Introduction: How to Airbrush a Motorcycle Helmet

Picture of How to Airbrush a Motorcycle Helmet

Ever wanted to have an airbrushed helmet? Well, my cousin asked me to try my art skills on his motorcycle helmet. Apparently, he would have kids just doodle on his helmet, but then asked to see what i could do with it.

For this helmet, i decided i wanted to try some flames and a dragon.

Materials:

- airbrush compressor

-dual airbrush gun

- reference picture

- flame stencils

- masking tape

-airbrush paint reducer

-400 grit sandpaper

-matte spray paint

-primer

- airbrush paint

-clear coat.

-exacto knife

Step 1: Disassemble Your Helmet and Sand It Down

Picture of Disassemble Your Helmet and Sand It Down

Each helmet is a bit different. The one i was working on had a front face plate. (pic 1)

1. Disassemble the helmet as much as possible. Take out the lens, any screws, removable plastic, etc.

Sanding (pic 2+3)

1. Soak your sandpaper in water for a few minutes. i think i did maybe 5 minutes?

2. Start sanding your helmet. The point of this is to remove the original varnish on the helmet. You need to get all of the varnish off the ENTIRE helmet because the airbrush paint will not take otherwise.

3. If there are any deep grooves, scratches, or imperfections in the helmet, you can use a lower grit sandpaper to smooth it out.

4. I just sat outside with a bucket of water, dunked the sandpaper occasionally, and went at it over and over and OVER again.

Step 2: Masking and Priming

Picture of Masking and Priming

Masking:

Once your helmet is all smooth and the original varnish is sanded off, take your masking tape and and tape off anything that you do not want painted.

-tape off any trim, any vents, and Especially the cushioning within the helmet.

Priming:

I just bought some everyday primer at walmart and gave the helmet a good few coats.

- Be sure to spray outside and please wear a ventilator or some sort.

Step 3: Base Coat and Airbrush Painting: Flames

Picture of Base Coat and Airbrush Painting: Flames

Base Coat:

Once dry, i chose a black flat spray for the helmet. (pic 1)

Airbrush

- i find it best to use a dual action airbrush gun.. practice a few things first.

- I definitely had to learn a few things on my own when doing this.. Apparently, you can buy a smaller needle to help get you really fine lines. Also, if you turn your PSI down, you can get finer lines.

- I added some reducer to the airbrush paint so it wont be so thick. I usually use water to thin it out, but since this is going on a helmet that is non-porous, i figured reducer would be a better choice.

- i chose to use orange for most of my helmet.

Flames

- Use your flame stencils (pic 2).. i just found mine online and printed out different sizes onto card stock paper.

- place the stencil against the helmet, and start spraying using the different shapes to create different angles in the fire. (pic 3-5)

- just remember that flames move around in different directions. just remember that they are mostly curved lines. also, mess around with the distance you hold the airbrush from the helmet, and how far you pull back on the airbrush trigger. This should help create some shadows in your flames.

Step 4: Dragon

Picture of Dragon

For the picture, i chose to try a dragon on the back of the helmet

1. Print out maybe 2 copies of your picture. Make sure it is the actual size of how you want it to be on the helmet. I also had the image open on my computer at the time.

2. Using one copy of your images, cut out the image

3. place the image on the helmet and lightly spray the edges of the picture to show the border.

4. From there, i started chopping pieces of the image, placing it within its designated spot in the border, and spraying that piece (pic)

- just remember to mess with your PSI, the distance between the gun and the helmet itself,and how hard you are putting back on the trigger.

Step 5: Clear Coat and Finish

Picture of Clear Coat and Finish

1. Once you are satisfied with your airbrushed picture, add several layers of clear coat. I honestly added between 8-10 light coats. If you try to just spray one thick coat on, the clear coat will start to run and dry as a glop on your helmet.. so it's best to spray a bit, wait for it to dry, and spray again. By adding several layers, this "should" allow the helmet to be work in the rain without risk of having your work washed away.

2. Once dry, you can remove all the masking tape.

3. reassemble and reinstall all parts: visors, caps, screws, etc

4. Best to leave the helmet out to air dry for a week. this will get rid of any paint fumes.

Thank should be it! happy riding and be safe out there.

Comments

atlgwinett (author)2015-04-03

nice

ammar g (author)2014-11-04

nyc

radiograf (author)2014-10-26

Nice work, however be very careful what type of paint you are using, as some solvents will cause the shell to become brittle, and will attack the polystyrene liner, rendering the helmet useless in an accident.

oooo. thanks for the info! it was very challenging to find actual brands that people suggested. do you have any suggestion of paints that would be good for future motorcycle and automotive projects??

The liners are made from expanded polystyrene, same as ceiling tiles or packing pieces, try testing your paint on those.

MsSweetSatisfaction (author)2014-10-26

Nice techniques, I love your final product definitely Awesome!

Thank you! first time i ever airbrushed a helmet!

About This Instructable

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Bio: I'm a kid in a candy store when it comes to creating things. I love learning different versions of art, whatever medium it may ... More »
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