Death Rider License Plate Design

by Tom Banks

So many new AB artists think that you need to invest lots of money in paints to create any decent piece of art. One of my favorites is just the black and white illustration. There is something pure and basic using black and white for your work. The following is one of my all time favorites…the death rider at night.

I’m using Auto Air Colors, Semi Opaque White and Transparent Black, reduced 25% with 4010 reducer. I’m using my trusty Iwata Eclipse HP-BCS .5mm for this.

A general rule of thumb when creating any “multi-dimensional” piece of work or something that has multiple layers of depth is you will start with the background layer first, then consistently and systematically work your way forward. This means that I will be painting the background first, and starting with the points furthest away.

 

 Death Rider License Plate Design

1. I prep my panel (license plate blank) by scuffing the surface with a red scotch brite pad. I cut out my death rider from vinyl transfer tape, and place it on my panel to protect that area from everything that I will be doing behind it.

 

 Death Rider License Plate Design

2. I choose a place for my moon. The moon will be my light source for this panel, and I offset it to the right of center. I want to have a perfect circle to work with, so I cut the top off a cap from an aerosol can, and spray a light coat of white inside

 

 

 Death Rider License Plate Design

3. With my moon in place, I begin brightening it up with several coats of white. I “haze” around the outside edge of the moon to help create the illusion of the moon producing my light.

 

 Death Rider License Plate Design

 

4. I begin adding my clouds at this point. I take several paper towels, and rip them in an uneven fashion. Placing my cloud “stencil”, I begin spraying my white. It is important to keep the clouds brightest along the edge of your stencil, allowing your overspray to fade away. This helps create the body of your clouds.

 

 Death Rider License Plate Design

5.With that layer complete, I step forward to my next closest layer, the rolling hills.

 

 Death Rider License Plate Design

 

 Death Rider License Plate Design

 

6. Using my trans black, I lightly spray the “lines” of my hills for reference. I choose the hillside that is furthest away, and “black it in” to effectively erase the lines. I dust a very small amount of white over that area.

 

 Death Rider License Plate Design

 

 Death Rider License Plate Design

 

7. I begin adding very small tombstones with my black all along the hillside. I also add a “creepy tree” to help fill that area in, and give some perspective to size.

 

 Death Rider License Plate Design

 

8. I then add my highlights to those tombstones and my tree using my white. Notice how the highlights make sense to our light source (the moon). I also highlight the top of our hillside to help give it separation.

 

 Death Rider License Plate Design

 

9. Once all of my highlighting is complete, I then dust the entire area with my white. Be careful here! When each layer of depth is complete, I will be dusting not only that specific layer, but the layers behind it as well. A very light dusting of white is all you need now, as you will be adding more along the way.

 

 Death Rider License Plate Design

 

 Death Rider License Plate Design

 

10. I once again, will blacken in this layer to erase my lines. As this layer is a bit closer to us, there will be a bit more detail involved. I take a bit of white, and start highlighting the “contours” of the ground, creating high and low spots to the terrain.

 

 Death Rider License Plate Design

 

11. I begin adding my tombstones all along the hillside with my black. Notice these are a bit larger than the first bunch, and little details can be seen. I like adding a couple of crosses on the tops to help dress it up a bit.

 

 Death Rider License Plate Design

 

12. Still using my black, I start adding the shadows the tombstones cast upon the ground. Notice how the shadows change their angle as it relates to the tombstone’s position in relation to the moon.

 

 

 Death Rider License Plate Design

 

13. I begin adding my highlights to the tombstones using my white. Once again, I am thinking of how my light source will affect the position of my highlights.

 

 

 Death Rider License Plate Design

 

14. Now, I will not only dust in this layer of depth with my white, but also the layer behind it as well. It is important that I use the same amount of white on each layer, thus keeping the furthest layer away the most “non-descript”, creating the illusion of depth. Remember, the further away things are from you, the less detail you see.

 

 

 Death Rider License Plate Design

 

15. I repeat the above steps for this layer of depth. This hillside is the closes to us, and therefore, everything will be even larger, and contain more detail to it. Notice how the highlights are crisper, and the shadows more noticeable.

 

 Death Rider License Plate Design

 

 Death Rider License Plate Design

 

 Death Rider License Plate Design

 

 Death Rider License Plate Design

 

16. I black in the ground that the death rider is crossing. Notice how the ground is a bit higher than the horse’s hooves. This creates the illusion that our rider is in the middle of this layer. I begin adding my highlights, once again thinking of how they will interact with the position of my moon. Begin adding some otherworldly fog rising from the footsteps of our death rider, and completely “enveloping” him. Once the fog has been adds behind and around our death rider, I remove the mask. Notice how this puts the rider in front of the tree and tombstones, but just barely.  Add some highlights to our death rider (thinking of our light source). Then add some more of the wispy fog in front of him, rising from the ground around the horses hooves.

Custom Painting Motorcycles

Custom painting motorcycles step by step takes you thru the entire process of custom painting a motorcycle from prep to finished and clear coated art work.

To start off,… I would just like to say that everyone has their own way of doing things from the prep to the final clear, including the tools they use and how they use them. The following is how I do the prep and paint on a motorcycle from the factory metal on up. Written by Blair Elliott, Kicks. It’s not the only way but it’s what works for me I guess the first thing that we should take a look at are some of the tools that will be needed. You’re going to need a grinder for cleaning off rust and smoothing down welds as well as roughing up the metal where you want to fix imperfections with bondo. A good dual action (DA) featheredger for the heavy sanding and I like to have a couple of different grits of paper for it ,… say #80, and #180 grit. I use the 80 for smoothing out grinder marks ,… and I find that any good two stage primer will fill 180 grit scratches so I use that on the wide open areas . A drill and a variety of wire wheels , safety goggles , scotchbrite, sanding blocks, sandpaper ( 80 to 2000 grit ), nitrate or latex gloves, ( nitrate will last longer ) and cotton work gloves , safety glasses, dust mask, putty slick and an air blower should pretty well cover it.

 Custom Painting Motorcycles
custom motorcycle painting tool required

 

 

Here below is a picture of the parts that we’ll be working on. Both the oil and gas tank have had extensions welded to them. The gas tank has been Kreemed , (this seals the tank and helps prevent rust ) and pressure tested. Make sure that your customer has had this done before starting the prep. Nothing would be worse than to complete a paint job only to find that the tank has a leak and needs to be re welded. We’ll be doing the frame and swing arm as well.

 Custom Painting Motorcycles
motorcycle parts to be painted

 

If you have any sense ,… you’ll have all of these parts sandblasted to remove any rust welding flux and to give the primer a good clean surface to adhere to. I sent the frame out to be blasted ,… but we’ll do the tanks and fenders the hard way. We’ll use the gas and oil tank to demonstrate on ,… the methods are the same for the rest.

 Custom Painting Motorcycles
motorcycle oil tank

 

I start by washing the part completely down with a silicone and wax remover ( wear the nitrate or latex gloves ) … these parts have been handled a lot by the builder with greasy hands and could have any number of contaminants on them. When you wash with a silicone remover ,… make sure that you dry as you go or all you are doing is moving the contaminants around. From this point on I usually put a pair of thin cotton work gloves on when handling the bare metal tanks until I get them into primer. The grease and salt from your finger tips can start problems back up that you have already solved. Then I take my mini grinder ( put on the safety glasses , you only get one set of eyes ) and go over all the welds to get them as smooth as I can ,… low spots can be filled later ,… but high spots are much harder to get rid of. Now I start going over all the same welds with the wire wheel on my drill. This cleans out all the nooks and crannies where that black welding flux can be hiding. A good selection of wire wheels helps here for getting into tight spots and corners like inside the battery box. Keep in mind that anything that you miss is going to be a weak spot in your job and that anything that you put on top is only as good as what’s underneath it. Your name and reputation are going on this job , so you want it to look right and last. After I’ve done all I can with the grinder and wire wheel ,… I use the DA to sand the entire surface to ready it for the body work.

 Custom Painting Motorcycles
motorcycle parts to be painted

 

A couple of things about mixing and applying bondo . First off ,… don’t try and apply it all in one coat . It’s much better if you apply thinner coats and work your way up. The second is to stir your hardener into the plastic slowly and try not to flip it over on itself trapping air bubbles. These will show up as pinholes later when you sand the plastic. There is a perfect time to sand bondo ,… to soon and you gob up and clog your sandpaper ,… to long and it can be like sanding concrete. If you hit it just right it sands smoothly and quickly ,… so put the beer down and pay attention and always use a sanding block. Try and have several different types of sanding blocks. For large surfaces it’s nice to have a long block ,… and for those curved surfaces a soft block works well but if you want it perfectly smooth you must use a sanding block. I use bondo for the main restructuring of the tanks ,… and then change to a polyester putty when I get down to the final finishing touches . It cures faster and sands nicer than the bondo ,… but its for cosmetics only. Use it to fill minor imperfections like small grinder marks and pinholes etc . In this picture you can see the different colour of the putty from the bondo. The sides of the tank were a little wobbly ,… so I used a skim coat just to smooth it out . Its quicker and cheaper then spraying and blocking coat after coat of primer to get it smooth.

 Custom Painting Motorcycles
applying bond-o

 

The next step is a coat of self-etching wash primer. This is a two stage primer and must be mixed one to one with wash hardener . A self-etching primer offers superior corrosion resistance and excellent primer and paint adhesion to steel , galvanized steel aluminum and stainless steel. With this primer there is no need to use metal prep or conditioners which if used incorrectly can cause more problems then they solve. Once mixed the pot life is about 8 hours so just mix what you are going to use in that time period. Now apply a single wet coat. This primer is transparent and only meant to be used for its adhesion properties so don’t over do it. You can see in the picture that the body work is still visible underneath it.

 Custom Painting Motorcycles
self-etching wash primer

 

Ok ,… three good coats of two stage high build primer surfacer ,… and wait the proper cure time. This can be decreased dramatically with the introduction of heat. What takes 3 hours at 70F only takes 30 minutes at 140F. If you are going to be doing a lot of this type of paint work I’d look into buying a couple of infra red heaters. They work great for curing your clear as well . I like to hang the parts up when I prime and paint so that I can get around the part 180 degrees and get 100 % coverage.

 Custom Painting Motorcycles
parts in spray booth

 

Now that we have a nice thick coat of primer on the parts ,… it’s time to sand most of it back off . This is where those sanding blocks come into play again. To make it easier to see where your high and low spots are give the part a light coat of a contrasting colour. This can be done with paint or another colour of primer. I usually use a bit of left over base coat from another job ,… or a light shot with a spray bomb.

 Custom Painting Motorcycles
applying guide coat

 

Now I’ll start block sanding with 180 grit ,… this is coarse enough to cut the primer down fairly quickly but the sand scratches will fill nicely with my next coat of primer. As you sand your guide coat will slowly disappear. As it does you will be able to clearly see where the low spots and heavy scratches are.

 Custom Painting Motorcycles
sanding guide coat

 

Keep sanding until all of your guide coat has disappeared ,… or until you hit your high spots . These will be either bare metal or bondo . If you have spots showing ,… either high, or low ,… it’s time to repeat the process. Depending on how rough the parts and your body work where ,… you may have to do this several times. The important thing is to get it right now. The greatest custom paint job in the world will only look as good and last as long as what’s underneath it.

 Custom Painting Motorcycles
guide coat sanded

 

As you’re sanding you are bound to go through to bare metal in the odd place ,… usually on high spots and sharp edges. I don’t know about other companies but Sikkens makes an Etch primer in a felt pen format . It’s very , very , handy to have on hand. Just give it a quick shake up ,… pop off the top ,… and dab it on just like a big ol’ Bingo marker pen before re priming with the primer surfacer.

 Custom Painting Motorcycles
guide coat sanded

 

Ok ,… we’ve given the parts their final prime and sanded them smooth I prefer #400 grit for this ,… but 500 or 600 will do just as well . So ,… we’re ready to do some painting ,… well almost. I always like to spray a test card and get it OK’d by the customer if possible just so that there can be no back tracking on their part later when they see the painted parts and decide that it’s not quite the same as they thought it would be. This is especially important if your doing a custom colour like this one. It’s a tri-coat . The first coat will be a bright red ,… the second will be a gold pearl ,… then the clear coat. When viewed in the sun it looks red one way ,… gold the other ,… and orange in-between. The problem being that each coat of gold pearl that is applied changes the colour dramatically . First we spray the whole card bright red ,… now tape off a couple of inches and spray the rest of the card with a coat of pearl. When this flashes off tape off a couple more inches and spray the rest of the card with another coat of pearl. You can repeat this as many times as you like and then remove the tape and clear the whole card. Now you will know exactly how many coats of pearl it will take to achieve the colour that you’re after. The customer in this case liked two coats.

 Custom Painting Motorcycles
sand paper grit selection

 

Now we hang every thing in the booth ,… blow any dust off the parts with an airgun ,… take a tack rag and go over them to remove any remaining dust and spray the base pearl and clear coats. We’re not to worried about achieving the perfect finish with this clear coat because it’s going to get sanded anyway.

 Custom Painting Motorcycles
motorcycle parts in spray booth

 

Any surface that I’m going to airbrush on will be sanded with #1000 wet & dry ,… or #800 dry paper. Wet & dry paper is always a little coarser then the dry paper so these two grits are about the same. By clearing the surfaces before airbrushing ,… if I screw up the design ( of course this never happens ) ,… the worst case scenario is washing or sanding it back down to the clear coat which is no big deal . Respraying the whole part is another matter.

 Custom Painting Motorcycles
motorcycle base coated

 

Time to add the graphics. The paint on the bike was very bright so the customer wanted the graphic to be subtle. So we went with just shades of black . I masked out the graphic ,… sprayed ,… and added some drop shadows.

 Custom Painting Motorcycles
adding artwork to motorcycle

 

There was no need to repaint the back of the oil tank so I just taped it up and saved the clear. Anytime that you have a nice sharp edge,… you can get an invisible blend by bringing a piece of tape out over the edge by about 1/4″. As soon as you have sprayed your clear, pull this tape off and you won’t be able to see any line there at all.

 Custom Painting Motorcycles
protecting edges

 

After giving all the parts two good coats of final clear ,… I wet sand the areas where the graphics are with #2000 wet & dry on a sanding block ,… buff with Mequires Diamond Cut Compound and then 3M’s Finishing Glaze on a foam pad. Now,… call the customer and get rid of it quick before something gets dropped on it or the dog knocks it onto the floor. Here’s how the bike looked when it was assembled.

 

 Custom Painting Motorcycles
custom painted motorcycle

 

 Custom Painting Motorcycles
motorcycle artwork

 

 

I can’t stress enough how important your prep work is on how your job will look and how long it will last down the road. A little extra time and effort can make a big difference in the final outcome. Ok ,… any questions ,…visit me on the magazine forum and I’ll answer any that I can.

Bjork T Shirt Design

I began this shirt with yellow chalk outlines. After laying out the portrait, I masked off the sleeve right side. The photo of Bjork was in black and white on a white background. I wanted this portrait to feel like it was painted on a white background. by Dainon Woudstra
Choosing to start with the nose and upper lip, I applied a mixture of Createx White (90%), Createx Extender (7%) and water (3%). I like the white to have a layering characteristic. This will allow repeated applications to build different shades.

start airbrushing bright areas

Step #2 
The brightest areas to work with are the nose and upper lip. I started with them because they will need constant attention from the white. It is best to get this process started now. In addition to this, it helps me know how bright or not too bright other areas of her face should be. I’ve expanded the white to fill in her face up to and along the hairline. I like to use as much of the black on the shirt as possible. Plus, painting in hair with white just to paint it out with black doesn’t look the same.

 

airbrushing with white
airbrushing face
airbrushing face

I try to keep the shading of her face at a constant correctness until it reaches the proper tone; always building the paint layers in light coats. The more light coats used, the better the paint will apply.

 

airbrushing face

Step #3
Now that her face is coated with white, the background will need its first layers of white. Once again, keep in mind that I carefully go around the blackness of the hair and only spray in white ovals at the bottom. You can already see her hair and I haven’t even painted it.

 

airbrushing face
airbrushing face

Step #4
Now that I have an idea of what the design will look like, I need to CUT OUT* the shapes. I think this is the most enjoyable part of painting. Since I am using the black color from the shirt, there isn’t any guesswork. I fill in the black areas with black and CUT OUT around the white areas. * CUT OUT – Using black on a black shirt to eliminate the white overspray and define edges.
I started with the hair on the right side and add a little black to the left of her nose. The hair in front of her eye will have to wait.

 

airbrushing face

Step #6
Now, I have sprayed over the freckles with a gentle misting of fuzzy and not so fuzzy white dots. I also sprayed the whole freckle area with white. While doing so, I added the same white effect to her cheeks.

Step #7

While the white background is drying, I add some more white to her face to develop stronger high lighted and shadow areas. I have also added white to her neck, forehead and eye. After toning in her face, I repaint the background with another strong, controlled layer of white; I want it to look like a white shirt.

 

airbrushing face

Step 8

I’ am trying to achieve a happy balance in her face of freckles and shading. You can see in these photos that some areas become brighter and some become darker. You can specifically tell the nose issue I mentioned before. All of these subtle changes were done with light layers of black and white until I was happy enough to move on. I also painted in her eyes.

 

airbrushing face

Step#9
I don’t like the flow of her face with relationship to the shirt; so I blended the left contour of her face into the shirt better; this gives the portrait a more appealing look. I’ve also used black and white to render her lips.

 

airbrush face

Step #10 
Now that I have finished her freckles, eye and symmetry of the shirt, I am ready to add the rest of her hair. I use an Iwata HP-BC for all my black work, it is used for filling in areas to spraying fine lines. Here, I sprayed tiny lines to represent her messy yet artsy hairstyle. I’ve also darkened her face structure around the check and behind her hair. Her nose still bothers me a little; so, I added some black around her nostril to remap its shape.

 

portriat complete
portrait complete
portrait complete

Step #10

Remember: Her hair might always seem like the next step but, if you move to fast, anything behind it cannot be repainted. Well, that is unless of course you want to start that area all over. I finished this painting with white highlights in the eyes and some final bursts in the high points of the cheeks, lips, nose and chin…and a signature. Have fun painting.

 

name

Airbrushing A Dog Portrait

Airbrush Supplies Required:

Surface: Loxley 3D canvas ( 20 x 20 inches)
Airbrush: Iwata Eclipse CS
Paint: FW liquid acrylic inks by Daler Rowney

This piece was done on a 3D medium weave canvas which means that there is no need for a frame as the canvas itself is 1 1/2 inches deep. I like these canvases as they offer a more contemporary look.

 

airbrushing dog portrait 1

Step 1: In order to prepare the canvas I brush on 3 coats of Liquitex gesso and sand in between coats with 240 grit paper. This gives me a smoother surface on which to airbrush without completely removing the canvas texture. I like the canvas surface to remain visible. If you want a completely smooth surface you are better off using board. The image is projected onto the surface and a faint pencil line is traced around the image. Using Daler Rowney FW liquid acrylic white ink diluted with water I begin to render the dog using my Iwata eclipse airbrush.

 

airbrushing dog portrait 2

Step 2: Here you can se how the white has been used to sketch out the highlights and form of the head. This is as much as I need with the white.

airbrushing dog portrait 3

Step 3: Now it’s time to start adding depth using FW black ink again diluted with water. I attack the darkest areas first around the eyes and nose. The aim is to produce a black and white portrait onto which I will add transparent colours allowing the underlying artwork to show through.

 

airbrush dog portrait 4
airbrushing dog portrait Dog 5

 

airbrushing dog portrait 6

These three steps show the progression using just black.

 

airbrush dog portrait dog 7

Coming in with white I add highlights to give more dimension to the mouth area especially.

 

airbrushing dog portrait 8

Using a very weak mix of Marine blue I lightly dust over certain areas to give the hair a tint of blue which should give the illusion of that raven black. The eye is detailed with sepia and then burnt umber.

 

airbrush dog portrait 9

 

airbrushing dog portrait 11

 

airbrushing dog portrait 12

With white I go over certain areas adding the highlights in the eyes and nostril giving the impression of that glistening wet look. Now’s the time to add any small details such as stray hairs etc and we’re done.To protect the paint I spray a mix of Liquitex gloss medium and varnish slightly diluted with water.

Airbrush Baseball Helmet Rips And Tears Design

I have seen a few inquiries requesting a step by step doing rips and tears and did a quickie today on a baseball helmet and thought it may help some folks. This was done on the back of a catcher helmet. Hope it helps someone. TABG

draw the design

1) Drew out a pattern on a low tack vinyl masking material.

 

cut the design out

2) Cut out the inner portion that will be painted with what is “breaking” through the helmet. Save this portion as you will need it later.

 

airbrush white into the design

3) Apply the mask and begin painting the inner portion (a baseball) as needed.

 

start airbrushing color

4) Continuing the inner painting.

 

start airbrushing detail

5) More detail on the inner portion, threads or seam on the baseball.

airbrushing drop shadows

6) Finished the inner portion. At this stage, keeping in mind of where your light is coming from, spray in some drop shadows which the torn portions will cast on the ball (or whatever you are doing in this portion). This part will give a nice depth to your design when finished.

 

airbrushing folds

7) With the inner portion completed, remove the “fold back” portions of the tears. This part will give the illusion that the surface is folding back or curving back. This part really gives the 3-D look and gives some nice depth.

 

masking inside the design

8) Replace the inner portion that was cut our in step 2. Spray in the color on the fold back portion remembering light source, using highlights and shadows to give illusion of the material “folding” over.

 

adding to drop shadows

9) Remove the masking over the inner area. Then go back over the drop shadows to darken as needed. At this time also check all of the edges where the masking may not have lined up properly. On the left of the image you will see some white where the mask was misaligned. Spray in some shadows to cover up any of those ugly “lines” that may be left.

 

design completed

10) Remove all masking and make any touch ups needed to eliminate any lines that may still exist. All that’s left is to apply a clear coat.
The most important step is #9 as this eliminates the ugly separations that show where the masking was. Blending is the key to have a somewhat realistic 3-D look.
Keep in mind that this was done on a small area,(about 4 inches) so the level of detail is limited. The larger the area that you are working with, the more detail you will be able to achieve.
Good luck and have fun.