April 19, 2014, Saturday, 108

Custom paint

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How to do a good 2-tone paint job on a computer case.


This is a pretty straight forward tutorial on how to get an inexpensive custom paint job on a computer case or just about any thing.


- Basically what I did was create my own stencil, for my case I wanted to put a large eightball (large black 8 with a large white circle around it) marking on the side, and paint the entire case black

- To do this i used Blue 3M Painter's tape, similar to masking tape, but peels off easier and doesn't leave stick marks on the plastic, then I used some spray paint I had from another project.

- I did a simple 2 color paint job, I'm sure it's possible to do more colors but I didn't need to for my purpose.

What you'll need

Most of these can be found at Home Depot or any general home repair place with a paint department

3M blue painter's tape depending on the size of the project you probably won't need much

Spray paint whatever color you want, in my case I only used 2 colors

Spray-on clear-coat (optional) if you want to make it look glossy

Pencil I would suggest using pencil in case you get some on the surface you can erase it

Drawing tools for my design I used a compass and a ruler, if you would rather free-hand it be my guest

Exacto knife use this for cutting the actual stencil

Paper/cardboard drawing out your design and the transferring it to the surface is a good idea


first of all decide on a design, the easiest ones to do are one that can be easily done in two colors and have large areas that are one color or another, for example my eight-ball design is one large white circle, with an eight in the middle done in black.

sketch the design out on paper or cardboard if there is a lot of detail you may want to use paper because cardboard can be difficult to cut for small details.

Now for the first part of painting, take the surface you want to paint and put the background color on it, in my case I painted the entire thing black, let it have plenty of time to dry, a tutorial on spray painting may help here to make it look better, but I'm not an expert.

After the piece has had plenty of time to dry, we get to the annoying part, masking off the entire thing, take the tape and cover the entire surface with it, the easiest way to do this is to put down a strip of tape at the bottom of the surface, then put another strip above it parallel with the edges overlapping, it doesn't have to overlap much, just enough so there aren't any gaps. You should be able to tell, but a 1/4 of an inch or so of overlap is plenty. When it's done you should be able to run your hand from top to bottom and not come against any edges. Keep adding tape until the entire surface is covered, the neater the tape is in rows the easier the rest of the project will be. Don't let air bubbles form in the tape, if one does, peel the tape back and do that part again, you want the tape to be solid and not have any holes in it.

Now to transfer the design, this is pretty tricky, tape your drawn out design and position on the surface, then using more tape, anchor it down so it won't move while you're working on it. then take the exacto knife, and using even pressure cut where you have lines on your design, this is where having a simple design is nice, if you have a design that require you to remove a part of the stencil completely, i.e. 2 circles inside each other to make a ring, be sure to cut the inside line first and work your way out,so the design doesn't move, also try to make all of your cuts go from the top down, so you don't snag an edge of the tape.

after you have completely cut your design into the tape, take your design off, and remove the tape where you want to have a different color, again it helps to have a simple design, make sure that you have completely cut the design so that you don't pull up other parts that you don't want to. peeling from the top down one strip at a time is probably the easiest way to do this, just be careful so you don't tear the tape as you peel it. When it's done, you should have tape everywhere you want your background color to show through, everything that isn't covered by tape is going to be the second color. at this point be sure all the edges of the design are pushed down, so paint won't get under the tape.

Now paint the second color just like the first color be sure you cover all the place that aren't covered by tape, again refer to a spray painting tutorial to get a better quality job. Be sure to let the paint dry completely before moving on, if the paint still feels sticky it's not ready.

now the last part, removing the tape, this is when you want to be very slow and careful, because you can peel up the paint if you go too fast. Peel off each strip of tape, 1 at a time from the top down, go very slowly so you don't damage the paint around the tape. Once you have all the tape stripped off, you can either use some clear coat on it or just take it how it is.

This was my finished result, all the areas that are black were covered by tape, and the I painted over the tape with white. 8-ball case.jpg

Sources and inspiration

It sounds kind of lame, but I got the Idea from seeing how they did the painting on American Chopper on the Discovery Channel.

Further Ideas

I would be interested to see someone try to do this with more than 2 colors, and tell us how it worked out for them.

my way of doing a design is pretty crude and uses a lot of painters tape, try to find a better way to do it if you can.

hmmm If you want further ideas/inspiration, check out what would be a way cool DIY project.

This effect is a 4 step process.

1 Paint a base cost

2 Spray a solution that leaves crystals behind when it dries. (think saltwater) This acts as a mask.

3 Paint again with another color. (over crystals)

4 Wash the whole thing and the crystals -and the paint that landed on them during the second coat- get washed away too, leaving a whicked cool design.

Well, #5 is a high gloss clear coat.

This would be a wickedly popular case mod if someone could just fugure out how they grow such monster crystals. I've been thinking Epson Salt, but have not tried it.