Tiger DC-8

This post includes an encore appearance of  the How-To article “Paper Towel Tiger Stripes”, which I published in my newsletter some time ago. I have revisited this build, its been on the shelf of projects not yet completed, this one happened to be one. It also served as inspiration to use the technique on another project, a UH-1H also gracing the shelf. Which I include in this revised article.

Paper Towel Tiger Stripes

Inspiration is the mother of invention. So as a graduate of MacGyver Institute with a PhD in Utilization of Available Resources, I’ve managed to come up with a simple way to create a unique paint scheme using nothing more than paper towel and a little masking tape.

dc8nightThis particular project evolved to this point because of two other failed schemes (long story) so with the count being two strikes against me, I decided to try something out of the ordinary. Given my propensity for ‘What-If’ subjects, it wasn’t too far out of the box for me.

First step is to take a sheet of paper towel and tear it in narrow strips, which can be challenging. You want the edges to be jagged. Once you have the paper towel torn, cut some small strips of masking tape. These will be used to hold the paper towel in place by fastening the paper towel to itself. NOTE: I have given the model a base color of Neutral Gray.

At random intervals wrap the towel strips around the model and tape snugly into place…kinda’like fastening a infants diaper.

After the bands were all in place I prepped my airbrush with some properly thinned Air Mobility Gray. I sprayed along the edges of the paper towel bands, keeping it as close to the paper as possible…the little bit of overspray is fine as it adds to the effect.

Paint along both sides of all of the bands. Once this is done, remove the bands from the model.

Let this sit and dry for a while. Then apply new bands, again positioning them at random intervals, some close to the existing lines, others away…it all depends on the widths of the new bands. Once you have them in place, either use a new color, or in my case I added some flat black to the Air Mobility Gray to darken it even further. I again sprayed it along the edges of the bands.

Once painting was completed I removed the bands. Now I have a unique three toned tiger camo scheme. This can be done in any color combination. It’s ‘outside-of-the-box’ and best of all it was easy and it is FUN!

The hardest decision at this point was what markings to use, I decided to go with a military theme and here is my progress thus far.

Since the wings and engines were already done as part of the previous two attempts, I left them as is…they still contrast rather well.

So next time you want to create something a little different, remember this technique. It has several applications…go for it!


One of the purposes for revisiting this application technique was to repaint the wings of this DC-8. The longer I contemplated it I wasn’t 100% satisfied with the look of the “factory” or “standard airline” scheme they were initially painted. They needed something else. I started off trying to replicate the original scheme which the fuselage was painted…but it took on a different look.

camodifferA look that I really like because it too will be used on future projects that need a really unique scheme as well.

This scheme was created the same way, with one exception. I kept relocating the paper towel masking with each color change. No preset plan just random. I did work from lighter to darker colors, three were used. I would think this would be great for use with trios of grays, greens or even a mixture of colors.

I can envision a gray/white/black arctic scheme! On a vehicle using this techique could make for some neat urban camo schemes too!

wrappedhueyAs I mentioned in my intro, I had a UH-1 that had a scheme I wasn’t exactly thrilled with, so it too got wrapped in paper towel and given a two tone “aggressor” scheme. This application has thin spots throughout it to replicate that the scheme was hastily applied in the field.

twotonehueyI goofed on this one, I should have done the lighter color first…but it still turned out okay.

This Huey will get a dark wash to bring out the highlights and give it a heavily used and tired looking appearance.

As for the DC-8, I’m still deciding whether or not to stand her up on her landing gear or finish her wheels up to hang near the YF-75 Merlin. She’ll be included in a supporting role in the continuing episodes about the Merlin as she hauls Merlin’s support crews and equipment. A few more decals, touching up of the canopy, filling in the black on the insides of the window frames, put on outlines for the missing exits and cargo door.

TIP: On insides or places where the paper towel doesn’t want to contour flush to the surface. That’s a good time to use a gloved finger to hold the paper towel down while spraying. Or you can make some masking tape loops or use a bit of blu tac to hold the paper towel down closer to the surface. I found it useful when painting the area where the top of the fuselage on the Huey met the engine cowling.

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