Restoring a car to its former glory is sometimes just not enough, I mean you want to something insane, something that will stand out at a car show but not an absolute monstrosity, so it’s time to find the fine line in the middle. Now how on earth do you do that? With a custom airbrush design, of course.
How to do your own airbrush design
This awesome video from Donnie Smith at DIY How to Paint a Car School takes us through the basics of adding graphics to a car that’s already painted.
- Wash the surface with soap and water.
- Rinse it well to ensure there are no contaminating elements left
- Dry using compressed air. This is the quickest way of drying the car and will also help to remove any dust particles but allowing to air dry naturally will work just as well but might take longer.
- Use a wax and grease remover to take away any traces of silicon or other contaminates
- In the video Donnie is using a DA sander with 800 grit but this can be done with standard wet or dry 1000 grit sand paper. Make sure you have an interface pad on the sander and always be careful when you’re doing the edges as there may only be clear coat and you don’t want to have to repaint the whole panel.
- Make sure you lubricate the panel with water and always use the flat of your hand as the pressure point, never just your fingers as this could leave uneven marks in the paintwork.
- Once sanded, go over with a scuff pad. Donnie is using a Scotch Bright one, but the important thing to remember is that it has to be a grey one.
- It’s now time to get the pressure washer back out and rinse of the residue. We need the area to be super clean, so use the wax and grease remover again.
- When it comes to drawing out your design on the panel, use an eight inch or quarter inch tape to draw the design. Donnie is using fine line tape from 3M which is basically like electrical tape. If you are using a fine line tape, it’s important to remember that even though the tape stretches, it does shrink back. When applying it, keep the tape nice and taut but if you over stretch it when doing curves, it could lift of the paint.
- Take your time doing this, if you’ve never done it before then it might take a little longer than you first thought but that’s fine. And if you make a mistake, simply peel up the tape and relay it how you want. When you are taping out your design, it’s important to think in terms of the inner line. It’s easy to get carried away and forget that the inner line will be the outline once done.
- Before you move on to the painting part, take a moment to assess your handiwork. This is the time to make the changes. Tape is a lot less permanent than paint so tweak and adjust your design however you like until it’s perfect.
- Using masking tape an inch and a half wide, go round your outline. Make sure there are no gaps between the masking tape and your design outline. Any gaps could lead to droplets of paint where you don’t want them. Once you’ve done that, go round the masking tape with some masking paper. You want to cover every inch of the car that you won’t be painting.
- Wipe over the graphic design area with a tack cloth. This will help to eliminate any last minute residue.
- Now it’s time to paint. Once it’s dry, apply a second coat until you’re satisfied with how it all looks.
- Once the design is dry, it’s time to peel away the tape and apply a clear coat to the entire surface. The first coat is always light but once that’s dry, you can add your two full wet coats. If you’re going to be doing a lot of buffing and sanding, then a third coat might be necessary.
And hey presto, you have your very own airbrushed design. How cool! Have you tried this yourself? How did it go?