Low Rider Truck Graphics By Jeral Tidwell

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FIRSTFor those of you playing at home, here are a couple quick pointers before we start painting. First of all, don’t try this in your backyard or under a tree. Get a shop, rent a shop, borrow a shop or heck, just build one! I promise it’ll make the job a whole lot easier. Another thing to remember is that the way you position the vehicle is very important here.

For example , if you try to paint a low rider as is, you’d have to lay on the ground( the opposite goes for a giant 4×4), so now is a good time to jack it up or lower it down to a reasonable working height. If you have to change anything at all, make sure that the owner is present and aware of what you’re doing. Remember to be considerate-most owners have put a ton of money and love into their vehicle long before you got a hold of it!

Step 1:


If the truck is still shiny, wet-sand the whole thing by hand with 600 grit wet/dry automotive paper-no grinders or woodworking tools. After you sand, thoroughly dry the surface by blowing the whole thing down with the air hose to make sure there i s no water in the cracks or tape. Recheck all your tape, and you’re ready to get to work.

Step 2:


Cover All areas that you plan to paint with R-tape (vinyl letter transfer tape). Once you’ve used this tape, your life will never be same. I think they have group therapy for abusers.


Step 3:


Lay out one side of your sketch with a pencil first. Once you’re satisfied with it, trace your final lines with a black Sharpie marker so that you don’t get lost in the flurry of pencil lines. Now trace the pattern onto vellum paper with a soft lead pencil or on wax paper with a china marker so you can transfer it to the other side. Remember to mark bodylines and measure important points to ensure an accurate matching of the sides.

Step 4:


Now you’re going to start cutting your graphics out one layer at a time, VERY GENTLY starting with the parts that Fall the deepest into the design. You don’t want to cut into the clearcoat, so always use a new blade. As you do this, you can start painting in the layers you’ve exposed. Be sure to add any shadows needed to enhance the depth of the layers that will cross these pieces. This will make each layer seem to jump off at you.


Step 5:


After each layer is dry, re-cover it with R-Tape or masking tape and make your way out of the design until all the graphic elements are safely covered and ready for the background to be laid over them. If you have everything taped off, you can get pretty crazy with your background without fear of messing anything up.

Step 6:



In this case, I’m using a classic checkerboard flag pattern with some purple Dupont Chromalusion paint to make the flag change colors when you look at it from different angles. This is also the time to add any dropshadows. On this job I added gold-orange Dupont Chromalusion to all of the bodylines and contours to enhance the overall look and to give the appearance of a more exotic and expensive paint job.

Step 7:


It’s Christmas time! Let’s unwrap this baby and get some eyeballs on it/ I love this part …y ou’re halfway there and you get to see what it’s going to look like. Now is a great time to check every detail and get the owner in to look it over. I’d like to stop for a second and address all the naysayers who never let anyone see their work and don’t want the owners around.

Keeping the owner directly involved hasn’t always been the easiest thing, but it’s their baby and their money. They like being involved, and having other people around can help prevent silly mistakes that you may not catch after 12 hours in a paint booth!

Step 8:


Cleaning the vehicle at this point i s very critical. You’re about to spray your first of many clearcoats. Make sure there are no greasy fingerprints, bugs, or boogers left on the surface. I’m obsessed with tack rags so I blow the surface off and tack it a couple of times. You’re trying to bury the graphics and smooth out your edges so you want a couple of good coats.

I usually do this in two stages: First, I spray a nice light coat and then a good medium coat. I let that set for a few minutes because I want it to tack up. Next, let ‘er rip! Give it a nice heavy coat but be careful not to flood the surface. I use Dupont’s V7500S clear with the proper hardener according to the temperature rating. Now all you need to do is leave it alone until tomorrow. (This is a good time to eat and catch up on the beauty sleep you’ve missed.)

When you come back, it’s time to wet-sand again and yes, you have to do it by hand. I use 600grit here to flatten out the surface for outlining and striping. This also lets you kill any edges that will show in the final product. Be extra careful not to sand through your clear and mess up your graphics, and be super careful on edges, bodylines, and corners.

Step 9:


For outlining, I use 1-Shot sign paint-it’s been the industry standard ever since dinosaurs had training wheels. Just be careful to let it dry completely before you clear it. Remember that l Shot is oil-based, so your clear will get crazy if it’s not dry. You can use a little bit of “hot” reducer if you need to speed up the dry time. I use PPG’s DTR 602 medium temp. After the outlining i s done, we’re ready for the final step. If you’ve made it this far, you’ve probably got this whole cleaning and clearcoating gig down pat-iust remember to go easy on the clear at first. You want to lightly spray over all of your graphics and outlines just to make sure there aren’t going to be any issues with the 1Shot or greasy fingerprints. If all is well, put a nice even coat on your entire surface and wait a few minutes. Then spray a nice heavy coat to bury this sucka’ and we’re outta here! Now that we’re done, I just wanted to throw a couple of thoughts out there for you.

First, every job comes with its own challenges, so no formula is perfect. M y way may not work for everybody, so feel free to make changes as they become necessary for you. If you have any questions about this project, email me at cartboy@humantree.com> and I’ll try to clear things up for you. And lastly, toke lots of pictures and send them to Airbrush Action so that I can read your How-To and learn some of your tricks!


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