Quality materials help make for a kick-ass paintjob, but even $600-a-gallon paint looks worthless if applied incorrectly. Conversely, bargain-basement paint can yield excellent results if applied properly. As the old saying goes, "it's the craftsman, not the tool." Still, painting a car isn't rocket science so long as you adhere to a few rules and know a few tricks.
To get some pointers, we headed over to the Los Angeles Trade Technical College (LATTC) where Collision and Repair instructor Brian Ferre was finishing up on an '87 Camaro in the paint both. Brian is responsible for teaching the next generation of painters how to do it right, so we figured he could school a magazine editor on the basics of laying down paint the right way.
What we learned is that it's all about control: contaminant control, gun position control, and flow control of the paint. It sounds easy, but the process of shooting paint is a sort of Zen deal where a painter goes by feel more than by gauges when laying down paint to be sure it's neither too thick nor too thin. For beginners, Brian suggested buying some cheaper paint, finding an old hood or panel, and practicing until the process becomes second nature. To that end, here are a few tips he passed onto us.