Painting plastic toys is a great way to take your hobby to a more serious level. Even though painting the intricate parts of a toy and waiting for the paint coat to dry can take a lot of time, the process is both fun and very rewarding. Use a combination of brush and spray paint to create layers of color, from the widest to the most detailed in your toy. Don't rush and work slowly. Make sure your hands are not shaking and work your brush in gradually for a beautiful result. When using spray paint, spray the paint quickly to get an even finish. With enough practice, you can make toys look even more elegant!
Method 1 of 3: Selecting Materials and Preparing Toys
Step 1. Look for acrylic toy paint to make the painting process easier
Acrylic toy paint is a standard choice among toy enthusiasts. This paint is easy to apply and can be diluted with water. However, acrylic paint is not as durable as spray paint or enamel. Use acrylic paint if you're not concerned about durability.
- Acrylic paints are easier to repair if they start to fade or fade.
- You can use water to clean up spilled acrylic paint. If the paint has dried, use a mixture of water and soap to clean it.
- Purchase acrylic paint for toys at your local art supply store.
Step 2. Use an enamel toy paint if you want the result to last a long time
Enamel paints are thicker and stronger, and can produce colors that last much longer than other paints. Enamel paint must be diluted with a few drops of a special enamel thinner. You can clean this paint without using an acid, such as paint thinner. Choose an enamel paint if you want permanent results that don't fade easily.
The amount of thinner needed to soften the texture of the paint will depend on the finish you want. Using a small amount of thinner will produce a thick coat of paint, while using a 1:1 mixture will produce an almost transparent color
Most enamel paints are toxic. Wear a respirator when applying enamel paint in an enclosed space. Wear rubber gloves to prevent paint from getting on your hands. Read the label on the enamel paint can carefully before buying it so that you understand the safety measures that need to be taken.
Step 3. Use a synthetic brush to prevent the bristles from being damaged
Cheap brushes made of bristles or plastic are very easy to damage if used for too long. High-quality synthetic brushes tend not to change shape in the long run. Small synthetic brushes are also less prone to damage when you apply a small amount of paint. This technique is often used to color plastic toys. Purchase a set of brushes of various sizes to make the painting process easier.
- Synthetic brushes made of sable or fox fur are great options for painting plastic toys.
- You can use a brush made of high quality bristles, but they can be very expensive. The result of painting with this brush is not much different unless you are very skilled at painting toys.
Step 4. Skip the primer unless you're painting a toy made of several different materials
Primer can help the paint stick to the surface of the toy, but it can also damage the engraving and make the paint layer look thick. Plus, you don't need an extra layer of protection if the toy is rarely touched. Skip the primer unless you handle the toy a lot, or if it's a combination of plastic, wood, or metal. If your toys are made of different materials, a primer can help produce an even color.
Use a white primer if you want to polish the surface of the toy. Hold the can of primer about 25-30 cm from the toy, then spray quickly and evenly until the entire surface of the toy is covered with paint. Wait up to 24 hours for the primer to dry
Step 5. Mix the paint evenly before placing it on the palette
Substances in acrylic and enamel toy paint will spread when placed in the bottle for too long. Before painting, use a mixing stick or spare brush to mix the paint in the container. Stir for 20-30 seconds before pouring onto a paint palette or container. To paint small miniatures, use a dropper to make it easier to pick up small amounts of paint.
Stirring the paint before starting the job will ensure that the color comes out evenly. For example, if you don't stir red paint before applying, some of the red that comes out may appear darker or lighter than the original
Step 6. Clean your toys with soap and water before painting
Before starting to paint toys, clean them first so that dust or dirt particles that stick are not covered by paint. Put warm water in a bowl of water, then add 5-10 ml of dish soap. Mix water and soap together before submerging the toy. Scrub the surface with a clean toothbrush for 1-2 minutes. After that, rinse your toys under running water and dry them with a clean cloth.
- There are many plastic toys that are coated with resin or chemicals to keep their shape from changing during the manufacturing process. This layer is no longer needed. Brushing them clean can make your toys look nicer.
- You can soak toys in isopropyl alcohol before rinsing and cleaning if you prefer.
Method 2 of 3: Painting Complex Shaped Toys with a Brush
Step 1. Give the base color with as few brush strokes as possible
To start painting small or intricately shaped toys, prepare the base color you want to use. Dip the brush in the paint, then wipe it over the edge of the container or palette to remove excess paint. Apply the base color of the paint to the area to be colored by brushing as little as possible. Hold the brush at a slight angle, then sweep the brush as far as you can without hitting the areas you don't want to color.
- To paint large areas, use a flat brush. The tip of the brush should be smaller than the painted area. Toys are smaller than 30 cm, use a 2-5 cm brush. The size of the brush depends on the taste of each person.
- If the base color used is a "light" color, you can paint the entire surface of the toy. Other paints can easily mask the color. If the base color used is a dark color, such as black or navy blue, don't let the color hit other areas of the toy. You'll need to coat the surface of the toy several times to remove the dark base color.
- To find a base color, decide what color will dominate the most area on the surface of the toy. This color is known as the base color.
- Some toys come with recommendations for matching colors. However, you can actually choose any color. There is no right or wrong choice when choosing colors. Everything is up to you!
Step 2. Sweep the brush repeatedly to make sure the paint is evenly applied
When painting toys, brush over and over again in the same place so that there are no gaps. If you run the brush in different areas, there will naturally be gaps between the colors. Sweep the brush repeatedly to make sure the color is even.
This will also prevent the paint from spreading too far because you'll be running the brush over paint that hasn't dried yet. If you need to add paint to areas where the color isn't even, wait for the base coat to dry before adding a new color
Step 3. Wait 24-72 hours before painting again for the previous paint to dry
After finishing the initial coat, wait 24-72 hours for the paint to dry. Acrylic paints usually dry within 24-48 hours, while enamel paints will dry within 48-72 hours. The thickness of the car coating also affects the duration of the paint drying.
If you try to mix colors, you can continue to paint even if the base paint is still wet
Step 4. Add other colors to the most detailed part after giving the base color
After finishing painting the base color, add another layer of dominant color. Start with the largest layer of color to the smallest so you don't have to brush lightly. Use a small brush to make thin layers, then apply the paint in the same motion. Brush the paint repeatedly on the same area so that the color is even.
For example, if you're painting a toy shaped like a policeman, the base coat might be a police uniform brown. The next color that must be affixed is the color of the policeman's skin, then silver for the belt and black for other details on the police uniform
Step 5. Paint the details of the toy using a thinner brush in short sweeping motions
After giving the base color, start working on the details. Use the thinnest brush to create small lines, textures, or shadows. Use smooth strokes and just wet the tip of the brush so the paint doesn't stick too much. Work slowly and be careful not to color the wrong areas.
- For some people, it is easier to keep hands steady when working on a desk or stack of books. Keeping your hands steady is the best way to ensure that you brush your brushes neatly.
- Don't push yourself too hard. Mastering the skill to paint small details on toys takes time. The more you practice, the more proficient you will be at it.
- For small miniatures, use a round brush of type 0, 00, or 000. These brushes are smaller than 0.079 cm. To paint details from larger miniatures, use a type 1 or 2 brush that is slightly larger than 0.079 cm.
Curved lines are usually easier to draw if you don't brush once. Instead of making one curved line, try to make a straight line that eventually bends little by little until the shape is curved.
Step 6. Dilute the paint before making the texture or color transparent
If you want to add dirt, blood, dust, or other texture, dilute the paint before applying. Acrylic paints can be diluted with water, while enamel paints can only be diluted with special liquids. Start by adding a drop or two of the diluent before mixing it into the paint. Keep adding thinner until you get the color and look you want.
- Test the mixed paint on a blank paper or cloth to see the results. If you don't like the texture, add paint or thinner to get the color you want.
- Use a dropper to mix the paint if you're coloring small toys. You usually don't need more than a drop or two of thinner to thin the paint used to create the texture.
Step 7. Use a toothpick to carve out grooves or add small details
For very intricate details, use a toothpick with a sharp edge. Use it to scrape the paint off and add details. You can also dip the tip of a toothpick in the paint and then use it to color certain areas.
If you're trying to add shadow, use a cotton ball instead of a toothpick. This method is usually able to create a shadow effect without the need to increase the quantity of paint
Step 8. Clean the brush as soon as you finish painting
When you're done painting the toys, fill a cup with 5-8 cm of cleaning liquid. Use water to clean acrylic paint brushes or a special cleaning fluid for enamel paint brushes. Rub the bristles of the brush against the rim of the cup repeatedly to remove excess paint. After a little paint remains, wash the used paint brush under a stream of warm water.
- Never press the brush directly into the bottom of the cup. This method can damage the bristles of the brush.
- After you dry the brush, apply Vaseline to the brush to make it last longer.
- If you don't clean your brushes, you'll be wasting a lot of money buying new brushes.
Method 3 of 3: Spray Paint to Create Base Colors or Paint Simple Toys
Step 1. Use spray paint to create a uniform base color before painting it with a brush
If you have a toy where most of the surface is going to be painted one color, use spray paint to produce a uniform texture as the base color. You can use a brush to paint the details or apply another layer of color after the base paint has dried. Spray paint is the easiest way to color large areas with a single color.
- You can use regular spray paint to color plastic toys. Just read the can carefully to make sure the paint isn't made specifically for wood, metal, or materials other than plastic.
- Most toys that are larger than 15 cm use a combination of spray paint and paint applied with a brush to color them.
This is a great way to paint a miniature car or tank. These objects usually only need 1-2 colors to look attractive. This is not a great way to create a base color for a toy that needs to be painted in multiple colors.
Step 2. Work in a well-ventilated area, if possible outdoors
Spray paint can be toxic if inhaled too much. So, color your toys outdoors. If you can't, open all the windows in the room you work in, turn on the fan, and wear a dust mask or respirator.
- You don't need a respirator or dust mask if you're working outside.
- Spray paint is only useful if you need to color large areas of the toy's surface or add a base color. Brush painting is the most common method for coloring toys, while spray paint is best when you're painting a large, monochrome toy. Some common examples are miniature airplanes, boats, cars, or ships – all of these toys usually only use 1-2 colors.
- Wear rubber gloves if you want to keep your fingers clean. Spray paint usually spreads from the spray head.
Step 3. Place your toy on a large piece of paper or cardboard
Spread out a large piece of paper or cardboard. Place your toy on the mat. If the toy is unassembled, place each piece of your toy in the center of the base at a distance of 2.5-5 cm from each other. This will prevent the spray paint from splashing onto the floor, patio, or countertop.
Color the detailed parts of the toy when you're done assembling it. Feel free to add a layer of base color before painting it. In fact, applying a base color before assembling the toy can ensure that no gaps remain between each piece of the toy
Step 4. Use painting tape to cover the areas you want to keep clean
This method is almost impossible for small toys, but if your toy is more than 18-20 cm, you can use some painting tape to keep some areas of the surface of the toy clean. Glue several pieces of tape in a stack. Press down on each piece of tape after it's stuck to the surface of the toy to make sure no air bubbles are trapped underneath.
For example, if you're painting a miniature car, use painting tape to cover the sides of the windshield. This will keep the windshield clean while you paint the car body
Step 5. Shake the spray paint can and test the product by spraying it in the air or onto a piece of paper
Before painting, shake the can of spray paint until the balls in it move quickly and make a loud noise. After that, hold the can upside down and press the spray head for 2-3 seconds to let the remaining air out. Turn the can over to its original position, then spray the paint onto a piece of paper to make sure the paint comes out evenly.
Remaining paint particles in the nozzle can harden. This causes paint to spray everywhere. Test first to make sure the paint layer remains even and beautiful when applied
Step 6. Hold the can about 25-30 cm from the toy
Tilt the paint can at a 45-degree angle to the toy you want to color. Make sure the sprayer is about 25-30 cm from the surface of the toy. If you get too close, the paint will drip. If it is too far away, the paint on the surface of the toy will not be flat.
When spraying paint, adjust the distance from the toy according to your satisfaction with the spray
Step 7. Spray paint quickly and smoothly onto the surface of the toy
Press the spray head and move it across the surface of the toy. Do this quickly so the paint doesn't drip and the color is even. Repeat the process by moving the paint can in the opposite direction, then back in the previous direction. Spray paint quickly and evenly to ensure that the paint comes out evenly.
- Color all parts of the toy by spraying paint from various sides.
- You can use a variety of different colors to create a special effect, such as a camouflage, dusty, or dirty effect.
- Keep spraying until the color of the toy matches your desired pattern and texture.
Step 8. Wait at least 1 hour before adding a new layer of color
Read the label on the spray paint can to see how long it takes for the paint to dry. Usually, spray paint will start to dry after 30 minutes and completely dry after 1 hour. Wait a full hour before adding a new color or turning the toy over to paint the other side.
Paint the other side of your toy using the same spray paint to maintain uniform color and coating thickness
Step 9. Wait 24 hours before painting the toy with a brush or handling the toy
Even though spray paint dries within an hour, a coat of paint absorbs fingerprints very easily if you touch it immediately after an hour has passed. To be safe, wait 24 hours before painting a toy with a brush or touching it.
Step 10. Use an airbrush to spray a small amount of paint onto the surface of the toy
You can use an airbrush instead of spray paint if you want to create a spray paint look on a smaller scale. To use it, prepare an airbrush kit and first dilute the paint with enamel thinner or water until the paint is really runny and thin. Pour 10-15 drops of the paint into the cup above the airbrush, then adjust the spray head to be about 10-20 cm from the toy you want to paint. Press the trigger to release the paint. Wear a respirator when using an airbrush.
- Use water to thin the acrylic paint and an enamel cleaner to thin the enamel paint.
- You can adjust the airbrush pressure. You need good control when using the airbrush. So, use a low psi setting. A pressure of 2-6 psi is usually sufficient.