Help painting plate armour


I am looking to paint some plate armour.

Does anyone have any tips, tricks, advice or things to avoid when doing this?

Also im still looking into what paint to use so any advice on paint type selection, primer, or even surface preparation would be appreciated.



There have been some lovely examples of painted or otherwise marked armour made by this community… A few questions come to mind:

How much are you painting? (A design on a shoulder, colouring an entire suit…)

What sort of thing are you intending it to stand up to? (Waterproof? Scuff-proof? Combat-worthy? Or just oramental such as mage-armour?)

Any budget constraints?

I’ve only done painting onto leather myself. In which case i painted straight onto clean dry finished leather with acrylics, model paints. This worked fine, I was able to varnish over the top, and as a bonus, it peeled off reasonably well 3 years later when the character died…

If its steel, and there is a bit of rust… you will need to get that off. Or at least smooth it out, a toothbrush and WD40 is good for a little rust. Wire wool/scrubber for something a little more… entrenched. Just becareful not to scrub more than you need to. If you can take your strapping off easily… go for it. You dont want them getting paint all over them if it can be avoided. If they cant be easily removed… tape them up to death as to not get paint on them.

You will likely need a primer. Then a base colour. I would use a spray for these to get a nice even coat. You may even get both primer and base in one can. Spray in a well ventilated area. Careful of wind and other items (ive not totally done this before…) you can find paint all over the place if you are not careful.

Find your base colour, and give it a couple of coats of that. Make sure it looks like a uniform. Following the instrustions of the can.

If you want trimmings of certain colours, do this first. Using masking tape to tape over the trimming, then do your other layers over this. Its best to plan this out first…

Next is detail, if you want any. There are two ways you can do it, off the top of my head.

Find some special decal paper online, like the stuff you get for warhammer/airfix models. Put this in your printer at home, if you can… and print it. See if you can slide this on. This may cost a fair bit however, as its specialist paper/process. So you may want step two… which is how i do things.

Paint it yourself, get some nice and easy acrylic paints and some good paint brushes. You can get these online or model shops. Try not to buy games workshop ones… they cost a lot for what they are. Then get paining. Sketch ideas on paper… then do it again as a stencil. Use said stencil with masking tape to make the initial design. Then go for detail with tiny brushes if you desire.

Once you have done this, and you are happy with how it looks. Break out the spray varnish. Make sure its suitable for outdoor use. As you dont want it melting in the rain. Give it a couple of nice even coats, dont be tempted to do one coat for all… its better to do a few as it dries more uniform.

Take photos! i wanna see


remember to test you paint on over metals as well so you can get a feel for its tone and texture. you can try this with a bit of scrap if you have any.
i would not recommend testing it on the armour it self a it can some time make it look bad if you take it off.

1 Like

Hello there! I have my plate armor that I have painted three times already.

The best results I got them with a good priming spray of the appropriate color + acrylic paint. Unfortunately I can’t post photos now, I’m at work.
Use the spray for the largest areas. If you need to paint different colors in large zones, I advise you use some light ducktape to spray the color in the right areas. If you choose to paint them by hand, then do always choose the color as close as able to the final result (For instance, better use white priming if you are going to paint light blue).

Regarding marking the runes: If you want them to “shine”, use a color that contrasts a lot. Another option is using sticky tape and glitter can do great results (but you’ll have to redo the glitter after every event).

Finally, use a good barnish spray to protect the whole piece.

Have fun!

A lot of new armour comes coated in heavy grease to protect the surface during storage. If you’re painting it, it’s a good idea to clean the surface off using a rag and something like isopropyl alcohol or acetone, so the paint sticks better.

1 Like

Look on the web for advice painting cars after bodywork repairs: that’ll give suggestions for what paints and primers and tools and things to use, and how to do it.

If there’s rust, you don’t need to remove all of it, just whatever comes off easily. Then treat what’s left with phosphoric acid (e.g. “Kurust” is one brand) which turns it into a tough blue-black layer which is a good base on which to paint.

As Jim says, yes, removing grease is important. You can also do it with detergent or one of the citrus degreaser products aimed at people working on bicycles or cars: spray on, leave for a few minutes, rinse/wipe off.

Get a variety of grades of wet-and-dry abrasive paper for roughening the metal before you start (with relatively coarse-grit paper), and then for lightly rubbing down each coat of paint (with finer-grit paper) before the next coat goes on. (This helps the paint stick to the metal or previous layer, as well as helping end up with a smooth finish.)

Of course it’s possible that you’ll want it to look crudely brush-painted because it was done cheaply/inexpertly IC. But even then, sand between coats to help the paint stick.

1 Like

Thanks every one this has been helpful,

I am currently planning on painting it plainly now, then after i pass my test of mettle to paint the heraldry on.

Is this going to be a problem?

Also, when you say a good primer can you give some examples of whats good and whats not suitable?

After some poking around I’ve found with ral codes of paint and primers as well, is this the kind of thing that’s suitable?

For protecting the paint several of you have said to use varnish, but what about a clear or matt lacquer? Are there reasons not to use those?

For size it is a small breastplate and some bracers and greaves. Also i want it to last against combat and weather.

I think if you choose a tough paint, it’ll be just as tough as any varnish/lacquer that you might put over it anyway.

(Also, is there even a difference between a lacquer and a varnish? Obviously not meaning lacquer made the traditional way from lac that comes from lac beetles.)

Note that on the website they suggest the two-part paint if you want something tough: 2K Aerosol Spray Paint Cans ÂŁ12.99 400ml
Still, if you get the normal one-part paint and it gets scratched, that’s to be expected IC, and you can touch it up afterwards.
They also say a 400ml can covers about two square meters, so you might have to buy more than you need. Oh, and see their videos for more about primer.

Or you could get the paint from Halfords or whatever.

If you don’t want to do it yourself, you could get a car body repair/paint shop to paint it for you. For them it’d probably be a really quick easy job.

If you put a varnish/protective coat on it… it may cause issues later on painting detail.

But that depends on the paint used mainly.