How to Paint Flames on a Motorcycleby Tina Amo
Artwork on motorcycles makes them stand out from the other factory-painted motorcycles. Motorcycle owners who choose to paint custom designs on their vehicles usually select designs that reflect who they are. There are several popular design themes, such as skulls and ghosts, but the most popular appears to be flames. Enthusiasts can choose from a variety of flame styles, including retro red and yellow flames, flames under candy-colored paint, ghost flames and realistic-looking flames.
Draw out your design on paper. This will help you eliminate a lot of mistakes when you are ready to apply your design to your motorcycle.
Prepare your motorcycle parts. Remove the painted parts from the motorcycle. Scuff the surface of the parts with steel wool so the paint can adhere well.
Paint your background color. Using a spray gun, apply a thin coat of color on the parts. Wait for this to dry completely before applying the next coat. Repeat at least three times.
Make a layout of your flame design on your motorcycle parts. When your background paint is thoroughly dry, cover the area in which you want the flames with wide blue masking tape. Draw your design on the tape and then use a thin knife to cut the outlines of the design. Peel the flames off carefully.
Protect the exposed areas of your motorcycle parts. Cover these areas with newspaper to avoid accidental painting.
Paint your flames. Use your spray gun to fill in the color for your flames. Depending on your design, you may need to apply at least three coats. Wait for each coat to dry completely before you apply the next coat.
Apply a clear coat when the paint is dry. When the clear coat has dried off, sand it with a 600-grit wet sandpaper. Apply another clear coat and sand it again.
Finish sanding the parts with a 1500- and 2000-grit wet sandpaper. These grades of sandpaper create a smooth finish. Use a speed polisher, a buffer and a buffing compound to polish the parts to a shiny finish.
Get ideas on flame designs. For inspiration, read "Up in Flames: The Art of Flame Painting," by Tim Phelps and Sam Radoff (see Resources below).
- Spray your coats on lightly. Although you will have to apply many coats of paint, light coats of paint will dry much faster than thick coats.
- Always use paint in a well-ventilated room or outside. Use a respirator to avoid inhaling the toxic fumes.