Painting Techniques for a Realistic Canopy


 A detailed canopy is one of the most attractive features of a finished scale model aircraft. You may want to pay close attention to this part of the process. Smudged frames, scratches, stained or dirty glass and fingerprints can be very damaging to the final look of the airplane model. The painting techniques for the canopy of the scale model aircraft can become tedious at times and, unfortunately, there are no short cuts. This tutorial will examine how to get the canopy of the airplane model to look like realistic glass as well as a great technique for painting the window frames.

Some of the tools required for this tutorial include; Tamiya masking tape, tweezers, a small plastic clear tub, a sharp hobby knife, Future floor polish and the appropriate paints for the colour scheme of your scale model aircraft.

In order for the canopy of the airplane model to look like natural glass, we will be using Future floor finish. This technique will make the clear plastic appear thinner and clearer. Surprisingly, Future will also hide minor scratches and blemishes that are often unavoidable when working with clear polystyrene model kit parts.

To begin, make sure that all the clear airplane model parts are clean, dry and free of any fingerprints or dust. Next, fill the plastic clear tub halfway with Future floor wax. If you have a larger canopy, such as that of a 1/32 scale model aircraft, then you will need a deeper tub. Using your tweezers, hold the canopy from any one of the corners. Make sure you have a secure grip, as you will not want the part to slip. Then, completely submerge your canopy into the Future. After holding the canopy in the solution for a few seconds, lift it away and allow the excess to drain off. Place the wet canopy upright on a sheet of paper towel, which will help soak the build-up of Future at the base. You can raise the airplane model canopy off of the paper towel by simply putting a small piece of sprue (excess model kit part) or a toothpick under it. You may also choose to cover the canopy for protection against dust and dirt using a cup. Allow about 24 to 48 hours for drying and make sure that nothing touches the surface during this time. Once the surface is completely dry, you are ready to paint the frames.

Although the masking process is quite simple, it may become tedious when working with complex scale model aircraft canopies. For this, cover the entire canopy with tape. I highly recommend that you protect the interior of the airplane model canopy by masking it off as well. Next, run your hobby knife along the edges of all the canopy frames and other raised areas. Once this step is complete, remove the tape strips that cover the canopy frames. This is one of the painting techniques that truly requires a meticulous effort. The key is to take your time, use a very sharp hobby knife and cut a clean, precise mask, free of any tearing. The raised details should be the only areas that are visible through the mask.


Now you are ready to paint the canopy of the scale model aircraft. Airbrush your first coat using the interior colour of the frames and allow some time for it to dry. This coat of paint will show through the clear plastic canopy onto the inside and should match your cockpit interior colour. Once this is complete, you can paint the fuselage colour over it and once again, allow the appropriate amount of drying time. Using an airbrush for the paint scheme will render better results. You can finish the canopy of the scale model aircraft by applying your preferred final coat (dull, gloss, etc.) over the raised areas. Enjoy the effects.