The “Reflamed” Chopper, by Brad Payne

For those of you that have read the old issues of Airvolution, under its old format, you will know that Brad Payne has been a high profile member of the Australian airbrush community for a long time.

Brad is a genuine free spirit. When he is not here in Australia custom painting choppers or murals, or signs, or surfboards . . . he is traveling the world. Put it all together and he is an amazing artist drawing on a world of influences.

This article is about one of his many recent airbrush custom paint jobs on a chopper motorcycle.

I love how much his clients trust him. They hand him their most prized possessions and give him incredible creative freedom to “create what you think is best”. And he really delivers . . . giving them something that is both visually amazing and unusual.

How many custom painters are there across Australia or New Zealand, that you can say have a genuine “signature style”, that you instantly recognise? Only a handful! Brad Payne does.

I asked Brad a series of questions and I will let him tell the story of this bike, from here.

Brad writes . . .
This job came about when a guy contacted me on facebook about his custom motorcycle that he was in the process of building. It was an ex show bike that he was transforming into his own style. He had had it painted in Lamborghini orange which is a bright triple layer metallic.

After getting it back from the painters, he made the mistake of letting a friend of his who “owed him a favour” paint what can only be described as an amateur, basic, boring flame job.

He was disappointed to say the least and told me he didn’t want to do another flame job for fear of it not looking good….again. After I sent him a few examples of tanks I had flamed up and one chicano themed Harley tank I did, he changed his mind and let me run wild with a chicano, skull, day of the dead theme in a metallic blue/purple candy that would contrast with the orange.

The job was a tricky one on a few levels. Firstly, the client was from NSW and my studio is in Melbourne so he had them couriered to me…all without even meeting me in person, which I’m very grateful for the trust he had in me.

When it came to tackling the ugly flame problem, I had to be careful. I tried sanding the flames off in between the clear-coat layers , hoping to do it without affecting the orange underneath, but to no avail. I ended up rubbing through the metallic layer in a few minor spots. In hindsight I maybe should have repainted the triple layer orange, but I decided to go ahead and tape the flames and paint the design then later back-mask the flames and paint the orange back in, which was probably more time consuming than the former. Anyway, the end result is the same, just a different way to do it.

Then I found a problem I hadn’t anticipated with the rear guard. It had been painted by somebody else originally which is quite often concerning especially if I’m going to be taping up intricate designs and remasking which could peel bottom layers if not prepared properly. For whatever reason, some layers underneath the orange had seemed to shrink and create a big air pocket along some metal fabrication. After letting the client know what was happening, I suggested that I cut the air pocket out, sand flat and reprime. It wasn’t actually a big deal in the end, I’m just glad I investigated it and fixed it while I was still at the prep stage.

Other than these minor hickups, (which happen on almost every job) everything paint related went smoothly.

I arranged some images on photoshop and had them approved prior to starting. Clients leave most of the design process to me, with information based on what they like and don’t like. For example, I thought we could add some butterflies somewhere in the design. The client wasn’t keen on the idea, so we knocked it on the head. There is a fine line between artistic licence and doing something the client might not like. Communication is key!

My technique with this job involved using a silver basecoat tinted with lilac. I used simple negative space on black, and a custom mixed transparent blue/purple candy for the overall colour. I wanted the right blend of blue/purple, that point where it’s almost impossible to tell if it is blue or purple, all depending on the light reflecting and your interpretation of colour.

I use paper cut stencils as my guide for placement and freehand in all the details.

This was a process I have used on many of my motorcycle paint jobs with automotive basecoats and candies. I’ve found that my technique using two well balanced colours in the right opacity for the light colour and the perfect transparency for the dark gives me instant error correction capabilities in the shortest dry time possible and allows for a broad range of colour range. Especially considering that only two colours were used (not including the orange).

When I was envisaging the concept, I didn’t want to stripe the flames because I was going for a softer 3D look. But to some people, without having the pinstripes around the flames, it may not look finished. Maybe that comes down to taste. I like showing clean lines that take that extra element of care and time to execute, especially when there is a lot going on within the design.

If I had the chance to change something I would change (and will get the chance to change when I paint the new guard) is the asymmetrical design of the skulls on the front guard. I think I will do something a bit more symmetrical next time round

I think my favourite part of the artwork was the eye and how the iris is actually the petrol cap, which can be problematic incorporating with some designs that have to be lined up perfectly when tightened up.

The client was stoked with the work I did. You never quite know what they are going to think. But I trust my skills to ensure that every client loves what I do for them.

Although the bike was set to be finished and already featured in a custom motorcycle magazine, the client has decided that the 21 inch rim wasn’t big enough and is now in the process of fitting a 26 inch rim. So I will be doing an even bigger guard for it soon!

I think I will change up the design on the next project, so look out for that in an upcoming edition of Airvolution.

When I asked Brad what was coming next, his answer was . . .

Next on the artwork horizon for me involves more custom motorcycle paint jobs while I slowly chip away at some large surreal pencil drawings I’ve been working on for the last couple of years. When I’ve finished them I want to exhibit them at galleries.

Thank you to Brad Payne for allowing us to write up this article. You can see more of his artworks at . . .
or type @bradpayneart into Facebook or Instagram and his pages will come up.

Written by Tony Vowles