Our airbrush artists Johnny Sotelo, Terry Stephens, and Gene Turner airbrushed a series of chromed skulls, evil clowns, and dragons. Narciso Barrero also helped out by airbrushing the “Villain Clown with Machine Guns” jet-ski. Each ski was covered with fire, and the client wanted each fire to be a different color. He requested that one was more yellowish, another more reddish, a third with blue fire, and the final ski with green fire.
All the skis were completely taken apart, masked, and prepped as usual. Then each ski was individually painted in the booth. Sotelo started the first ski with a chromed skull that had corkscrew style horns. This skull was originally designed by Stephens at Huntington Beach Bodyworks and Sotelo was able to reproduce the skull on the ski.
Achieving realistic-looking flames
Painting on chrome is typically done using the colors white, orange-brown, blue, warm blue-gray, and black. Also when painting chrome, you have to keep in mind that the goal is to reproduce a reflective surface. How well you are able to do this will determine how realistic the effect. Realism is what we are after.
Begin by outlining a light horizon line on the skull, so that the line follows the contour of the skull. Picture the chrome as two halves, with the horizon line dividing the two. Create a shadow in the top of the bottom half below the horizon line with a blue-gray color and then add just a hint of orange-brown. Be careful not to shadow too much or it will look like a cartoon.
Next, tint the top of the top half with a little blue. Then make a hard black line over the horizon line and shadow just underneath it with some over-reduced black. Finally, add highlights where the light catches it by adding glimmers with over-reduced white basecoat.
When airbrushing the clowns, Sotelo used the Huntington Beach Bodyworks stencils that the customer had picked out. Begin with the first part of the stencil, a basic outline of a clown, and spray a white base to begin with. Then put part two of the stencil kit in place. This is the detail piece. Fog the details in very, very lightly with some black base. It’s important to spray this stage very lightly because the stencil is only meant to provide you with a type of road map to add details in freehand.
Sotelo used a blue/black mixture to shadow the faces of the clowns. This adds a bluish makeup-look to the clowns. He used House of Kolor Blue Blood Red for the nose, lips, and tongue and House of Kolor Chrome Yellow and Green base for the jester’s hat. The chrome effect techniques previously explained was used to paint the bells of the hat. Afterward, a darker shade of over-reduced blue-black was used to paint the deeper shadows. The clowns were finished off with some hard black lines and highlights
True fire technique
I’m sure by now that everyone is familiar with the true fire effect that has been made famous by Mike Lavallee. Everyone is after this now. For those of you unfamiliar with the techniques used to obtain this effect, the following describes the steps used to paint the jet skis.
We used Art Tool’s True Fire freehand shields to paint the fire on the jet skis using House of Kolor’s Moly Orange, Chrome Yellow, and white basecoats. In addition to these base colors, Apple Red, Tangerine Orange, and Pagan Gold Kandy Intensifiers were needed to obtain the realistic fire effect.
Begin by using the Moly Orange to loosely paint your fire scheme. Keep it loose because this step is meant to give you a map to follow and also to create a red haze underneath. Afterwards, cover it with Apple Red Kandy and then use the Moly Orange again, just a little tighter this time. Don’t completely cover the haze. Work a bit on the inside of it. Then coat with Apple Red Kandy again and move on to the chrome yellow. Remember not to cover your previous work and also not to over use the shields.
Real fire does not have a hard outline and this is a big mistake that many people make. After the Chrome Yellow, coat that with Tangerine Kandy. Then come back in with your Chrome Yellow base and then coat that with the Pagan Gold Kandy. Next add just a few white hot spots, fog a little white over them and then hit that with just the slightest bit of Chrome Yellow.
That is the way we do it at Huntington Beach Bodyworks, but I encourage you to experiment. The reason this effect is so successful in recreating a realistic looking flame is the fact that each color is layered. Therefore, it is extremely important not to cover your previous work with each step that you do.
Take care not to spray each base color too opaque. It should be slightly translucent and you can also play with the amount of colors that you use to achieve more of a red or a yellow fire. You can also completely swap out all the colors for different shades of blues or greens to get a blue or green fire.
That is enough for now because these techniques are not mastered right off the bat. The techniques have been developed over time by numerous airbrush artists in the industry with countless years of experience.
So grab some sheet metal panels or whatever spare body parts you have lying around and start practicing. Get some fire images from the Internet to reference. You can also check out our website at www.huntingtonbeachbodyworks.com to look at some of the projects that we have completed using the techniques de-scribed here. Have fun and I’ll be back next month with a new project for you.
Rich Evans, owner of Huntington Beach Body-works in Southern California, is an award winning painter and fabricator. Currently he is offering workshops at his facility so he can share his special techniques to other industry professionals. Evans released a signature line of custom wheels available nationwide. Each unique design is a reflection of his trademark style. For more information, visit him on the Web at www.huntingtonbeachbodyworks.com.