Scheme Designers Celebrates 25 Years


Craig Barnett’s crazy idea two and a half decades ago has turned into a long-lasting aviation service. In 1997, when Barnett started offering professional design services to aircraft builders and owners, it was something of a novelty. Airframe manufacturers had their own design staffs, of course, but homebuilders were left to go it alone, or “borrow” ideas from other aircraft. Some of these worked, some not so much.

According to the company, it has “expanded to include a team of professional aircraft livery artists who have designed aircraft schemes which are flying on over 14,000 aircraft on every continent across the globe.”

What started as simple drawings with proposed designs has evolved into a high-tech presentation. “The company works with each customer through interactive web-based tools, allowing the customer to bring their unique vision and personality to their aircraft,” says Scheme Designers. “The Company’s artists will work with customers through as many iterations as it takes to get the design and color combination perfect. The Company will also work with customers real time when necessary to tweak elements of their custom design until it beautifully achieves their vision.”

Paint shops have come to appreciate working with Scheme Designers because it will “prepare detailed dimensions drawings, to 1/8-inch or 1mm, along with comprehensive written specifications for the customer’s chosen paint shop. These detailed schematics provide a paint shop with everything they need to accurately apply the paint or vinyl scheme to the customer’s aircraft with precision and efficiency.”

Scheme Designers is exhibiting at Sun ’n Fun this year inside Hangar A at booth 17.

This article was originally published in KITPLANES Magazine.

Avatar photo
KITPLANES Editor in Chief Marc Cook has been in aviation journalism for more than 30 years. He is a 4000-hour instrument-rated, multi-engine pilot with experience in nearly 150 types. He’s completed two kit aircraft, an Aero Designs Pulsar XP and a Glasair Sportsman 2+2, and currently flies a 2002 GlaStar.

Other AVwebflash Articles


  1. First, there’s no accounting for taste when it comes to paint schemes. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

    Second, a story of oversight from when we laid out the design for our Glasair.

    The original Glasair was a stubby looking plane. Not as stubby as the Questair Venture, but not ‘sexy’ like the later Glasair SuperStretches.

    So, in the same way that women wear clothes that hide things that they want to hide, we wanted to use our paint scheme to hide stubbiness, to stretch out / lengthen out our Glasair.

    So we mocked up our plane for real using crepe paper, colored tape, etc. (This was before digital cameras and fast desktop computers.)

    We came up with a paint scheme using “logarithmic” strips running nose to tail, alternating red/white. (The base color of our plane, being fiberglass, was a bright white.) This gave two illusions: It made the fuselage appear less tall, and it made the fuselage look longer.

    We repeated the scheme at the top of the rudder. (It turns out that Grumman had used the same scheme on the rudders of their later model Tigers/Cheetahs.)

    Here’s the oversight: Since my airplane partner worked days, we mocked everything up at night – under the single (sodium?) light in front of our hangar. (An orange-ish light.)

    And so, when we looked at our mock up at night, under one single colored light, we were pleased.

    But after paint, when we looked at our finished product in the bight (sun)light of day, we were shocked at how stark/naked the tail looked. We hadn’t started our logarithmic scheme there with a wide enough red stripe.

    The problem was that the bright white base color didn’t look as bright at night, under an orange-colored light. We should have come out on a Saturday before finalizing our paint scheme.

    I suppose that we would have seen this coming if we had had the technology to mock it up on a computer.

    Oh well. The plane flew fine, despite that the paint scheme wasn’t perfect.