As we explained last month, Mike Chase followed along as Art Himsl flamed Vic Edelbrock Jr.'s 1932 Standard coupe. In that issue we outlined the way Himsl, well...outlines a flamejob. This month Himsl shed some light on how he colors within those lines.
Pinstripes withstanding, the methods used to lay flames don't differ from any other conventional automotive finish. In fact, Himsl favors brands associated with refinishing. "I'm using either PPG or House of Kolor," he reveals.
That Himsl consents to mix brands suggests that flame painting isn't just like painting an entire car. Though he regards both brands with the same esteem and calls them functionally interchangeable (we're sure the paint reps would disagree) he distinguishes between the two brands.
The difference lies largely in how its manufacturer orients itself in the industry. For example, he explained that he prefers PPG for its comprehensive catalog of materials. It makes everything from primers to clearcoat and offers a version of every color an OEM applied to a body. But that global availability comes at a price: PPG is so big that it can't always react to the unique needs of every job. Tiny batches of limited-production formulas don't fit the company's business model.
House of Kolor's catalog may not be as fat but the company is small and agile enough to offer very specialized formulas. It understands its place as a custom-paint manufacturer means fulfilling very specific needs. So rather than sell prepackaged formulas that can be tweaked at the mixing point to achieve a distinctive personality it offers the basic building blocks and lets its clients pick and choose them to achieve a desired effect. Need a translucent color with a touch of pearl to apply over a silver base? House of Kolor offers exactly what it takes to do that job.
As stated in the last installment Darryl Hollenbeck applied the PPG ruby red base over which Himsl applied his masking pattern. It would've been a good idea to show how Himsl prepped the surface prior to applying the base for the flames but Himsl got ahead of Mike Chase and shot the paint before Chase got a chance to shoot the process. But really that process differs none from applying any other basecoat. It takes the same cleaning, scuffing, and spraying process.
Really the only difference between conventional refinishing and flame painting is expression. Whereas traditional finishing favors clockwork precision and consistency, graphics like flames celebrate creativity. Depending on the genre very contrast colors may crowd together at their borders or very subtle variations may blend. As Himsl shows, there exist a number of techniques that endow the patterns with a false sense of third dimension.
And that's the beauty of graphics like flames: there really isn't a wrong way to do anything. In fact, some of the very best graphics techniques were discovered by complete error—you think someone intentionally laid cling film on fresh paint to see what it would do to the finish? It was likely an accident.
While it's true that no single article can offer everything there is to know about flames, the information that Himsl dispensed in this one goes far beyond the very basics. So now that you know it, go out and do something with it. And let the flames fly!
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