how to paint flames

Paint Tips with Zane – Hot Stuff

Flames are one of the most enduring forms of paint embellishments on hot rods. They were popularized in the 1950s and ’60s, have seen a wide range of style treatments through the decades, and still capture a lot of attention today. Nothing quite says “hot rod” like a set of colorful yellow, orange, and red licks on a black paint job.

We had a little more space flexibility for the Paint Tips column this month, so I thought it would be a good time to show a basic step-by-step process for painting flames. For ease of illustration, I used an old surfboard as a demonstration surface – it was large enough to allow for design versatility, but small enough to quickly prep, lay out, and paint. If you’re a first-time flame painter, it’s a good idea to practice on something like this, or possibly a spare fender or hood.


There are many styles when it comes to flame shape, length, and color. I thought the classic combination of yellow-to-orange-to-red on a black surface seemed fitting for this quick tutorial. Follow along for some basic flame tips, and then start thinking about where you might want to add some heat!

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