Han in Carbonite (HiC) spray paints


Well-Known Member
Hi all. I'm in the process of starting my Han in Carbonite build. In trying to figure out what colors to use. I've seen in other posts some of the paints people have used on their builds. I've invested a small fortune (and made Home Despot and BLowes stock holders much richer) in various spray paints to try and find colors that work for me.

To help keep others from dumping a ton of money on paints (some of which just will just definitely not work unless you like metal flake), I've sprayed cue cards with swatches of the paint to share with you all, so you can at least get an idea as to what each looks like.

The problem with the entire HiC's paints, because ILM was mostly trying to mimic metals, the paints are very reflective and can appear to change based on the the lighting. Even the touring/display HiC can look different shade and sheen because of the flash of the camera hitting it at certain angle. That all being said, to me, there's a difference between "Han in Carbonite" and the box/case, with Han/Carbonite being slightly lighter than the box/case.

Then there are the Volvo panels' base colors, which if you go with the ESB paint scheme, the top panels on each side (Hero panels) are a dull silver/aluminum and the bottom 3 on each side is a very dark color: probably a black, possibly not even painted). I don't know of any definitive images of the panels in RotJ, except for the top 2 on the right (Han's left) when Leia's "defrosting" Han. Then the touring/display HiC (which is probably mostly from RotJ) has all the panels as the dull silver/aluminum.

I don't see metal flake on any part of HiC... which is a problem, because most spray paints use at least some metal flake to create the "metal" look.

So that's was my starting thoughts when looking for paints. Some general conclusions about the spray paints I tested (not 100%-all-the-time, but close)...
  • Most of the Aluminums look the same
  • If it's listed as "Metallic" it will have noticeable metal flake in it
  • If the can's cap (an approximate color of the paints) has metal flake in it, the paint will have noticeable metal flake in it
  • Most of the high-end (i.e., "more expensive") paints have a LOT of metal flake in them
The below swatches were taken with the top row in the sun, and the bottom row just out of the sun in the shade, to "try" and show how different lighting can make the paints appear differently. My camera is an "okay" digital SLR, but the auto focus and auto lighting will not give a consistent and exact representation of each paint swatch. But hopefully the images along with my thoughts will help you to narrow down your choices... and not break your wallet like I did mine.

Group 1: These all look almost exactly the same, especially the first 2 Rustoleums, which are very nice and probably what I'm going to use for Han and the Carbonite. The Rustoleum American Accents is close to the first 2, but has just a tad of grain in it (which is probably a very, very fine metal flake). The Krylon "Sterling Silver" has a little more grain in it. The Glidden is pretty nice (I believe this is a Home Despot brand), probably my 3rd favorite (after the first 2 Rustoleums). Really, any of these create a real nice aluminum though.

Group 2: In this group, almost all of them have some noticeable metal flake. The first, the "High Heat" paint (which is for like barbecue pits), is probably what I'm going to use for the box/case: not because I like it, but because it's the lesser of 20 evils. It's just a tad darker (depending on the lighting) than the aluminums from Group 1, and it has the least amount of metal flake in it. So, not perfect, but better than any other "slightly darker" paint I could find. The Rustoleum Universal paints have a LOT of metal flake in it (and also cost the most). The Rustoleum Wheel paint looks like the other aluminums (despite being labeled "Steel") but with a tad more metal flake in it.

Group 3: These are all Krylon and I had such high hopes for them based on the colors... "Metallic Dark Metal!" "Metallic Black Stainless!" Sounded perfect for those darker Volvo panels. But they had a TON of metal flake in them (and the "Fusion" paints were again more expensive and didn't spray very well). The "Specialty Stainless Steel Finish" had a lot of flake and literally feels like sandpaper when it dries.

Group 4: These are mostly from Ace Hardware with the exception of the one Rustoleum Metallic Charcoal, which was disappointing as it sprayed poorly and, of course, had some metal flake (but not a ton). These photos were taken on an overcast day, so the "sun" ones aren't as bright as previous groups. The last 3, while all very nice, they all look the same and not much different than the Aluminums from Group 1... this is despite being called things like "Chrome" and "Premium Chrome Aluminum" (the "Premium" is apparently just the increased price for it). The Anodized Bronze is an okay darker color (there's no brown in it) but has a bit too much metal flake in it for me.

Group 5: This group has a couple more of the expensive and flake-ridden Rustoleum Universals, and also a paint from "ColorShot" (picked up from WalMarts), again with lots of metal flake. The last 2 swatches are the sort of repeats: one (of 2) of my favorite aluminums, as mentioned above, is the Rustoleum Painters Touch Metallic Aluminum (I think the only "Metallic" without any flake in it). To try and get a "slightly darker" aluminum for the box/case, I tried this paint over a flat black to see if some of the "darkness" would show through. It might be hard to tell in the photo, but it didn't work: The paint really covered well, which is usually a good thing. But for what I was trying to accomplish, it didn't help. It's possible that if I moved the paint back so it was more misty, it could work. But I think painting that consistently over the entire case/box would be difficult.

I don't plan on buying any more paints, unless someone here has a good recommendation for some flake-less paints (Please?). As mentioned, I think I've got several great options for Han and the Carbonite: these can probably be used for the light Volvo panels as well, maybe with a clear dull coat over top of them. But I'm not thrilled with my option for the box/case: I'd like something a hair darker with no flake in it. And I have NO idea what to do for the darker Volvo panels (as I'm planning on doing the ESB painting scheme). I might just have to paint those a satin black or something. But I'd prefer they have some metallic-ness to them, since that's how everything else is on HiC.

Group 6: Update 7/2/22: Came across a Glidden spray paint at Home Despot called "Phantom Hue: Satin." It didn't say anything about being a "metallic" which I took to be a good sign, though the cap color was kinda metallic. I tested sprayed it in the store (they have a brown paper taped up at the end of the aisle for people to do this): it didn't seem to have any major metal flake in it and it seemed a little darker than the usual Aluminums, so I picked it up and like it. It's a hair darker than that Rustoleum High Heat paint, which is what I was planning on using for the case/box. I did another swatch and put it next to the High Heat and the Metallic Aluminum I like: the first 3 has the new Glidden in between those, and the next 3 are what I see as a darker-to-lighter progression. Today was again slightly overcast, so not the best "sun" swatches. Actually, the image below doesn't show these shades real well, but it should give you some idea, and hopefully help you if you're looking for slightly different paints for Han and the case.

Anyways, that it. Hopefully, this helps someone either now or with future HiC builds. Any questions (or ideas!) just let me know. :)

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Well-Known Member
Cool, Doc. I hope this helps you, even if just helping you figure out what NOT to use.
I just found a new slightly-darker-than-aluminum paint by Glidden and did another swatch (see Group 6 above). I'm probably going to use this for the case/box. :)


Great research Generalurko!
Sadly they don’t sell Glidden Max Flex here in the UK. Looking for an alternative or trying to import, but it’s classed as volatile and although It isn’t impossible to post it’s extra hoops to jump through with labels, packaging and carriers.


New Member
Hi Generalurko
My son and I are nearing the paint work on HIC. We've done a number of costume builds so most of my comments
can be found in the Dented Helmet under Builder or Builders ESB Build. Anyway..I find all of your points very well taken
and would like to comment on color value as being at times even more critical than color choice when it's a reference problem
like HIC presents. In most cases this paint job will work out if you choose a value of color you pick for the box that surrounds
Han and then a value 3-4 shades darker for the side panel background colors, except the lighted one .Then a color maybe 1-2 values lighter for Han.
Considering all of the different lighting and weathering variations from ESB to ROTJ and then also the traveling exhibit, it's better to think
values first and insert colors than to pick colors and try to change their values.
It would be fun to see all of your color work in black and white photos and then pick the values and see what colors they turned out to be.
Nice work, it's helps me and others a lot.
Happy Building!


Master Member
this is wonderful for more than just HiC!

I'm a fan of duplicolor silver acryllic lacquer. It's in a blue can and I believe automotive paint.

Rustoleum 2x metallic silver is pretty generic but dries very nicely on plastic

that's all I can add, thank you so much for sharing


Well-Known Member
Thanks everyone. Something I learned in an art class in my 2nd year of college MANY years ago, has stuck with me: "a change in plane means a change in value."

What that means is that even though something is one color, each "plane" or side will seem lighter or darker based on how light hits it. If you painted a cube white and set it outside in the sun (or wherever really), each side would look a different shade of white. Where the light hits it the most head-on would be the whitest, and the side in the shadow would be the darkest and seem to be a darker color... even though it's all the same white.

For the Han box/surround, this is true and can make it's color look different from just how the light hits it and from the direction you're looking at it. Even Han himself will look different because he's made up of millions of different "planes"... the top of his nose to the side of his nose to his cheek, and so on.

It's going to be tough to match anything exactly on HiC. I'm betting if you painted him metallic pink and then switched a photo of it to B&W, like theartist4u mentioned, it would look fine in the photo. The point, I guess, is there's no real wrong answers here (except metallic pink) and all of our HiCs will look different to each other. But unless you place "yours" right next to the original, no one's going to be able to tell the difference.

But this thread is just to give you an idear of how some of the paints look. And just under different lighting conditions they look WAY different. But at least it's a start for us. :)

Thanks again!

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