Mike Lavallee is setting the custom paint world on fire with his TRUE FIRE™ effect.
Mike has created and perfected the technique for rendering dramatic realistic interpretations of actual fire burning down the surface of bikes, cars, boats and anything else you care to ignite. His combination of layering kandy colours, and his use of the Artool TRUE FIRE Freehand Airbrush Templates™ are HOT! HOT!! HOT!!!
Since his appearances on "Monster Garage®", Mike Lavallee and his Killer Paint Airbrush Studio, have been honored to participate in The Learning Channel's® wildly popular "Overhaulin'®" and "Rides®" television programs. Mike credits these television programs for helping spread the word of his TRUE FIRE™ techniques which are now also starting to feature on some of Australia’s “hottest” rides.
We are now seeing some awesome examples of this technique in Oz. Andrew Kennedy (BUZZ) of Designs n' Signs / Grafx inc. in Victoria has been perfecting the technique over recent months and his latest creation is this fantastic boat.
Andrew has put together this run down on how he’s achieved such stunning results:
“My application follows the colour application that Lavalee has perfected, but with more of my style in the application. The full application can be tedious on a larger job such as the boat, the first few layers move quickly, but as you come up through the layers, the detail gets sharper & sharper. This is when it gets to be concentration overload. Lavalee works on the theory of "loose to tight, dark to light" which is it in a nutshell. If you are to get the "true fire" or real look of fire, I haven't found another way than to follow this well planned application & combination of colours.
The colours used are contained in the Australian House of Kolor “True Fire” Kit, and are as follows:
BC 25 Base Black
Application is as follows:
Get some good flame / fire references to work from, not "Hot Rod" flames, this is fire.
And remember, Fire burns differently with each & every item it burns. It will burn differently if it's burning wood or petrol etc. it all depends on how hot or intense the fire gets or how much wind is effecting its movement (sides of vehicles). So take this into consideration when you are depicting your fire and what & how it's burning, you don't want a slow wafting flame on the side of a drag car.
Layout a loose & wafting soft feel flame, more like a smoky haze with minimal sharp edges (stenciling) using SG 103 Molly Orange. Once you have done this, follow with a coating of KK 11 Apple Red over all orange areas. The next step is to come back with your Molly Orange, picking out & sharpening up your first layer with a selection of "Freehand Stencils" from Medea Iwata, introducing new & slightly more complex layers, you can link your first layer with the new layers to create an interaction between colours & layers. Once you are happy with what you've got down, it's time to coat the whole lot in KK 08 Tangerine, you will notice that the kandies merge the colours together & create more colour variations as well.
Now it's time to introduce your SG102 Chrome Yellow. As you move into brighter colours, you need to be careful not to pump too much colour into your job, as it will over power the rest of the colours. Again pick out and sharpen key elements of your fire with your stencils, linking layers & creating the foreground of the flames, play with it, there's embers, glows, licks, create your style. My favourite saying comes into play here, " Innovate, Don't Imitate " hehe.
Once again when you’re happy with what you've got going on, & don't forget, Don't over work it, you now bring back your KK 08 Tangerine. This time you aren't going to completely cover your yellow, instead you are going to blend back only certain areas. This will help to give the effect of the fire rolling and twisting and it will also help to create the illusion of flames coming up through other layers. Yeah no one said this was going to be easy, it's all about good observation & the need for good reference material.
Now it's time to come back with your SG 102 Chrome Yellow. Again picking out, highlighting & linking, remember, don't over do it! Your worry at this stage will be that you will be covering all of your previous work with each additional layer. Fear not, as you come up through the layers, you're not following the previous layers, instead you are cutting across them, linking them highlighting areas etc.. Once finished, you should be able to look down through all the layers, with them creating wicked patterns & killer depth.
The next step is, you got it, more kandy, this is the trick magical colour that makes this stuff "crank", KK 12 Pagan Gold. Spray this down over all of your work, it not only links all of your different colours, it brings them to life with a real vibrancy. If you can't see it now, you certainly will when the job is cleared.
The next step is done with a mixture of 50% SG 102 Chrome Yellow & 50% BC 26 White. This is the foreground & hottest part of the fire, LESS IS MORE!!! You over work this step & you kill the effect, hit the hot spots such as embers & the hottest of licks, you can introduce hot fire licks at the front also, study your reference here especially well, you need to see where the fire is at it's hottest.
Now go back to your KK 12 Pagan Gold and cover it all again.
The final step is to come in with PBC 65 Passion Purple & just hit the tips of the flames. This gives the fire a real glow with the pearl kicking & creating a real movement effect, it's quite a trick look.
You should now have a "hot" finished "True Fire" job. Good Luck & crank up the heat!
A number of our accredited painters specialise in airbrushing, and would be a great starting point if you are looking to find somebody to undertake the work. See here for our list of painters.
If you are thinking of having a go yourself, and you are not an experienced airbrush artist we would strongly recommend you enrol in an airbrush course. Some great courses are available from:
We would strongly recommend you also purchase the Mike Lavallee TRUE FIRE flame stencil kit with instructional DVD. This can be purchased through a number of our stockists that specialise in airbrushing, including: