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Preparing metal surface for airbrushing


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How to prepare metal (hard) surface for fine art painting, for example "a car for airbrush art".

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Preparing metal surface for airbrushing

  1. 1. Metal Surface for AirbrushingWhen painting anything in any way (regular brush, spray nor airbrush) you have to follow certain rulesto keep your art look great as long as possible.The process depends on used material surface. Wood, paper, textile, plastic, leather, rubber, metal,etc. All of these materials need special approach to preparation. Some of the preparation methodsare easy to follow and don’t require much time to get us ready and some are more difficult and takeprobably more time than painting itself.First thing you should think of ishow to prepare surface that paint will stick to very good without loosingthe original look of that surface?Last time I posted an article on How to Paint a Car where I covered the process of preparation forpainting and now I decided to cover more and include a preparation for airbrush. For now we’regoing to look at metal surface that has base and clear coat applied already. Later on I want to addother surfaces too to make a complete guide on preparing surface for airbrushing.Metal Surface Preparation for AirbrushingCars and bikes are probably the most common stuff to see on Internet in airbrush galleries and theyall have similar surface which is metal.Many people having wrong knowledge about this process are doing way more that is required andsome people not knowing enough about this process are just stripping the whole coat off the carleaving bare metal surface. Here I recommend the golden middle (take off enough of clear coatbut not too much as the coat is very thin anyway).Do not take off all the coat. It’s a big mistake, you have to make surfacemattWhy?In painting there is a term Adhesion, which is an ability of paint to stick to surface. Bad adhesionwill cause paint to split off after some time. Because of that we have to make on our surface microscratches and allow paint to catch.I’ll show three different methods and compare them. As an example I use one engine hood which Ihave separated to three areas with masking tape.So, this hood has base coat on and a few layers of clear coat. To achieve maximal adhesion wehave to get rid of “the gloss” and make surface matt. This can be done with abrasive sandpaperor Scotch-Brites. They are going to make micro scratches on the surface and the paint is going tohold thanks to that.
  2. 2. The right side of the hood is going to be processed on dry and for that I’m using abrasivesandpaper with grit P800 (for dry sanding!) and Scoth-Brite UltraFine (abrasive sponge) from3M.Left side of the hood will be done with abrasive sandpaper P1000 for wet sanding.There is two types of abrasive sandpaper – for dry and for wet sanding, so be sure to get the onefor wet sandingMiddle part of the hood is going to be done with Scoth-Brite Multi-Flex and matt-gel 50018Scuff-it. Here we’ll use water too.Abrasive Sanding Paper and Abrasive SpongeThis method is the easiest and probably the most comfortable. The positive thing of usingsandpaper and sponge at the same time is that we cut the time of preparing and consumptions ofmaterials.We can use only UltraFine abrasive sponges but this will take much more time and we will beforced to use much more of these “not cheap” sponges.Time to start sanding. In this step we have to do really good job which is almost chaotic but regularacross the surface. First we use abrasive sandpaper P800 until we loose the glossy look. Actuallythe paper could be enough but scratches after this grit are too rough so we have to use finer paperor in our case UltraFine sponge. If we leave rough scratches, it will be visible after painting.
  3. 3. During sanding we have tendency to make circular (rounded) movements where the center issanded more than border of the circle. Take care and take your time to make it equal.When we reach required matt effect with P800, finish it with UltraFine sponge one time across thesurface.Be very careful, especially if you do car body as the layer of clear coat is very thin. If you sand theclear coat through to the base coat this will look like a stain after you apply your painting. To coverthis up is possible only with very thick paint.In case if you planing on painting smaller surfaces (phone, laptop, PC case) than use just UltraFinesponge.Wet Sanding With Sandpaper P1000In this case we have to use sandpaper for wet sanding (sometimes it has mark Wetordry). Theprocess is very easy too as all you need to do is make the surface wet while sanding.Here the most of beginners get into trouble as it is a bit difficult to understand if the surface is readyor not. So, to see the result of our effort we have to wipe it dry from time to time.Scotch-Brite Multi-Flex and 50018 Scuff-it matt-gelHere we’re going to rub special matt gel (50018) onto surface with special sheets (Multi-Flex). Atthe start we squeeze a bit of gel onto surface and spray it with water. Then we mull it in the way liketrying to rub the gel into the surface but not with really big effort. After all, the surface should look likethis.
  4. 4. To check if the surface is matt enough we have to wipe dry a small part.Here is finished surface after all three methods and in my opinion they all give almost exact samefinish, so the only thing to consider is cost or comfort of the particular technique.closer lookConclusionIf you clear coat it again or just polish the surface, it will get the previous glossy look and you will notsee the scratches. The thing is when preparing the surface the proper way is to be able to bringoriginal surface look back without the hassle (if you’ve changed your mind).What about bare metal surface with no coat?Well this is easy. If there is no coat on your piece of metal that you want to use for painting you haveto give it one. Depends on your airbrush paint (acrylic, nitro, urethane nor water color, etc) just sandit with sandpaper P800 and give it some base and clear coat. Wait until it’s dry and use one of thetechniques I’ve described above.If you know about any other techniques that I did not mention here, please leave a comment or senda message trough my contact page. Otherwise don’t forget to like it, tweet it or give it a plus.