It's not hard to learn how to airbrush a skateboard. Ideally, you will already have some experience with airbrushing and will be comfortable using paints and equipment. Airbrushing a skateboard is different from airbrushing onto paper for several reasons, namely since you'll be painting on metal, you'll need a different kind of paint and to help the paint stick to metal, you'll need to put down a primer layer first.
You will need:
- A skateboard
- An airbrush
- A design to paint onto the skateboard
- Water-based automotive airbrush paints to match the colors in your design
- Metal paint primer
- 400 grit sandpaper
- A soft cloth
- A paintbrush
- Masking tape
- Newspaper (for protecting surfaces)
- Safety goggles
- Clear varnish
Prepare your area. Spread the newspapers over any surface you'll be painting on.
Put masking tape over all parts of the skateboard that you don't want to paint. If you want, you could unscrew the wheeled parts of the board and remove them entirely. Only the parts of the board you want to get paint on should be showing in the end.
Sand the skateboard's surface to remove any previous paint and varnish. If you don't remove the varnish, your primer and paint won't stick very well. Take care not to scratch the skateboard surface very much. Wipe the sanding bits off with a cloth.
- Prime the skateboard. Lay down three to five thin layers of primer on all sides of the board, waiting twenty minutes between layers for it to dry.
Using the airbrush, paint the entire skateboard in your base color. Make sure none of the primer is visible.
- Layer your design onto the skateboard, changing colors as needed. If you want a sharply contrasting design, you can outline the shape in masking tape or use a stencil and airbrush. Remember to give the paint time to dry between layers, especially before you put tape or a stencil down.
- Clean the color reservoir of the airbrush and pour clear varnish into it.
- Evenly layer varnish over the entire skateboard just as you would a layer of paint.
- Allow the skateboard to dry fully before uncovering or reattaching the unpainted parts.
- Airbrushing takes many layers of paint. Take it slow and keep the layers thin to achieve the best results. If you use too much paint in one layer, it will start to run and may ruin your design.
- Automotive airbrush paints can be bought from automotive supply stores. Metal primer can be bought from hardware stores. You may have to hand-paint the primer on rather than using an airbrush, so get a paintbrush for this purpose.
- Before you even buy the paint, you need to know what design you're planning to paint so that you know what colors to buy. Sketch your design out on paper, preferably with colors roughed in, to get a good idea of what you're doing before you do it. “Winging it" when painting something is the quickest way to make mistakes that will be stuck there permanently once it dries.
- Always wear safety goggles and work outside or in a very well-ventilated area when spraying any kind of paint. The fumes can be dangerous otherwise.