Tinting Canopies

Tools 'n' Tips Article by Kaan Gök in 2002



I had a spare canopy (left from Academy's Su-27 UB) and a good photo showing the canopy, so I began to experiment.  The key here is to get the tint mixture that when dry looks like the canopy you are trying to copy.

I start with a base mixture consisting of clear orange and yellow. I painted the canopy with this mixture and a brush, left it to dry and placed it near the photo to check the tone.  It is important to experiment till you get the tone of the tinting colour correct.  I experimented with the mixture until the tone of the canopy looked exactly like the tone on the photo, because of that I cannot provide the exact ratios. You can get rid of this tinted mixture from the canopy using a cloth soaked in alcohol and try again. 

After the correct tone is achieved, I added 50:50 Tamiya clear. This enables you to gradually build up the tone using your airbrush in the final stage.  

Do not airbrush straight colours, because this makes the canopy too dark in the first pass.  

Finally, I added a very small amount of Tamiya gold to give it a little metallic shine.  Then airbrushed the canopy outside, left it dry and buff it using Tamiya compound.
There could be a mistake though, someone told me that the canopy photo I have used is from a Danish F-16, (It was in the Daco book), and Danish F-16's have a more intense yellow hue. U.S. F-16's have a lighter colored canopy, but it was too late to correct :(

Kaan Gök

Additional info from Steve Bamford

One option is to to dip the canopy in 50% thinned Tamiya clear paints.  These clear paints would include Tamiya Smoke and Tamiya Clear Yellow among others.  The colour you chose would depend on the canopy you are trying to copy.  You could use Future or Tamiya gloss Clear to mix with the clear paints.  Problems with dipping in a coloured mixture of Future would be bubbles and the colour might not be consistent throughout the canopy.  Sometimes the colour might end up being lighter on the edge areas, because of the surface tension, less paint would accumulate there, providing a lighter tint compared to the other areas.  When airbrushing the tint it is possible to get a more consistent coverage.  For this reason I would prefer airbrushing the tinted mixture.

Other types of tinting substances you could use for tinting an acrylic clear such as Future or Tamiya Clear would include food colouring.

Also India Ink could be used as a tinting agent, but I'm not sure if it would mix well with Future.  This would provide a dark smoke tint.  India Ink could be mixed with gloss clear lacquer and airbrushed onto a canopy very carefully......but Lacquer is a very strong substance and could destroy the canopy.  

It is best to stick to acrylic type clears such as Future or Tamiya gloss clear.  That way....if you make a mistake the damage could be undone.....gloss Lacquer is very unforgiving if you make a mistake.  


Photos and text © by Kaan Gök