Ombre Paint Effect Tutorial
Jennifer Belgin

After circling the design block for the last three or four years, I finally settled on a color scheme and design for my custom Mandalorian. Coupled with a rare few moments to work on something for myself while waiting on commission materials, I figured I should take advantage and get this baby done, and so I did! Well, mostly anyway.

I have to say that it's not the kind of kit I had ever imagined building for myself with regard to the color scheme, but I've had an enormous amount of positive feedback, and a couple of requests to share how I pulled it off. It's really more of an issue of patience than technical difficulty and would love to see your work if you try your hand at it.

If you want to see how I got there, keep reading, but skip about halfway down if you just want the tutorial!


It all started with a jetpack I saw at Dragon Con:



This led to my desire to have an amazing backpack for my kit. After some discussion with my uber-talented roomies, (one of whom builds amazing backpacks). I had an idea for my own unique version. That led me to the image below and my eventual color scheme.



Next, I headed off to my local Wally World to sample from their recently renovated paint aisle.



Next I did my best to match up the colors as closely as possible. Here's where I'm going to strongly suggest that you use the same line of paint when mixing colors. Different lines have different chemical compositions and you just never know what will happen when you mix them. I did mix some flats, satins, and glosses which could normally be a problem, but since I was going for a blended effect anyway, and knew I'd be weathering these, I didn't care.



My Mando explores new planetary systems and so I wanted her to have the means to collect samples, test them, capture critters for future study, etc... and so I thought of using molecular and chemical structures in my design. After a bit of googling, I decided that the hexagonal shape of most chemical designs reminded me too much of HALO, so I went with something a bit softer. I created a design in Illustrator, gave it a transparent background, and then loaded it into my Silhouette Studio software to make stencils on my Cameo vinyl cutter.

For my armor pieces, which had been primed with Rustoleums's white primer, I used a removable vinyl. When I did the leather for my kama, however, I used the permanent vinyl because I knew I'd be able to peel it off without pulling paint, and that it would adhere better to the leather. I didn't want to have to deal with a lot of paint bleeding!

I did the stencil application two different ways due to the fact that I was using two different materials. For the sake of this tutorial, the image below will provide a reference of what I mean when I use the terms positive and negative.



Armor: Was primed, painted over with the colors and allowed to dry before I applied the stencil. I used the positive shape of my stencil and then painted over everything with white paint once it had dried. I pulled off the stencil and there was my design.



Kama: I used the negative shape of the stencil and then painted over with the colors.
NOTE: I don't recommend spray paint on leather! However, I was trying to perfectly match the colors and felt I had little choice. I tested the spray on a small portion before I risked an entire hide.



Why did I do them differently? For the armor, I was able to cover all of my overspray with more white paint, but I didn't want to add any more paint than was necessary to the leather.

Here's the armor on the left and the leather on the right!



A couple of final things:

1) If you want the colors to blend into one another, spray them in quick succession so that the paint runs together.

2) If you want clean and crisp delineations between colors, let one color thoroughly dry before adding the next. You can even go so far as to mask off straight lines for super clean and crisp changes.

3) As hard as it is, resist pulling applying or removing your stencils when your paint is wet! It's challenging enough to get the vinyl on and avoid overspray, but you can end up with smudging or your paint getting pulled straight off the plates if you are overeager.

4) If you need to do some touch up, follow what you did in steps 1 or 2 above and mix some more paint on a palette.

5) After the kama was dry, I applied a small amount of Tandy Leather's saddle laq to help seal the paint.



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