7.More white was added to...
7.More white was added to the gray to create the highlights. The use of light will give your design depth just like the shadows, but where to apply it is something that comes with practice. Steve's advice: "Add them where you think the design is the highest and closest to your eye."
8.The same gray highlight...
8.The same gray highlight was used for the wings and goatee. More white was added to the gray for the eyes. The tailgate was set in the sun and allowed to dry while we went and had some sushi. Stefan and Steve gobbled up some soft-shell crab while I ate the standard California rolls. What can I say? I'm boring.
9.When we got back, everything...
9.When we got back, everything was dry enough to move on to the lettering. The phrase "Stinga X" will be lettered onto the banner, and the Stabilo will help with mapping this out. An upper and lower line were drawn first to create the height of the letters, and then the width was set by evenly spaced vertical lines.
10.Unless you're a pro like...
10.Unless you're a pro like Steve, I'd recommend hand-drawing the whole letter and then coming back and filling it. Steve is good enough to just paint the letters. Showoff.
11.While the letters were...
11.While the letters were drying, a long-liner brush was prepped with some black paint. He used this to outline the whole design to clean up the edges and add definition.
12.To add a little kick to...
12.To add a little kick to the letters, Steve decided to thin some blue so he could spray it with his Iwata Eclipse airbrush. He coated the lower portion of the letters with the blue. Again, I think he was just showing off here, but I'm glad he did because it did add to the complete design.
13.Steve grabbed a small lettering...
13.Steve grabbed a small lettering quill and added even more little highlights to Stinga X in all the solid areas like the antennas, legs, and some parts of the abdomen.
14.I thought it was all done,...
14.I thought it was all done, but Steve had one more trick for us. He outlined the whole design again this time in a red. He said, "It will be cool, trust me." He was right-it does look cool.
Artist profile: Steve vandemon
We sat down with the legendary Southern California painter to ask him a few questions and see what makes him tick. Steve is fascinated by leadsleds and little men from outer space, but we had to know more:
ST: Has being a custom painter taken you anywhere cool?
Vandemon: Yeah, I got to go to Europe for an airbrush show, Australia for the Summer Nats, and New Zealand for The Beach Hop.
ST: What do you do when you're not painting?
Vandemon: Hang out with my family or plug in the bass and pound out a few chords from Stryper songs.
ST: What new skills would you like to learn?
Vandemon: Ethics and social skills.
ST: What is the oddest thing someone has asked you to paint?
Vandemon: A set of clown shoes.
Stefan Amann, owner of Eightball Rods and Choppers walked over after the interview and jokingly said, "After 11 years of sniffing paint fumes, Steve has finally lost his mind. I wouldn't be surprised if he relocates to the desert with his alien collection and tinfoil hats."
The Final Word
After watching Steve throw down this design, all I can say is wow. He made everything seem effortless, which got me motivated to go home and try something. Using the lettering quill wasn't too bad-it provides a lot more control over the long liner that I fought with for a few hours before giving up. I still need to work on twisting the brush as I create a curve, but with practice it will come. If you want your very own piece of Vandemon artwork, go to Steve's website. He sells a lot of cool stuff you may want to throw some cash at.