How to Make a Realistic DeLorean DMC-12 Model From "Back to the Future"

The best part: You can either 3D print it yourself or go find an off-the-shelf pre-made set.
Christopher McFadden

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Who doesn't love spending a few hours assembling, painting, and aging a model vehicle? Well, we certainly do, and today's subject is the iconic DeLorean DMC-12 from "Back to the Future". 

Follow this simple guide to create your very own.

diy dmc-12 complete
Source: Interesting Engineering/YouTube

Like any project of this nature, you will need some equipment and other materials to get you started.

Tools and equipment needed

Step 1: Clean up the mold or print lines

The first step is to either unbox or 3D print your DMC-12 model. We've included a link to a 3D DMC-12 model above, but we are confident you can find one with more fine detail. Once complete, visually inspect the parts and file off, or cut off, any mold lines or 3D supports. Take your time with this step as it will directly impact the final aesthetic of the model. 

diy dmc-12 model
Source: Interesting Engineering/YouTube

There is nothing worse than getting deep into a project and find some stray mold lines after you've painted an area. 

Step 2: Undercoat/base the model

With that complete, the next stage is to begin the painting process. First and foremost you'll need to undercoat/base the model in its entirety. You can do this by hand, or by using an airbrush. 

As the final model will be primarily light grey in color, the base coat chosen in this case is a "sky grey" or light grey color. 

diy model DMC-12 airbrush
Source: Interesting Engineering/YouTube

Cover all the main parts of the model. If hand painting, be sure to thin down your paints a little to ensure they run smoothly over the model and don't hide any of the fine detail. 

Depending on the paint used, and the model, you may need to do several coats. 

Step 3: Paint the interior

Once complete (and the paint is dry), cut some small strips of masking tape and cover parts around the DMC-12 that will not be black. This is to protect the previous coat of paint from the next stage.

diy dmc-12 tape
Source: Interesting Engineering/YouTube

With the tape in place, add black paint to your airbrush and begin to spray the interior of the DMC-12's interior. Alternatively, you can also hand paint. You are basically after the dashboard and gear stick. 

diy DMC-12 spray black
Source: Interesting Engineering/YouTube

Like the base coat, you may need a few coats to get a nice even coverage. With that complete, and the paint dry, remove the masking tape. 

DMC-12 paint interior
Source: Interesting Engineering/YouTube

Next, hand paint a darker grey to the rest of the interior. As with the undercoat, be sure to thin down the paints for a nice smooth and even coverage. Use a fine detail brush to easily cut into the black and outer light grey portions of the model. 

diy dmc-12 seats
Source: Interesting Engineering/YouTube

With that complete, airbrush the interior with a matt varnish. 

Step 4: Dry brushing

With the varnish dry, you can now begin to drybrush some parts of the interior. Take the same tone as you painted the seat areas, and gently drybrush the previously painted black parts of the interior, like the dashboard. 

diy dmc-12 drybrush
Source: Interesting Engineering/YouTube

With that complete, take a clean dry brush, or clean your existing one, and drybrush over the same areas that have a metallic finish using a silver color. Metallic paints are generally much thicker than standard acrylics, so practice the dry brushing using your finger or a piece of toilet paper before applying to the model. 

diy dmc-12 drybrushing silver
Source: Interesting Engineering/YouTube

Step 4: Continue with the main chassis

With that complete, cut small sections of masking tape and cover up the windshield. Also temporarily attach the gullwing doors, and tape up their windows too. This is so we can paint the exterior without accidentally spray painting the interior. 

diy dmc-12 protect interior
Source: Interesting Engineering/YouTube

With that complete, take some chrome metallic paint, and add it to one of your airbrushes. Gently, spray a very fine mist of chrome metallic paint over the entire exterior of the DMC-12. 

diy dmc-12 spray paint exterior
Source: Interesting Engineering/YouTube

Continue until all chrome elements have been painted. As before, this may take a few coats to complete. 

Step 5: Finish the exterior

Take some sandpaper, and gently rub over all of the chrome metallic surfaces you previously painted.

diy dmc-12 sandpaper
Source: Interesting Engineering/YouTube

Once complete, respray the surface with chrome paint. This will remove the "spotty" pattern that is often left from spray painting metallics to give a nice smooth and clean sheen. 

diy dmc-12 chrome sand
Before (left) and after (right) sanding. Source: Interesting Engineering/YouTube

Rinse and repeat for all other chrome surfaces on the model. With that complete, remove the doors and masking tape once again, 

Next, cover the entire bonnet once again in preparation for painting the front of the DMC-12. Once complete, spray paint a darker metallic color to the very front of the bonnet. 

diy dmc-12 front of bonnet
Source: Interesting Engineering/YouTube

Do the same to the rear of the DMC-12 in dark grey, and the lower sections (and underneath) of the model in black, as shown. You will also want a black stripe down the center of the main chassis too. 

diy dmc-12 black lower
Source: Interesting Engineering/YouTube

Once complete, and the paint is dry, remove the masking tape once again. 

diy dmc-12 remove tape after black
Source: Interesting Engineering/YouTube

Once complete, hand paint any other black details, like pipework around the wheel arches. Keep the paint slightly watered down so it runs nice and smoothly. 

diy dmc-12 black details
Source: Interesting Engineering/YouTube

Airbrush or hand paint the other black elements on the gullwing doors to match the main chassis too. 

diy dmc-12 doors
Source: Interesting Engineering/YouTube

Once dry, add in any other fine details, like chrome restraining strips for the black pipework. 

diy dmc-12 fine details chrome
Source: Interesting Engineering/YouTube

Next, drybrush using dark grey over some of the black elements, like the pipes, as you did for the interior. 

Step 6: Paint the rear machinery/engine

With that complete, you can now begin to paint the rear-mounted machinery. Grab some gunmetal paint, and spray paint the required sections, as before. 

diy dmc-12 gunmetal
Source: Interesting Engineering/YouTube

With that complete, you can now add some carbon staining to the rear of the model using black paint and your airbrush. 

diy dmc-12 carbon scoring
Source: Interesting Engineering/YouTube

With that complete, you can use a variety of colored paints to complete the fine details at the rear of the DMC-12. You will want a mixture of primary colors. 

diy dmc-12 rear details
Source: Interesting Engineering/YouTube

Where needed, drybrush dark grey over metallic bits. 

diy dmc-12 rear details
Source: Interesting Engineering/YouTube

Step 7: Age the exterior

With that complete, it is now time to add some aging. Start off with some dark grey wash and add to the areas of the model as you see fit. Alternatively, you can heavily water down the grey you used earlier for this step. 

Or, you could use a series of thinned down oil paints too. 

diy dmc-12 washes
Source: Interesting Engineering/YouTube

Apply to the crevices around the chassis, and clean up using earbuds or toilet paper, as needed. Do the same for the ear engine parts. 

Next, add some dots of black to the deeper crevices of the model, and smooth out using an earbud once again. This will replicate an aged dirt-streak effect from being exposed to elements over time. 

diy dmc-12 dirt streaks
Source: Interesting Engineering/YouTube

Work in small sections so that the black paint cannot dry out before being streaked. Complete for all parts of the chrome bodywork, including the doors. 

Next, add some dust effect paints to an airbrush, or using aging powders, to add a layer of dust to the lowermost part of the DMC-12. 

diy dmc-12 dust effect
Source: Interesting Engineering/YouTube

Continue adding powders to your heart's content. You could also add some rusted effects mud sprays, etc. That is completely up to you.

While not mentioned in the video, you will also need to complete and age the wheels, and other details like headlights, or registration plates as well. You can also add more fine detail to the interior (like the flux capacitor or dashboard). 

With that, however, your aged model DMC-12 is basically complete. Now all you need to do is find somewhere to display it.

While you're at it, why not consider making it part of a diorama

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