It is hard to believe that it was almost ten years ago I witnessed a CNC router in action for the very first time. I was fascinated with what I saw and simply had to have one! Although I had been in the creative end of the three dimensional sign business for most of my life I didn't really know what I would do with one - but I just knew it could do fantastic stuff.

Through extensive research and LOTS of hands-on practice I quickly found out that my MultiCam router was capable of just about anything imaginable.This journal will chronicle that journey to date and continue each week with two or three entries as I continue to explore just what is possible with this wonderful tool... -dan

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Painting process

The painting of our signs and features almost always follows the same steps and order. If we decide to prime the 30 lb Precision Board it is because the want to add a little more texture. The 30 lb board doesn't need primer to fill the pinholes or roughness normally found in lighter densities. We use the FSC-88WB primer made by Coastal Enterprises, the same folks that make the board. While most shops use primer to smooth out the work and sand it to make sure we use the heavy bodied primer to ADD texture. It dries without shrinking of cracking and the purposeful brush marks add texture.
Once the water based primer is on and dried thoroughly we proceed to our base coats. In our shop we hand brush pretty much all of our work. We use a top quality house paint for the bulk of it and have had great results for many years. We use a brand called General Paint. It is only available in Canada I'm told.

We always apply a minimum of three base coats of color, more if it is a low hide color. Typically with the use of fans to speed drying we can get two coats of paint on each day. When we paint we always start with a very light version of the final color. The various areas of the sign, in this case the wagon wheel (yellow tan) and the prairie dog (off white)are painted one after the other building up the coats until they are covered well. In this shot Kendra is applying the first base coat.

Once the three base coats of color are on and dried well we then begin with a series of glazes. We mix our own using a clear base (with no color) mixed with regular paint at a 50/50 ratio. We start with the lightest glaze and work towards our darkest. We brush the glaze on liberally and the wipe off the excess with a soft towel/rag. The deep areas retain the glaze.  It is allowed to dry thoroughly in between colors.

Here's a second sign using the same techniques but wet blending the base coats to get a beautiful fade on the blue background of the ring.

In the next shot Hailey is applying the first glaze to the beaver's tail.

Experience teaches which areas need to be painted first and in which order. The idea is to minimize the tedious and time taking cutting of the different edges.

When I designed the files I thought about how we would paint the different areas of the sign. By raising the lettering I make it a whole lot easier to paint.

In my next post I'll show some closeup shots of the finished signs which will make the process even clearer I'm sure. Stay tuned...