Category: Tips & Tricks


The information here is intended to help painters and artists get the best results they can when painting realistic fire in unusual situations on their own projects. For detailed instructions on painting realistic fire, we recommend that you watch The Secrets of Airbrushing True Fire™ – Part 1 DVD.

In case you missed it, you can read True Fire™ Basics Part 1, “Know Your Fire,” on our website by clicking here.

For True Fire™ Basics Part 2, “What You Throw Down,” on our website, click here.

True Fire Basics Part 3, “Your Sword vs. Your Shield” can be found here.

 


1623420_10152230157120605_346570136_n2We’ve previously discussed (in Part 2) the best situations in which to paint realistic fire- the background colors that tend to work best, the placement of flames that will give you the most bang for your buck, etc. However, sometimes you are presented with a situation that is not ideal for painting True Fire™ at all.

-What do you do when you need to paint fire on a white car?

-What if the object you are painting doesn’t lend itself well to having flames on its surface, or has some areas that you have to avoid that throw a wrench into the flow of a good fire application?

Let’s take a look at what you can do about that…


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In this case, painting on silver requires doing extremely pale flames.

Dark to Light, Loose to Tight

There is a reason that realistic flames work best on darker colors, and especially on black. When painting True Fire™, the goal is to make it look as much like real flames as possible.

First and foremost, fire glows. It is bright. Since paint does not, the way to make your flames appear luminescent is go for contrast- to paint brighter colors on a dark surface- use the difference to build the illusion.

When painting fire on a light-colored surface though, the background robs the flames of much of their brightness, and they will be less vibrant.

And while it’s by no means an ideal scenario, flames can sometimes be painted successfully on some lighter colors (with a lot of finesse). Unfortunately, the result typically doesn’t have as much punch as it would if the background were darker as compared to the flames on it.

If you find yourself in a situation where you can’t avoid painting on an unfavorable surface, there are ways to turn the tables at least a little in your favor. Then your flames have a better chance to look their best.


Backshading your flames will help them stand out when they would otherwise be washed out by the base color.

Call in Your Own Backup

If the base color is as light (or lighter) than your flames, then one way around it is to basically cheat just a little, by laying down a darker color just behind your fire. One that your flames will look good on.

If you are painting flames of a similar color tone to your surface, then you can put down areas of deeper color roughly where your fire will lay out. Or, if it is acceptable for the job at hand, you can do a color fade over a broader area.

One variant method is to lay down cloudy areas of black, regardless of the base color. When done correctly, it can be made to look like dark clouds of smoke. This not only maintains plausibility, but provides maximum contrast for the flames.


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Changing the base color on just part of a project can give you a step up.

Change the Tone of the Conversation

The most direct way to deal with a pesky base color is to change it to a more suitable color. Unfortunately, repainting a whole car is a lot of time and work. If it is a job for a customer, then they may not be up for something that expensive. However, changing the color in limited sections can sometimes be a feasible compromise.

Painting a two-tone section on a car is a good way to not only give your flames a better chance to stand out, but to add more interest to the paint job on the car overall.

Creating a section of more accommodating color gives you a well-defined area in which you know your flames can look good, and without having to change your painting technique to compensate for a weak background color.

(This approach can also be used even if the base color is already just fine for realistic fire, just to give the piece some added layers of complexity and impact.)


Know Where to Draw the Line(s)TRUE FIRE JOB (6)B

If doing a large two-tone color change is going to be too drastic for your project, then using the same approach in more manageable sizes is another path to consider.

Laying down stripes of an appropriate color to paint your fire on is a relatively painless alternative to larger base color changes. You can use simple, well-liked designs, like rally stripes on cars for instance, as a canvas for your flames. Then, even somewhat conservative customers are more likely to embrace the result.


FullSizeRender-8BCarve Yourself Some Space

If you are feeling relatively ambitious, then a more creative way to give yourself some favorable painting areas on a project is to section off areas with more creative designs than just simple stripes or bands of color. Different designs, shapes, or even emblems can be used to create a “window” where your fire can live.

One popular method at Killer Paint is to reveal sections of black by making them appear to be exposed by the “tearing away” the original base color, and making the edges look like shreds of material.

This approach gives a painter a lot of options, as one can vary the amount of surface area that is painted the new color. You can use just a few modest shreds as accents, or go all the way, and have large swathes of area exposed and painted your new color. Strategic placement of your paint spaces can also help you avoid awkward or unpaintable areas on a project as well.

Also, the quantity of fire in the “torn away” areas can be adjusted to suit the projects needs very easily as well… and you needn’t limit yourself to painting only fire in those spaces. There are numerous possibilities to take advantage of, using this approach.

We hope you found this information useful. We may have posts about airbrush art and painting True Fire™ in the future, so stay tuned! Thanks for visiting!

Click the corresponding link if you are interested in purchasing The Secrets of Airbrushing True Fire™ – Part 1and The Secrets of Airbrushing True Fire™ – Part 2

Artool’s True Fire™ Freehand Templates, used in painting realistic fire, can be purchased from Coast Airbrush here, and the “2nd Degree Burn” templates are here.


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Let us know in the comments if you have any questions about reference materials for painting realistic fire, or share with us your favorite ways to gather images for inspiration in creating your artwork.

If you would like to contact Killer Paint about working on your project, visit our website, or contact us at info@killerpaint.com


Related Links:

True Fire™ Basics Part 1, “Know Your Fire”: https://www.killerpaint.com/true-firetrade-basics/category/basics-part-1

True Fire™ Basics Part 2, “What You Throw Down”: https://www.killerpaint.com/true-firetrade-basics/category/basics-part-2

True Fire™ Basics Part 3, “Your Sword vs Your Shield”: https://www.killerpaint.com/true-firetrade-basics/category/basics-part-3

The Original Killer Paint Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/THE-Original-KILLER-PAINT-INC/297040465604

The Killer Paint Website: www.killerpaint.com

True Fire™ Instructional DVDs:
The Secrets of Airbrushing True Fire™ – Part 1
The Secrets of Airbrushing True Fire™ – Part 2

True Fire™ Freehand Templates: Artool Freehand Airbrush Templates, True Fire Template Set

House of Kolor Official Website: http://www.houseofkolor.com/

In case you missed it, you can read True Fire™ Basics Part 1, “Know Your Fire,” on our website by clicking here.

For True Fire™ Basics Part 2, “What You Throw Down,” on our website, click here.

The information here is intended to help painters and artists get the best results they can when painting realistic fire on their own projects. For detailed instructions on painting realistic fire, we recommend that you watch The Secrets of Airbrushing True Fire™ – Part 1 DVD.

True Fire Custom Paint by Mike Lavallee of Killer Paint

When painting realistic fire, it is important to be able to balance the amount of airbrushing you do freehand, versus the amount done with a template or shield. To achieve believable looking flames, it is necessary to mix it up.


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You don’t want flames that look like this. Change it up and give your flames some movement and body

Give Fire Its Shape

If one tries to paint flames entirely freehand and without any templates whatsoever, the results tend to look less crisp, and lacking in fullness and excitement.

At worst, you can end up with what we sometimes call “angel hair” fire- which can look long and stringy, and have very little of the energy that gives fire its distinct character. Using a freehand shield helps add some definition and variation to your artwork.

Some people avoid using templates or freehand shields due to the cost, but investing in the right tools for the job can really make a difference in the final artwork you create. You may be surprised at the improvement.


Too Much of a Good Thing

Tribal Flames on Motorcycle Tank

Solid flames are okay… just when you are doing a “tribal” design.

On the other hand, if one relies entirely on templates to build their fire, they are likely to have problems of a different sort.

Too much template usage can have the opposite effect- it gives the flames too much structure, and creating good fire in artwork requires striking a balance.

Overbuilt flames start to look abstracted or stylized, often looking more like layers of tribal blade designs than True Fire™. At the extreme, you can get what we often refer to as “Swiss cheese” fire- appearing like large blocks of fiery colors punctuated with many overly-defined holes in them.


Have a Target- Practice Hitting It

The key to solving both of these problems (and more) starts with something we’ve discussed before- Making sure you Know Your Fire.

True Fire™ Mailbox by Mike Lavallee of Killer Paint™Arm yourself with good reference photos and a studied knowledge of flames that look like the kind you would like to paint (remember, fire has a broad range of appearances.) Then you will be better able to strike a balance in your painting technique.

If necessary, practice on scrap panels, or smaller items like mailboxes, bicycle helmets, bowling pins or metal folding chairs, until you feel you have your technique down. Then you can move on to larger projects like motorcycles or cars.

You really don’t want to be working out the kinks in your airbrushing process on something expensive!  It’s just a recipe for disaster… Especially if you mess up on something that doesn’t belong to you.


Your Own Twist

Mother's Wax PT Cruiser by Mike Lavalle of Killer Paint

It should be noted that this all assumes that you are trying to paint truly realistic fire.

Sometimes stylizing your flames might be desired, depending on the circumstances. Make sure that is your goal from the beginning though, not the result of poor technique.

Some people have their own “brand” of fire, their personal style. If it works for them, more power to them. But if you are doing a job for a customer, make quite sure that they understand exactly what they should expect from you when you use the term “fire.”

We hope you found this information useful. We may have posts about airbrush art and painting True Fire™ in the future, so stay tuned! Thanks for visiting!


Click the corresponding link if you are interested in purchasing The Secrets of Airbrushing True Fire™ – Part 1and/or The Secrets of Airbrushing True Fire™ – Part 2

Artool’s True Fire™ Freehand Templates, used in painting realistic fire, can be purchased from Coast Airbrush here, and the “2nd Degree Burn” templates are here.

ShinyDimemsionalSpadeSkull

Let us know in the comments if you have any questions about reference materials for painting realistic fire, or share with us your favorite ways to gather images for inspiration in creating your artwork.

If you would like to contact Killer Paint about working on your project, visit our website, or contact us at info@killerpaint.com


Related Links:

True Fire™ Basics Part 1, “Know Your Fire”: https://www.killerpaint.com/true-firetrade-basics/category/basics-part-1

True Fire™ Basics Part 2, “What You Throw Down”: https://www.killerpaint.com/true-firetrade-basics/category/basics-part-2

True Fire™ Basics Part 4, “Square Pegs in Round Holes” https://www.killerpaint.com/true-firetrade-basics/category/basics-part-4

The Original Killer Paint Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/THE-Original-KILLER-PAINT-INC/297040465604

The Killer Paint Website: www.killerpaint.com

True Fire™ Instructional DVDs:
The Secrets of Airbrushing True Fire™ – Part 1
The Secrets of Airbrushing True Fire™ – Part 2

True Fire™ Freehand Templates: Artool Freehand Airbrush Templates, True Fire Template Set

House of Kolor Official Website: http://www.houseofkolor.com/

The information here is intended to help painters and artists get the best results they can when painting True Fire™ on their own projects. For detailed instructions on painting realistic fire, we recommend that you watch Mike Lavallee’s “Secrets of Airbrushing True Fire” DVDs.


DSC_0003BThe technique for painting True Fire has been around for many years now, and yet it is still very much in demand.

Since the first “Secrets of Painting True Fire™” DVD was released, custom painters the world over now use this method to paint realistic fire and flames on their own works. Unfortunately, not all artists have the same level of success doing so.

While there are many keys to creating believable and eye-catching fire jobs, there are probably even more pitfalls that might keep an artist/painter from achieving the results they could have.

The first step toward success on the path to painting flames is to know as much as you can about what you are trying to paint. Without a firm grasp on your subject matter, you could be starting off on the wrong foot.


Understanding Fire-

Every person has seen fire, and recognizes it when they see it. As such, an artist who intends to paint realistic fire does know what flames look like, and might believe they have a full understanding of it when they attempt to paint it.

Unfortunately, having simply seen fire doesn’t mean that someone can always recreate it in paint accurately or realistically.

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Conceptually, fire is very simple. However its appearance can be very complex from an artistic standpoint. It can appear in many forms. From deep, smoldering flames, to wildly raging infernos, the shape, color and movement will all vary, depending on the kind of fire. The size or intensity of the flames, the temperature of the fire, as well as air flow or other movement can all affect how a given fire’s flames appear.

That is why it is important to collect many images of actual fire to use as reference before attempting to paint flames.

Study the pictures, not simply to replicate the image, but to understand how the colors and shapes come together. How they flow. Where the colors are dense, or where they are hazy, and so on. Trying to paint fire based off of one’s memory, or idea of fire, and not how it actually appears, can make things way more difficult than they need to be.


Obtaining Reference Images-

There are many ways to get images of fire to use when painting realistic flames. The easiest, and most powerful method is via the internet.

Image searches on search engines like Google can yield wonderful results, but sometimes a lot of digging is required to find truly useful pictures. Try different combinations of keywords to find pictures that might not come up with simple search for “fire.” For example, a search using a term like “grease fire” or “forest fire” will typically get much more interesting results.

Be sure to save any good images you find, so you won’t have to go searching for it again later. Try multiple search engines, too. Results from two different sources can be surprisingly different.

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Pinterest boards are a good way to find collections of related images

Social media image sites like Pinterest and Instagram are also good resources to find resource images.

Pinterest is especially effective because users organize their images into categories, so if you find one good image there, you are likely to find others related to it in the same place.

You can even “pin” them into your own collection, and you will be able to access them from any computer or mobile device with an internet connection whenever and wherever you might need them.


Taking Your Own Photos-

Another option of course, is to photograph some fire yourself. This is a difficult proposition for a number of reasons:

The first is safety. Fire is extremely dangerous, and you should only photograph fire in safe situations. Use extreme caution at all times around open flames.

Fire reference photo

This photo might look okay at a glance, but when you zoom in,  it is actually fairly blurry. (click to enlarge)

The other problems are technical. Flames are notoriously difficult to photograph well. Fire is constantly moving rather quickly, so many images will come out blurry, especially in low-light situations where cameras take longer exposures. So setting up a camera on a tripod, and adjusting your camera’s settings can help to improve the results somewhat.

Even if the photos don’t turn out perfectly, they can often still be useful. You can still get a good idea of the brightness, color range, and movement of fire from a picture, even if it is a little bit blurry.

That is really all you need, after all. You are going to want to create your own flames when it comes to painting anyway.


Never Stop Learning-

fire helmet 2bThe more pictures of fire and flames that you have, the more options and ideas you will have available to suit the specific type of look you want to achieve.

After getting the look of painting fire correctly under your belt, you will eventually need to look at your reference photos less and less as it becomes more intuitive for you. This can take a lot of practice over a long time, though.

Even then, it never hurts to go back and look at your fire reference images. You never know when you will spot something new that you might not have realized before.

We hope you found this information useful. You may also wish to read True Fire Basics, Part 2 “What You Throw Down,” or True Fire™ Basics, Part 3: “Your Sword vs. Your Shield” or True Fire™ Basics, Part 4 “Square Pegs in Round Holes” on our website. We hope to have even more posts about painting and True Fire™ in the future.


If you are interested in purchasing DVDs from the “Secrets of Painting True Fire” series, click here.

Artool’s True Fire™ Freehand Templates, used in painting realistic fire, can be purchased from Coast Airbrush here, and the “2nd Degree Burn” templates are here.

Visit Killer Paint’s online gallery here to see more examples of Mike Lavallee’s work.

ShinyDimemsionalSpadeSkull

Let us know in the comments if you have any questions about reference materials for painting realistic fire, or share with us your favorite ways to gather images for inspiration in creating your artwork.

If you would like to contact Killer Paint about working on your project, visit our website, or contact us at info@killerpaint.com


Related Links:

True Fire™ Basics Part 2, “What You Throw Down”: https://www.killerpaint.com/true-firetrade-basics/category/basics-part-2

True Fire™ Basics Part 3, “Your Sword vs. Your Shield”: https://www.killerpaint.com/true-firetrade-basics/category/basics-part-3

True Fire™ Basics Part 4, “Square Pegs in Round Holes” https://www.killerpaint.com/true-firetrade-basics/category/basics-part-4

The Original Killer Paint Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/THE-Original-KILLER-PAINT-INC/297040465604

The Killer Paint Website: www.killerpaint.com

True Fire™ Instructional DVDs: http://www.coastairbrush.com/products.asp?cat=227

True Fire™ Freehand Templates: http://www.coastairbrush.com/products.asp?cat=215

In a business like custom paint, there are a lot of supplies you go through pretty quickly. One of those is the X-Acto Precision Knife (or similar hobby knife.) Often, the cuts need to be precise, and with frequent use, they dull pretty darn quickly. And don’t forget the good old-fashioned Straight Razor Blades either.

For safety reasons, it’s really not the best idea to just pitch them in your garbage can or waste paper basket. Even a relatively dull blade is still sharp enough to be dangerous. So it’s not a bad idea to have a container to safely collect your old blades Here are a few things used here at the shop…

PaintPailBladeStore01

The Paint Mixing Cup- Just take a pint (or quart, if you’re ambitious) Mixing Cup and cut a coin slot in the top. It’s like a piggy bank for weary old blades!

BabyWipeBladeStore01

Baby Wipe Container- Many Baby Wipes containers (or other cleaning wipes) have a push-button lid. Once you have used all the wipes, it makes an ideal container, and safer from spills if you knock it on the floor. Nobody likes sharp objects scattered across their floor. Well most people, we would hope.

For more tips, tricks, stay tuned here, or visit the Killer Paint YouTube Channel for more video tutorials and features.

Tell us if you have your own trick for storing your old blades, and let us know if there is anything you would like posted here in the future!


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Do you have an idea for custom paint work on your own vehicle, or other project?

If you would like to contact Killer Paint about working on your own project, you can visit our website,

or contact us at info@killerpaint.com


Related Links:

The Original Killer Paint Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/THE-Original-KILLER-PAINT-INC/297040465604

The Official Killer Paint Website: www.killerpaint.com

Killer Paint Official YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCyYZeSmUz9Xsp1I9oM_x2Dg

Killer Paint’s “True Fire™ Basics” Blog Series: https://www.killerpaint.com/true-firetrade-basics

Killer Grunge FX™ Spray at Coast Airbrush: https://www.coastairbrush.com/products.asp?cat=789

True Fire™ Instructional DVDs:
The Secrets of Airbrushing True Fire™ – Part 1
The Secrets of Airbrushing True Fire™ – Part 2

Killer Paint on Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/killerpaint1033/