Scale Painting and Masking Tricks for Cloth Covered Models

Jul 25, 2013 3 Comments by

The Exclusive MAN Workshop Build-Along series is just about complete with just a few detail left to finish up. I have been working on my giant Fokker Dr.1 Triplane since last October and we’ve posted lots of helpful building and covering tips along the way. Several of you have asked if I could show some details about the Stits Lite fabric and Poly Tone Painting system. Well, here it is. You can check out these recent photos from my workshop and if you want to download my detailed PDF instructions, you can subscribe to the Members site at I hope you try covering and painting your next scale model. In the end, Stits Lite products produce a finish that is as close to the real thing as you can get. Of course if you have any question, be sure to contact me at:

Let’s head down to the workshop. Hint: put away anything you don’t want to get over-spray on!


Once you have the base coat sprayed on, the real fun begins.


Print out your markings and glue to poster paper


Cut the poster paper templates out.


Place on your part (here my rudder), and trace with a pencil to produce a lightweight guideline for the markings.


Use blue Painter’s Tape and Great Planes Vinyl Flex tape to define the shape of your marking


Mask off any part of the rudder you don’t want black. Here I am using my HVLP (high Volume, Low Pressure) spray gun to mist on the first few coats of paint. Be sure all the edges of your masking are tight against the surface being painted.


Carefully remove the masking to reveal your new marking.


Take your time while masking and painting and go one step at a time. Apply your lighter base coats first and then add darker colors over the lighter ones.


The same techniques are used on the wings.

Scale Side Badges

right side cloud heart

Here’s the photo of the full size airplane showing the markings I want to duplicate.

IMG_0030 (2)

Before I even started painting the model, I used my CAD program to trace the markings from the airplane photograph. I then scale it to the size of  my RC airplane.


I used the CAD drawing to make these masks and taped off the white area with Blue tape.


Add paper masking  and then mist on the paint in several light coats. I use a medium air pressure and a medium amount of paint. I adjust the flow so the gun when held about 8 to 10 inches from the surface, produces a smooth glossy coat. Not too wet and not too dry.


Remove the masking tape and be sure to wait about 12 hours before masking over new paint!


For clean cut lines, I use a glass oven tray as a cutting surface. Guess what color I will shoot with this mask?

cloud heart

Did you guess red? Here’s the completed aircraft markings. Side badges on WW1 airplanes were very common and were personal to each pilot making the airplane unique to him.


The same technique is used for this treatment of the cowling. With the cardboard templates made from poster board, I was able to flip the guide pieces and make mirror-image masks from blue tape. Works like a champ.


Here’s a Hint: The cowling being aluminum was cleaned with MEK to degrease it, then I shot on two or three coats of Feather Coat primer. I then painted the cowling face white with Poly Tone. I masked off the face and then shot on the black. After it dries overnight, I will shoot on some clear coat to really make the finish tough and more resistant to gasoline and oil from the engine.

Featured News, Gerry Yarrish

About the author

Senior Technical Editor About Me: I have a lifelong passion for all things scale, and I love to design, build and fly scale RC airplanes. With 20 plus years as part of the Air Age family of magazines, I love producing Model Airplane News and Electric Flight.

3 Responses to “Scale Painting and Masking Tricks for Cloth Covered Models”

  1. Mike Callahan says:

    If I might make a suggestion. Using the rudder of the triplane as a example. The rudder base
    color is white. After you get the maltese cross masked, paint it white first. This will seal the
    edges of your mask, then paint with black. None of the black will run under the edges of the mask.

  2. Bob Dunlop says:

    Very nice work!

  3. Gerry Yarrish says:

    Mike. This is an oldie but goodie. With masking tape it will work but does lengthen the process as you wait for the base color sealing the tape to dry. With Poly Tone drying so fast and using the flex tape, it is not required. But thanks for the comment.

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