Everyone loves shiny things! But how do get that shiny chrome metal finish on your props?  It’s actually pretty simple, and here’s how….

First off you’ll need to do a little prep work on what ever you want to make shiny. Now as far as the material goes, I have yet to try this on anything flexable like foam, so this is more so for rigid props, like plastic, fiberglass, and resin.  What ever your material, you’ll need to make sure it has a smooth surface to begin with.  To do that, you’re going to need to do some wet sanding if you want the smoothest finish. I’d say going up to a 600 grit should be enough.  For more wet sanding and painting prep grab a copy of my e book.

The real key here is all in the prep work.  The more you body shop and sand the piece that you want to have a shiny finish, the better it’s going to look. Also make sure you are in a dust free area and your prop is dust free, especially while it’s drying.  Making a prop this shiny will highlight all the imperfections.

Now, you’ve gotten your prop or part you want to be shiny all ready to paint!  First you’re going to need to prime it.  Rustoleum primer will work fine, I generally go with black when I want to paint metal.  For this particular piece I used P3 black primer, it’s a low build primer meant for painting small scale models.  Low build means that it won’t go on thick and you wont loose any tiny details. they also sell high build primers if you’re looking to fill in scratches, which is great for body shopping.

Once the piece is primed, and you’ve given it ample time to dry (read the directions on the can) you’ll need to make it glossy!  For this I used a high luster lacquer.  Make sure to not go too heavy on coats or spray too close with the lacquer. If you do then you will get a ripply uneven surface, an you’ll have to wet sand that down and re apply the lacquer.  Do a couple coats if you need to. For this mask I did 2 coats. Let that dry for an hour or so.

Now it’s time for the metal!  For this I used Alclad chrome.  It’s a lacquer based paint that’s very thin and is applied using an airbrush.  What’s that, you’ve never air brushed before? well, it’s very easy and a great method for painting props.  You don’t need a fancy airbrush either since you’ll just be laying down coats of paint and taping off any areas if need be.  In fact you can get a super cheap airbrush set up from Amazon or Harbor Freight that will get the job done, it’s what I use.  A single action airbrush at around 20-25 psi is all you need.

So you’ve got your air brush set up, a bit of the Alclad color of your choice (they have quite a large range of metal finishes) lets make it shiny!  Alclad paints are very thin and also slightly transparent, which is why it’s important to have that glossy black base to paint on top of.  About 2 coats with the Alclad is enough.

Lastly you’ll need to protect your metal surface.  To do that, just use the Alclad brand clear gloss coat.  When applying it, you can’t really see where it’s going, since it’s clear.  So you’ll need to paint it in a back and forth pattern, kind of like mowing a lawn.  2 coats of the clear is all I do.  If you want it to be extremely protected, then paint it with a flexable automotive clear coat and it will survive all but a nuclear blast.  From here you can add grime and washes to get into the recesses and really make your paint job pop, give it some depth. OR use the chipped paint technique!

Well there it is!  Simple and quick shiny metal finish.  Lets’s go over that again with some numbered steps

1-Prep your piece to be painted

2-Prime it

3-Coat with high luster Lacquer

4-Alclad metal paint

5-Seal it with Alclad gloss clear

And lastly, your shopping list.  Here’s everything you’ll need, short of prep materials.

Primer

High luster lacquer

Alclad metal

Alclad gloss clear

Airbrush kit

 

If you want more great knowledge on painting props and costumes, pick up a copy of my painting book!

As always, happy fabricating friends!

-WM