Custom Airbrushed Graphics on Nissan Altima

Custom Airbrushed Graphics on Nissan Altima

1) We start with a freshly body-worked, primed and wetsanded Nissan Altima courtesy of Juan’s Body Shop. Whether you’re into the sport compact scene or not, you gotta respect a guy that takes his time and does a good job. Seamlessly molded front and rear bumpers, nicely done. The plan is to give it a two tone paint job with a tribal style graphic separating the two colors. Our job is to design and apply the graphic to help transform this regular Altima into a custom painted, head turning, fire breathing, death dealing monster Altima. Or in other words, just another day at Sid Vicious Art & Airbrush.

Normally, I’d start by laying down the graphic color, taping out my graphic, back masking it, then spraying the two colors. But in this case, because my schedule is a bit hectic and the car was ready for basecoat, I stop in and simply run a divider line with some 1/4 in. blue fine line tape. I designed the graphic ahead of time in Corel Draw, so I knew where to run the line…or at least that’s what I’m saying anyways.

2) Would you look at that! I guess I did design it on paper first. CorelDraw can be an awesome tool for doing pre sketch work. Giving your customer a good idea of what the finished product will look like before you begin painting it, is a great way to set expectations and avoid misunderstandings. Making changes in Corel Draw is much easier than making changes in real life.

3) Juan sprayed the basecoats and we’re ready for graphics. There’s a couple different ways to get the design from paper to vehicle. One option is to take some measurements on the car, scale the vector file from Corel Draw to match, send it to the plotter and create a large vinyl stencil for each side of the car. However, when working with this size/style of graphic, I prefer to lay them out by hand with 1/4 & 1/8 in. blue fine line tape. This gives me more control over the design and better versatility to make “on the fly” adjustments for things like body lines and door handles.

4) I start by pulling the longest lines first. Always pull the full length of a line from start to finish. Using my original division line as a reference, I work from the front of the vehicle to the back and proceed to layout the entire graphic. A comfortable chair or stool on wheels really helps here but there are few spots where I know I’m going to have to take off my shirt and lift the car high above my head with one hand so I can layout certain lines just right. Be careful and lift with your legs.

5) Once my graphic is layed out in fine line tape on the drivers side, I trim everywhere the graphic overlaps with a new Xacto knife, then run 16 in. transfer tape across it and cut away the inside. After masking the rest of the car, this side would be ready to spray but if we did spray it, we’d get a nasty line going through our graphic from that original division line for the two tone. I use 400 grit sandpaper to feather the division line between the two colors until there’s no ridge at all.  I should have done this before I started taping off the graphic but oh well, you live and learn…and rack up vast amounts of credit card debt.

6) I’ve run 18 in. masking paper down the length of the car over the graphic so I can trace the design in preparation for transferring to the other side.

7) Using a ball point pen at a 45 degree angle to the inside edges of the graphic where the tape is, I trace an outline of the graphic.

8) I lay the traced design on top of some foam padding and use a pounce wheel to trace it. I then tape the design (in reverse) to the passenger side of the car, being sure to line it up exactly as it is on the drivers side and use a pounce pad with blue chalk powder to transfer it to the car. (This technique is outlined in more depth in another tutorial so I won’t repeat it here.)

9) My daughter said it’s probably pixie dust but I’m guessing it’s the metallic flakes in the silver basecoat that you’re seeing flying through the air here. Don’t be a hero, wear a respirator!

10) We skipped a few steps here. After spraying the silver basecoat and letting it dry, I used 1/8 in. blue fine line and masked around the inside edge of the graphic to give it an edge. I then sprayed 3 good coats of HOK Pagan Gold Kandy over the graphic and after it was dry, unmasked everything. Ready for clear coat.

Louise’s Electric Blue Skull and Flames Airbrushed Honda Shadow

Louise’s Electric Blue  Honda Shadow Airbrush Skull and Airbrush Flames

1.) The owner’s bike has recently been repainted so the paint is in great shape.  There are already light silver flames airbrushed on the tank and rear fender but nothing on the front fender. She would like to add a cool looking skull to the front fender and also some flames that will match the rest of the bike. Let’s do it!

2.) Using a reference pic from Google Images of a human skull, I create a sketch of how I want the skull to look.  I incorporate the  flames by adding a flame lick coming out his mouth and one coming out of his eye socket. To transfer this  sketch to the fender, I’m going to apply  some low tack transfer tape to a piece of copy and then send it through the printer so my skull drawing prints right on the transfer tape. I ‘ll then be able to remove the transfer tape from the copy paper and apply it directly to the fender. Once it’s on the fender, I can cut it out using an Xacto Knife with a brand new blade.

3.) Not much action in this pic, grass is lookin pretty green, could be a bit thicker though.  The fender was washed, wet sanded with 600 grit sandpaper, rinsed and dried thoroughly. This is how you want your parts to look after you wet sand them. A nice even dull finish everywhere. Compare this pic to the first pic above.

4.) And there ya go, all done! It’s that simple. I woke up the next morning and the fender was finished…what a relief!

Sorry for the lack of pics on this one, had to get it done fast and neglected to get pics along the way.  After I had the transfer tape with the printed sketch applied to the fender. I cut out the eyes, mouth and nose first (saving the cut out pieces), sprayed them black and then covered them back up. Cut out the skull and teeth next (saving the cut out pieces), leaving the flame parts still masked. I used white base coat to airbrush/detail the skull and teeth. I add texture to the skull by spraying small cracks, dots and jagged lines.

After I’m satisfied with the white, I switch to a Kandy Purple/Black mixture and use it very sparingly to add some more depth to the skull. It does not take much, I use it to push the jaw back under the cheek bones and on the sides of the eye sockets to give some shape to the head. I then switch to Oriental Blue Kandy to finish shading the skull. I’m not adding any new detail with Blue Kandy, just shading and going over what I already have.

Once the skull is done, back mask it and unmask the flame licks. I use blue fine line tape to layout some semi abstract/classic flames and spray them with a light silver metallic.

To find out what kind of airbrush I used, how long this project took, what it cost to do it and how much you should charge for it..Click Here. If you are not a Member, you will need to Register (FREE) in order to view it.

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