Fire How To

Learn how to paint fire with Brads great article “Fire How To” The trick to fire is accomplished with a ton of practice and patience. I have done 300 license plates worth of practice, studied everyone’s fire, studied real fire, studied different colors, have done countless helmets, and the list goes on. Still I can get better; it takes time and I have to be willing to realize this and so must you.By Brad De La Torre, , reprinted courtesy Airbrush Technique Magazine

Stencil Size and Shape Matters

You must have a fire stencil to help shape your fire. My stencil is cut from a manila folder, no need for expensive stencils home made work just fine. This is one of my favorite fire stencils and is the perfect size for fire on a motorcycle. If I were doing a car hood the stencil would be doubled in size and if it where for a helmet I would make the stencil smaller. The size of the stencil is important. I laid this stencil on a piece of paper so that you can make your own and can see the size of the stencil compared to the paper.

airbrush freehand stencil, template


fire layout

1. I use Createx Auto Air for these and a double action airbrush. On a black painted surface layout the design of your fire using Transparent White. Keep in mind the shape of the bike and the overall flow of the fire on the bike. While airbrushing my fire design in I make certain to use my fire stencil in conjunction with freehand airbrushing. This way I will not end up with a Swiss Cheese Fire paint job.


Add some flames

2. Add some flames that are broken away from the rest of the flames into the design. This is to help ensure a natural look to your fire, flames.



3. Simi Opaque
Freehand fill in the White with Semi opaque Flame Red keeping it strong on the outskirts of the fire.


make some areas even stronger

4. Also remember to make some areas even stronger by increasing the color of the red and by flaring it a bit more into the black areas. These areas with more intense color value are considered higher in “Chroma Value”(color intensity).


Sun Gold

6. Note the Sun Gold does not have a lot of Chromatic glow to it at this point. Also, some of the overspray from the Flame Red to the Sun Gold is blending together and appears like Orange. In this fire Orange is not needed.


fender done

7. The top of the front Fender was done first in order to help insure the “Principles of Design”. Now do the sides and the broken away flares of fire and ignore the top as if it is not there.

Note: One of the key principles in designing is to have a Dominant (large) object, a Sub dominant (medium) object, and a Subordinate (small) object. On this front fender it has this concept and that is partly why it is appealing to the eye.

Also the whole bike would need this concept as well. So if the front fender is my medium amount of fire, and the tank is my larger and bolder amount of fire, then on the rear fender the fire would be subtle or small fire.


nice overlapping

8. You can see how by ignoring the top fire helped create a nice overlapping and separation from the top. This gives the eyes more to view and a more pleasant view as well.


hottest spots

9. Now I add some of the hottest spots using Transparent White and go over it with Sun Gold. This is almost there, completed.


final highlights

10. Add the final highlights to the hottest spots of the fire and blend in just a bit with the Sun Gold.


clear coated

11. At last it is cleared and ready to buff out.


finished bike
finished bike
finished bike

I hope this tutorial helped give everyone some insight.

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