Step by Step Confederate Flag License Plate


Russ Allen

Nothing special here, just a step by step on how I did the license plate for my brother. I had a few requests for a step by step and since I havent attempted a video yet, here it is. Keep in mind, this is just one of many ways to accomplish the same thing.

Materials & Equipment:
- Badger Krome airbrush
- Badger Patriot 105
- Wicked Paints or your choice of paints (Black, Blue, Yellow, white & Red)
- Scotchbrite Green or Red scuffing pad (buy at WalMart)
- Blue shop towels (buy at WalMart)
- Tac Cloth (any automotive store or airbrush supplier)
- Spraymax 1k wax/degreaser (buy at several airbrush suppliers)
- Frisket or Masking paper/self adhesive (I use Greenstar vinyl transfer paper as its very low tack, buy at
- Xacto Knife (buy at Hobby Lobby or crafts store), optional cutting mat (WalMart or Hobby Lobby) or you may choose to mask right on license plate
- Pen or Pencil (to sketch on your masking paper/frisket)
- Preferrebly a reference photo for your shadows and highlights
- Some awesome tunes to get your creative mind flowing and get after it, lol

Step 1: Prep

Here I use a Red or Green scotchbrite pad, blue shop towels and SprayMax 1K Wax/Degreaser for waterbased paints (since I am using Wicked Paints).
First I get the tag and the scotchbrite pad and scuff the gloss from the base coat (remove all the shiny paint), I do this in a sink while running water over the tag to keep the particulates at a minimum since Im working in my home. This gives your artwork some grip, something to grab on too.
Next I dry the tag once Im done scuffing and spray the wax/degreaser on the tag and clean it very well to get any oils from my fingers off the tag. Let that dry and then you need to take your tack cloth and clean the tag to remove any loose fibers that was left from the blue shop towel. Now the tag is ready for your artwork.

Step 2: Sketch

Here is the sketch of what I want to do with the tag. Be sure you mark where your wrinkles are so when you pull the masking after painting your colors, your wrinkles will line up.

Step 3: Cutting the design out

In this step I lay a sheet of masking paper/frisket on my cutting board, then I tape my drawing over the masking paper and cut it out with an xacto knife. If youre fortunate enough to have a vinyl cutter, you can save a lot of time. I do have a vinyl cutter but I wanted to show that you dont have to have one to do this tag. You can also stick the masking paper/frisket on the tag itself, draw your pic, then lightly cut it out with the xacto knife. Some people are very good at this and it will save you a lot of time, but if you cut too deep into the basecoat, you can ruin your whole project.

Step 4: Applying the design

Here, once the design has been cut out, you can apply it on the tag. I started with the "X" because it will be the easiest way to center it on the tag. Once you have the "X" centered the rest will fall in place. It is a lot slower this way, but if youre a beginner, I recommend this technique as opposed to the cutting the design in place on the tag. Its much quicker when cutting on the tag, just really easy to cut through the masking into the primer. With that said, its on to the paint.

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Step 5: Laying the Red

Here I started laying the Red. I used Wicked Detail Scarlet (0053), reduced 1:1, sprayed at 32psi with my Badger Patriot 105. I used the Patriot because of the larger nozzle size so it would cover quicker with the red. One thing to remember with waterbase paints, always use LIGHT coats, and it usually takes several!!! I took 7 light coats to get the red coverage I wanted. Then I had about half a cup of the Scarlet Red left in my airbrush and added 3 drops of Wicked Blue (0007) to darken the Scarlet Red. Once I had it mixed, I started adding the shading for the wrinkles. Here's where your sketch will really help you. As stated above, you should have marked where your wrinkles are so you'll know where to shade them, this is also where a good reference photo comes in handy! Once I had the wrinkles layed out, I began to darken them with several light coats of the Scarlet Red and Blue mix. Once I have the shadows fairly dark I over spray all the red with the red blue mix to darken it all, and tone it down so its not such a bright red.

Step 6: Masking the Red and laying the Blue

Now that your red is all laid out, let it dry and cure pretty good then place the masking back over the red to protect it from the overspray of the blue. Once the red has been re-masked, then pull the masking from the blue area and lay several light coats of blue on. Here in this pic, you can see how light it is and that is with 3 light coats of blue already. I add 4 more light coats of the blue and let it dry.

Step 7: Detailing the Blue

Here I had about half a cup of blue left and added 3 drops of Scarlet Red to the mix to darken my blue for the shading. I added the shading for the wrinkles in the blue.

Step 8: Removing the Masking

Nothing much here, just a pic of where its at with the masking removed
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Step 9: Applying Deep Purple mix 4 blue to 4 red to 1 or 2 black (Or you can use Black)

Here I went back in to deepen the shadows. I did use black here, just to show that black will work, but its really easy to over do it with the black so be careful.

Step 10: Adding the highlights (Wicked Opaque White Reduced 1:1 or more if it will make it flow better for ya)

Here I added white for the highlighting and I actually went too heavy with the white for my liking. I could go back in and take some of that out with the red/blue mix but I opted to leave it as is since a lot of the lettering will be covering it up.

Step 11: Sketching and cutting the lettering

Now stick a piece of masking paper to your cutting board (unless you had placed it directly on the tag) and place your sketch over the masking paper and tape it in place as you see in the pic above. Cut out the lettering being sure to cut through not only the sketch paper but the masking paper below. In case youre wondering why it looks like I scribbled all over the page, its because I had just finished a tag just like this, so instead of drawing the lettering again, I still had the letters I had cut out from the previous tag on my cutting board, so I just through a blank sheet of paper over the letters and scribbled back and forth to make an outline of the letters.. Just kept me from having to draw it again, lol.

Step 12: Apply the Masking and Spray the White

Here in step 12 its a bit tricky to pull the masking up from the cutting board carefully, and slowly apply it to the tag, making sure its centered (this is where having the masking paper on the tag and cutting the design while its on the tag is easier, just be careful not to cut through your basecoat if you choose to do it that way). Once I have it applied I began to spray the white base for the lettering. Remember, light coats! It took about 7 light coats to get it covered pretty good.
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Step 13: Apply the Yellow (Wicked Detail 0052) and the Orange fade

Here apply the Yellow just like you did the White (remember, LIGHT COATS!!!). It took less coats than the White did, I think it was 5 coats of Yellow. Then, with about half a cup of Yellow left in my gravity feed cup, I added 3 drops of Wicked Detail Scarlet (or Red) and mixed thoroughly to get my orange. Then with the airbrush spraying from the bottom of the letters, let the overspray of the Orange carry up the letters so it will create a fade. It took about 3 coats of the Orange and be sure to make it darker at the bottom and fading lighter into the Yellow about midway.

Step 14: Remove the masking for the Lettering

In this step I CAREFULLY use my Xacto knife to remove the masking from around the lettering. Pretty self explanatory, I just want to emphasis that you need to be very careful, its easy to scratch the finished paint under the masking with the tip of the Xacto knife. Also, peel the masking slowly, if by chance you put the masking on and the base color underneath wasnt completely cured, it will peel the paint up where it wasnt cured so easy does it!!!

Step 15: Outline the lettering

In this step (next to the last step) I chose to outline it in White. I placed the Paint Pen I use in the pic as many always ask me what Im using to outline with. I use POSCA pens, they work great with clearcoat and really cover fairly well. I will continue to use the Posca pens until I get my pinstriping equipment and get decent with it. Cool thing about this outline, you can do it in any color you want, it doesnt have to be white, and the same goes for the lettering, they dont have to be yellow and orange, play with it and make it your own!!! Now all thats left is to clear coat it. I generally use 2k clearcoats for my tags because it helps with bugs and rocks. Unfortunately Im out of the 2k clearcoat. I use SprayMax 2k clearcoat. Very simple to use, it has a button on the bottom of the can, once depressed it releases the hardner into the clear, shake the can for about a minute and start spraying. The only draw back is that it only has a shelf life of about 16 hours but its recommended that you use the entire can within 6-8 hours as the 2 part mix begans to activate. This run about 20 bucks a can and its areosal. 1 can will do about 3 helmets to give you an idea of how far it goes, so it will do about 10-12 tags pretty easily. As stated, Im out of this so I will be using the Duplicolor Perfect Match Clearcoat (1K). So far its got the best results in my opinion over all the other 1k clears in automotive stores or hardware stores or WalMart.

So the main goal here is just to have fun with it. Its really not that complicated. Theres those Im sure that it will take a couple of tries to get it down, just remember, its just paint, sand it off and start over. Theres also those of you out there that will make my tag look like childs play as Im still learning the process myself!!

Hope this helps some of you guys/gals out there just starting out, once again, just remember to have fun with it!!!!


Sorry for the quality of the pics, I took them with my iPhone and it has a piece of junk camera, makes everything darker!!!

NOTE: I will post a pic of it cleared once we get warm enough weather as I paint inside my home and clear outside, and its been below 30 degree farenheit here in Oklahoma. Thanks
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Sure enough Herb, lol. Its all in there now though, lol. Not sure why but I can not post any pics on the forum form my house. Im on a few other forums and can post on them no problem from home. Who knows, but I finally got the tutorial loaded from here at work! Hope it helps someone out!! Thanks all and have a great day
Much better , I am sure it will help a lot of folks,
Did you use a plotter for your letters?
No sir, cut it all by hand. Wanted to show those that dont have a plotter that they can do work by hand and make it look just like the plotter would. Everything done oldschool, so you should love it, haha, j/j
No sir, cut it all by hand. Wanted to show those that dont have a plotter that they can do work by hand and make it look just like the plotter would. Everything done oldschool, so you should love it, haha, j/j

I am glad to hear that , Old school sometimes is faster than a plotter...and that lettering on the plate looks killer. Top notch job...
Thanks for the step by step Russ. I really like this piece. You can't go wrong with a Confederate flag but this piece came out real clean looking and the step by step is loaded with info. Like Micron said I am sure it will help a lot of people out. Awesome work bro!
I know that feeling plotter is at parents house no room at my apartment and my home comp crapped the bed the cpu liquid cooling block cracked and leaked destroying my mobo and 2 video cards
I know that feeling plotter is at parents house no room at my apartment and my home comp crapped the bed the cpu liquid cooling block cracked and leaked destroying my mobo and 2 video cards

That sucks , what make of cooling blocks was you running?
Thanks guys! Appreciate it.

Damn John! Hate to hear that bro (even though I dont have a freakin clue what youre talking about, its sounds really expensive, haha. I know what a video card is, but no clue on your cooling block, lol). Hope you get set back up soon! I know its gotta be frustrating
That's a great Step-By-Step Russ :)

A quick Q.... Any reason you didn't lay down the Autoair Basecoat sealer first? Just wondering, I know they recommend to lay it down first but I'm assuming the product would stick pretty well without it?
@ aficionado, no particular reason for not laying it down I dont guess. Ive never had a problem with adhesion unless I didnt prep it well enough. As long as your scuff the basecoat good with a green or red scotchbrite, the waterbased paints really grip well! Had I started with just a blank aluminum tag, then I would have definitely use AutoAir Basecoat Sealer. I dont make a killing off these tags (Ive actually done everyone of them for free so far, but about to start selling them) so I didnt want to throw more money into if it wasnt necessary. The plates I got came from Coast Airbrush and were already basecoated, black on one side, white on the other, so a good scuffing works very good as long as you wash, rinse, degrease and tack cloth. I havent had any issues and I have 2 tags that have been out in the weather for over a year now, and surprisingly they havent hardly faded at all either. So, nope, no real reason not to use it, just watching my cost so I can make more money and if the basecoat is good, then in my opinion no need to waste your sealer. Its just one of the many ways to end with the same conclusions, you just gotta find what works for you, and this technique has worked very well for me!!! Thank you for the compliment and thanks for the question, hopefully what I said makes sense, lol. Im usually bassackwards so maybe you can make heads or tails outta it, lol. Keep slingin' that paint!!
Thank you jeje10, hope you can get some use out of it, just trying to give back as many have given to me!!!! Good luck
thermaltake had the kandaff liquid cool case got a replacement and a new video card but no video

Thermaltake use to be the best of the best But I am running a corsair system and love it going strong now for 5 years. knock on my old wooden head..LOL
Thank you jeje10, hope you can get some use out of it, just trying to give back as many have given to me!!!! Good luck

LOL Russ it is like a radiator for you computer pulls heat off the CPU faster , I mainly do it cause I have my computer over clocked about 2 times faster than it is suppose to run. so like when you big a big block chevy for desert racing you add a bigger cooling system.same thing .