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Artool 5 – Craig Fraser Mastering Bullet Ridden

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I’m proud to say that the previous issue’s coverage on the Pin Up Girlie Stencils from Deborah Mahan was, by the strong reader response, a huge hit. For newcomers to this column, we systematically instruct on the use and techniques recommended for all the Artool stencils I’ve created over the past six years. From Skull Masters to FX, to anything else we have laser cut out of plastic, we’re going to show you how they work, and a few tricks that we discovered accidentally along the way!

This issue’s featured stencil is Bullet Ridden, a relatively simple design that has been known to baffle an air brusher or two with all it’s little gadgets. It’s a member of the FX five-stencil series, and is very popular in the bike and helmet painting arena. Using a black panel to simulate a pre-existing colored paintjob, I’ll show you a few of the tricks that make Bullet Ridden a very versatile stencil.

Step 1:

step 1

Mixing up some white, I demonstrate one of the three sizes of bullet holes the stencil has to offer. This design is the entrance hole, and it allows you to render the broken paint chip that would fly out from the indentation caused by the entering bullet in the side of a painted surface. On a car, you might want to use silver or ghost chrome to mimic the underlying bare metal.

Step 2:

step 2

Using the correct hole size to match the chipped circle in step 1, the actual bullet hole is airbrushed using HOK BC-25 basecoat black. Using the transparency of the stencil, it’s important to keep the hole centered with the paint chip.

Step 3:

step 3

With the same basecoat black, I airbrush a slight shadow to give the illusion of depth. Prior to airbrushing this surface, I lightly fogged a thin wash of HOK BC-26 white over the panel. This allows my rendered shadows to stand out against the black background.

Step 4:

step 4

With an Eclipse CS and the white, I airbrush the exit hole, with the metal being slightly furled away. Remember to always include a few exit and entrance holes in your paint job. I like corresponding them on opposite sides of a tank for authenticity.

Step 5:


The same hole for the entrance is now used for the exit. Notice how it really stands out against the fogged black background. The stencil has three entrance sizes and exit holes for a nice variety.

Step 6:

step 6

A little bit of shadow work with my HP-CH really makes this one stand out.

Step 7:

step 6

Using the corresponding “half hole,” I mask off the bottom edge of the bullet hole to prevent the rendered smoke from over spraying onto the black and killing the depth.

Step 8:

step 8

Both sides of Bullet Ridden offer a nice smoke stencil. This simple stencil with a bit of freehand white work gives a killer smoke effect. For long contrails, feel free to drag the stencil quickly in the smoke’s direction as you airbrush. This gives a great effect.

Step 9:

step 9

Freehand airbrush the ends of the smoke contrails that are breaking up. Keep your hand very light, and your paint very reduced to prevent spitting.

Step 10:

step 10

The final step in the smoke is a little black to cast the drop-shadow against the background. Remember, less is more and you’ll end up with a photo-realistic smoke effect.

Step 11:

step 11

With white, I create a stipple effect to mimic stone.

Step 12:

step 12

With a little black, the cracked bullet hole works well with stone, wood, concrete, or pretty much any surface that tends to crack on impact.

Step 13:

step 13

A few cracks between existing bullets holes adds to the effect.

Step 14:

step 14

The white highlights really punch the edge to top off a great technique.

Step 15:

step 15

On the same stippled stone background, I use the shotgun section of the stencil to demonstrate a nice blast pattern with the black.

Step 16:

step 16

Here’s where your freehand skills pay off. It’s a pain, but these little highlights are great up close and personal.

Step 17:

step 17

And what the heck is a buck-shot blast without a little furling smoke. Again, the individual edges of the stencil allow the realistic smoke effect. I taped off sections to render the smoke cleanly from the individual holes.

Step 18:

step 18

Last but not least is the spider webbed window effect. I added a bit of white first to make it pop, and then sprayed the radial pattern with black basecoat.

Step 19:

step 19

With the black finished, a little free handing brings out the small spider web cracks, and really completes the design. I imagine this stencil could also help in rendering a spider web.

Step 20:


The final step and stencil trick are, as usual, the highlights. These small random highlights give the haphazard look of reflecting safety glass; exactly what I was going for. As you can see, there are quite a few uses for this little stencil: rendering photorealistic bullet holes on the side of your bike, tricking out a friends leather jacket, or even hiding a few flaws in a paintjob, and much more. The Bullet Ridden stencil from FX-1 is definitely a must for any kustom painter’s arsenal.

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