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Spray-Painting Gradients

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Spray-Painting Gradients

Unread postAuthor: mark.f » Thu Mar 19, 2009 12:43 pm

Just a general question that I think would be useful to me and others if answered.

So, everybody knows how to paint solid colors, and solid colors on top of other solid colors, but does anybody know how to paint gradients with normal spray paint?

Take a look at the L3 launcher on BurntLatke. The paint job fades from dark blue to light blue. It looks like it was probably done with an airbrush, but I could be wrong.

I've done a quick Google search on this, but only turned up posts on DeviantArt and sites like that... so they were predictably useless. :P

I was thinking of using you two colors. Doing the base coat with the lightest color first, and then using your darker color to create the actual gradient effect. I was thinking that simply by moving the can linearly along the axis of the gradient, and moving the can away smoothly, you could accomplish the effect nicely enough.

If not, I was thinking that you could also make a jig to move the spray can along, that started close to the work surface, and then moved up and away from it either in a straight line or some sort of curve.

What are your thoughts?
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Unread postAuthor: Hubb » Thu Mar 19, 2009 12:57 pm

I've always wondered about this, too, and the only thing I could think of was to move it away from what's being painted, like you said.

Something else that may be tried is using some sort of filter, such as a thin mesh or old shirt or something.
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Unread postAuthor: jrrdw » Thu Mar 19, 2009 1:12 pm

Wikipedia says. It's really in the "shading" that creates the effect. It's easier to do with a airbrush because of the control airbrushing gives.

If you want to learn about trick paint jobs, www.airbrushtricks.com is a great place to start.

You got a link to the paint job your talking about?
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Unread postAuthor: Velocity » Thu Mar 19, 2009 3:17 pm

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Unread postAuthor: Big-E » Thu Mar 19, 2009 4:36 pm

I've done them before, they're pretty hard, even my brother who's been painting cars for decades hates them; they're one of the easiest paint jobs to make look bad.

You can use spray paint, so long as it has a fan nozzle, but I would suggest a HPLV spray gun or an airbrush (the spraygun is your best bet) since coverage is good and paint and air are adjustable. If you use spray paint, be sure to hold the can further away from the piece you are spraying (think two feet away when you are fading the 2nd color)

Here's some tips:

lay the lighter of the two colors down first, dark colors cover lighter ones better than the other way around. let the first color (at least 3 coats) dry completely before applying the fade, and be sure to use the lighter color as a base coat, painting the whole object. Going darker first would seem to make sense, but trust me, when it shows through the top coat, it'll look kind of crappy, and it's harder to control the look of the fade.

When fading in the darker color, move your gun or can from the dark side of your fade towards the lighter end, pulling away from the object as you let off the flow; Do not make "back and forth passes", each time, spray from the dark end towards the light end, pulling away towards the end of the stroke while letting off the flow, and each pass should get shorter with each coat.

Practice, practice, practice!!! try doing fades on old boards, 2x4's, whatever you have laying around. you can read all the how-to's you want, but you can't get one to look good unless you've tried it a few times.

Always clear coat the finished fade; this will make the coat look even, and help hide any overspray. If you don't bother to clear it; it won't look nearly as good.

Lastly, go to a bookstore or library and get a book on custom painting techniques (think cars). you can usually find a good walkthrough on doing a fade in one.

Good luck! :D
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Unread postAuthor: mark.f » Thu Mar 19, 2009 7:34 pm

Okay, I'll look into that. I'll have to use spray paint, though, as I'm not willing to invest in an airbrush or spray gun just for one paintjob (especially since I rarely paint my cannons to begin with).
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Unread postAuthor: jrrdw » Thu Mar 19, 2009 7:51 pm

markfh11q wrote:Okay, I'll look into that. I'll have to use spray paint, though, as I'm not willing to invest in an airbrush or spray gun just for one paintjob (especially since I rarely paint my cannons to begin with).


Thats a good plan considering when it comes to a good airbrush you get what you pay for. I got lucky with both of mine, payed 15.00 for the Paasche VL Kit brand new and 25.00 for the Vortex XP-HP Gravity Feed. It's the premade/mixed for airbrush paint thats costly.
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Unread postAuthor: starman » Thu Mar 19, 2009 8:37 pm

I've seen the artists at Venice Beach (SoCal) do absolutely amazing things with basic $1 cans of spray paint so it is definitely possible to do. It did look like they had done several thousand paintings though...beautiful fades and gradients with seemingly little effort.

It's all about practice and technique.
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Unread postAuthor: Big-E » Thu Mar 19, 2009 9:55 pm

Yea Starman, I agree... Just look at what some people do with spraypaint, Jrrdw, I hear ya on the pasche; I'm considering either buying new nozzles, cones and needles on my old paasche, or just buying a new airbrush. Already got a new compressor coming, another hand-me-down so to speak. I am gathering quite a collection of compressors; Maybe I'll do a write up on my collection :?

Anyways, I love rattlecans, it's a facinating media to work with; Just look at all the street art, from freehand to stencil work, you can really paint good with a spraycan, if you know how to use it.

Some guys will keep spray nozzles they like, and swap them onto the cans, to produce the spray patterns they want. I've always thought it was very cool. :D

One of my favorite hotrods Ive ever seen is a little model T called the Krylon special. You can probably guess why they called it that. It had a beautiful finish and you'd never guess it was spraypaint from a can. You can read about it here:

http://www.stillrunnin.com/magazine/sr4/13-14
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Unread postAuthor: mark.f » Thu Mar 19, 2009 11:04 pm

Well, I'll use plenty of practice, as I have an entire cabinet of spray paints in our garage.

I agree with the street art thing, although I haven't seen anything exactly inspiring in Louisiana. BUT, my friend is really a master of the spray can (I actually think _Fnord called him that in a thread for the camo job he did). He has a combustion he didn't post that really looks neat, but unfortunately is falling apart. He modeled the theme after a can of right guard, and it came out pretty spectacular.
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Unread postAuthor: clide » Sat Mar 21, 2009 10:11 pm

The chamber on my Slider gun was my first attempt at gradients. Not the best, but not horrible either. It is more gradual in real life than it appears in the pictures. It was was done with cans of Krylon Fusion and moving away as I moved up the chamber.
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