Welcome to this step by step tutorial on how to use my stencil set to give your Luke ROTJ V2 lightsaber a screen accurate paint job. This stencil set was designed to fit the Anakin Starkiller lightsaber kit and is not guaranteed to fit any other versions.
Before I get into it, the first thing I must absolutely stress is this: BE PATIENT, GO SLOW, TAKE YOUR TIME, REFERENCE YOUR SOURCES OFTEN. And most importantly, when all the prep work is completed and you're finally ready to paint, DO NOT OVER PAINT your lightsaber!!! I can't stress this enough. If you use a rattle can, you must paint it very sparingly! Use only just enough to barely cover the surface! If you put on too thick a coat, not only will the enamel in the paint start reacting to the stencils and cause them to gum up, but the thick layer will bind to the stencil and will peel when you try to remove it! This is much less of a problem if you are using an air brush with acrylic paints, but just keep in mind that a quick misted layer to get the color down is all you need.
Ok great! Now having said that, Let's get started!!
Step 1: Prepping the Lightsaber
Before you begin, make sure your saber parts are all clean and free of oils. A good scrub with soap and water and a thorough drying is all you need.
Pre-Weathering the lightsaber:
This part is completely optional but I'm including it in this tutorial as several people have asked. Reference photos show that the underlying metal on the booster section appears darker, more oxidized, and much more beat up than the rest of the lightsaber. To replicate this, I added both physical damage, and a black wash to the booster section.
Step 2: Prepping the Lightsaber Continued...
First, I took a hammer and knocked several dents, scratches, and dings all around the booster section in an even but random pattern. I used sand paper to scuff, scratch, and dull the surface.
Step 3: Prepping the Lightsaber Continued...
Next, tape off a clean edge on the lip of the booster, then wrap the rest of the saber in a paper towel and tape it down so that only the booster section is exposed.
Step 4: Prepping the Lightsaber Continued...
I then hit it with a medium layer of flat black spray paint.
DO NOT wait for the paint to dry before continuing. You want it to be wet. Next, using the corner of a paper towel soaked in acetone or lacquer thinner, gently start smearing and wiping away the black paint. Slowly remove more and more of the black until you achieve the desired effect. If you take too much off, just hit it again with more paint and try again. You really can't mess it up. What you're looking for is a very thin coat of thinned out black to darken the aluminum to a more oxidized look, spattered with the occasional dark spot where it's a bit thicker.
Here is the finished result and a comparison of the screen used prop.
Step 6: Prepping the Stencils
Take your time when preparing the stencils for application. There are many "islands" as in separated pieces that you need to be careful with to ensure they stay in place. The basic process of prepping each stencil is to remove the colored parts, leaving only the white parts. You then place masking tape or transfer tape down ON TOP of the stencil to hold everything in place. Next you'll remove the white paper backing, revealing the sticky side of the stencil, apply the stencils onto the saber, and then remove the tape. Lets go over this process in greater detail.
Step 7: The Booster Section Stencil
Please watch this short video demonstrating the process of picking out the colored areas (Download the .mov file below for HD resolution). Pay close attention to removing colored areas that have backtracking shapes or that surround white parts as these white "islands" will try to peel up with the colored bits. It is best to use a very small Exacto blade, needle, push pin, or seam ripping tool to do this. Once you get it started, you can use your finger to roll the remainder of the piece off. If a white "island" tries to peel up with the rest of the colored piece, poke at it from the sticky side to separate it from the colored part and lay it back down. Hold it down with your pick while pulling the colored part away. pat the island down firmly with your finger to make sure it will stay in place until you are done.
Step 8: The Booster Section Stencil
Once you have removed all of the green pieces, it's time to back it with tape, trim the edges, and apply.
Now is a good time to reference your source images to get a good understanding of the proper orientation and position of the decal on the booster section.
Using masking tape, lay as many strips down as necessary to cover the entire stencil. Semi-transparent tape is beneficial to let you see where you will be placing the stencils, if possible. This video demonstrates taping the stencil down with backing, and trimming the edge (download the .MOV file below for HD resolution). Trim the tape around all four sides with scissors so that it will lay evenly around the booster section.
When you're ready to apply your first stencil, double check your reference photos to ensure you are placing it correctly. You can also reference these images as I have tried to make it clear how to orient each piece.
For the booster section, the left edge of the stencil should be centered over the hole where the Cone Knob goes, as shown in the photo. Make sure your edges are all lined up and that the stencil is straight.
carefully wrap the stencil around the booster section, making sure you don't get any wrinkles. Don't press too hard at this point. If you find that your alignment is off, carefully back it up, adjust and try again. Stop before you get to the end.
Before you get to the end, you'll want to start peeling the tape off of the starting edge so you don't apply any of the decal on top of the tape. So now is the time to press everything down tightly except for the end.
Now carefully peel back the upper most strip of the masking tape, folding it back on itself to get a sharp peeling angle. Do the same with the remaining layers if you needed more than one to cover the stencil. Now you can finish applying the other end of the stencil, making sure the edges line up properly. Carefully remove the remainder of the masking tape, leaving your completed stencil.
You're all done with the first stencil! You simply need to repeat these exact steps for the remaining 5 stencils.
Step 12: Upper Clamp Area
The next stencil to apply is the thin band above the Graflex clamp area. Please reference these photos when orienting and applying, to ensure proper position.
Step 13: Upper Clamp Area
Step 14: Upper Clamp Area
For this stencil, you want this little "upside down T" shape (circled) positioned directly over the area circled in the second photo.
Step 15: Upper Clamp Area
Use this photo as reference on proper position.
Step 16: Tapered Stencil and Windvane Stencil
The next stencils are applied on the top beveled ring of the "grenade" section, and then the "windvane" area.
Step 17: Tapered Stencil and Windvane Stencil
Use this photo to help position the stencils.
Step 18: Emitter Side Stencil
This stencil is applied to the wall of the emitter.
Step 19: Emitter Side Stencil
Use this photo to help position the stencil. Use one of the hex screw holes to line it up with the small "y" shaped piece. This piece should be just to the right of the screw hole.
Step 20: Emitter Face Stencil
You're almost there! The last stencil is applied to the face of the emitter plate.
Prep the stencil as before and use an exacto blade to cut out the center circle, once you have it backed in masking tape.
Step 21: Emitter Face Stencil
This stencil should be positioned as shown in the photo.
Step 22: That's It!! You're Ready to Paint!
Congratulations! The hard part is done!
Now all that's left is to paint and remove the stencils. Peeling off the stencils, revealing the cool paint job is the best part!
Just keep in mind, like I said before. DO NOT over paint!! You don't want to ruin all the hard work you just did. A light misting of spray paint to barely cover the lightsaber is all that is needed!
Optional tips: If you want to mask off each individual ring on the grenade section as well as the thin edges of the windvane sections that is totally your choice. I chose not to.
Instead, once the paint was dry, I simply took a rag soaked in paint thinner and carefully wiped the edges of the rings to remove the paint, revealing the bare aluminum.
Step 23: Painting
I just used a standard flat black spray paint and I think it worked just fine. I pre-assembled the body and emitter and made sure the clamp area was fully masked off. Since the pommel was left off, it was easy to insert a dowel rod into the hollow body to hold while I painted.
Flat black dries to the touch very quickly so let it sit for 20 minutes or so and then....
"Here's where the fun begins!"
Carefully and SLOWLY peel away the stencil material. Use a needle to help get it started.
Take your time and watch carefully for any places where the paint might be wanting to stick to the stencil. If you went easy on the paint you shouldn't have any trouble, but if you accidentally over sprayed some areas you might have one or two places that try to peel up with the stencil. If you're careful you can catch it before it happens and can use a razor blade to separate the paint from the stencil and get it to lay back down.
Continue removing the stencils, using a needle or pin to ensure you get all the tiny specks. Some of these will be hard to see in poor light once everything is painted black.
Once all the stencils are removed, all that's left is final clean up. If you masked off the grenade section rings, remove those. Otherwise, just gently wipe them with a rag soaked with paint thinner.
And here's the finished product!
Use the available screenshots and reference photos to finish out all the details. Be as meticulous as you like.
I hope you found this tutorial helpful and I wish you luck in completing your Luke ROTJ V2 saber!