Thursday, May 9, 2013

Tutorial: Painting a Steampunk Gun with Textured Paint

There are a lot of ways to turn a toy gun into a steampunk weapon.  I presented one method in my last gun painting tutorial.  But I've been thinking for a while about a way to really make a gun look cool without needing too much inherent artistic ability.  Which led me to the following experiment.

Gun to paint
Primer spray paint, preferably black  ( I prefer this one. You can also use Krylon Fusion for Plastic)
Stone Texture spray paint, any color (Unless you can find all black.  I used Krylon Make-It-Stone paint)
Black spray paint (you can use primer again, or just regular paint)
Rub n' Buff in an assortment of metal colors (I used antique gold, silver leaf, autumn gold, and Spanish copper)
Acrylic spray clear sealant (I prefer satin finish.)

I'll be using two different guns as examples in this tutorial.  The small one is a Buzzbee gun I got brand new at a yard sale, the shotgun is a very beat-up gun I paid $0.25 for at another yard sale.

1. The first step is to prepare your gun for painting.  What this entails is going to depend on your gun.  You need to clean any visible dirt off it and then wipe it down with alcohol to remove any oils or coating from manufacturing.

You may also wish to remove any large, bold writing from the gun, either by sanding (by hand or with a dremel tool) or by melting it away with a sautering iron.  But one of the benefits of this method is that it WILL cover any small printing on the gun, like safety warnings or "Made in China" labels.

You can disassemble the gun at this point if you wish.  You may wish to apply this style of paint job only to certain parts, but be careful if you go this route. Adding the texture to some parts may affect the functioning of the gun.  It's also easier to get a solid base coat everywhere if some guns are taking apart.

2. Spray your gun with a layer of primer.  Neatness of this isn't essential, but make sure you get good coverage of the bright colors, and get into all the nooks and crannies.  If there are any parts of the gun that slide or pull out, make sure you get some paint under there, or else it will show when the gun is used.   Let this layer dry.

3. Once the gun is primed and dry, now comes the interesting part. If you took your gun apart at all, reassemble it now.  You don't want to spray individual parts with the textured paint because they might not go back together correctly later.  For the small gun I primed it in pieces, but then put it back together for the texturing.  The shotgun was in such rough shape it wasn't coming apart.

Spray the gun with the Stone Texture paint.  This stuff is weird and it comes out a bit like silly string.  Avoid getting too much of this paint on any moving parts of the gun, but try to get a good solid layer.  You can spray more or less depending on how you think it looks.

This paint takes a long time to dry due to its thickness so be careful.

4. When the stone paint is dry, cover it with another layer of black paint.  I originally didn't think I would need this, as my stone paint was black with white flecks, but the white flecks were really noticeable.  I don't know if they make all black stone paint, so just buy whatever and then paint it black.  Primer is nice for this because you get good coverage really quickly, but you can use any black paint.

5.  Now comes the artistic part.  You're going to paint the gun using mostly or all Rub N' Buff paint.  Decide which areas are going to be which color and start by getting some Rub N' Buff on your fingers.  You don't want too much, so I will usually rub my forefinger and thumb together to get rid of some of the wetness of the paint.

Then you want to apply the Rub N' Buff lightly across the textured surface of the gun. Start very lightly, without too much pressure.  It takes a while to get a feel for it, and how much paint is transferred will depend on how wet or dry the paint is.  You can decide what areas you want more metallic color on and which you want the minimum coverage.  It's all a judgement call.  You might want to start by doing a very light coat of color and then going back to make it heavier if you want in places.  Don't try to fill in any cracks with paint, leave them black.

You could also fill in certain areas with a solid color acrylic with a brush and then add some Rub N' Buff on top.  I did this for the butt of the shotgun.  I painted it solid brown with some acrylic paint and then went over it with Spanish Copper so that just the raised parts were darker and a bit metallic.  I also did this on the small gun in a couple places with some Liquid Leaf paint in brass, which I covered with the Spanish Copper to give a tarnished brass look.  I also painted the circle on the shotgun with solid metallic green paint to give it some sci-fi style.

6. When you're satisfied with your paint job, it's time to seal it.  Spray it with a few coats of your sealant to ensure your paint-job doesn't rub off over time.  I used a couple of coats of glossy acrylic sealant and then finished with a coat of clear satin sealant. You can also add further embellishments to the gun at this point: gears, wire, bolts, whatever.  I added a vacuum tube to the end of the small gun, but haven't found the right add-ons for the other one yet.

And you're done!

I'm pretty happy with how my experiment turned out.  It really looks like very old, weathered, beaten metal.  It probably works better with a post-apocalyptic style of steampunk than a very Victorian one, but that's a matter of personal taste.

The advantages of this method is that it doesn't take a lot of artistic skill, there's no intricate hand-painting or any real knowledge required.  It's also very fast.  Yes there's a lot of spray-painting and waiting for coats to dry, but as far as hands on work, you can paint a whole gun in a night.  In fact I think I finished the little gun from beginning to the finished paint job in one Saturday.  (The sealant coats were another day.)  So for the person who doesn't want to labor for weeks painting a gun, this is a great method.

What do you guys think?  This has just been my own little idea and project, and no one has seen these guns yet.  So give me your honest opinion.


  1. I've used the "hammered" finish spray paints for a while now on my mods

    1. I've tried those, but I wasn't too happy with the results. It looked more like paint that had bubbled up or something than real metal. Of course, that could have been user error.

  2. That's a cool idea! Definitely trying it next time I need to paint a gun!

  3. Which stone texture paint did you use?

  4. That's an excellent idea! Thanks for sharing with us.

  5. LOL, I tried with my gun, it's lousy product

  6. This looks like an awesome paint job reminds me of bioshock.

  7. Look great! You did a really good job. The gun looks so cute. I love the color. I'm doing some research on painting, too. I have some old things and I want to paint them. But I'm not good at painting and I have no idea. So your post is quite helpful. Thanks.

  8. So cool , it look like a future weapon.

  9. It's first time i saw a tutorial about Painting a Steampunk Gun with Textured Paint. It's an excellent idea! Thank you.