Painting A Helmet For My Son

Jealous of your work. I have painted a few RC car bodies, but don’t have the :peanuts: to risk messing up a helmet.

Turned out really clean looking! :+1:t2:

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Nice work. The purple pops so nice.

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Looks good!

twenty characters or more…

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All done finally! More issues with this one than all of the others that I’ve painted but learned some things along the way :man_shrugging: Thanks again to TJ for the help as always! Already planning the next helmet which will just be an old helmet to practice a design for my daughter. I’m going to try and airbrush a caricature of her on the back!


Came out amazing! Great job John. Seeing yours and TJ’s stuff keep popping up really makes me wanna get back to painting!

Also visor strip looks great. :wink:


Thanks. You should do it Clayton! It can be frustrating but very rewarding when it’s all done:)

The 2nd layer of clearcoat makes it super shiny…

@tjkoyen how many coats of clear until its diminishing returns?

Also, do you wax them? Like with car wax?

I usually can get all the paint edges gone after two rounds of clear. Each round of clear is three coats. So six coats I guess to get the helmet fully flat. It depends on colors used and detail work as well. Some paints cover quicker and require less coats, so you can bury the paint edge with less clear.

I think about 6-9 coats of clear is probably where you stop really being able to see the added depth and gloss. You can get the clear to mirror-perfect smoothness in that amount. You could add more layers and give it a bit more depth, but we also have to consider that the helmet can’t be too heavy or the driver will suffer. I think the lightest paint job I’ve actually weighed that I’ve done was around 60g. I did a Bitcoin helmet for Conor Daly a couple years ago that had an embossed vinyl pattern, gold leafing, and that one ended up being so heavy that he could only wear it on ovals or his neck would wear out on street courses.

So my goal always is to make the helmet as smooth and deep and glossy as possible without making it uncomfortable to wear, which means you have to be pretty precise and consider every detail of the paint job so you don’t get too much build up of paint or clear. Sometimes it takes a while of staring at the design and figuring out in your head how to layer or mask it to both reduce layers and paint build, but also make it efficient and not make the paint job take endless hours.

I polish and wax the helmet with a spray wax at the end, but you don’t want to apply a true traditional wax until the clear is fully cured which can take a week or more depending on what clear you’re using. Otherwise the wax can haze up the clear if it’s applied too soon.


Thanks! I hadn’t figured that the weight of the paints could be that significant.

It seems that whenever you find someone who is a master of their craft (no matter what it is), you will find a depth of understanding that a layman, or even a hobbyist, just can’t identify or understand. That’s no knock on the layman or hobbyist, it’s just that to get to the ‘master’ level, you have to continually “peal the onion” and ask the right questions of yourself, your equipment, your craft, so that you can see, understand, and exploit the underlying relationships between them.

Thanks for sharing TJ!


I ended up with 6 coats of clear. You still feel a little ridge on some of the edges but it is pretty smooth.

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Appreciate that Warren, but I’m not sure I’m a master yet! My preferred method for learning anything in painting has always been “stumble through it yourself and continually f-ck up, but remember the f-ck ups as to not repeat them”. :wink:

I’m certainly not the fastest, cleanest, most efficient painter out there, but the goal (as with skill) is to always fine tune the craft and make little changes here and there to the process… and then after you do that for 10 years like I have, you end up kind of knowing what you’re doing!


That’s something a master would say. :wink: :rofl:

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John, that is amazing work.

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Thanks Larry, I’m improving with each one!

I would say when you have Indycar and IMSA drivers sporting your work you are a master!

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And that for me is the hard part, figuring out the sequence so that you aren’t building up too many layers. Thinking ten steps ahead is difficult for my modest brain🤷🏻‍♂️

I bought myself a new Iwata airbrush for Xmas. Just need to get a new proper HVLP gun. That and to stop my 5 other side gigs :upside_down_face:

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I just finished two helmets where the client wanted to match OEM automotive colors and I just ordered aerosol spray cans of the colors he wanted, was nice not to have to clean out my spray gun for that whole project. You don’t need no stinkin’ fancy gun!

The five other side gigs is another problem…

I bought two new Badger airbrushes to add to my collection that I’m excited to try out. Not as fancy as my Iwatas, but way cheaper and solid. I have two partially complete Master brushes, three Iwata Eclipses, two Paasche Talons, and now two Badger 100Ls. The Iwatas have been my daily drivers for a few years now and they are getting pretty beat up and wore out.