View Full Version : How To: Killer Airbrush Flame Technique

01-30-2007, 08:08 PM
How to Airbrush Wicked Cool Flames


I would just like to share my technique for airbrushing realistic flames. I don't dare take credit for this technique, I learned it from the internet in a tutorial just like this.

What you need
Painting steps

What you need:

Airbrush, I use an Iwata Eclipse CS
Compressor, I have a run of the mill Craftsman 3 gal 1hp
Airbrush paint, I use Auto Air airbrush paint
Stencils, I just use some drawing stencils from Wal Mart, the curvy ones are called French Curves
Waterproof Sandpaper, for preperation
Base Color Paint, I use Duplicolor enamel spray paint
Clearcoat, I use Duplicolor Enamel Spray Paint



My last computer case was a Soyo Dragon. I had painted it black and silver a long time ago. All I had to do was sand down the clearcoat to have a good smooth base to work with. If your starting from scratch I would sand with 600 grit, prime, then sand with 600 grit, lay down the base color(black works best with flames), then sand lightly with 1000 grit for a smooth surface.

Heres the case before.

Here I'm wet sanding with 1000 grit. I've added a drop or two of dishwashing detergent to make the sandpaper slide even smoother.

Painting Steps:

Ok we're ready to start. I start with Transparent Red and lay down the outline of the flames. I do this totally freehand. You can draw some guidelines but I think it's a waste of time. This layer will almost totally be covered up eventually.


Then I go over the the red with Candy Red. This is a good place to explain Candy Colors. Candy Colors are very transparent, even more than Transparent Colors. You use them to make a color really deep. Like deep blue or red.

Candy colors don't show up on top of black, so don't worry about spill over.

Here's the Candy Red

01-30-2007, 08:17 PM
Alright, lets start highlighting.

Bust out the French Curve Stencil and cover up the holes in the middle with tape (I figured this out the hard way, I couldn't figure out why there were faint circles all over my project.). Make sure to not cover the edge with tape. Even a little edge of tape will make the edge jagged and is really noticeable.

Now start to highlight the outline and start building the edges of the flames.

I'm using Transparent Orange mixed with a Little Opaque White. It looks a little weird, don't worry the Candy Color will deepen it.


01-30-2007, 08:19 PM
Time to bring in the first Candy Color.

Candy Orange all of the highlights.

01-30-2007, 08:26 PM
Now we're jammin.

Now I go back and highlight some more with a really bright yellow. I use Transparent Yellow mixed with a little Opaque White.

Notice how I continue to build the flames and highlight the parts I think will look cool. Remember these are the parts that are going to be orange in the end.


Then I go back with Candy Orange.


This is as I'm laying down the Candy Orange

01-30-2007, 08:34 PM
Now I highlight one more last time with bright yellow (I use Candy Yellow mixed with alot of Opaque White). Remember this is the final highlight color, so you want it to be almost all white. But white is a nightmare, so tone it down a little with the Candy Yellow.

Then I went over the highlights with candy yellow.

Last step was just a little touch up work with some Transparent Black, then Transparent Red. This is just to cover up any slips you made. This is not a critical step.

Here's what you got. It looks deceivingly flat. Don't sweat it, the clearcoat will bring it all together.

01-30-2007, 08:37 PM
Last step.

The Clearcoat. I used like 4 coats of Duplicolor Clear Enamel Spray Paint.

Since Duplicolor has such finicky re-coat times. I just lay a ton down then sand and buff it out at the end of a week. I do this instead of waiting a week to put another coat on.

Here's the Clearcoat.


01-30-2007, 08:42 PM
In conclusion. I've learned a couple of things.

Start out highlighting the base of the flames.
Then once your comfortable with what the flames should look like. Then start overlapping and having them kick backwards.
Don't use the same curve on the stencil too much in one area. You can tell you were getting lazy.
Don't worry about small mistakes, you can cover them up in the next layer.

Take it easy.

01-30-2007, 09:04 PM
thank you so much for the tutorial bro! i've seen a couple tuts online but this is WAY easier to follow. +rep for the help

01-30-2007, 10:28 PM
Thnx for the tut man.

Also what colour chart do you use for the auto air? and enamels?

01-31-2007, 01:15 AM

What color chart are you talkin about?

The colors I capitalized in the tutorial are the actual color titles. For example. Transparent Orange, Candy Red(really Candy Bright Red), Opaque White, etc...

Please let me know if your having trouble finding actual colors. I can point you in the right direction. I just found a great new online supplier(no affiliation).

Also for everyone. Please feel free to ask questions.....

01-31-2007, 02:55 AM
very nice, you make it look so easy lolz :P
+rep for the helpful post

01-31-2007, 10:37 AM
Killer tutorial man. +rep

01-31-2007, 01:26 PM

What color chart are you talkin about?

The colors I capitalized in the tutorial are the actual color titles. For example. Transparent Orange, Candy Red(really Candy Bright Red), Opaque White, etc...

Please let me know if your having trouble finding actual colors. I can point you in the right direction. I just found a great new online supplier(no affiliation).

Also for everyone. Please feel free to ask questions.....

I was curious to know if you used a colour chart/wheel to match the colours to get a more vibrant flame.

ie http://www.currys.com/airbrushpaint/prodinfo.asp?SubcatID=13&catID=4

01-31-2007, 06:25 PM
Dude...this is am amazing tutorial. I'm impressed with the whole thing, from your style to your photography. +Rep!

EDIT: I also stickied it.


01-31-2007, 06:53 PM
cheers dude this will help a lot for my mod +rep

01-31-2007, 07:13 PM
I was curious to know if you used a colour chart/wheel to match the colours to get a more vibrant flame.

To answer your question; No, I didn't use a color chart to match the colors. I just used the recommendations from another tutorial I read a while back. The colors are as follows in order.

Transparent Red
Candy Bright Red
Transparent Orange
Candy Orange
Transparent Yellow
Candy Orange
Transparent Yellow w/ Transparent White
Candy Yellow

You can see the steps if you look at the color order. Basically dark to light with Candy Colors in between to deepen the color.

01-31-2007, 07:54 PM
+rep dude. Well done!


01-31-2007, 09:58 PM
Nice tut man, and I love the final product.

Now to get my hands on an airbrush...


01-31-2007, 10:55 PM
Nice Tut Commando!!

One little Extra with the Clear. Duplicolor Is very touchy on how you coat it, Can says 15 min between but this changes allot (up to +-5min) with temp and humitiy. If it over dries, you really do have to wait a week be fore you can lay another coat....If you don't it will bubble!!! There are other brands that are less picky but the duplicolor does have a great finish! With all Clears never apply them if the humitity is over about 75-80%, it gets really clouded and foggy.

Good work again Commando!


01-31-2007, 11:31 PM
Thanks CrazyBillyBob.

I took most of my coating techniques from your tutorials.

Yeah it took me a while to figure out that you really have to follow the directions with Duplicolor Clear. Kinda seems simple now.

Luckily, I don't have to worry about humidity I live in the desert.

02-12-2007, 05:27 PM
Great tutorial!

Maybe, after some practicing, gonna use it on my bicycle :D

03-13-2007, 02:56 PM

Useful info, i was going to add flames to my next project. although i prefur spray cans of paint to air brush, i assume you can use cans if you have a directional hose thingie to direct the spray and the size of the spray,,


03-14-2007, 05:09 AM
Damm thats nice. I love the colors. + rep

How much would a decent (like not top of the but not budget crap) compressor and and air brush set me back?

M@X@ CASE - freaks
03-14-2007, 06:51 AM
I can't say anything but +rep for you

03-26-2007, 05:43 PM
A decent compressor is about 150$. A decent airbrush will be around 100-150$.

Get a regular air compressor, not an airbrush one. 3-5 gallons. 1-5hp. I use a craftsman from Sears. It cost around 130$.

I have an Iwata Eclipse. It cost around 110$. I started our with a Pasche airbrush a while back. They make pretty good airbrushes, that are a little cheaper. I think the original one I had was around 50$. It was the one with the red handle you see all the time.

Going ahead and spending a little money up front is a pretty good investment.

05-03-2007, 03:34 PM
Just tried it, but i don't have candy colors, only red,yellow, blue, green etc. But the effect was still nice but no deep colors and your flames are much better, but it was fun trying ;)

02-26-2011, 11:02 PM
thank-you thank-you finally someone who thinks of the beginers......
thanks mike53

02-28-2011, 06:32 AM
Yep, Tony's pretty good at that. The thing is though, his fire is much better now. These early ones are too heavily stenciled and not enough freehand.