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Painting rules and suggestions

Im looking to paint my FT Sea Otter.. i have 5 colors to work with (metallic aluminum, ruby red, yellow, black, dark blueish/green). Im just not sure the scheme i should go with, as in. Is there a certian color i should put on the wings to make them more visable, compaired to the fuselage? Cause im having a hard time making out orientation at certian angles. Is their certian colors to use with different "styles" of planes (water planes, war birds, bushplanes, commercial aircraft)?

I think im going to go with ruby red fuselage , and metallic aluminum wings. I really like the idea of the silver wings, and add some blueish/green symbols, and a couple black stripes.. kinda lost on the rules of painting aircraft.

I know there are no rules to "artistic vision"... But i know there are some rules out there to how and what to paint your aircraft in the industry. Like visually vibrant colors to help with spotting, and certian schemes that help the eye pick them outta the sky.



Legendary member
Like visually vibrant colors to help with spotting,
For me it’s not so much the color but light and a dark that improve visibility. When your plane gets so far out, you will not see color any more. Only light and dark. You will not be able to see any details only significant areas. On a bright sky dark will show better & on a overcast sky, light will show. Some use different color on the right and left. My preference is to make the top different from the bottom. It will be beneficial to have both a light and dark color on both top and bottom. Just make them different.


Well-known member
Lighting on an aircraft is red light on the left wing, green light on the right and a white light on the tail. This helps the onlooker determine the orientation of the craft. You could paint the wingtips accordingly to keep orientation.

Or sometimes one of the wings has a stripe of unpainted foam.

I painted one with a green bottom and a red top. Hopefully when looking at it I would see green.
But the way, it crashed because I could not keep orientation. 😐


Master member
Red on Left and Green on Right.... EXCELLENT suggestions, also because they will help OTHER Flyers in the area to know your orientation. That helps Everyone!

Adding Wide Stripes is also good, because you'll be able to see it, in various lighting conditions. Just keep Red on the Left and Green on the Right, with Very contrasting Stripes.

I didn't suggest anything new. Just put together the good ideas! ;)
I don't assume how others think.... Personally, I like to put good ideas together, when there's multiple, and they're all good.
Helps me think anyway. ;)
Ok! sry i havent replied guys, i plane to. But im close to figuring out what i want, not sure if it will be noticable in the sky but? Haha

I love the navigation light color suggestion, thx for that idea guys!

I created this collage to see the colors put together. I really like the two on the bottom left


I plan on doing the "small" straight black stripes on "top" of my plane. An doing the "larger" diagonal black stripes on the bottom. I think thatd be a nice contrast to "spot".


Master member
If those two are your choices, I'd pick the one with Brown Wings...
But, I would do something bright on the Nose, again for orientation.


Old and Bold RC PILOT
I teach others to fly here and the visibility of the plane is quite important.

Normally almost any colour on the underside of a plane will appear to be very dark or black at a distance unless the sunlight is illuminating it. This is true whether the plane is upright or inverted!

To enhance visibility I use different wing colours for top and bottom. Normally the top is bright yellow and the underside is white. At a distance even these colours can appear similar so I use large black stripes on the underside for added contrast, (No stripes on the wing upper side.

The vertical fin I paint BLACK for best contrast with the bright sky behind it.

Each wing tip is painted with a navigation colour as previously mentioned but I also fit wing tip plates or winglets painted in the same colours the tip plates give some colour visibility when the wing underside is too dark to ascertain its colour and markings. In addition I always ensure that the tail boom of the fuselage is mostly white so I can see where the fuselage boom is in relation to the wing.

My scheme works well for me and the students I teach.

Here is an old pic of one of my advanced trainers trialing the wingtip plates on a bright and sunny day!

Bob -Slick Trick- 20160515-3.jpg

Have fun!


Old and Bold RC PILOT
All the more reason for using only the brightest or most reflective of colours.

I also fly a number of warbirds in the camo finish and on days like your post shows I have to really concentrate so that I do not lose orientation!

Camo in a dull sky and at a distance looks either all grey or black. In some cases they actually can blend into the sky background. I will not fly a silver or grey finish plane on a overcast day!!!

Also you should consider the use of some of the DAYGLOW colours currently available but in moderation of course.

In addition LED strips are quite cheep now and so are discrete LEDs so a little visibility assistance with the use of LEDs would not go astray! Mind you flashing LEDs are easier to see than those permanently lit. Heck now Christmas is near you could even look at junking a string of Christmas lights for your purpose.

Have fun!


Well-known member
One thing I've learned in coloring a plane is to be consistent. Choose a style and stick with it. I struggled with orientation for a long time, just using colors I liked. Sure, I'd give them stripes or whatnot to help, but that didn't always help. Here is what I do:

Darker for the top and front. See my post on the mountain models eva bipe. When it is coming toward you, you see darker colors. You'll also see the darker colors in a turn.

Lighter for the bottom and back. This gives me a good contrast, and generally helps out keeping me aware of which end is which.

But the key is consistency. If you want to do light on top and dark on bottom go for it, but if you stay consistent then you will better luck, as won't have to learn a new orientation scheme. Like Hai-Lee said, colors fade out at distance. You are mostly looking for contrast. Keep that contrast the same and you'll hve great luck!

Now if you want to do scale, that's a different ball of wax and I'm not competent enough to talk about scale paint schemes!


Skill Collector
I had a lot of orientation visibility problems starting out, with many crashes, until I started leaving most of the plane white and only painting the right wing tip bright red or orange - top and bottom of the wing. That worked pretty well for my brain to both see and interpret quickly - I know the colored spot was supposed to be on the right side from the pilots perspective and I had a lot fewer orientation problems with those planes.

Now that I've got a few more years of flying experience I tend to do pattern and color differences from top and bottom, but those colored wing tip planes are still some of the easiest to see ones I have. It can also be very helpful to put a thick black border line between the two colors of a pattern.


Legendary member
when i started, i was always very careful about my color arrangements and making sure i could keep orientation in the sky. now that i have almost 2yrs under the belt and have flown more, built more, crashed more, repaired more than i can count, i really don't care anymore. you reach a point, or at least hopefully you do, that you have confidence in your skills. you know which way the plane is going, because that's where you told it to go. you know that if i do this, then the plane will be here, then i do this and the plane will be here. you almost don't even need to see it. this is especially true with high speed planes. when going 100+ mph you don't have time to question, you just tell the plane what to do, and it does it because it has no choice! :LOL:

when you get there then you can stop worrying and start making you planes look like they should. my latest project, the bottom is the lite blue with just a few small decals. can't wait to fly it!


just my $.02,

me :cool: