"UPDATED W/Videos" How to Spray Paint Snake Skin Scales on Anything




Introduction: "UPDATED W/Videos" How to Spray Paint Snake Skin Scales on Anything

About: Called a renaissance man more times than I can count, I am the type of person who believes you can do anything you put your mind to. As a veteran I've seen some awful acts committed, and I guess my wanting t...
Painting a snake skin scales effect is very a simple but effective way to dress up your vehicle, device, laptop, or pretty much anything! Requires very few materials and even no skills. Anyone can get dragon, snake, or croc scales with a couple of colors of almost any type of spray paint. Over the years I've picked up a few little tricks and for my first instructable I wanted something simple but impressive and I've found this trick to be so easy to do even my young daughter has done this to her laptop.  

The videos below took 30 minutes to make "Yes it's that easy to do"!!!

Step 1: Required Materials

Required Materials
2 Contrasting colors of spray paint (or another spray medium i.e. airbrush, paint gun)
A clear coat spray paint (I like "preserve it" for most NON-automotive projects like laptop covers)
A pair of fishnet stockings (the larger the diamond pattern the better, really any diamond shaped pattern netting will produce the effect, and you want get the weird looks like you'd get being a guy asking for stockings)
Masking tapes of different sizes
OPTIONAL: Frisket film (for additional masking off graphics)
OPTIONAL: Stencils (for additional graphics)

Step 2: Mask Off Everything

Mask off your parts that you don't want painted
 this gives a crisp clean edge to your work

Step 3: Time to Lay Your First Color

Lay down your base coat. This will be the under shadowing of the scales, I've found a brighter color really makes the scales pop off the project and give a 3D effect

Step 4: Put Your Project in Drag!

This is the most important step of the process. Once your base coat dries, take your fishnet stocking and stretch it over your project as evenly as possible. MAKE SURE the stocking or netting lays flat over your base coat.

NOTE: I forgot to take a pic of the Bottom coat with just the fisnet this was after I had already started adding line

Step 5: TOP COAT!!!!

Start spraying your top coat. REMEMBER to spray lightly and straight down over the netting make a couple of light dusting passes giving each pass time to tack up until you have a good coverage of top color.

NOTE: I forgot to take a pic of the single top coat this was after I had already started adding lines

Step 6: The Showstopper

Once you've allowed the whole thing to dry to the touch, simply peal back the stocking and viola scales.

Not real visible in the pics but that the effect I was looking for, I've added some of the gas tank that are more clearly defined.

Next step for the tank is to go back and shadow in under each one of the couple thousand scales to make it really pop out more.

Step 7: Be Creative Make the Design Yours

Being creative with paint can sometimes be a challenge but keep trying the skill will build with time!

You can use easy release masking tape or frisket film to design other artwork over the scales.

To preserve your new one of a kind paint job I suggest you make a couple of dusting passes of a clear coat to protect your artwork.

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    56 Discussions

    I was hoping somebody had tried this so I could see how well it worked, and here I found this, awesome. Now I can do dragon-themed paintjobs on my nerf collection with ease!

    Hey there, Great Idea you had here.
    I was wondering if you had a technique for applying the look to a pipe or cylindrical object. I'm painting a bike of my own (the pedaling type), and thought that a black base color with White scales would look Awesome. The problem at mind is that the bike's frame is so skinny that the fishnet would have to be folded or creased to get a tight fit, and when Painting, it would leave evidence of the fold line across the tubes.
    This "Seam" would likely be easy to hide, but why leave an imperfection if not necessary?


    1 reply

    When I'm trying to get real intricate or in smaller spaces I use string to stretch the fish net in different directions it gives a snake twisting and/or turning effect producing odd size and shapes in uniformity of scales, use an airbrush to shade and shadow imperfections. Let me know if I can help, Oh yeah and send pics when its done, love to see them!

    I've never tried it on something that small, the dip in contours might create a challenge to get around but worth a try. If you do it let me know how it turns out. Oh yea and some of those contours can be painted by holding down the net then half and halfing it.

    ya i just got a cheap xbox 360 controller for 5 dollars, now all i need is the fish net stockings.....this should be......interesting?

    If I remember right I bought the one in the video at wally world for about 5 bucks being this close to "All Hallows Eve" they should be everywhere right now. I like to see how it comes out. it'll be interesting to see the effect on something so small, on flat surfaces or outward curving contours it is really amazing on something that curves in like a dimple I've had mixed results, also to really make it pop off the project in a 3 dimensional look it helps to shadow the scales and when you spay the clear get some really "fine" metal flake or glitter and spay into the clear when wet. A cheap substitute is that spray body glitter teen girls are using these days, I used my daughters glitter stuff once (without her knowing) on a customer laptop once when doing this trick came out amazing.

    Definitely a technique I'll be able to find useful in the near future. Thanks for sharing your work, and how you did it all!

    1 reply

    Thanks, all of you are great and the reponse is amazing.I figured I'd post this for the painting contest and share a neat trick. At the very least if it's helpful then that's the spirit of this site.

    Well they do but the local snakes are kind of puny so if I ever make an erhu I'll try something like this (Mylar head with enamel paint I guess),

    If you build one post some pics lets us know how it comes out, one tip if the drum part curves inward towards the center, Stretch the fishnet over it and hold it down flat against the mylar and only paint the side opposite your hand when it dries hold it down again and paint the other side remember this trick works well when flat against the work.

    I really like your bike! Also, what others haven't picked up on is how the paint job is complemented by the pattern on the seat. Please do an addendum showing the bike after the shadowing! You might also want to do us all a great favor and next time show how you created the awesome flame masking. Great job!

    1 reply

    I'll add it to my next instructable that I'm working on that illustrates other tricks and techniques, that is simply a base coat mask using really thin tape. When I finish the shadowing I will update possibly add it to the new article to demonstrate the effect.
    As for the seat funny that you mention it I was planning on recovering it with a light green faux snake skin upholstery, however I haven't decided yet It might be too over the top.

    Great idea, the motorcycle looks amazing. Can the stockings be used more than once? I'd love to make a giant snake for Halloween, maybe using dark green & bright yellow paint for high contrast. The colors will wash out at night/in shadow/tucked under bushes. Any thoughts on materials, techniques, etc would be most appreciated!