Painting Your BodyWe at HPI want to share with you some of our tips that we use to make our bodies fresh.
Protective Body FilmEvery HPI body comes with a convenient protective film that prevents overspray from getting on the outside of your body. Be sure to peel it off before you put your stickers on! This body film allows you to cut out vents, wheel wells or body post holes (on non-HPI cars, see below) while the body is still clear. You can also use a permanent marker to outline the windows and place painting ideas on the body, so you can visualize how the car will look with the paint on it. If you want to change something while it's still in the drawing phase, you can just use denatured alcohol or motor spray on a rag to wipe away the lines you don't want to use.
Decals Included with Every BodyHPI includes free vinyl decals with every body we make. Most have window outlines to cover the edges of the windows, headlights and tail lights, car logos and sponsor decals. Air intakes for brakes or engine cooling are included as well, to 'finish out' the detailing of your car. If you have decals left over from other bodies, you can mix and match the lights and other features of the car to create a 'custom' car, such as the Honda Civic Type R (which really does exist!).
Body Mount DimplesHPI bodies come with body mounting locations on the body itself. These 'dimples' can be hard to see, but located on each of our bodies are the locations to drill for the front and rear body mounts, the hole for the antenna, plus the hole for a Nitro engine glow plug igniter (on wide bodies). The front body mounts have both sets of holes marked, depending on whether you use the bumper body posts or the front bulkhead body posts. Also included on all of our 200mm wide bodies are dimples to make an access hole for the side muffler from our Nitro RS4 2 and RTR Nitro RS4 kits, and a glow plug igniter hole so you don't have to take the body off to start the car! These body post markings will help make sure you drill the holes in the exact spots for whatever HPI RS4 car you may have. The sedan and street truck bodies will also fit perfectly on the standard Tamiya (TAO2/3) sedan body mounts.
Perfect Wheel WellsIn order to make our wheel wells look perfect, we use what's called a compass cutter, available at art supply stores. The most popular one is from a company called Olfa, and is basically a compass with a blade on the outside instead of a pencil or pen. The exact model of circle cutter we use is the CMP-1. X-Acto also offers a circle cutter, the part number from them is X7753. Olfa Circle Cutter Finished Product with a Circle Cutter Shown above is the compass cutter (also called a circle cutter), and the excellent result of using this tool on the Accord body that is on the front of our RS4 Pro box. To use the compass cutter, find the center mark of the wheel well (standard feature on all HPI bodies) and put the pin where the center lines meet. On some bodies, the center mark can be 'hidden' by letters or symbols, but it's there, trust us! Poke the pin through the center mark, so you have something stable the blade can rotate around. With the body resting against something so it is stable and on its side, adjust the radius of the circle that will be cut until you are happy with the size of the circle. HPI bodies come with trim lines around the wheel wells, so you can use those lines or go wider or narrower, if you wish. Making sure the blade is sharp and the center pin is secure, put it firmly against the Lexan and run the blade around in a full circle. Do this two or three times, and you'll soon be able to push out the circle with your fingers, and there you go, a perfect circle! Trim the body where the wheel well meets the ground effects with Lexan scissors so the wheel well doesn't look too funny, then you can use a fine-grit piece of sandpaper to smooth the edges of the circle. If you race, we recommend that you cut out a little extra material at the rear of the back wheel wells. This will help prevent the body getting stuck on the wheel if someone were to rear-end you. Have you ever heard a driver yelling, "The body! Check the body!" when their car slows to a crawl? What happened was that driver got in wreck and the rear quarter panel of the car was forced onto the rear wheel, which was spinning, and since the body can't rotate around the wheel the car came to a stop. Prevent this by cutting more material out of the rear wheel well. Make it come straight down, and you should rarely, if ever, encounter this problem.
Preparing the Body for PaintingWash the Body Wash out the body with warm water and a drop of dish washing soap. Be sure to let the body dry completely in the sun, in front of a fan or use a lint-free cloth to get all the water spots out. The body has to be completely dry for the paint to stick properly. Mask the Windows We include super-flexible vinyl window masking with all of our bodies, so you no longer have to use tons of masking tape to make sure you have clear windows! However, if you don't want to use the free window masking that comes with our bodes, you can follow our old directions below: Use high-quality masking tape (a brand like 3M, etc.) to mask off the windows. If you can, purchase 1", 2" and 3" wide rolls of the masking tape. This will let you do very creative masking designs. Use the 3" wide roll to mask the windows and large areas of the body, such as the hood, the doors, etc. The thinner widths are easier to bend for striping and fit into crevices in the body easier than the very wide rolls. Mark off the windows on the outside with a Sharpie or similar black permanent marker, and apply the masking tape to the inside of the body We will be including vinyl window masking with our bodies in the near future, which will make painting bodies much easier! Trim the Window Masking Using the window outlines you made earlier as a guide, use a sharp X-acto blade or similar hobby knife to cut the excess tape off around the windows. The window decals we provide on the decal sheet help cover up some wavy cuts, but still try to make straight cut lines. Seal the Masking Tape Use your fingernail or a burnishing tool to press down the edges of the masking tape. This helps prevent the paint from seeping underneath the tape. Mask the Rest of the Body By now, you may have a good idea of how you want the car to look. If your car is going to be one colour, you can skip this step. However, if you want a full-out race team paint job or even a two-tone paint scheme, read on. You can get ideas from racing shows on television, pictures of full-size cars from magazines or from pictures of our own HPI bodies! Plan to paint the darkest colours of your paint scheme first, because you don't want a dark tone to your white or fluorescent colours. Using the same steps from masking off the windows with tape, plan out your paint job:
- Use a Sharpie permanent marker and draw the striping concept on the outside of the body. If you make a mistake, use denatured alcohol on a rag to wipe away any lines you don't want.
- Put colour codes where you want a particular colour to be (BLK for black, W for white, R for red, etc.)
- Again, plan on painting the colours darkest to lightest (black, then purple, then blue, etc., with fluorescent colours and white last).
- If you want to have thin pinstripes, use Pactra masking tape (it is available in widths from 1/16" to 3/8") or Pactra colour pinstriping tape (available in all the basic colours, can be applied inside or outside the body).
- Mask off the lightest area with masking tape (use 3" wide for large areas and 2" and 1" for tough crevices like bumpers and notch backs).
- Again, press down the edges of the masking tape with your fingernail so the paint will not bleed underneath. You'll have much better success if you use new, high-quality tape than old, dried-out or cheap masking tape.