How to Paint a Surfboard

How to Paint a Surfboard - Fieldey style

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There’s nothing like a fresh coat of paint to give an old board new life. But how do you paint a surfboard so it doesn’t come out looking like a mess? Australian surfboard painting expert, Fieldey, agreed to share her step-by-step tutorial with us on exactly how to paint a surfboard.

Firstly, Don’t panic.

Painting surfboards is easy… writing instructions about it is not as easy, which is why these instructions are a wee bit long. Follow them through and you should have the most amazing board the world has seen! The video below will show you how it’s done and there are step by step instructions to follow.

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Fieldey says: Preparation is key!

Have a good idea…

Draw it out and keep drawing it until you’re happy with the composition and the look. If you can’t get it to look awesome on paper there’s no hope in hell of doing it on a 6 foot board! I personally think big is better, you want people to spot you from a mile off on the beach, this board needs to look P-I-M-P(ed)!

Housework time: Preparation is the key to a long lasting paint job.

Since I use second-hand boards that have already been glassed, I have to prepare the surface well so that the paint will stick. If you miss a blob of wax, or do a shoddy sanding job, that will be where the paint will chip and crack off first.

Check out the clip below, which shows my preparation process from start to finish, or read through the instructions underneath.

Step 1: If it’s a second-hand or old board you’ll need to remove the wax. Either stick it out in the sun for 10 minutes until the wax softens, or if it’s an overcast or cold day, give it a run-over with a hairdryer then scrape the wax off with a wax-comb or an old bank card.

Step 2: To make sure that the wax is all gone, wipe both sides of the board down with mineral turpentine, this will soften any remaining wax and it should wipe straight off.

Step 3: Now, because you’re a perfectionist and you want that paint job to last for ages, you’ll grab some acetone and wipe the board down one last time to get rid of any wax or oily residue from the turps.

Step 4: You now need to sand the side of the board you are painting. You want to give the paint a surface to stick to. Thus, you need to get rid of that glossy finish.

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Grab yourself some 240 grit sandpaper and do a couple of runs over the board with the sander. I do at least two for good measure, changing to a new piece of paper in between. It should look dull and not shiny any more. Don’t forget to sand the rails if you want to wrap your paint job further round the board. I use an old electric sander, but sanding by hand will work just as well.

Step 5: Last prep thing, I promise. You should mask out any areas you don’t want painted, because believe me, they will be the FIRST to get paint blobbed on them. Use a low-tack masking tape and cover the rails or reverse of the board.

Housework is done, prepare to get gnarly.

Step 6: Background time. I like to use spray paint for a quick and instant background.

Much ink has been spilt debating the various types of spray paint to use, some like car paint, some like acrylic based, some like enamel based.

– I’m going to save you some time here, because I’ve experimented with most of that stuff, and the brand I like best is Molotow Premium aerosol paints.

It dries fast, stays on like a motherbitch and it works for me. So spray that background and wait for it to dry and you will be ready for…

The Main Feature

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Normally if I’m painting a board for art’s sake and it’s going to adorn a wall I’ll use acrylic paints for the main character, but if it needs to stick for surf use, I’ll use paint markers and inks. In the movie above I’m using Molotow ONE4ALL markers and inks. Paint pens, markers and Poscas are great and come in a variety of colours, they also stick really well to surfboards – the only caveat I have with them is:

FOR GODS SAKE USE THE SAME BRAND AS YOUR BACKGROUND AEROSOLS. 

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Don’t be mixing brands kids

This is the one time it’s permissible to be a brand-basher. Failing to do so can lead to dire results if the paints react with each other or with the sealant and cracking can occur. 

Step 7: Draw up the main part of your design. I use white chalk since it’s easy to remove.

Step 8: Then add in the base colours of your design. In the movie above, I’m using refill inks with a brush so I can cover large areas quickly, but you could just as well use marker pens instead. I’m aiming to get a good coverage of ink and most of the major areas covered.

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Step 9: Flesh out the design by adding your shadows and building up the mid-tones to add depth to the image.

Step 10: Add your highlights to really make things pop.

Remember that the lightest parts of the image will be the most eye-catching and will appear to be coming forward, and the darker shadows will appear to retreat,

so if you want something to really jump out, make it lighter or add highlights.

Step 11: Once I’m happy with the design, I finish it off with a nice big dose of black outlines to bring it all together and make it look cool.

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Step 12: Seal the Deal. So, you’ve finished your masterpiece and decided it’s too good for the world to miss out on and you want to seal it and surf on it pronto.

You have 2 options: take it to a surfboard shaper and have them spray it for you, or you can spray a clear coating on yourself. This is where you want to stick to your brand bashing right here – if you used Molotow Premium sprays and say, Molotow ONE4ALL paint markers, then a sensible choice would be to use their branded clear acrylic sealant, or they also recommend Spraymax 2k. For this board I used Molotow gloss acrylic coating and applied four coats of it, sanding very lightly with 1200 wet and dry sandpaper and cleaning off with water and a chamois in between.

Now you’re done! That wasn’t so hard was it?

Stay excellent.
Fieldey.

New painting tutorials are in the works, so subscribe to Fieldey’s blog or to Fieldey TV on YouTube to stay in touch.

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