How To Paint Chainmail?

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Chainmail is considered a type of metal that is used to cover some parts of the body. It is made by connecting small ring-like metal to form a mesh which then protects the body. Back in the days of knights and swords, chainmail was used as part of body armor to protect a fighting warrior against the slashing swords of the enemy during a battle. Nowadays the mesh, as it’s referred to sometimes is widely used in the acting industry for historical reenactments and also in the cosplay environment. Its name comes from the French word maille’ which means mesh.

Chainmail normally has a very shiny silver or metallic color unto them that shines at different angles when in contact with different types of lights but if the chainmail has lost its glitter, there are some tips and tricks that can be followed to add shine to them once again.

So, we start by prepping the chainmail by cleaning off the surface of any dust or dirt. Use a brush or a cloth to dust it off. Soap and water can also be used to remove oils and grease.

Different Methods To Paint Chainmail

There are different ways to get the chainmail painted, either by airbrush, brush or spray can. Let’s take a closer look at each method.

Spray Cans

A metallic spray can, can be used as a filler primer to initially prep the surface of chainmail. As in most paintings, painting chainmail does require a primer so that the paint may adhere properly to the surface. Lay the chainmail on a smooth surface and coat each side of the chainmail with the spray can. Coat 2-3 times allowing 10 minutes between coats for the paint to dry. It is also possible to hang the chainmail so that both sides can be painted at a time. Make sure you’re in a well-ventilated area and use protective gear. Most spray cans do provide instructions.

There are different types of metallic chrome spray cans brands that can be used, available at different prices so that you may choose a color that is most convenient to you.

For metallic finishes, this requires a base coat which is normally a shiny black color, this is to prep the surface so once the metallic color is added it has a more realistic look unto it. Once the chainmail is dry with the primer, add 2-3 coats of black glossy color. Any glossy black finish should work and it should dry to black shiny color.

As a final touch, metal color spray cans can be used to give the chainmail a metal look. color ranges from carbon to silver to copper. There are a lot of metallic colors to choose from depending on the metallic color you want to give the chainmail. Most painters go for a chrome look which is a method that adds a lot of shine to metallic colors. Spray the chainmail with the metallic color, spraying 2-3 thin coats and allowing 10 minutes in between coats for it to dry.


Another way to paint chainmail is to airbrush it with an airbrush tool using airbrush metallic paint. Some airbrush paint requires a thinner to thin the paint so that it is possible to airbrush the paint. Use the same standard procedure as with spray cans. To paint the chainmail using an airbrush tool, a primer needs to be added, this is normally a silver color, then secondly a basecoat is added next which is normally a glossy black color. Then we finish it off with metallic color paint. To mix the primer and the basecoat we use 1 part paint and 1 part thinner, or just follow instructions on the bottle, combine together and pour it into the airbrush.

First, the primer needs to be added, this is so the metallic paint adheres to the surface of the chainmail. Paint 2-3 coats allowing 10 minutes in between coats for the paint to dry. Next, is to add a basecoat of glossy black paint to the surface of the chainmail and allow it to dry. This would take 1-2 coats to cover the surface with glossy black paint. The first coat should be thin, then finish off with a wet second coat. The last step is to add the metallic color to the chainmail. First, mix the metallic paint with the thinner mixing one part paint and 2 parts thinner, since metallic paints need to be applied thinly to achieve a realistic look. Spray 2-3 thin coats and allow 5 minutes between coats to dry.


If you prefer a more budget-friendly tool to paint your chainmail then the brush is also available. Brushes are very easy to use and come in very handy, instead of spraying or airbrushing the chainmail, you can simply paint the chainmail using a brush. First, paint the chainmail using a primer, preferably of a silver color so that the paint may adhere to the surface. Paint in a way to make sure all chainmail are covered equally on both sides applying 2-3 coats and allowing up to 10 minutes for each coat to dry.

 Next, is to paint the chainmail with glossy black paint, this process is known as applying the basecoat which will provide the chainmail with a realistic look once the metallic color is added, which is the ultimate goal of painting the chainmail. Apply 2-3 thin coats allowing 5 minutes for each coat to dry. Once the basecoat is fully dry, paint the chainmail with a metallic color of your choice making sure all chainmail are coated equally removing excess paint from the brush. 1-2 thin coats will be enough to provide the chainmail with a realistic look allowing 10 minutes in between coats for the paint to dry. Not all paints adhere well to chainmail so it’s essential to use paints that are specifically designed or formulated for metal. Most of them come in water-based or oil-based versions and have long-lasting results if you do the essential prep work. We hope you find these tips helpful.

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