Painting a Surfboard Art Piece with Sketchs Ink

Written and photographed by jeremy constantineau


If you’ve ever been somewhere that could be considered a showroom, you’d know that every piece on display contributes to the overall atmosphere in there. Maybe it’s just that spending 24 hours a day inside the shop is speeding up how fast we’re getting bored of it, or maybe our showroom really does in fact need some changes.

Either way, we’re determined to put more cool stuff in there, but what exactly?


Why not a surfboard art piece? Seems interesting enough.

We have a rough idea of what the finished piece will look like, so let’s get down to business.

First, we have to design the 3 main elements of the board in vector format using illustrator. By doing this we’re able to print vinyl masks for each image with perfectly smooth edges. Once the vinyl masks have been cut, we begin by placing the first mask down on the board and spraying the yellow colour we chose for that graphic.


Projects like this one are essentially just a very organized repetition of covering and exposing different layers. When we spray the yellow colour for example, the rest of the board must be masked off to prevent any yellow from getting where we don’t want it to be. After the yellow mandala element is painted, we’re able to move on to the Tiki graphic and the Japanese-style wave we’re going to paint at the bottom of the board.

This project isn’t as easy as it may seem though; each image element takes more than just one vinyl layer to complete. The Tiki head for example, requires us to lay one vinyl layer to mask off the areas of the Tiki we want to keep a wood finish on, and another layer for us to paint the sharp black outline that will give the Tiki head it’s graphic style. In addition to this, between each layer of paint we spray, we must completely clear coat the entire board and then sand that clear coat back down again. This “seals” the designs in, and could be thought of as a painter’s equivalent to saving a copy of your unfinished word document.


Once all the painted layers are done and sealed with a layer of clear coat, we can move on to the finishing touches that will bring the piece to life. On the Japanese-style wave at the bottom of the board, we’re going back with specialized paint markers to outline the edges of the wave to match the punchy graphic style of the Tiki head. Since this project is just for fun, we can splatter some white paint with chopsticks for a cartoon-like misting effect.


And now, moving on to our favourite part, airbrushing.

Using transparent black and yellow, we’re able to give the impression of depth in the Tiki face, even though it’s still a flat 2-dimensional surface. This is an illusion caused by your brain naturally identifying lighter areas as more exposed to the sun, and darker areas as being receded back into the shadows. On this specific Tiki graphic, areas such as the nose, eyebrows, and lips would be more exposed to the sun if this was a 3-dimensional object. Knowing this, we then can spray a lighter yellow colour in the center of those areas. This does two things to our image. First, it gives the impression of roundness and secondly it gives the impression of depth/distance.


Now that the airbrushing is complete along with the other images, we can lay down a thicker-than-usual coat of clear. We’re only able to do this because the surface of the board is perfectly flat and will assist in levelling the clear coat. After the clear coat is dry, we give the board a buff and polish using some secret Sketchs Ink techniques and voila, it’s ready to be placed on display in the Sketchs Ink showroom.

Want to see more of this project and many more? head over to Sketchs Ink TV on YouTube for your inside look at what goes on at Ottawa’s top paint shop.


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