Playfield Touchup and Color Matching Tips for Mortals
Quick version: Take a picture of target area, go to hobby store and color match as best as possible 5-10 shades close to the target, paint a piece of clear plastic with colors, once dry hold colors over playfield and pick closest, paint using wood toothpicks for fine work, put on some clear (if wanted), use magic eraser to dull touched up area to match playfield gloss.
Long version: I had someone PM me for tips on how I color matched and cleaned up my STARS playfield so quickly. I sent them a link to Vid1900, and am writing up this up as how I did mine. This is a quick guide on how you can color match, paint, and get playing again on your playfield quickly and cheaply. Please note this will not yield results as nice as Vid1900. He has done a great service to us and made a fantastic playfield restoration guide available here.
https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/vids-guide-to-ultimate-playfield-restoration. His guide is how to do it the right way. It took me less than an hour of actual work to touch up my playfield and take it from a players to “nice” game.
Step 1: Identify the colors that you need. Instead of trying to mix colors “the right way”, I take a picture of the section in question and go to the arts and crafts store, Michael’s or Hobby Lobby in my area. I grab 5-10 samples of the color I am trying to match as close as I can match it to the color on my playfield. These colors run $1-$2 per.
Step 2: Paint small samples onto a piece of clear plastic and let it dry. I use a sandwich bag. Please note that cheap paints like this almost always dry a slightly different color. I paint a number and then a blotch of paint under it, and keep a list of what numbers correspond to which color.
Step 3: Take the dried paint samples to your pinball machine laying them over the playfield in the colors you want to match. Move the samples around until you find the closest color match. Get a friend to give a second opinion if at all possible. Note that women have better color vision than men.
Step 4: I generally start the touchup by doing a first pass of the black areas. When doing the fine detailed work with black, I have found that a cheap bottle of Americana gloss black from the hobby store works great applied with a wooden toothpick. I freehand the black areas. If I am a little too thick I can go over it with the colored paint below for corrections.
Step 5: It is time to start painting color. I will generally try and paint no more than about a 8.5x11 inch square at a time. Luckily for me this was the only area on the playfield that needed touchup. A cheap brush works great for the larger areas, but I use wooden toothpicks for fine detailed work. Paint the colors first, and finish up with black last after letting the colors dry for a few minutes.
Step 6: In addition to the large bare spots, the smaller spots can be filled in with paint applied via toothpick. Note that the bare area is slightly shallower than the painted area. After painting, lightly rub these small areas with a paper towel… lightly, to wipe away the excess paint and leave paint only in the bare area. This also works for the border areas of the larger bare spots.
Step 7: Do another pass around the black where necessary making the lines thicker where necessary. In doing it this way you have 3 tries on getting the black right and it generally looks better. You can always keep trying until it is perfect.
Step 8: I have found that the black around many inserts often has that slightly cracked with a little bit of white in it look. Go over these white crack spots with black paint via the toothpick method. I never “seal” these, but the black paint mostly lasts for hundreds of plays here.
Step 9: Allow the paint to dry (a few hours for water based hobby paint). From here you can play a bit and see if you like the overall look and feel of your newly painted playfield. You can stop here and wax your playfield, and in general home use your paint will slowly wear out over hundreds of plays. It will look good for you and you will enjoy your pinball machine (who are you fixing this for?). Make sure and write down what colors you used so if you want to make it permanent you can.
Step 10: If you want to make your touchup permanent you can apply a bit of touch up clear and let it cure. I used something I got in a trade in a small bottle but people have used automotive clear and there are extensive pros and cons in vids guide. You need to let the stuff cure overnight at minimum, longer if possible. I put a box fan over mine when I do this. Put the clear only on the spots you have touched up as it will protect those areas but make them “shiny”. Alternatively if its a small but high wear area such as an outlane with a kickback or by the pops, you can drop a piece of mylar cut to the area over the touchup.
Step 11: Match the clear glossiness. The real trick to making everything look nice is to have the clear match the glossiness of the original playfield. I use magic eraser and slowly dull the cleared area until it matches the glossiness of the original playfield. If your original playfield is already full of ball swirls, this will make things blend in very nicely.
Step 12: Wax the machine! You will want to make sure all surfaces on the playing field have the same top protective layer to make the
Those are my tips! Note that vid’s guide is better (I’ll put my color match tips in there too) but much more time intensive. This is the “good enough for me” version that can be done in a few hours for under $20 that I'll actually do.20220205_160727 (resized).jpg20220205_181050 (resized).jpg20220205_192514 (resized).jpg20220205_200219 (resized).jpg20220207_190129 (resized).jpg