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How To Airbrush A Car - Preparation

Updated on March 4, 2012

Discover How To Airbrush Automotive Finishes

This lens will provide you with the steps of how to prepare an automotive paint surface for airbrushing or custom paint work. If not properly cleaned and prepped, the airbrush or graphic paint will not adhere, which will result in peeling. This is something that will ruin many hours and effort spent on your artwork so let's learn how to do it correct so your airbrush work will last a long long time.

Airbrush Work by Krys Geltz
Airbrush Work by Krys Geltz

So you want to know how to airbrush graphics or artwork on your car!  You have found the right spot.  I am going to take you through the steps to prepare a car paint surface for artwork.

There are a lot of awesome artists out there that can create crazy, insane and amazing art.  However, when it come to painting it on a car paint finish, many individuals lack the knowledge of what steps they need to follow to assure a quality job that will not peel off later.

Properly Clean The Surface - If you are a painter or if you airbrush, I am sure that you contaminates will ruin the best paint job.  This is because of the environment car are exposed to: diesel smoke, road debris, waxing your car, using products like Amor all; these all have silicone, waxes, grease, etc., that contaminate the paint surface.  If you do   not properly clean the paint surface, many problems such as fish eyes and adhesion failure may destroy your airbrush work.  This is a simple step, but often overlooked when painting cars.  Therefore, before you do anything wash the part with soap and water.  If you are using car soap, make sure it does not a wax mixed in with the soap.  Dish soap work good too, just make sure it does not have additive to help keep your hands soft as this may cause additional problems.  Once the surface is washed, wipe it with wax and grease remover to assure that all traces of the contamination is off.

Sand The Paint Surface For Proper Adhesion - How to airbrush a car surface may be a little different from other things airbrushed.  One step you will need to do on car paint surface is to clear coat on top of the artwork.  For instance, if you are going to perform artwork on a hood, the entire hood will require sanding and clear coating.  If you do not sand the part, the airbrush paint and the clear coat will not adhere properly.  This will result in the clear and paint to peel.  I know you do not want this to happen.  With all the work and effort put into airbrushing, you are going to want it to last a long time.  To properly sand the paint, use wet or dry 800 grit to 1000 grit sandpaper to provide the mechanical adhesion.  Basically, the puts small scratches in the paint for the other coating to bite or stick to.  If you use too course of sandpaper, the clear will not cover the scratches and you will be able to see the scratches through the clear coat.  However, if you use wet or dry 800 - 1000 grit, the clear will cover the scratches and you will never know that the surface has been sanded.

Another method to prep the paint surface is by using a gray or gold scotch-brite scuff pad.  Be sure not to use the red pad, as this will create deeper scratched that will not be cover with the clear.  Also, keep in ming that scuff pads only scuff.  They will work for adequate adhesion, but they do not level.  If you have heavy orange peel or trying to level a rough surface, use sandpaper.

There you have it, the steps how to airbrush; or how to prepare car paint surface before performing your airbrush.  Now you can do your creative and get wild!

Want to learn more about auto body and paint? Visit Auto Body and Paint Training

How To Airbrush Like A Rockstar

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    • LauraCarExpert profile image


      5 years ago

      Awesome lens, these designs are so cool!


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