Here’s The Easy Way to Paint Flames

Here’s The Easy Way to Paint Flames

Ask anyone to imagine a hot-rod paint job, and they’ll probably envision stylized flames licking over the hood and fenders of late-’60s Detroit steel. As far as classic muscle-car looks go, flames are right up there with racing stripes, and everybody knows that a set of flames means fiery performance. It’s literally a hot look, but one you might be shying away from as too difficult to reproduce. I have good news: With precut masks, flames are easy to incorporate into any paint job. I’ll show you how I put the heat on Parma’s ’68 Muscle Baja SC. Not every step will apply to the body you choose, but if you want to get the same look as the Parma muscle machine shown here, this is the way to do it.

RC Car Action - RC Cars & Trucks | Here’s The Easy Way to Paint Flames

RC Car Action - RC Cars & Trucks | Here’s The Easy Way to Paint Flames

ITEMS USED
Body: Parma ’68 Muscle SC Baja—1248
Paint: Parma Faskolor
Masking tape: Parma
Precut vinyl paint mask: Parma Flames—10786
Permanent marker: Parma Detailing Pen—10400
Silver paint marker: Sharpie—35560
Hobby knife: Excel Grip-On—16018

1. PREP THE BODY
Scuff the inside of the body to roughen the surface and give the paint something to hold on to. I like to use a scouring pad to do the job. Avoid the windows because you want those to remain crystal clear. Once the body is scuffed up, wash it with dish soap (make sure that it’s the nonmoisturizing kind) to remove any debris and oils that might be on the surface of the body.

RC Car Action - RC Cars & Trucks | Here’s The Easy Way to Paint Flames

2. DETAIL THE GRILLE AND WINDOW TRIM
The Muscle SC body has deep window and grille detail lines that are easy to trace with a pen, which is simpler to do than masking and painting. A silver Sharpie is all that you need. Just put the tip in the groove, and follow it around. You might need to do this two or three times to get full coverage.

RC Car Action - RC Cars & Trucks | Here’s The Easy Way to Paint Flames

3. APPLY THE WINDOW AND HEADLIGHT MASKS
Peel and stick the masks, and smooth them down completely to make sure that the paint will be sealed out entirely. View the masks from outside the body to confirm that they’re stuck down completely.

RC Car Action - RC Cars & Trucks | Here’s The Easy Way to Paint Flames

4. APPLY THE WINDOW AND HEADLIGHT MASKS
To simplify masking, paint the bumpers first. Outline the bumpers on the outside of the body with a black marker to make it easy to see, and trace with tape. After the bumpers are taped off, cover the rest of the body with taped paper, and spray the bumpers silver.

RC Car Action - RC Cars & Trucks | Here’s The Easy Way to Paint Flames

5. MASK THE GRILLE AND TAILLIGHTS
With the outside trim of the grille already filled in back in step 2, masking the rest of the grille is easy. The edge of the tape doesn’t have to be perfectly straight because the silver marker line will mask your tape line. I applied Parma’s wide tape along the top of the grille, then made another pass along the bottom. Apply the tape so that it goes slightly beyond the edge that you’re masking, then trim it with a hobby knife to define the paint line. This will help make sure that you get a crisp line when you remove the tape.

RC Car Action - RC Cars & Trucks | Here’s The Easy Way to Paint Flames

6. APPLY THE FLAME MASKS
I used two sheets of Parma’s #10786 Flames Paint Mask for the Muscle SC body. I chose the two long flame masks in the center of the sheet for the doors and the sides of the hood, and I used the smaller flames to fill in the center of the hood. Rub the masks down fully, working from the center out to the flame tips.

RC Car Action - RC Cars & Trucks | Here’s The Easy Way to Paint Flames

RC Car Action - RC Cars & Trucks | Here’s The Easy Way to Paint Flames

7. CONNECT THE FLAMES
To connect the separate flames into a sheet of fire across the hood, I first sketched connecting lines on the outside of the body as a masking guide. I then applied Parma wide masking tape to the inside of the hood, and I cut to match the lines that I sketched on the body.

RC Car Action - RC Cars & Trucks | Here’s The Easy Way to Paint Flames

8. SPRAY THE MAIN COLOR
Before any paint flies, look over all the masks to make sure that they are com­pletely stuck to the body. Spray a few light coats of paint to seal the edges of the masks before spraying for full coverage. When the main color is dry, remove the flame masks.

RC Car Action - RC Cars & Trucks | Here’s The Easy Way to Paint Flames

9. PAINT THE FLAMES
You can spray a single color and call it “done,” or you can use multiple colors to add some detail. I started by spraying the tips of all the flames with Parma Facescent orange paint, and I let it dry (above). I then used Parma Fasescent yellow and sprayed it almost down to the end of the hood (below). I finished off the flames by spraying Parma white paint over the entire flame area to make sure that the flames were bright and opaque.

RC Car Action - RC Cars & Trucks | Here’s The Easy Way to Paint Flames

RC Car Action - RC Cars & Trucks | Here’s The Easy Way to Paint Flames

10. PAINT THE GRILLE, HEADLIGHTS AND TAILLIGHTS
Remove the grille masking first, and spray it silver. When dry, remove the headlight masks, and spray them white. Taillights get a shot of red. We’re in the home stretch.

RC Car Action - RC Cars & Trucks | Here’s The Easy Way to Paint Flames

RC Car Action - RC Cars & Trucks | Here’s The Easy Way to Paint Flames

11. DETAIL THE GRILLE
This step is optional—if you like an all-silver grille, stop here. Before pulling off the overspray film, I removed the film from the inner grille area and painted it satin black. It looks like I ruined the paint job, but the overspray will come off when the rest of the film is peeled from the body.

RC Car Action - RC Cars & Trucks | Here’s The Easy Way to Paint Flames

RC Car Action - RC Cars & Trucks | Here’s The Easy Way to Paint Flames

12. PEEL, TRIM AND MOUNT
Is there anything better than peeling the film off a new body? You can see how crisp the grille detailing looks as the overspray peels off with the film.

RC Car Action - RC Cars & Trucks | Here’s The Easy Way to Paint Flames

12. FINAL WORD
Painting a custom body isn’t that hard. You just need to set aside some time and have some patience. Follow the steps listed here and you can have your own flamed paint job that will wow your buddies. You can even switch things up altogether and do something completely different. The tips and tricks listed in this article will pretty much work for anything that you decide to tackle.

RC Car Action - RC Cars & Trucks | Here’s The Easy Way to Paint Flames

RC Car Action - RC Cars & Trucks | Here’s The Easy Way to Paint Flames
Airbrushes 101
The paint flow is slightly better with a gravity-fed airbrush because it uses gravity to bring the paint to the tip of the brush. You are limited, though, by the size of the cup that it uses to hold the paint; once the cup is empty, you have to stop and refill. With a siphon-fed airbrush, the paint flow isn’t as good because the paint has to be sucked up from the bottle; you can spray more paint, however, before needing a refill.

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Updated: November 8, 2018 — 11:44 AM
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