The Elusive Ghost Flames

The Elusive Ghost Flames

The elusive ghost flames tutorial will show you how to paint old school ghost flames from flame lay out with fine line tape to painting the ghost flames.

I today’s fast and the furious world of custom painting much of the what was hip in the 50′s 60′s and 70′s has been lost or is a dying art form. With many of the new custom painters today, most of them focus on the new types of designs and bright colors. This is great for the younger generation, but many people still desire the old school look with a little twist. In this article we will be looking at some old school with some new technology. Armed with this information we will hunt for the elusive ghost flames. I am not sure when or were ghost flames first showed up or who was the original creator of this great feat. I do know that when done right it will stop most people in their tracks to take a second look. by Dan Hagen, reprinted courtesy Airbrush Technique Magazine 

Materials: 180 grit sand paper, Wet or dry paper ranging from 600-3000, 3M blue fine line3M green 3/4House of Kolor Products233+ BC-25 black, DP-39 Lavender Pearl, UC-35 Kosmic Kolor Klear, RU-311 reducer, KP-21 Kwikure epoxy primer, KS KO2 sealer

 

 The Elusive Ghost Flames
clean the tank

1. I start by cleaning all the parts that need to be painted with soap and water and towel drying.

 The Elusive Ghost Flames
sanding tank
 The Elusive Ghost Flames
removing logo
 The Elusive Ghost Flames
logo removed
 The Elusive Ghost Flames
ready for paint

2. Before we can move to wet sanding the whole tank with 600 grit we need to remove the vinyl sticker under the clear. I begin doing this by taking 600 grit sand paper and begin sanding the clear until I can gauge the depth of the clear. I need to feather out this area so that the flames that I will be adding later will not have a big dip from the sticker removal. We will lay some primer in area so that later we can blend our color. I have sand the whole area and removed the sticker. Taking a clean rage with a little reducer and begin removing the adhesive from the tank. As you can see from the picture the adhesive has lifted enough for me to get it started. By taking my finger I begin rolling the adhesive into itself. I would stay away from using an X-acto knife. The adhesive will come off pretty easy. With the adhesive removed I take my 180 grit sand paper and begin feathering the area so that there will not be any ridges.

 

 The Elusive Ghost Flames
blowing out dirt
 The Elusive Ghost Flames
blowing out dirt from tight areas

3. I have wet sanded the entire tank and now begin to blow all the little hiding spots for dust to be sitting.

 

 The Elusive Ghost Flames
painting black

4. Now I take and lay down some black KS KO-seal 2 and let it dry I then lay down some KP-21 primer and let it dry overnight. After the tank has dried overnight I wet sand to blend everything together. I then take and mix up some KS-KO-2 black primer sealer and shot the tank and wait about an hour and a half. I take and mix up some BC-25 black and shot the tank then wait about 30 minute for it to dry.

 

 The Elusive Ghost Flames
fine line tape

5. With the tank dry I start my flame layout. I take my 3M blue fine line tape and begin by laying out my first flame. I use a 10 to 12 inch lead and allow the tape site just over the tank about a 1/2 in or so. Most people hold their tape higher, but this is what works for me. You may want to adjust the height to where you feel comfortable.

 

 The Elusive Ghost Flames
flame layout
 The Elusive Ghost Flames
flame layout
 The Elusive Ghost Flames
flame layout
 The Elusive Ghost Flames
laying out flames 2
 The Elusive Ghost Flames
laying out flames

5. When going into a turn I shorten my lead up to about 6 to 7 inches this gives me a little more control. I then put just enough tension on the right side of the tape to pull the turn to the left and opposite for turning right. With the right side of the tank done I begin with the left side in the same manner. With this design the owner did not want symmetrical flame. He wanted a random flame layout.

 

 The Elusive Ghost Flames
ghost flames done

6. With the layout completed I will add some DP-39 (lavender pearl) to the BC-25 (black). I add about 4 X-acto knife blades full of pearl to 8 ounces of paint then add 6 ounces RU-311 to the mix. I would say a ratio of 8:4:6. This gives me a thin mixture that I can use to build up the flames, but also allows me to keep the edges of the flames low.

With the flames sprayed and everything untapped I can lay on 4 coats of Kosmic Klear UC-35. I like the UC-35 because it’s high build and great shine. I hope this will help you in your search for the elusive ghost flames.

Publishing or distributing this article in any shape or form be it printed or digital is strictly prohibited. Copyrights: Airhead Airbrush.Com, Inc. Reserved No part of this tutorial may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, electrostatic, magnetic tape, mechanical or otherwise, without prior permission in writing from Airhead Airbrush. Com, Inc.

 

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4 Responses to “The Elusive Ghost Flames”

  1. Reply Larry thompson

    Hi there well Im in the process of painting my old school custom 1971 ironhead chopper a copper like color what colors would you recomend for ghost flames on A copper color bike?

  2. Reply Cord Moss

    I have been asked to paint ghost flames on a red harley. the tank is red and the back fender is red on top and then goes to white at the bottom. (straight line, not faded). He wants white ghost flames on the red and red on the white. I suppose I need to wet sand the entire tank and fenders first, but after I lay out the flames, can I just add some white paint to a mid coat clear and spray it in? or do I need to get pearls? Also, would it just be inverse for the white tip of the fender? (red paint in the mid coat clear to where it is very light?) Then I’m pretty sure I can just clear the whole thing back with a catalyzed clear and be done. I’m new to ghost flames and any help would be very appreciated. Thank you.

    ~Cord

    • Reply Don Johnson

      Cord

      What GHOST flames look like seems to be pretty different with every customer. A ghost flame is just that an out line of a flame, flames that you can hardly see or can only be seen when viewing them from a certain angle. Not all customers think of ghost flames in that way.The safest way to go is do some test or demo flames on panels for your customer and have them sign off on the one they like. Adding ghost flames is like adding any other art-clean it-scuff it- clean it and add your art work-clear coat it….

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