We've all seen it, that one truck that stands out from all of the others. It seems to have it all, the right wheels, the perfect stance, the outstanding interior, and the flawless paint and graphics. What's it take to get that show-stopping finish? Where do you start? What products do you use? And how do you make it all come together? We hooked up with the talented staff at Clean Cut Creations in Webster Groves, Missouri, to give you some tips and tricks on what goes into a well-thought-out, two-tone flame job. This shop has been cranking out customs for some time now and even built the 'bagged Colorado we put on our Nov. '04 cover. Throughout this story, John Meyer and crew will be showing us what and what not to do when adding graphics to your ride.

1. Design It
Take some time to get your ideas down on paper. Make a few sketches of your own, or you may even want to consult with a rendering company. Now is a good time to consider your color options, paint manufacturer, and just how detailed you want your design to be. This would be a great time to call in the advice of friends who paint and see what they recommend.

Have a place to start, and get your ideas down on paper. Think about the lines and curves of the body when working out your graphics. Keep it simple, too, adding just basic two-tone paint and graphics really livened up this relatively stock truck.

2. Prep It
Now that you have a good idea of the direction that you want to take, turn your attention to disassembling and cleaning your truck to prep for paint. On most trucks, you'd want to remove your grille, marker lights, bumpers, door handles, tailgate handle, and emblems, so you can get the paint underneath everything for professional results. If you mask around your taillights for example and then get some aftermarket lenses and they happen to be a little smaller, you'll end up with the base color showing up around the edges. On this project, CCC took it one step further and removed the bed to get the paint perfect on the back of the cab. If there are any areas that bodywork has been performed, sand the primed areas with 400- and then 600-grit sandpaper to give the primer the right tooth for the paint to stick. On the non-bodyworked areas, use a gray scuff pad and scuffing paste to produce the right finish.Take your time when scuffing and sanding because your new paintwork will not stick for long to a shiny, unsanded surface. After scuffing, thoroughly wash the entire vehicle, including the jambs and engine compartment, to remove any dirt or sanding dust. The paint comes out of a gun with an air stream, and you don't want the dust blowing out of the jambs and onto your wet paint. Make sure you let the truck completely dry before starting to mask.

3. Mask It
With the prep out of your way, you should be ready to tape up your truck. This step is very important for keeping the paint where it is supposed to be and preventing overspray. Start with the underhood and grille area, making sure that when you close the hood no tape or paper sticks out of the edges. Then, move to the doorjambs, and mask by starting the tape 1/4 inch from the edge of the jamb. Be sure to mask off any areas that are left open after trim removal, such as the door handle or antenna holes, since these will usually be covered from the back side of the panel.

For ease of masking, use a tape machine that applies tape to paper, as you need it. CCC uses American masking tape and 3M blue fine line. Crystal Tack Cloths are great for removing dust prior to clear.