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DIY Mask Painting

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My setup includes a 4-gallon tank air compressor from home depot (I think, it's about 17 years old and still going). I use Iwata airbrushes, and an Artograph 1530 booth suitable for solvent-based paint. I use a mixture of PPG, BASF, and House of Kolor automotive paints. All my clearcoating is done at work in a full-size automotive spray booth with an air-supplied respirator. I use a half-mask respirator for airbrushing.

Createx makes waterborne Auto-Air paint, which is for automotive airbrush applications. and more readily available than automotive urethanes. It's come a long way, but IMO still isn't as good as urethane. It soon will be though.

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2 hours ago, parebele said:

My setup includes a 4-gallon tank air compressor from home depot (I think, it's about 17 years old and still going). I use Iwata airbrushes, and an Artograph 1530 booth suitable for solvent-based paint. I use a mixture of PPG, BASF, and House of Kolor automotive paints. All my clearcoating is done at work in a full-size automotive spray booth with an air-supplied respirator. I use a half-mask respirator for airbrushing.

Createx makes waterborne Auto-Air paint, which is for automotive airbrush applications. and more readily available than automotive urethanes. It's come a long way, but IMO still isn't as good as urethane. It soon will be though.

I always wondered about the water-based paints. Being that I know so little about paint, somehow I always assumed the water-based paints were inferior to the urethane. 

The solvent to paint ratio for airbrush has to be insane. I used to paint my bikes that I built (crudely, I add) with a touch up gun. The solvent to paint ratio with Imron was pretty high if I recall. Of course I always tried to convince people to go for a nude finish, lol.

I may try to get into painting if I end up starting to build masques. The itch has started, and I am really feeling the need to buy vacuum bagging equipment and set up a curing oven. I will be buying the hell out of cinder blocks, LOL. 

A talent like yours, Mr parabele, would take a lifetime for one to achieve. I would probably do simple, '80s and '90s paint and leave the cool stuff to one like yourself. 

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14 hours ago, bunnyman666 said:

I always wondered about the water-based paints. Being that I know so little about paint, somehow I always assumed the water-based paints were inferior to the urethane. 

The solvent to paint ratio for airbrush has to be insane. I used to paint my bikes that I built (crudely, I add) with a touch up gun. The solvent to paint ratio with Imron was pretty high if I recall. Of course I always tried to convince people to go for a nude finish, lol.

I may try to get into painting if I end up starting to build masques. The itch has started, and I am really feeling the need to buy vacuum bagging equipment and set up a curing oven. I will be buying the hell out of cinder blocks, LOL. 

A talent like yours, Mr parabele, would take a lifetime for one to achieve. I would probably do simple, '80s and '90s paint and leave the cool stuff to one like yourself. 

The biggest difference between water-based paints and urethanes is the drying time. Urethanes dry so much faster because the solvents just evaporate out. Water-based paints dry by moving air over them, usually using a fan for helmets and masks and small objects (or even your airbrush) or by using large blowers for cars. You also have to wait a lot longer to mask over water-based basecoat as opposed to urethanes. 

I usually mix my paint at least 50/50 paint to solvent (reducer) for backgrounds and largish areas and even more for fine detail work or when using a detail airbrush. Most of the paint reps will tell you not to reduce it that much but they're generally referring to overall refinishing cars with HVLP guns and not airbrushes. I've never had a problem with lifting or peeling or anything by over-reducing the paint. It's mostly just trial and error and finding what works best for you.

I hope you end up building masks, that would be cool! Can't wait to see what they look like. Knowing you they will be something very unique and special. And thank you for the kind words, but it's just practice. When I first picked up and airbrush I fiddled with it for a few days and then put it down for 6 months. But if you keep at it, you'll pick it up quickly, especially for someone like you who is very handy and creative. It's funny because I have about 30 painted masks hanging on my wall and they're all from the 90's. None of the new mask designs interest me, mostly because (thanks to Daveart) you can't tell what they are. They all look like a jumbled mess of throw-up unless you get close. And even then I have a hard time telling what the design is. And the majority of his "trademark" FX have been used for at least 30 or 40 years by other painters so I don't know what he's trademarking. Sorry for the rant, but he really pisses me off. Anyways, thanks again for the compliment, means a lot, bunny.

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6 hours ago, parebele said:

The biggest difference between water-based paints and urethanes is the drying time. Urethanes dry so much faster because the solvents just evaporate out. Water-based paints dry by moving air over them, usually using a fan for helmets and masks and small objects (or even your airbrush) or by using large blowers for cars. You also have to wait a lot longer to mask over water-based basecoat as opposed to urethanes. 

I usually mix my paint at least 50/50 paint to solvent (reducer) for backgrounds and largish areas and even more for fine detail work or when using a detail airbrush. Most of the paint reps will tell you not to reduce it that much but they're generally referring to overall refinishing cars with HVLP guns and not airbrushes. I've never had a problem with lifting or peeling or anything by over-reducing the paint. It's mostly just trial and error and finding what works best for you.

I hope you end up building masks, that would be cool! Can't wait to see what they look like. Knowing you they will be something very unique and special. And thank you for the kind words, but it's just practice. When I first picked up and airbrush I fiddled with it for a few days and then put it down for 6 months. But if you keep at it, you'll pick it up quickly, especially for someone like you who is very handy and creative. It's funny because I have about 30 painted masks hanging on my wall and they're all from the 90's. None of the new mask designs interest me, mostly because (thanks to Daveart) you can't tell what they are. They all look like a jumbled mess of throw-up unless you get close. And even then I have a hard time telling what the design is. And the majority of his "trademark" FX have been used for at least 30 or 40 years by other painters so I don't know what he's trademarking. Sorry for the rant, but he really pisses me off. Anyways, thanks again for the compliment, means a lot, bunny.

Yeah- not a fan of DaveArt, myself! A lot of shoulder problems from patting himself on the back LOL

I figured it's the evaporation of the solvents. 

I appreciate the confidence in the potential of my masques. I'd like to think I could come up with something different. I've never built for brute strength, but that is not that hard. But building so that the shock is lessesned could be a challenge. I actually want to harken back to the old style Lefevre with a twist. But until I get a little more time, this is a pipedream. 

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I've done a lot of masks using Createx paints over the past 20 years, no issues so far.  I have a decent Iwata brush, and a 30$ from aliexpress that also works great, and an "air brush compressor" that probably means it's the same as a home depot version but costs 5 times as much.  I'm just an amateur who started because he couldn't afford to pay someone to do it.

I've done a few clears with cans but have recently been getting them done at a local body shop who just does them with leftover clear at the end of a job.  Charges me 30$CDN.  Totally worth it imho, sure beats hand sanding and buffing when I do it myself.

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@tony20 Those look great! When I started doing masks and helmets I had to use Deka sign enamel because Createx hadn't come out with Auto-Air. It was only their acrylic T-shirt paint they sold. I tried the Auto-Air but back then you had to add a catalyst to it, which gave it a pot life, which if you went for dinner and didn't clean out your airbrush you came back to your needle and cup full of hardened paint. They also didn't have candies back then, only solid opaques. I was given a chance to try PPG Deltron and haven't looked back since. Eventually all paint will be waterborne, I think. The new stuff looks great and I'll definitely be trying it when I run out of House of Kolor paint.

Sending everything to be cleared at a body shop is the smartest thing to do. I, too, tried the rattle can clears and you just can't get the same shine/build from them. Not to mention the fact that clearcoat is poisonous and can't be filtered out with respirator cartridges. 

@bunnyman666 I thought the foam took care of most of the shock. I don't know anything about mask building or composites for that matter. I hope you build at least one, would love to see what you come up with. And if they're game-wearable and you start selling them, put me on the list. 

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31 minutes ago, parebele said:

@tony20

@bunnyman666 I thought the foam took care of most of the shock. I don't know anything about mask building or composites for that matter. I hope you build at least one, would love to see what you come up with. And if they're game-wearable and you start selling them, put me on the list. 

The temptation to build is getting stronger and stronger. If I were to EVER turn it into a side business, I would probably want to limit it to a two per month maximum. I also want to build a better combo (helmet/cage), as I love the open vision and breatheability, but have found the protections on parts of the face to be a bit lacking after I thought that a shot broke my jaw last year! 

The foam does damp shock, but I am going to experiment with layups, unidirectional fabrics, etc., etc. I may find that unidirectional fabrics may not be worth the trouble as it would be on a bicycle frame or part. One of the things I had found when building bikes was that I could manipulate certain characteristics with the layup schedule. I could make the bottom bracket and chainstays stiffer than a cigar store Indian with a plush ride with negligible weight difference with composite, whereas a noticeably stiff metal bike could get heavier. Note that I may just end up going with a more conventional layup after testing. That is all part of the process- build a mould, make a few splashes to break in the mould (splashes are perfect for those who just want to paint a masque for decorative purposes), build a few pieces, test to destruction, then have the layup schedule down for future builds. 

Keep me away from the amateur airplane builder websites or I may buy the heck out of stuff!!!!!

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Walmart and places like that too have cheap air compressors, and you can get adapters to fit your airbrush.  Airbrush compressors are quieter and sometimes have an adapters to help reduce humidity.  If you're just messing around or looking to save some money, the walmart ones are worth a look.  It's like 100$ vs 400$.  They do make cheaper airbrush models, but they don't use a tank.  So they are always on making noise, and they kind of pulsate when you try and spray fine lines.  Still fine for learning.  

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5 hours ago, IPv6Freely said:

Does Home Depot actually carry a decent compressor that is significantly cheaper than an "airbrush" compressor?

 

10 hours ago, bunnyman666 said:

@tony20 You obviously have no problems with water-based paints! Good onya!!!!

Thanks for the kind words.  Most of what I do is masking and cutting.  It's a quick jump from the Potvin designs to the stuff I'm doing now.  @parebele has a lot more free hand work in his icon.  That takes time, talent, and good paint.

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22 hours ago, tony20 said:

Thanks for the kind words.  Most of what I do is masking and cutting.  It's a quick jump from the Potvin designs to the stuff I'm doing now.  @parebele has a lot more free hand work in his icon.  That takes time, talent, and good paint.

You still need skills to masque and cut! Don't sell yourself short!

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I'm still totally planning on trying the airbrush route, however I have an event at the end of this month and want to paint up a junk mask and put some decals on it. Given that info and the fact that its not meant to be permanent... if you were going to paint something with a rattle can paint from home depot, what would you buy?

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Any of the paint suitable for metal should be fine. I'll warn you though, painting over spray paint is a huge PITA. Proper mask paint can do strange and horrible things sometimes. Just so you know. But if it's a junk mask for paint practice then go to it!

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3 minutes ago, parebele said:

Any of the paint suitable for metal should be fine. I'll warn you though, painting over spray paint is a huge PITA. Proper mask paint can do strange and horrible things sometimes. Just so you know. But if it's a junk mask for paint practice then go to it!

Yeah it's a junk mask. If I was going to really do something nice on it I'd be sanding it right down anyway.

I'll probably go with Krylon Fusion as I've used that for other things and its always produced good results. 

Thank you!

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I've used car spray cans.  Up here in Canada, I get it at Canadian tire.  So if you have a store like that, give them a try.  Otherwise, read the labels and see if anything mentions fiberglass.  Just be prepared to sand it down, if you eventually want to airbrush this mask for real.  If you're just messing around, you can airbrush right over top.

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As a value add to this thread, people should donate any masks they're about to discard

if they're not safe to wear anymore, would be great to help out some the aspiring painters 

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I'm thinking about painting my mask...I've never done any projects like this so I have some questions before I get too far into the process.  My mask is a solid black Bauer 950X, I have a design theme in mind and have done some preliminary sketching on a template.  What I have in mind is primarily stripes and shapes, so it will be done by masking and spray-painting with little or no freehand painting involved, as I do not own an airbrush and am not sure if I want to make that investment at the moment.  After painting, I would probably have it clear coated by an auto shop.  That being said...

When sanding, how much do I need to sand?  Just enough to rough up the surface, or do I need to sand down to the base material?

Will I need a separate primer, or do the paint-and-primer combinations work okay?

The straps are the style that cross over the entire backplate...is there a way to convert to the style with separate straps for each "arm" so that I can paint on the backplate too?

What else haven't I thought of?

I have an old NXi Stealth that I don't use anymore that I could practice on, but it doesn't have the same kind of finish on it as the Bauer does, so I'm not sure how/if that changes anything as far as prep goes.  It's also a pretty different base material.

Thanks in advance!  As excited as I am to try this, the thought of going through this process with my $600 mask is a bit intimidating...

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Posted (edited)
On 9/12/2017 at 9:21 PM, tony20 said:

.

treo 021.jpg

Coming from a two-time Iraq vet with the 101st Airborne Division, that is a BEAUTIFUL mask! 

Edited by JediGoalie30

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On 11/15/2017 at 9:52 AM, IPv6Freely said:

That’s a great idea. Having a junk mask to play with would make this adventure much easier to get started! 

i got an airbrush kit from my dad this christmas and i mess around with my old Vaughn 7700 mask w the kit

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You're asking the right questions which means you're heading in the right direction.  I've tried sanding all the way down to the base, and just taking away the shine.  No difference IMHO so I would just use some 800 sandpaper to take away the shine.

I usually use water based airbrush paints with additives but I've used some other types including spray cans and never had an issue.  The exception being the cheap helmets that use the same plastic as player helmets.  I couldn't get any paint to stick to those.  Only way to be sure is to test it.

I got this 32$ airbrush from amazon.  Works as well as my 200$ name brand one.  Totally worth it even just to mess around.  If you already have an air compressor you can't go wrong.    https://www.amazon.com/Airbrush-Fy-Light-Complete-General-purpose-Model-railroad/dp/B078LSFVHL/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?keywords=airbrush&qid=1551937780&s=gateway&sr=8-1-spons&psc=1

Otherwise this compressor and airbrush for 80$ seems too good to be true.  Almost 800 reviews, 4 stars.  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B001TO578Q/ref=sspa_dk_detail_2?psc=1&pd_rd_i=B001TO578Q&pd_rd_w=ChFql&pf_rd_p=80559f3c-f83b-49c1-8a72-40f936e9df7a&pd_rd_wg=WYgjp&pf_rd_r=819PQJPP1BZ9621Q7G3M&pd_rd_r=d830989b-409c-11e9-8db5-2d3c7a098537

For the back plate, I used old buckles to secure the strap inside the back plate and then just fed the strap through, but you can find what you're looking for online.  I forget the name.  

I would for sure practice on the old mask.  You will learn so much on that first try.  And if you don't like it, you don't have to live with it every game.  Not to mention it's fun.  You'll have to practice to see what it's like to run stripes over the ridges and to see how the shape of the mask warps the design. 

Other things to think of:  Where will you be painting?  The over spray will get on everything if you're just in the basement.  Have a fan and stick a filter in front of it.  That will help. Be patient.  You need to let colors fully dry between spraying and masking.  Try to plan all the same colors at the same time- another reason to practice on the old mask.  It's annoying to do a color and then have to go back and do it again because you forgot one area.  A sharp x-acto is your friend,  as is good masking tape.  I have several types and sizes of masking tape.  Press and seal (ya the kitchen stuff for food) works well also.  Cheap, fast, and easy to mask off large areas of the mask.  Remember, over spray will get EVERYWHERE.  Feel free to use crayons to color the mask as a test run.  Or use colored tape.  Good headphones and a good playlist make it twice as enjoyable.  You will make mistakes.  It might looks symmetrical and balanced today, but next week it might seem off.  Ask the wife's opinion.  I call her my design consultant.  If she says it looks off, trust her.   Let the design sit for a week and then come back to look at it.  You might see problems you glossed over in your excitement while doing it.  Make sure the paint is 10000% dry before doing the clear coat.  If the design goes behind the cage, add spacers behind the cage.  The location of the air holes on the mask might make you alter the design or placement of details.  If the clear coat from the body shop isn't 100% smooth you can fix it with 2000grit sandpaper, and car rubbing compound and wax.

That's all I've got for now.  Have fun and post again if you have more questions.

5 hours ago, JediGoalie30 said:

I'm thinking about painting my mask...I've never done any projects like this so I have some questions before I get too far into the process.  My mask is a solid black Bauer 950X, I have a design theme in mind and have done some preliminary sketching on a template.  What I have in mind is primarily stripes and shapes, so it will be done by masking and spray-painting with little or no freehand painting involved, as I do not own an airbrush and am not sure if I want to make that investment at the moment.  After painting, I would probably have it clear coated by an auto shop.  That being said...

When sanding, how much do I need to sand?  Just enough to rough up the surface, or do I need to sand down to the base material?

Will I need a separate primer, or do the paint-and-primer combinations work okay?

The straps are the style that cross over the entire backplate...is there a way to convert to the style with separate straps for each "arm" so that I can paint on the backplate too?

What else haven't I thought of?

I have an old NXi Stealth that I don't use anymore that I could practice on, but it doesn't have the same kind of finish on it as the Bauer does, so I'm not sure how/if that changes anything as far as prep goes.  It's also a pretty different base material.

Thanks in advance!  As excited as I am to try this, the thought of going through this process with my $600 mask is a bit intimidating...

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