Painting a bike is equal parts preparation, painting and cleaning. With a good mise en place, strategy and focus, things will go more smoothly but hardly never 100% according to plan. Especially not if you’re an explorer in paint like me. The outcome of a paint proccess, in my eyes, is much about sticking to your initial vision but be prepared for some professional improvisation. I love to see shows like How it’s Made, Mega Factories or any behind the scenes show and I’d thought should walk you through the steps of my latest paint creation: the over- the-top, worldclass weird, Black Metal informed, Manowar infused Heart of Steel AWOL Comp for our friend @ultraromance (Poppi).
On a crappy phone connection from a desolate south eastern Mojave desert town, the conversation started something like this:
P: Gentle tidings Erik. It’s Poppi, You available for a call in 10 min?
E: Ho ho ho, out riding, will call you this PM
P: I’ll be out of communication. But maybe not. Next 2 days look pretty desolate for me.
P: I forget the days. Sunday. Uncle Mike doesn’t make you work on this day of the Lord. I’ll hollure when I’m out of the desert.
E: Sweet, no rush, I’m shining the paintgun while I wait.
P: Are you perhaps shining that paintgun while wearing a Bluetooth phone device.
E: Yes, will call you in 6.4 minutes
It took a while to establish a secure line with the desert roaming man but after a good creative talk we ended with a consensus. The paint job needed to have a few key features and inspiration: Black Metal, Manowar, Crackle paint, black, fire gradients, Ultra Mini Rainbow flake, lightning and thunder. This kind of feedback would scare the living hell out of most creatives but all I saw was an awesome bike. I made up a sheme as I usually do in Photoshop, ordered some paint, got structured for a 3 day on and off paint process and got started.
How to paint a #blackmetalawol:
1. Sand down frame and fork and make sure to use a sand paper course enough for the primer to stick. Think a Trepaneringsritualen type grit, about 400. A naked or bead blasted frame gives better primer adhesion than a painted.
2. I usually don’t mask all threads on the bike but prefer to clean and cut fresh ones after paint. I do however cover the BB, HT, steerer and any other part where I don’t want a build up to occur.
3. Prime the frame. There are many different primers for different applications. The primer seals the frame and protects it from corrosion. I used a 2k non sandable epoxi Necro Deathmort Gray primer that is bullet proof, knowing this paint will take a beating. The better suited primer, the better the paint will sit and last. Downside with epoxi primer. If you fuck it up you really are fucked. A separate gun is used for primer. Primer is left to dry over night.
4. With a non metal white basecoat, a lighter color will pop more and you don’t need to lay it down as thick to make it opaque. We now have a white canvas.
5. A metallic Velvet Cacoon Purple is layed down around the BB area, chainstays and lower fork blades as a fade towards the next color. Usually, if possible, lighter colors should go on first since darker ones cover better. Since I’m doing a gradient fade, that’s not possible here.
6. A Helheimr Orange, same gig as the purple is carefully added. The gun needs to be throughly cleaned after each separate paint. The mies en place structure comes handy with multiple colors.
7. A Flaming Church Yellow is added and everything is left to dry overnight.
8. Clear coat to seal the color gradient. Just for the fun of it, I added a subtle blue pearl called Maui Sunset, mostly because it felt like Poppi would appreciate the gesture.
9. The crackle is a tricky one to paint. To crack or separate properly, it needs to be painted on a wet surface so the clear coat was left to dry for about 30 mins before the In the Shadow of the Horns black crackle effect paint was applied. Lay it on too thin and minature cracks appears. Too thick, not only do you have the normal drip problems with heavy paint, you also get huge cracks. Painting crackle paint is all about strategy and confidence. You need to nail the perfect preassure, flow and distance to get the right effect. Any overspray will dull the effect. I did several sample tubes before I dared to cover the perfect gradient with the black crackle. Easily the most difficult paint I’ve worked with.
10. A graphic vinyl paintmask was applied and graphics painted on the frame rather than using vinyl stickers. It’ll give the job a better finish and it’s easier to color match the graphics. I painted these graphics in a metallic corpspaint white, let them sit for 30 mins before I removed the mask.
11. To lighten up the black and get some more Manowarvibes to the frame, I layed down a mist of color changing House of Kolor Blood Kameleon pigment that changes color from Mayhem Red to a Burning Witch Gold depending from what angle you see the frame. Frame was left to dry over night.
11. A rich clearcoat with added Ultra Mini Rainbow of death flakes was applied in the morning and left to harden over night. You don’t really see the death flakes indoors but in the sun it really expoldes. Like the explosion at 0:41 in Watain’s Wolves Curse on the Lawless Darkness album, especially in a full nuke golden hour.
12. All nice bikes deserves at least 2 if not 3 layers of clear coat with wet sanding in between. With painted graphics, even more so. The sanding smoothens all the paint edges and reduces Oranssi Pazuzu peal. With the crackle paint I also needed to reduce some of the canyons created in the cracks.
13. It turned out the finish was so smooth I only needed two layers of clear with wet sanding in between. I used a Blut Aus Nord semi smooth metal grit of about 777 and goat blood to get the right vibe. Looking at the frame with sceptical eyes I see a lot of awesomeness in there. I believe the bike turned out as black metal as I wanted to but maybe the Manowar influence Poppi asked for got a bit heavy. Having eyeballed the bike for a week, I regret not doing the Emperror Black graphics instead. Still stoked.
Hopefully this breakdown makes you realize the time and effort if takes for a painter to finish a bike and when You see the pricetag for a custom paintjob, You’ll get why it looks like it does. Sorry, I can’t take on any paint jobs at the moment but pls. give a shoutout to the painters you like in the comments below. More custom paintjobs to the people!
More process photos on Instagram #blackmetalawol