Introduction: Create a Faux Brick Finish With Spray Paint

About: I'm an engineer but I prefer to consider myself a doitneer. My style of making is more of a seat-of-your-pants approach. Get it done, then figure out how you could improve it next time - but there usually is…

I hand paint custom cornhole boards and have been brainstorming about ideas for my own boards.  (For those of you who do not know what cornhole is [also called Baggo] check out the ACA for complete information.)  I wanted to do a graffiti theme on them, but am not a true graffiti / spraycan / street artist, so I decided to hand paint the characters, lettering and small details and then I would spray paint the background.  What better background for graffiti than a brick wall!?

Obviously painting a brick finish can be done in many places, but I have chosen to do it on my boards.  Imagine a wall or floor in your house, or even a car or desk top, your imagination is the limit!  This technique can also be varied, so keep in mind that this is a baseline and can be modified to your creativity and ideas.  Please comment if you want, but if you would like to tell us how you would have done it better, then I suggest you do your own instructable and show us!

Step 1: Masking the Design

To start with, I had a set of boards painted white.  On one I had started my character and the other, I just had light pencil sketches for planning.  I will not go into how I painted the character or made the boards, as this instructable is aimed towards spray painting a faux brick finish.  There are two ways you can look at creating the foreground designs.

1. Starting with a character or any sort of design in the foreground means you have to mask it off before you paint a background, this makes the design pop more as it creates hard defined edges.  It is also easier to create your foreground designs since you can have a blank canvas to work on.  It is however, a tedious task of masking a design, especially one with a lot of detail.
2. Painting the background first and then adding the details on top allows some of the texture and color from the background to show through plus creates softer edges on your designs.  However when you add your foreground details onto the background in this manner, it is harder to sketch them on the background for painting.  I did both ways as you will see.

Step 2: Painting the Joint Color

Once you have your design masked, you can spray the joint color.  I used a light tan color with some darker tan accents.  Your joints can be whatever color you want them to be, just so they are a little different than your brick color.  Typically, joints are lighter than the bricks.

I gave the whole area a good coat with the light tan, and then went over it lightly with a darker tan.  The darker color has a texture so I rubbed it with my hand as well as a cloth rag to get it to smooth out a little.  If you barely press the nozzle on the darker color the paint will "sputter", this adds some nice texture almost like sand in the mortar.  Just try to avoid blobs and splotches in your paint.  If you mess up, just re-coat with your base color and try again.  Bricks and mortar are hardly ever perfect with solid single colors, so variety makes it better.

Step 3: Creating the Mortar Joints

Now comes the first fun (and most time consuming) part!  I used Frog Tape , but you can use whatever type of masking tape you prefer.  I started with all the "Bed" joints (joints running horizontally) and then created the "Head" joints (joints running vertically).  Bricks and joints hardly ever have perfectly straight lines or are hardly ever perfectly square, so this makes our job a lot more easy as mistakes in masking just add to the realism of bricks. 
To start with, I stuck one end of the tape down and then started working my way across the board.  You can bend the tape slightly and at the same time, slightly pinch in the sides at various points along the joint to vary the thickness of the joint.  The older or rougher the bricks you want to emulate, the more wave and variety you want to put in the joints.  The one thing you do want to be aware of, is for the most part, your joints should run in a level line.  They can be wavy but generally level, just try not to allow them to run up or down-hill.  If you need to create guide marks on the sides of your substrate for the start and stop point of the joints to keep them level, then that works as well.  I just used my eyeballs.

Step 4: Adding Details to Your Joints

Once you have all the joints laid, now you can go through and add details.  I tore strips of tape in half and then used little pieces in the corners of the joints to make the impression of chipped corners on the bricks.  I also tore triangles of the tape and placed those randomly around the joints to create other nicks and chips in the bricks. You can also rub the edge of the tape at various places to make the joint wider in that area (can be called rolling a joint).  Remember, bricks are not perfect so don't be afraid to be creative and try different techniques.  My bricks ended up having a cartoony, yet somewhat realistic appeal - the more time you spend on the joints, the more realistic your bricks will look.

Step 5: Paint the Bricks

Now that you've made your joints you can start painting!  I used a stone textured paint, a cinnamon colored paint, the light and dark tan paint I used to paint the joints and also black spray paint.  Again, be creative and use different colors to achieve different colored bricks and textures.
Bricks have a lot of variety in their appearance and some of the things we want to create are: Highlights, Lowlights, Speckling, Scratches, Shadows and/or Wear.
I used a couple different techniques to achieve these qualities.  I started by spraying my two base colors together, then applying a piece of glossy paper and lifting.  (Note: If your paint is not wet enough, the paper will stick and leave little chunks if you are not careful.  It does require practice and patience.)  This is the same technique artists use for Space Paintings (search youtube for examples).  I also did a "scrumbling" technique with a plastic bag on my hand and just dabbed and rubbed the wet paint.  After I got a good mix I lightly touched up areas I wanted to with one of the light base colors.  You want to try to individualize bricks since they are separate pieces in a wall and not one big component.
Once you have all the bricks painted, take your lightest colored spray paint and barely press down on the nozzle just until it starts to sputter. This will create a speckling effect on the bricks.  You can do the same with black if that's the texture you want.  Finally, I lightly touch the bricks on the "bottom" side to create a sort of shadow.
Again, play around with these different techniques and try to come up with others that get the effect you're looking for - just let your creative juices flow or spray.

Step 6: Unmask, Cleanup and Touchup

It's time to unwrap and see what we have!  Once it's all unmasked, you can touch up anywhere that the tape was not completely adhered, as well as dry-brushing the joints, outlining the bricks or whatever you want to do to enhance the appearance.  I outlined the bottom of the bricks with a brown Molotow paint marker, as well as did a brown dry-brush on the joints to add additional texture.  I like to use my fingers to smear the paint a little so it gives a softer look. 

One other little touch I did on my boards that you can see in the final step is used the spritzing technique and spritzed the edge of the hole.  This gives a really cool burned out look or whatever you want to call it.  I think it really sets off the hole.

Step 7: Finished Product(s)

This last step is just for me to show off my boards so you can see the finished product! I added cornbag characters and some additional graffiti.  Plus I have to clearcoat the boards since the paint I used has a "stone" texture and I want the bags to slide a little.

"Gimme3" is a reference to the scoring in corn hole - getting a bag in the hole is 3 points in case you didn't know.

Thanks for looking and have fun!  If you have any questions or further details, just ask!

2nd Annual Krylon Summer Contest

Finalist in the
2nd Annual Krylon Summer Contest