24th June 2012
I decided to paint the hood of my sport wagon. It has been bothering me since I repaired it long ago due to a cringe-worthy I-beam incident - basically an I beam leaning against my woodshop fell over and landed on the hood of my car, sparing the fenders but putting a nice huge ding and scrape across the whole thing. I fixed it and filled it and then just painted it black with no other option of coverage and no time to worry about it. It looked fine the first day, but got awful looking over time. It's just one coat of black spray paint to fight rust from onsetting.
So I thought of something interesting. It's probably been done before and I've seen stuff like it. Digital paint. Kind of like digital camo (which I have seen) but not as busy looking I guess. Subtle hints of square composed geometric shapes. No soft or curved edges.
I tested the idea on an old PC case panel to see if it would work out right and lay down flat with a clear coat. I did not tape or spend too much time on it. Just a test to see if it would flatten out with so many layers (and it did). The idea is to create an effect like carbon fiber - not the pattern, but the way it looks black if you look at it at certain angles, but at other angles, it looks interesting and complex. That's what I'm trying to capture here... but with a random design.
So get some graph paper, a knife, and 3 colors of spray paint, VHT nightshades, and go to town...
Take PC case panel, never use case again, so who cares?
Clean it off, then hit it with 320 sand paper to take the sheen off of it, and any potential solvents that have been wiped on it.
Wipe it off with a terry cloth or microfiber rag
Draw random shapes on graph paper making sure they can be cut out and still hold a form. Save both the positive and negative piece. So you can paint around one, and inside the other, if you know what I mean.
Sorry I don't have a picture of this...
Lay shapes provacatively, or carefully, whichever you prefer. Overlap the graph paper close enough so that the grids match up if you can. use more graph paper for your blanks to cover.
If I were doing this carefully, I'd have taped 4 different patters together for 4 different coats, but this is a rush to a final product. Please tape your edges. Or make a larger pattern. Either way, cover what you don't want painted and take your time, if you rush like this, you wind up like this:
Not too bad really, but the overspray becomes more apparent in later coats.
So do the first coat of whatever color you want (I chose red) and make it sparse. Seperate the shapes a lot if you can. Dust gently from straight above, or the propellant will move your pattern.
Rearrange your patterns to get some on the edges or sides.
Wait about 20 minutes, then Take the pieces you cut out of the patterns (so they look like puzzle pieces or something) and overlap them a bit so that they cover both black, and red (my colors in this case). This will make a 4th color kind of, in this case, a really dusty black.
Make sure you line up squares as they would sit on the grid. Spray whatever color you want the background to be, over the shapes. I chose gray in this case.
Now it looks like there are 3 layers already, when there are only 2. This was an idea I had to not bolster the clear coat too high...
Wait about 20 more minutes, then take your first color you sprayed, re-arrange or make new patterns (I just rearranged them) and spray.
I overlapped the old coat of red to bring out more red surface area.
Take a color that's close to the original color of the piece, in this case: Black. Which is close to the really dark gray the case started as.
Make new patterns (don't use the one with red wet paint on the edges...) and lay them out. Spray vertically again.
Make sure the new black and old black touch somewhere so you can see that the two colors are barely, but indeed different.
Take a single pattern (but make 2 or 3 different ones) and surround it with paper so that it will cover the spray area (better than I did) and spray light shots downward without building the paint too heavily. Use your two top coats - in this case, red and black.
Randomly place them and fill the area. So in this case gray is still the dominant color, but the other colors take up a good section of the piece. Move the pattern around and spin it to get multiple angles out of it.
Step 11 - How it's finished:
Now - is a good time to take a wet piece of steel wool (#0000) and wipe the whole piece to get rid of any uneven surfaces. This will eliminate bubbles, and some other marks (as well as overspray) make sure you give the piece 4 or 5 hours dry time before you do that though.
When the wooling was done, I sanded with 4000gritt wet/dry. Then I brushed on (not sprayed) gloss polyurethane. It's about $12 a can in most hardware stores.
You can spray it on, but there's a certain window you have to wait for to do that to avoid solvent crack (look it up) which will ruin the entire piece and make you start over.
I brushed on 4 coats, waiting 6 hours between each. Then I took my #0000 steel wool, and rubbed more water on the surface to eliminate the bubbles that are almost always left over by brush on urethane. It will also eliminate all the brush marks as well and leave you with a smooth suface, granted that it's built up enough coats, and you have a smooth hand when you brush it on.
This picture is after 4 coats, but before the steel wool. There are lots of raised marks and odd surfaces as you can see.
I used VHT nightshades. Just one coat. I'd wait till after the clear coat to do it, because it's hard to work with, and will darken a surface similar to clear plastic (kinda like clear gloss poly...) dust the whole thing, and then I sanded with 6000gritt sandpaper (available in automotive stores, which is the same place you'll find VHT)
Then I cleaned it off, polished, used a cleaner wax, and then coated it with a turtle wax. The outcome is exactly what I wanted... Now to make bigger patterns. Note how in some areas the piece just looks black depending on the angle... perfect... but on a larger scale I'll take more time on it...
25th June 2012
looks neat, cant wait to see the hood
28th June 2012
Well, seems like this idea needs more manufacturing, and the patterns themselves are going to be expensive. I was talking to a friend of mine who's a professional sign painter and airbrush artist (35 years) and he said he could help me with the design but recommends I try something else because it may be too much work for the final product. So I may do a regular camoufladge pattern with red, gray and black, and then add in digital speckelation in random places since the product is meant to be viewed from further away.
Still working on patterns regardless!
Car in question:
29th June 2012
Pretty cool man. I'll give you $5 if you paint mine.
29th June 2012
haha. For some reason I don't think $5.00 would cover materials or time.
29th June 2012
I like it, Mine is all glass and glows blue so I sadly can't do that.