How To Paint Tribal Flames
By Kenneth Scott

 Step 1

The truck was cleaned good and wet sanded with 600-grit sand paper. We then cleaned the truck again and washed with wax and grease remover. This removes all the things that can cause trouble during the painting process. Then the truck was masked using automotive grade masking tape and paper.



Step 2

I covered the entire painting area with R-tape. R-tape is a special tape made for applying vinyl decals and lettering. It makes excellent masking. I then drew the design onto the R-tape with an ordinary pencil. After the design looks the way it is supposed to I take an X-acto knife and carefully cut along the drawn lines. DO NOT CUT TOO DEEP! Keep a new blade in your knife. Remove all the masked areas that are suppose to be painted. I use rubber gloves from this point on.

We then mixed some base silver (PPG) and tacked the area to be painted. Tacking is just removing lint from the painting area with a special tacking cloth. I spray the area with a low air pressure gravity fed gun. I apply 3 good coats of silver base.


Step 3

This is my favorite part. I used House of Kolor blues to tip the flames and airbrush effects into the paint job. I added purple and white into the job to add depth. I even airbrushed little ghost and skulls around the bottom of the truck for more detail. After you are finished airbrushing your colors and details onto the truck wait about 30 minutes for it to dry. After you are sure it is dry start unmasking carefully not to lift any of the area you just painted. Just unmasked the R-tape. Leave the masking paper and masking tape on the truck to prevent clear coat from getting onto unwanted areas.

The most important thing is to add a tinting black drop shadow under the flames. This keeps the graphic from looking like a vinyl decal after you have clear coated your job.


Step 4

Wash over the entire area carefully with wax and grease remover once again and let it dry. Take a new tacking cloth and tack the truck once again. You are now ready to start clear coating your truck. For our jobs, we use a PPG brand clear.


Step 5

Clear Coat Your Truck.

We applied 3 dry coats onto the truck. I always spray the first couple of coats on dry to prevent running, flashing, and lifting of the base paint on the graphics. The last 2 coats are applied more for a shine. If you don't get a good shine or you are afraid of getting runs in your clear coat don't worry. You can always buff the shine in after the clear coat has dried.

After the clear coated area had dried over night we unmasked the truck and washed once again.


 What A Shine!!!

Kenneth Scott has been involved in the t-shirt business for over 15 years. Airbrushing, screen printing, embroidery and custom signs are just a few of the things he does. Custom paint jobs are not be as common as t-shirts orders, but it's all the same to ken. He loves doing it all!

You can mail Ken at Ken's Custom Tees, 311 River Road, Cumberland, Kentucky 40833 or phone him at 1-800-597-5495

E-mail Ken at

His website is

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