Introduction: Digital Camo Pattern With Plasti-Dip

I've been a long-time lurker, but this is my first 'ible, so any and all feedback will be appreciated!  

I learned about Plasti-Dip (a rubber coating used for all sorts of wonderful applications) a while back and decided to "dip" my Harley sportster so it would be matte black.  It was my first attempt using Plasti-Dip, but it turned out pretty good!  Then I found out they had camo colors and decided I would try my hand at a digital camo pattern.  

For more information on using Plasti-Dip for automotive purposes, I recommend you check out where you can order all sorts of different colors and equipment.

Step 1: Materials Needed:

-Plasti-Dip colors of your choice.  I used the "camo color" kit from
-Stencil material.  I used some foam-ish drawer liner from Lowes, but I'll speak more about that at the end in the "Lessons Learned" section
-Painter's tape.  This stuff helps a LOT.
-Various straight edges and an xacto blade for cutting the stencils out.
-A free weekend.  It takes about 30 minutes for the dip to dry between coats and there will be MANY different coats.

Step 2: Stencils

Basically, what I did was draw a 0.5" spaced grid onto the stencil material using a ruler and straight edge.  I then used a sharpie to color in random tetrino-like shapes into the grid to use as a cutting guide.  Once I was happy with the various random shapes, I cut them out using an xacto blade and a straight edge to ensure an even cut.  

I made several stencils so I would have an assortment of different sizes and shapes to choose from.  I saved the cut-out pieces in case I wanted to add different styles or something, but I didn't end up using them.

Step 3: Base Coat

I initial had the matte black coating on my tank (1st picture above), but didn't know how it would look as the base color for the camo pattern.  So the next thing I did was tear that coating off.  Plasti-Dip is pretty cool stuff and it literally just peels off when you don't want it anymore.  

I decided to use the Camo Tan color as the base coating, so using small, even sprays, I started dipping the tank.  As I mentioned before, it takes 30 minutes for each coat to dry.  I dipped 3 or 4 coats and let it dry completely before starting the camo patterns.

Step 4: Camo Pattern

This step is by far the most tedious and time consuming.  It's also the step where you'll likely make little mistakes.  I'll get into those mistakes in the Lessons Learned, but Plasti-Dip is rather forgiving and it's pretty easy to fix any mistakes you might make.

I lay the stencil down on the tank and gently taped it into place with painter's tape.  Pretty simple and self-explanatory from the pictures.

With very light sprays, I sprayed the pattern onto the tank.  The thing that makes this so time consuming is that you have to let each coating dry before you lay the stencil down in another spot.  If the stencil on the next area overlaps onto the wet dip, you'll smudge it and mess it up.

I randomly chose a different stencil and a different color for each spray.   Use a scrap piece of stencil material or paper to cover any area where you can't properly spray (pictured above is an old McDonald's paper bag I used).

Keep repeating this step until you're satisfied with how it looks.  After that, allow 4 hours to completely dry and you're done!

Step 5: Lessons Learned

A few aspects I thought long about before hand, but others I learned along the way.  

-The foam drawer liner is NOT a good material for the stencils.  It works, but the corners have a tendency to curl upwards, making it difficult to get a nice straight edge/corner.  When I eventually redo my tank, I plan on using some magnetic sheets (like the kind used with magnetic business cards) so it will stick to the metal tank and stay in place better.  If you want to do this on a non-metallic surface, I think some lightly-adhesive vinyl sheets would probably work just fine.  Any other recommendations would be appreciated.

-When spraying over the stencils, be sure to use light sprays.  If it gets too clumped up, it'll drip and won't look right.  

-When making the stencils themselves, don't make the sheets too big.  An 8.5x11" sheet with only one or two stencil patterns would have been better for my purposes than the bigger sheets with many different patterns.

-There aren't ANY local stores than carry the camo colors, but Walmart, Lowes, and Home Depot all carry SOME of the colors.  It's better to spend a little extra money when you order your colors and have extra cans at your disposal.  I ran out of the Camo Tan color when applying the base coat and didn't have that to use with the stencils.

-When laying the stencils down before spraying, I recommend squaring them up.  Some of my patterns ended up tilted and rotated and don't look as good as I would have liked.

And that's all folks!  Once again, this was my first 'ible, so any feedback is welcome!  If you have any experience with Plasti-Dip and have recommendations, please comment!  Thanks for reading!

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