Air Brushing 101
have all seen them, these amazing murals that adorn the hood liners and
various engine and body panels of show cars. The artists that
perform the magic are a very tight knit group and are not easily
persuaded to divulge their air brushing secrets. The magic
formulas include proprietary paint blending, air brush handling
techniques and custom stencil creation.
Professional air bush
artists spend years of trial and error in perfecting his or hers own
special style. One can expect to pay a premium for custom air brush art
work. Prices can range from the hundreds of dollars for a small graphic
to well over a thousand dollars for a large under hood mural.
brushing of exterior body parts can sometimes demand astronomical
If you are on a budget and enjoy working on your
machine there is an alternative. That alternative is DIY, "do it
yourself". The task may seem daunting but with the right equipment and
a little practice you can create some very impressive artwork.
of the easiest and most visually effective automotive air bush projects
is creating some simple flames. Flames can be applied using a variety
of multiple air brush paint layers to almost any surface. Before you
start your journey into he world of air brushing you need to know what
tools to acquire.
After searching the internet we found some
very basic and inexpensive airbrushing equipment on Ebay. The first
thing you need is a good air compressor and airbrush gun. The equipment
we purchased included a compressor with hose and fittings, a Master
brand double action air brush gun and a set of basic color acrylic
paints. We got the entire kit for under a hundred dollars and it
included free shipping.
compressor with hose
air brush guns
The vendor, Chicago Air Brush is ships fast and free and offers a huge
variety of specialty paints and equipment.
choice of paint is important to getting off to a good start with your
project. Beginners should stick to what is referred to as basic opaque
water based acrylic primary color paints. The water based acrylics
offer good coverage and are non toxic. As your skill sets advance you
can consider using oil based paints. A word of caution when applying
air brush or for that matter any type of aerosol paint. You
not, let me repeat that, you do not want to breath in any type of paint
vapors especially if you are working in an unventilated area. Invest in
a cheap respirator made for painting environments and use it.
acrylic air brush
cups and stirrers
The first step in our flame project is
deciding where you want to put them. In our case we decided to flame
the hood liners of two of our project cars. A C5 coupe and a C6 Z06.
removing the hood liner from the hood mount it at eye level in a
separate area from your cars. Spray paint has a tendency to
travel and deposit itself on anything that happens to be in the
immediate area, like your car.
cut the middle prongs from a fork to make a
hood liner button remover
felt hood liner is very porous and has to be prepped prior to
painting. If you skip this step the paint will be absorbed
the felt. Begin by applying inter-coat clear to the hood liner. Cover
the entire area to be painted with about five coats of the clear. Let
the clear coat dry for about two minutes between coats. The clear coat
paint is very nasty stuff, remember to use your respirator during this
and the following steps.
prior to painting spray the desired area with several
coats of intercoat clear
next step is to apply the basic flame pattern. Using some opaque white
paint make a series of what is called "dagger strokes" to the desired
area. A 'dagger" stroke can be painted by visualizing the letter "S".
Paint a series of vertical large elongated letter "S's" on the hood
begin with opaque whit "dagger" strokes, adding color to
the C5 logo is an extra touch, just mask the design off and spray
the white dagger strokes have dried apply some finishing accents using
a specialty flame stencil to bring the graphic into more of a flame
shape. The stencils can also be purchased from a variety of on line
sources and go under the name of "real flames air brush stencils".
plastic stencils help to shape the
to work the white flames into a desired pattern using very light paint
applications and the stencils. After you get the desired results you
can begin on giving the flame pattern some color. We choose to go with
a red flame on the C5 and a blue flame on the C6.
you finish with the white fill in with and opaque red
a light blue flame on our C6
your secondary paint is a small container using about five drops of
paint to three drops of thinner. Apply the color to the previously
drawn white flames using the flame stencil to prevent over-spray. Use
the stencils to give additional definition to the flame pattern.
Concentrate of the edges and interior sections of the flame to get a 3D
We also decided to try our hand at flaming out the fuel
rail covers and radiator cover on the C5. This required sanding down
the rough OEM plastic finish, priming and wet sanding to create a
smooth surface on which to apply the new paint.
prime and wet sand till you drop
the fuel rails and radiator cover were "baby ass" smooth we applied
several coats of opaque red acrylic paint. Using a mix of yellow,
orange and white paint we applied the first layer of dagger stroke
flames to the covers. Remember to work from front to rear of the flames
will be backwards when you reinstall the fuel rail covers. Using the
flame stencil apply a mix of yellow and white paint to the edges of the
flame pattern. Keep working it until the desired effect is achieved.
final step in the process involves clear coating and wet sanding the
finish. Allow the covers to dry over night and then apply several very
lite coats of gloss clear coat. Dupli Color makes a good automotive
clear coat that can be used for this purpose. You can get a spray can
of this at any of the Mart stores.
After the the clear coat
has dried begin the wet sanding. Start with a wet 800 grit, then a 1000
grit and finally a 2000 grit paper. Make sure you keep the surface
flooded with water as you are sanding.
The final step is to
use a light polishing compound to bring out the gloss. Maguires
Ultimate compound used in combination with a small hand held orbital
sander works great. Apply some compound to the foam pad of of the
sander and polish until you can see yourself in the finish. That's it,
reinstall the fuel rail and radiator covers and admire your work.
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