How to apply pinstriping and graphic overlays to brighten your car’s paintwork

Our step-by-step guide to achieving stand-out paint

Photographers: Cristian Brunelli, Helmut Mueller, Tony Rabbitte

A fresh coat of paint is one of the best ways to give any car a killer new look, and using a custom, non-factory colour is even better again.

This article was first published in the May 2003 issue of Street Machine

paintHouse of Kolor has built itself an enviable, worldwide reputation as the king of custom paints and any of its striking array of exclusive colours will easily transform a car into a sure-fire standout. Peter Fitzpatrick’s all-conquering FC and Mark Jones’ SMOTY-winning FAT 57 are just two of a long and prestigious list of award-winners featuring House of Kolor products.

Unfortunately a full respray can get awfully expensive which is hard to justify if your streeter already features decent paint.

House of Kolor recognised this dilemma and hit on the idea of promoting the concept of using graphic overlays to transform a car’s appearance. This is far more cost-effective alternative to a full respray, as the car does not need to be fully stripped, as there is no need to spray the engine bay, boot and doorjambs.

pinstripingEmbracing this concept, Street Machine Expression Session artist, Ryan Carter, designed a new paint scheme for our 2003 giveaway ute VU FOR U based around the ute’s original Phantom black to knock everyone’s socks off yet be relatively affordable. From there it was up to House of Kolor paint technician, Earl Webber, and Mat Egan from Extreme Designs to turn Ryan’s concept into reality.


choosing colourSTEP 1. Using Ryan’s flamed green and black concept as a guide, Earl and Mat consulted House of Kolor’s (HOK) extensive colour chart to determine what combination would work best as an overall scheme. With numerous shades of many colours the combinations become unlimited. This is where experience and often some experimentation is invaluable.

sanding down before paintSTEP 2. For maximum paint adhesion, it’s important to remove all the gloss, imperfections and orange peel by rubbing the car down with 800-grit wet and dry. Use a flexible rubber block, or, if you’re careful, fold in the ends of a half-sheet of paper to create three layers and keep your hand flat when rubbing.

filling in paint chipsSTEP 3. Unless your car is new it’s bound to have a few stone chips. Carefully go over the whole car and fill all the fine nicks, chips and scratches with two-pack putty. This extra-fine, toothpaste-like putty adheres to paint, which makes it perfect for fixing small blemishes and is available from most automotive paint retailers.

overspraySTEP 4. Over-spray can get into areas that you’d never imagine, especially door jambs, wheel arches and engine bays, so mask off everything extra carefully. Trust us, an extra hour spent masking will easily save two or more frustrating hours cleaning off pesky over-spray.

overlay colourSTEP 5. Base colour can effect the tone of an overlay. So even though this repaired section was to be repainted, it was first given a coat of Phantom black to give the overlay a consistent base ensuring an even tone in the new top colour.

graphic overlapsSTEP 6. Complex graphic overlays mean lots of rubbing. Rather than go for simpler, single colour overlay, Earl and Mat decide to get a bit creative and use Planet Green metallic base with Lime-Gold urethane Kandy over the top. This is a bit more expensive and a bit more work but it really makes colour jump when it’s out in the sun.

pinstripingSTEP 7. Ever noticed how Leyton Hewitt makes playing tennis look easy? Well, Mat is just the same when it comes to laying out flames. Armed with a roll of fine-line tape, Mat lays down the flames at a remarkable pace. His fluid, sweeping hand movements show in the similarly flowing shape of the finished art.

pinstripingSTEP 8. After masking the outer edge of the flames, Mat then went to work on the 2mm House of Kolor Moly Orange pinstripe that forms the flame’s edges. After applying the orange around the edges, Mat masked off the pinstripe using special 2mm-thick strips that he created on his sticker-cutting machine.

mixing colourSTEP 9. Before masking over the pinstripe to apply the Passion Purple flames, Gold Ice Pearl mixed in with Intercoat Klear was sprayed over the orange. Intercoat Klear is ideal here as it’s specifically designed to go over artwork and protect it when masked over, while the pearl gives it added kick.

pinstripingSTEP 10. Once again, before the House of Kolor Passion Purple was laid down, a base coat of black was applied so that the differing base colours (red, green and black) didn’t effect the depth or tone of the purple flames.

pinstripingSTEP 11. Unmasking is always the fun bit. However, don’t get too carried away as the paint is still pretty soft and the edges can be easily torn if you’re not careful. Go slow and watch the edges, and if an edge does pull up just gently press it down – the clear will seal it up.

pinstripingSTEP 12. To ensure that each layer is sealed, a layer of Cosmic Klear is applied and allowed plenty of time to dry. As with each other step, once dried, the surface must be scuffed with 800-gritt wet-and-dry to ensure maximum adhesion of the next layer.

paintingSTEP 13. To break up the black and the Planet Green, a 10mm-wide Euro Red strip was run the full length of the vehicle. Here Mat is showing off his famous, Jimmy Hendrix-inspired behind-the-back spraying technique which he believes is the key to many of his stunning creations.

paintingSTEP 14. Yep, another coat of Cosmic Klear is applied to seal the last layer. It’s about now you start to realise the benefits of the House of Kolor paint system, which is specifically formulated to withstand such high-build applications.

pinstripingSTEP 15. To give the flames that floating, 3-D effect, Mat airbrushed, by hand, a drop shadow under each flame. As you can clearly see the paint is dull after the previous layer of clear was scuffed down with 800-grit paper.


With all the paint effects finished, the whole shebang, including the bars, sideskirts, tailgate and bonnet, was given one last coat of House of Kolor’s special Flo-Klear. Flo-Klear promotes better colour definition, resists chipping and gives you an ultra-wet gloss finmish that is particularly responsive to polishing. What a difference, eh? A black VU SS ute is a bitchin’ bit of gear, but there’s no denying VU FOR U is a standout in any crowd. So, if you want to go from lame to fame, check out House of Kolor’s amazing range of colours and effects paints. If it’s graphics/artwork you’re after, there’s few more capable than Mat Egan for Extreme Designs.

Photographers: Cristian Brunelli, Helmut Mueller, Tony Rabbitte