Painting Styrofoam Airplanes

by Missy Farage
Create a lifelike, painted finish for a Styrofoam airplane.

Create a lifelike, painted finish for a Styrofoam airplane.

Jupiterimages/ Images

Whether you are helping your children complete a school project or creating a Styrofoam model airplane just for fun, the plane just won't look right without a decorative coat of paint. If you don't know where or how to begin the process of painting the airplane, just a few tips and techniques can help you create a polished finished product.


In order to create a superb finished product you must have the correct tools. Using the wrong paint on Styrofoam can actually cause the foam to melt, which can completely ruin the plane you spent so much time creating; spray paint is one of the worst offenders. When choosing your paint, look for a craft paint that specifically states that it is Styrofoam-friendly. Make sure to select any paint colors you think you will need along with paintbrushes of various widths.


Being prepared can make your painting job easier. Before you begin the painting process, make sure to have newspaper or a drop cloth over the area in which you will be working. Squeeze out any paints that you think you will use onto a palette so that you won't be scrambling for them at the last minute. Also, make sure to have a plastic cup filled with water at the ready, along with a rag or paper towel so that you can clean your brushes during painting if necessary.

Painting Techniques

For easiest results, you should paint the airplane in layers. One of the best ways to create an accurately painted rendering of an airplane is to have a reference picture handy. Paint the base layer of the airplane -- its basic color or pattern without any detail -- and frequently look at your reference picture for guidance. Set the airplane aside and allow it to dry completely before adding any additional layers of paint.

Adding Details

Add details to the painted airplane such as vents, elevators, a cockpit and numbers. Mix more translucent paint colors with opaque colors to help the details stand out from the base layer. You can exaggerate the paint's coloring by adding extra white or black to help the details stand out from the rest of the paint scheme.

About the Author

Missy Farage began her writing career in 2008 when her freelance articles were published in the Washington life-and-style journals "425 Magazine" and "South Sound Magazine." She has won awards for her poetry and writing. Farage holds a Bachelor of Arts in creative writing from the University of Puget Sound.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/ Images