How to Paint a Nerf Gun

This is a basic outline of a Panel we’re putting together for Steampunk Events in the future. At this time, we do not have any photos, but we’ll try to add them in the future. This only covers basic painting (no advanced techniques) and basic item modification. In the future, we may add more advanced tutorials to additional articles.

Materials Needed

1 Nerf Maverick
1 Krylon Fusion Matte Black Spray Paint
1 Krylon Fusion Hammered Bronze Spray Paint
1 Dremel
1 File (metal)
1 Sand Paper of varying grain 
1 Condiment Cup (for screws)
1 Box of Latex Gloves
1 Roll of Masking Tape
1 Box of Tooth Picks
1 bag of varying different paint brushes
1 Sealer (Resin Spray or Matte Model Sealer)
* Model Paints of appropriate colors (I prefer Citadel)
* Rub N’ Buff (color of choice)

How to paint a Nerf Gun and do it well.

Patience. A well painted nerf gun takes a lot of time. It’s not hard, but the process is time consuming and you need to make sure to do it right. You’ll thank us in the end.

Disassemble your Nerf Gun. Make sure you document the process and keep track of your parts. We like to use a digital camera to take photos of where pieces go and use clear condiment cups (the kind you put your ranch or ketchup in) to hold the screws and springs.

Prep your weapon by sanding and/or filing your Nerf Gun. If you are going to modify the plastic (example – removing the Nerf logo) you’ll first use a Dremel tool on the low setting. Use the Dremel until the Nerf Logo is mostly gone. Next, use your file to take the rest of the logo off the plastic. Finally, use a coarse sand paper initially, then a medium grain sandpaper, and then finally an ultra fine grain sand paper. The result is very nice when you paint your gun. Lastly, you can rub the plastic down with rubbing alcohol. This removes the chemical that keeps the paint from bonding with the plastic well.
Once you’ve finished sanding, you’ll need to soak your Nerf shell in hot water. Fill a tub with as hot of water as you can physically handle. Use the water to get off all those bits of plastic you created by sanding. This helps prevent any imperfections you’ll come across when you start painting.

Use masking tape to cover up parts of the gun you don’t want painted. For steampunk painting, this usually isn’t something to worry about, but I wanted to touch on this just in case. Use an model knife (exacto) to cut around the area (CAREFULLY). Also, when removing the masking tape, please make sure to pull the edge of the tape away from the paint. Pulling it towards the paint can cause some chipping, which would look bad.
Now you’re ready to start painting. You want to make sure you’re in a well ventilated location that is warm and dry. Out doors is best, but a garage will work too. Be sure to use latex gloves to protect your hands when painting, because spray paint is toxic. Use the Krylon Fusion Matte Black spray paint as your base (this is our preference). You can either hang the parts, hold them up in your hand (use latex gloves as spray paint is toxic), or lay them down on a card board box. We don’t like news paper, since it sticks to the gun when painted. When you start spraying, make sure you spray about 8-12” from the gun and start away from the plastic and end away from the plastic (always overshoot). You never ever want to start or end your paint directly on the plastic. Do a couple of passes then stop on that part. You want let the paint dry for an hour, then apply another coat. Continue this until you have a nice looking coat of black paint to work from.
NOTE: Don’t worry if you dont completely cover your gun from head-to-toe, as long as most of the gun is painted. We fix those in the next section.

After the base coat dries, you’ll need to do touch ups. Get your model paint and use the matte black paint to fix the parts of the base coat that didn’t get covered up by the spray paint.

Now you have a choice in how to proceed. Depending on how you want the gun to look, you can either use a dry brushing technique over the base coat that gives it a metal look or you can use a Steampunk Favorite, Rub N’ Buff.

Dry brushing is a technique we’ll use in a number of places. After the base coat, I like to sometimes use this to create a worn metal look. Using a metal paint of choice, take a wide brush with a medium bristle strength and get some paint on your brush. Now, wipe off the paint on a cloth or paper towel until almost nothing comes off the brush. Now, with a little bit of pressure apply your brush in quick long strokes. The paint will catch on raised areas and over parts of the flat area. This creates a “gun metal” look.

If you decide to use Rub N’ Buff, you’ll put some on a piece of card stock. Get a little bit on your finger and use your thumb to smear it a little bit (helps to keep from putting too much in one place). Now just rub it over the plastic. Don’t worry about completely covering up the black as it helps with aesthtics. Try to cover up as much of an area as you can with a little bit of of Rub N’ Buff. A little goes a LONG way. After you’re done applying the Rub N’ Buff, wash your hands and dry them. Use the palm of your hand or your fingers to rub down the paint. The wax in the Rub N’ Buff will gain a metal shine to it. The more heat you generate, the better the shine.

Alternatively, you can use the Krylon Fusion Hammered Bronze, using a medium coat. This gives a very nice effect and a different look than the average Rub N’ Buff process gives you.

NOTE: Put the shell of the gun together temporarily for dry brushing or Rub n’ Buff. This will help your gun look uniform.

Now that you’ve applied your metal effects you want to add the rest of the paints. Take a moment and think about what color(s) you want. Plot out where you’re going to have each color on the gun. Paint one color at a time. More-so, paint one brush at a time using the same color. This helps to prevent mistakes in the long run. We usually go from largest brush needed, to the smallest. Make sure to use careful even strokes. After you’ve painted all the parts you wanted to paint, go over any mistakes with the black matte model paint.

Detailing a Nerf Gun is an easy way to provide those extra details that make up the difference between having a good looking Nerf Gun to having a GREAT looking Nerf Gun. Most Nerf Guns have crevices and grates, etc. You can use a toothpick to apply a tiny amount of paint in these areas. We like to highlight some areas in a bright blue color to represent Aether energy seeping from our weapons. Don’t worry if the paint looks uneven when applying it with the Toothpick. When the paint dries it’ll look fine.

Now you’ll want to put your gun back together. Use your documentation and/or photos to guide you in putting your gun back together. Make sure that all the parts work, and the gun fires (assuming you would like it to do so).

Weathering effects are optional, but are a great way of making your gun look realistic. Take a moment to hold the gun in the way it would normally be used. Note which areas you’re touching and how. Take something like Citadel Gun Metal and use the above dry brushing technique, but doing so lightly and only over the areas you found to be commonly used and worn.

If you’re happy with the results, you can take your sealer and start working on protecting the work you put your time into. If you used Rub N’ Buff to put a shine to your metal coat, use the Resin Spray to keep that shine. Otherwise, a matte model sealer should work fine. If you’re using the model sealer, paint it on in gobs. Don’t be stingy. This is going to help protect your gun from the wear and tear you’ll put on it.

Finally, add your flair onto the gun. Add the gears, pendants and gizmos onto your weapon. JB Weld and Superglue both work well depending on what you’re applying. You can also use a hot glue gun if you’d like.

If you enjoyed this Tutorial, please find us on facebook! Feel free to ask any questions online or if you find us at a con.

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