painting a fade on a surfboard

hey guys i’ve been looking for a video that explains how to do paint fades online but i’ve been fairly unsuccessful… i was wondering if any of you have a link to a really good video? thanks -cam

I’ve done some with a sponge and acrylic…not as nice as an airbrush, but worked for me…watch your streaks!

Airbrush 101, available through Foam EZ and other fine retail establishments. or try youtube

“airbrush” would definitely be your keyword to use when searching for videos or posts. You can paint directly onto a board without an airbrush, but those nice fades you’re speaking of are most likely from an airbrush.

Hey Nova,

buy yourself a cheapo airbrush (in the UK you can get a Badger for about £6.00). I’ve just finished some artwork on my board with one of these, never used one before, loads of fades with it, looks OK to me, dead easy. Just make sure you mix your paint right and have a 10 minute practice with getting your parallel strokes right. If you intend to do any stenciling aswell, buy some Book cover film, it costs pennies and works as well as the way more expensive Low tack stencil film you buy from art shops. Key to good sharp lines when you stencil is to spray directly at the edge of the stencil rather than at an angle to it. Remember to build your paint in thin coats rather than one heavy coat.

Cheapo book cover film for stencil/masking, I used a 1/2 plan template to cut round (just like with cutting your blank)…8_0503atlast0008.jpg

Just the base coats before any detail (still not quite finished the finer details)…8_0503atlast0011.jpg…8_0503atlast0017.jpg

Watch as many videos as you want, there’s no substitute for having a go and learning as you stuff up.


Sorry ,no video…

If you’ve ever used a spray gun then a fade is quite smiple. If not it’s a complex issue. For some reason Surfers call painting with compressed air “airbrush”. Think about painting a car…Spray gun for painting large areas ,touch up gun for small areas ,and a small tool called an AirBrush for art.

Keep in mind I’m a backyard hack…before painting any surfboard I do some test runs on big sheets of cardboard. Need to adjust the air psi and the volume setting on the gun. You also need to play around with the thickness of your paint mix…I wish I had more boards to paint…Not about exact numbers…you gotta mix and spray by feel…

So…A basic fade job…pick your colors…How about yellow to light green to dark green…

Yellow at the nose , dark green at the tail…

Spray the board yellow from the nose to about 2/3 towards the tail. Now spray light green from about where ever you want towards the tail. Next spray the tail…Think about where your gun is aimed and where the overspray is going. Get some more cardboard and play around with it some more…Explore “mist coats”

Go surfing


Howzit novasurfer, You do need a steady hand for doing fades evenly. One thing is if it’s a clear board with a one color fade you should spray a light coat of white on the area before doing the fade. If you don’t then the lighter areas of the overspray will sometimes smear when glassed. Paint sticks to other paint better than to just foam. Told this to a newbie one time and since he couldn’t wait for white he just did the spray on the foam and it turned out a nightmare when glassed. He now uses white on every fade with good success. Aloha,Kokua

One thing to remember: if you are going to fade from one color to another, start with the lighter color first. Then go over the light with the darker color.

Also, spray guns have a knob to adjust the paint- to- air ratio. Change the ratio so that you have more air.That will give you more control for fading. Move the gun further away from the board as you spray for the fade-out areas.


alright… thanks a lot guys! i have an idea now… now i just have to get the airbrush!

Look-up some of my boards for fades in the archives here at sways…then get back to me.


On a SUP I’ve used white pigment epoxy and Q-cell to seal the board then painted on the sealed coat.

It worked great, and the board is bullet proof.

    Nova, as with all things there are many ways to achieve your goal. If spraying you’ll need the air compressor and some sort of a gun/brush to dispense the paint. Fades can be achieved with a brush or sponge too. They look different and take on a textured appearance but that can be nice too. And no expesive equipment.    

    This board was glassed bottom first with a cutlap. Then the deck was sprayed before laminating the deck. Easy to tape off the lap and spray against it. I used a rather expensive small airbrush and about three different shades of orange. I sprayed the orange first from darkest against the rail to lighter fading in. Then finshed with transparent red right against the lap at the tail, and transparent yellow fading into the white of the foam. 

Go to harbor freight and tool they have small guns that are inexpensive and ideal for doing large area sprays on boards. Make sure you have water trap on the air hose from the compressor. For practice get a large piece of Masonite. Prime it and spray. Might even get a nice abstract painting going if you try different colors.

i use a touch up gun and/or hf cheepy airbrushes..............i gotta one gallon compressor if you need it.