and cover gun’s details. It could potentially hinder the use of your rails, or paint might simply scrape off when attaching accessories.
  2. Time consuming – it will be a lengthy process with a decent size brush; however, a brush that is too big will clog a lot of paint on the replica.
  3. Drip marks – you’ll get drip marks and that is not a good look.
  4. Wasteful – You will use… A LOT of paint! If you buy cheap paint , it will result in a rather bad job with thick layer.

Quick tip – You could use a sponge to dip in paint and then paint over the primary layers. This will create an ‘airbrush like’ effect but will take a long time.

Painting with a brush makes sense if you want specifically strong lines on your RIF. I will create an article in the future dedicated to brush painting and its practical uses but as stated above, it is the hardest of all the methods but can produce interesting results. It does require practice, mixing paints and numerous layers of paints to get good results. Most won’t be very realistic, but hey, the rule of cool.

Airbrush

The best tool for making a precise camouflage is an airbrush. Airbrushes come in many sizes and types; to visualise, your average car is also painted with this method but the airbrush becomes a paint gun at that stage. The best choice for painting Airsoft gear is a scale model airbrush.

“These airbrushes go for around £30-£50 and will do the job; I would avoid any cheaper knock-off products. What you will also require is an air compressor; an adequate one will cost you between £40-£70. To buy a decent compressor is extremely important as a bad one will subsequently make your airbrush splatter the paint and ruin any work done.”

Adam’s Setup: I use a Harder & Steinbeck Infinity Airbrush (the red one). This one will set you back about £180 but it’s a high end product; I also use it for many other of my hobbies. 

 

Once you get yourself an airbrush and a compressor, you will run into three major questions: What paints do I want?; What to thin the paints with?; How to clean my airbrush? Let’s not make this an airbrush tutorial as there are already multitude of those online. Suffice to say:

  1. I recommend paints from the Tamiya Range and Vallejo Air Range. Tamiya has been around for decades and is still the king.
  2. Airbrush paints need a thinning agent to make them flow smoothly – I recommend the X20A thinner from Tamiya as it’s simply fantastic and easy to use.
  3. Airbrushes fill up with dry paint and need cleaning regularly. This is the price you pay for their precision as you will need to clean your airbrush EVERY TIME you use it. Again, Tamiya airbrush cleaner will clean everything. It’s so powerful it will strip any kind of paint, stains, oils , bad memories… anything.

“Just buy the Tamiya paint for around £2 each and top it off with a X20A thinner; shake it and you are ready to go!”

Final Words

The Airbrush cleaner is a very strong chemical so make sure to wear a mask and use it in a well ventilated room. However, these are the products I recommend from my own experience. Just remember – paints will need a thinner to be added as they need to be, more or less, of milky consistency to flow well in an airbrush. The painting process will be explained step-by-step in the following article where we will show you how we painted our G36 Airsoft replica as an example! Thanks for reading!


If you would like your replica painted by Adam; please don’t hesitate to contact him at AdamRzymowski@gmail.com to inquire about his services!


Written by Adam Rzymowski

Edited by Kamil Turecki

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