Aside from its main function of transporting a person from one place to another, the automobile has become a favorite way of expressing one's personality. Unfortunately, cars come off the assembly line in one (or at most two) colors. They are available in a wide variety of colors, all deep-researched to cater to different types of consumers, but are still monochromatic nonetheless. For many persons, this is not enough to satisfy their need for self-expression and the desire to look different from other car owners. It is not surprising, then, that customizing cars has become more and more popular through the years. The more common way of customizing cars is by painting them with special non-factory colors or fitting them with special hubcaps, license plates or bumper stickers. Even these don't seem to be enough.
The more radical way of customizing cars is by painting designs on them. The designs may be as simple as multi-colored geometric patterns, or as intricate as dragons, flames and nude women. Some artists paint the designs on the cars freehand with artists' brushes. But, for those who are not that artistically gifted, the airbrush comes to the rescue.
You will need the following materials: vinyl or plastic stencils, masking tape, automotive paint and the airbrush with its accompanying air supply.
The first step is to choose the design. Using plastic or vinyl, make a stencil or mask of the designs, starting with the design for the bottom layer. Keep the stencils handy together with the other materials you will use. Locate the car in the area where you will paint it, making sure there is good ventilation. Always wear a mask while painting the car. Then wash and dry the area of the car where you wish to put the design, making sure that it is free of grease and dirt.
Tape the stencil to the car and make sure it is flat to avoid any underspray. Cover the areas of the car which you do not want painted with masking tape or tarp. Airbrush the design in arcing motions, starting with the center and moving towards the perimeter. Spray the paint in heavy and light amounts depending upon the design. Start with the background colors, followed by the darker colors and then the lighter ones. Allow the paint to dry then remove the stencil and masking tape. Follow the same procedure with the next layer and so on until the design is complete. If you want to make straight lines, keep your wrist locked as you pass the airbrush in one direction.
To custom airbrush a car, professionals recommend a Gravity Feed airbrush, together with a compressor that delivers 55 – 65 psi. The automotive paint should be thin enough to airbrush easily. If the paint is too thick, dilute it with a thinner until it is about the consistency of milk.
Other favorite objects for this type of airbrush art are motorcycles and helmets. Follow the same procedure when custom airbrushing these items.