The gap between the panels of a car is not something we normally notice, but do a quick search for your favorite car and check it out – the panel gaps are really obvious when you’re actually looking for them. There are a number of methods for reproducing this effect on an RC body, and I’ve tried at least a dozen myself. For the past year I’ve stuck with the vinyl line method because its cheap, easy, non-permanent, and it looks great.
If you followed my last guide about cutting out your body with a blade then you’re in luck – you already have all the tools you need for this job.
The only other thing you need which you may not have is some vinyl. I recommend Oracal 631 Matte Black which you can purchase a lifetime supply of body lines worth for under $12 on amazon. Just make sure whatever vinyl you use is matte, or else your body panel gaps will look shiny, and that’s weird.
Using any tape you want, tape two blades together. Make sure that the tips are line up as you’re taping.
Make two of these tools by taping the blades together. Put something thin such as a piece of lexan between one of the sets to make the gap between the blades slightly larger.
Using these tools you can begin to cut your strips of vinyl. As you can see, one is thicker than the other. This is because not all body panel gaps are the same. You can achieve a more realistic look by mixing up the line widths – for example, a big line for the hood but a thin line for the fenders. You can look at pictures of a real car to help you decide which lines should be big and which should be small.
Once you’ve got your cut peel it up and stick it onto your body. Take your time to make sure it follows the lines very well or it’ll look funky when you’re done.
Cut any excess off by pressing the blade against the vinyl. Be careful not to cut into your body when cutting the vinyl.
Make sure to heat the vinyl in order to allow it to better adhere to the plastic. As silly as it may seem, this is the most important step. If you do this, the vinyl should last the full life of the body. If you don’t, it will begin to peel over time.
Repeat the process for every body panel and around the lights. Notice how the hood and light lines are thicker than the fender and bumper line. Doing this makes the lines look much more natural. When you are finished your body will begin to look more realistic – almost as if you could walk over and pop open that hood.