How to Airbrush Motorcycle Helmets

Written by dustin pitan
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How to Airbrush Motorcycle Helmets
Add flair to your motorcycle get-up. (the motorcyclist on a motorcycle. image by Yuri Bizgaimer from Fotolia.com)

Adding your own personal flair to your biking accessories is a great way to be noticed and stand out. By utilising an airbrush kit, stencils and a little artistic style, you can create a unique look to your motorcycle helmet. The style, the number of airbrush colours and the line detail that you would like to add to your helmet will determine how long this project will take you.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • Helmet
  • Airbrush and airbrush paint
  • Masking Tape
  • Protective goggles and masks
  • Airbrush stencils
  • Clear varnish
  • Water
  • 400-grit sandpaper
  • Sheets of paper

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Put on your protective goggles and face mask before you airbrush. Always take safety precautions, as ingestion of paint or paint fumes can be dangerous. Work in a well-ventilated area as well.

  2. 2

    Practice with your airbrush. Getting to know your airbrush is an important step, and practice should not be overlooked. If you are using stencils on your helmet, practice using them on a flat surface at first, and then if you need further practice, try taping the stencil to a children's ball or a melon to practice stencilling on a curved surface. To use your airbrush, hold it in your dominant hand, and place your thumb or forefinger over the button or lever on the top of the gun. Fill the reservoir up with airbrush paint, and turn the machine on. Place your free hand over your dominant hand to steady the gun while making even strokes. When spraying, spray in quick, even bursts, holding the nozzle of the gun about 6 inches away from the helmet (or whatever you're painting).

  3. 3

    Unscrew the padding and screws from the motorcycle helmet. If you can easily take the visor off, do so. If not, cover it with plastic or paper and masking tape.

  4. 4

    Dip your sandpaper in water and rub the varnish off the helmet. To do this, gently press the sandpaper onto the varnish and rub in small circles. Don't rub so vigorously that you leave gouges in the helmet, but make sure that you remove the shiny outer coat of enamel from the helmet. Remove the varnish from the entire helmet, which may take a while, but when you are finished, you should have a dull appearance to the headgear. When you feel all the varnish is off, rub the helmet down with a clean rag to eliminate any debris.

    This step only needs to be done if you have varnish on the helmet. If you've previously painted it and don't have varnish or a clear coat on, then you can simply cover the last layer of paint and don't need to sand it off.

  5. 5

    Place the helmet on a newspaper spread and mask off any areas of the helmet that you didn't do in Step 3. Cover any part of the helmet with masking tape where you don't want paint to seep or spill.

  6. 6

    Use your airbrush to spray an even, smooth base coat of paint onto the entirety of the helmet. If you are planning on covering the entire helmet with many colours, use a light colour as your base coat (white or light grey work well) since it will be covered up eventually anyway. If you want the base coat to be part of the background and therefore visible in the end result, use that colour. Let the paint dry.

  7. 7

    Paint your next layer of paint onto the helmet. If you are using a stencil, attach it with tape at this point, and spray your paint evenly into the hole, making sure to press down on the stencil's edges so the paint doesn't seep through. Allow each layer of paint to dry before adding another one. Finish your painting in whatever design you would like, adding as many layers of paint as needed.

  8. 8

    Place clear varnish into the airbrush reservoir and spray it onto the helmet after removing the stencil but not the masking tape from the areas that you didn't paint. Allow the first layer to dry before adding a second layer to the helmet. The varnish protects your paint from fading or discolouring and gives your helmet a professional look. Once everything is dry, remove all the tape, replace the screws and padding, and your helmet should be complete.

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