Wednesday, December 9, 2015

How to Paint a Resin Seat with Molded In Belts

Hi Guys,

This tutorial will show you how I paint resin seats with molded in harnesses.

Lots of modelers hate dealing with fussy photoetched belts. Tiny parts, stiff metal belts that require repeated bending and fitting to allow the harness to drape naturally. The pre-colored belts look really amazing on the fret, but anyone who has tried their hand at installing these knows that you have to take great care not to bend them too much, as the paint will flake off. This makes installing natural looking belts even more difficult.

Molded in belts have the advantage of being pre-installed, and tend to look much more organic and naturally draped. The challenge is painting them to bring out the best of the cast in details. Shown below is the final result of the process I will be describing.

1/48th scale Spitfire seat with early Sutton Harness from Barracuda Studios BR48194 Spitfire IX Cockpit Snapshot Upgrade set.

Once the seat has been removed from the casting block by careful sawing, cleanup up the casting, removing flash from the hole in the seatback (if necessary). You can wash the seat before painting, but we don't use any mold release, so its not necessary. You can prime the seat if you prefer. Some acrylic paints tend to adhere better to primed plastic and resin.
I like to mount parts on a wooden coffee stirring stick to ease handling during painting. You can attach it with a small blob of poster putty such as Blu-tack, or you can secure it with a small drop or two of Super Glue (CA).

Early Mk I and II Spitfires had metal seats. They could be painted black or Interior Grey Green. Most later Spitfire seats were made of a paper impregnated resin called Tufnol. The resin varied a bit in color, but most were a rich terra cotta color. I find a great match to simulate this finish is Testors Model Master Rust. For this article, I used RAF Interior Grey Green from Akan. It's a reasonably good match, although a bit too warm. I like it because it brush paints well.
 Begin by spraying the seat with Model Master Rust. I thin it with Mr. Color thinner or lacquer thinner to speed the drying time. When this has set, I mix the base color with a little yellow and either stipple or sponge paint the seat. I repeat the process with a slightly darker, browner version of the color. the idea is to end up with a subtle, blotchy looking finish to replicate the look of the original resin seat.
The base and pedestal can then either be masked and sprayed with Interior Grey Green, or brush painted. I actually painted the bases first, then masked and sprayed the seat color. Its a lot more work. Won't do THAT again!

The seat backpad was them brush painted with Vallejo black lightened a bit with Vallejo Khaki. I thin it a little with water to improve flow and prevent obscuring detail. Vallejo paint brushes beautifully.
 The only downside is that its bond with plastic is not that good and can be rubbed off corners with too much handling. A sprayed overcoat of future will toughen it up and make it bulletproof! The straps of the Early pin-and-clip style Sutton harness were then carefully brush painted with Vallejo Khaki lightened with Vallejo Buff.
This is where the seat starts coming to life. To really pop out the detail and bring the belts to life, a wash is now applied using my patented ,exclusive, super secret, never-before-seen-on-TV Future Wash.  This is the best was I've ever used on detail areas. It works wonders in gearbays and cockpits and wheel hubs and the like. Its not good for external panel washes, though.

Mix 1 part Future floor wax (now called Pledge Floor Care and by other brand names such as Johnson's Klear overseas.) with 1 part water. Add a small amount of Acrylic black paint (I use Vallejo) and stir to make a very pale wash. Try it on some test pieces. Flood the area with the wash and watch it collect in corners, creating subtle gradated shadows when it dries. The advantage is that the pigment never breaks up like enamel washes do. Experiment with the concentration til you find what works for you. If its too subtle. Go back and apply a second coat once the first has dried.

Paint the pin, clip and grommets with brass paint. I have found that Citadel Runelord Brass has the least grain of all the brass paints I've tried, and it brushes reasonably well. The buckles are then painted with silver, in this case the wonderful (and now extinct) Floquil Old Silver. 
Apply the wash (or whatever wash you prefer) to the seat. Take care to absord excess wash that collects in corners so you don't end up with excessive shading. Like I said, practice of some spare parts and learn the technique. The Future Wash also has the advantage of adding a tough protective coat to the paint. The seat will now be glossy.
The final step is to drybrush the edges of the seat with a light red brown color and the belts with Vallejo Buff The seat backpad can be drybrushed with Vallejo khaki. I add small scratchy lines of Khaki to the backpad to simulate the cracked and abraded black leather that is exposing the undyed hide color below. In this scale, it is pretty small and will probably never be seen, but what the hell. We are having fun, right?

You may notice that the upper harness straps that go over the back of the seat and through the slot in the head armor is missing. This is supplied as a separate part in our upgrade kit and is to be painted with the same techniques. 

The last thing to do is to seal the painted seat with a matt or light satin finish. This seat is destined for an Eduard Mk VIII currently underway on the workbench. As I am a Spitfire nut, four seats were set up and painted all at the same time. I will be glad I did when its time to build some Eduard Mk IXs and XVIs!

Let us know if you enjoyed this tutorial and/or if  learned something from it.

Happy modelling!  Roy


  1. Super tutorial Roy! Keep'em coming!

    1. Brilliant tutorial, just what I needed to get to grips with my resin Spit seat

  2. Its always fun to see how someone rlse does it. Im looking forward to trying these techniques on my own Spits.

  3. Bang on! Apart from substituting enamels and lacquers for your acrylics, my techniques are similar to yours. I like the idea of spongeing the red-brown of the seat to vary the colour density.

    And my last 'production run' was of 8 seats! (Obsession is a terrible thing!)

  4. Thank you Roy, always a pleasure.

    1. EXCELLENT...!! I normally hate brush painting but this is a great and useful aid for us "fat thumbers"...! Well done.

  5. Great tuto Roy, Thanks a lot, Raf

  6. Very helpful tutorial, Roy. I've got the inspiration to tackle this very seat in my own 1/48 Mk VI.... Thanks!

  7. Thanks Guys. It seems this has been a popular post. I will endeavor to do more hands on tutorials in 2016! Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and/or Happy Holidays and/or Happy Festivus (for the rest of us)!

  8. Great tutorial! Thanks for sharing!

  9. Fantastic tip! I can not wait to try it out.
    I have a project I would like to stat but I need plans for it and since you have star wars II to your credit I was hoping you could help some. I want to build a at at walker but I am having problems finding plans with measurements, I am new to the hobby and my research skills are lacking some. thank you for your time.

    1. Sorry, I don't know your name, it doesn't show. There are no official plans for the AT-AT and as to scale, it depends on the shot . It seems to vary quite a bit. I was shown a set of the original milled AT-AT leg parts for the 4 foot studio model by Steve Gawley back in 2000, but no idea of scale. Just FYI, Dragon is releasing both a 1/144th scale and 1/35th scale AT-AT soon.

  10. Great tutorial Roy! Looking forward to more of your pearls of wisdom in 2016.

  11. first time I read about klear to be used for wash. great tip and great tutorial. Can't wait for more.

  12. Hi Roy, really interesting always to see how other people go about finishing interiors and the techniques and materials they use, your seat looks very realistic and the finish just the right density.

    One tip I can share with you and your followers which works really well on anything brass, aluminium or other metallic fittings and fixtures is to use "Rub n Buff"in place of metal paint.

    It's an American product that is readily available from art supply shops in a good range of shades including Brass, Silver, Gold etc.

    It comes in a small tube and is paste-like in consistency.

    Simply use a VERY small amount on a fine tipped brush but remove most of it by wiping on a kitchen towel prior to dry brushing on the desired metallic fitting.

    Once dried, polishing with a clean soft and dry paintbrush will brighten the finish whilst adding depth.

    It can even be thinned and sprayed by using Cellulose or lighter fuel as a thinner.

    The Silver shades also work brilliantly on matt black cockpit coamings and ejector seats, machine guns etc to lift the patina of the black and add depth, but the brush needs to be almost dry and contain almost no Rub n Buff.., as always, trial and patience are key to obtain the right balance.

    Give it a go!...

    Kind regards.

    David Draycott- 580 Modellers IPMS UK.

  13. That was great, thank you for sharing.

  14. Hi Roy: Wish I'd read this two years ago when you first published it! Your super-secret wash using future floor polish is going in my file of keeper techniques! Thanks,Patrick

  15. I just tried the Future wash. Results are very striking. Very dark, uniform lines in the corners.

  16. Came to look for a Hurricane 1/48 seat :( but found this so :) I'll be giving moulded in belt seats another try with this. Thank You.

  17. Fantastic tutorial Roy and the wash is superb, I particularly like the way it tends to sharpen up any errant paintwork when detailing the back road and seatbelts
    Great work, thankyou and best wishes Howard

  18. For back back cushion