Graphics are the easiest way set your car apart from the rest and give it a vibe all its own. Of course, it’s also the easiest way to ruin an otherwise great paintjob. We’re not talking tacky designs, but instead incorrect technique that results in wavy lines, bad edges, and asymmetrical designs that weren’t planned to be that way. Trust us, if Side A doesn’t mirror Side B, everyone will notice and all your hard work will be for naught.
We wanted our 1968 Chevy Camaro project, Track Rat, to have a unique personality, but let’s be honest, given how many Camaros have been churned out, that’s no easy task. To help us out, we contacted artist Ben Hermance and rolled our ideas through his cranium. The result led to a kick-ass rendering that has been our template for the entire project. To turn his flat rendering into 3D reality, we hit up Best of Show Coach Works in Escondido, California, to lay down the paint. Aside from stripes, we also wanted to tackle a few other graphic tricks. We used lettering to emblazon our Anvil Auto rear spoiler with carbon-fiber lettering. A stencil let us add some fighter plane inspired art to the door and the car’s logo, or tattoo, was added to the lower front fenders then buried in clear. It’s these little details that can turn another nicely painted Camaro into a real head turner that will never get lost in a crowd.
01. The main panels were shot off the car, but to lay down the graphics, Best of Show’s Jon Lindstrom had to assemble the car and get all the gaps right. This way, when the car is finally put together, all the stripes will line up. Here, he adjusts the hood catch on the Anvil Auto carbon-fiber hood.
02. Using 3M waterborne-compatible ¼-inch vinyl tape (PN 06404), Jon started laying out the stripes designed by artist Ben Hermance. It’s not hard, but it does require a steady hand and a good eye. The proportions of the Camaro in our rendering are more artistic, and as such, it made it tricky to bring them into the real world.
03. Even a well-trained eye needs a little help from a measuring stick. Jon used a special pencil that doesn’t leave residue (available at paint supply stores), to make guide marks before laying down the tape.
04. He then used the marks to lay down the lower edge of the red accent stripe.
05. Here you get an idea of how the red accent stripe is accomplished. Once the horizontal and vertical lines are laid out perpendicular to each other, Jon then connected them with the curved corner pieces. The excess was trimmed away with a small razor knife.
06. The fender hash stripes were laid out in the same manner. Lines were ran and then the unneeded sections cut away with a knife.
07. Here you can see how the red hash stripe will blend to the red accent stripe that borders the exposed carbon-fiber stripe. Before painting, Jon will run a piece of tape down the middle of where the two pieces of tape abut (red arrow). This will ensure that no red will end up in that area.
08. Jon then started masking and papering off all the areas that didn’t need red paint. The first step was using 3M Highland ¾-inch masking tape (PN 2727).
09. Eventually, this was the final result.
10. Just like our blue basecoat, the red accent stripe is Axalta (formerly DuPont) Cromax Pro waterborne paint. The color was picked from the Atlas color chart and is shade CAS1031.
11. Jon then started laying down the red paint. The Axalta paint uses a wet-on-wet process, so there was no need to let it set between coats. Unlike the blue, the red required quite a few coats—four to be precise, to get full coverage.
12. We let the red completely dry overnight before pulling off the tape. This was imperative since the red needed to be masked over so we could shoot the blue. It also ensured a very clean edge when the 3M vinyl tape was pulled off.
13. And here it is masked off so we can shoot the blue Axalta waterborne paint. The key is to take your time and triple-check to ensure everything is covered that you don’t want painted. Make a mistake and you could end up redoing a large chunk of the project!
14. Jon then laid down the Axalta waterborne paint. Because we didn’t use the value shaded sealer (since we wanted to use as little paint as possible to keep the edge low) it took almost three full coats to get complete coverage.
15. To show off some carbon fiber on the back of the car, we used vinyl lettering from Scott Miller at Swifty Sign in Rancho Cucamonga, California, to mask off part of the Anvil Auto rear spoiler.
16. This should help people know who they’re chasing.
17. Scott also made us this cool nose art based on Ben Hermance’s artwork. Our other option would have been to have the art painted on the car, but that would have been quite “spendy” and a challenge to work into the schedule. Scott used a very high-quality vinyl, and as a bonus, it wasn’t any thicker than paint would have been, which made it easy to bury in the clear. Best of Show’s Dick Kvamme worked his sticker magic to get it on the car free of bubbles.
18. To add a little fun to the project, we came up with a little graphic for the driver-side door. Not many people will get the five cones (with one dumped over) reference, but the ones that do should get a chuckle out of it. For the paint, we just added a little black Axalta paint (left over from Black Betty’s hood) to the blue we were already shooting. If you want to buy these stencils or stickers for your already-painted ride, contact Scott and he can print you off some.
19. Before shooting the clear, all the panels were wiped down with wax/grease remover and then gone over with a tack rag.
20. The first of four coats of Axalta clear (PN LE8700S and LE1007S) was then laid down on the Camaro. Let’s just say we’re pretty damn happy and anxious to get this car on the road!