Painting A Helmet For My Son

Well I just started on another helmet paint job. Don’t want to bore people with this stuff but it’s very exciting for me. I’m doing this one for my 29 year old son and it’s the first one that I am painting that I am not creating the design myself. It is hard to picture what is in someone else’s head just from them describing it! I told my boy to look at other helmets for inspiration and he loves Lewis Hamiltons designs. So I came up with a couple of ideas based off of that and he seems excited at my vision. The white part on the chin bar in the sketch will actually be black. I’m not an artist so I can’t draw out exactly what’s in my head so I did a rough layout with tape for Ian to get a better idea and he seems to be ok with it. He really only wants two main colors (purple and black) with silver pinstripes and logo’s. Personally I would have a contrasting color as well maybe a lime green but he is not interested :man_shrugging: So it will be mostly like my sketch with the local 47 logo (hand with lightening bolts) right on the top of the helmet. His race number 98 on the back and his name along the sides somewhere. I plan on doing a fair bit of shading on this one too.
Hopefully it will all become clear as I get started on it:)


That’s gonna look great!

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So not much progress but I did label everything for reference when I do the final taping. I’m sure TJ is scratching his head at my method :laughing:. He already told me how he does it but I’m a slow learner :grinning: Where you see the orange tape will all be white pinstripes with hotrod sparkle silver over it.


Taking shape nicely. Gonna be another good one methinks.

Outta curiousity… I am assuming that the process of doing helmet paints is a slow and deliberate process. One that involves many steps and pauses, stages. It’s very careful design.

@tjkoyen can you think of any helmet (successful) paint examples that appear less formal and planned, more Jackson Pollock than Mondrian?

Honestly TJ could probably knock this out in a very short amount of time as it is pretty simple. I am not an expert so I go over things many times in my head trying to plan out the sequence. Also I just work on it when I feel like it, i’m in no rush :grinning:

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So the paint goes down and the tape comes off, leaving a blank space…I’m assuming this is apply a layer… dry… apply new tape… airbrush… repeat?

The tape that is on there now is just rough so I can get a feel for the layout. It will all come off then I sand the helmet and tape and mask the eye port and the base of the helmet. After that I will spray the base coat which is normally white (I like this for the pearl colors that I mostly use). This time after the white I will spray my hotrod silver sparkle which is like mini flake, all the pinstripes and the design on the top will be this finish. At that point I will then tape out all the lines and the top design to cover it. After that I will do another light coat of white to cover the sparkle. Mostly after that I try to do lightest to darkest colors which can be a complicated sequence but not with this helmet.

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I am definitely a Mondrian style guy, but I’ve done plenty of looser more chaotic stuff. Our very own @DIG78x ’s helmet is loose pencil sketches and paint marker on one side, he can post pics I can’t find any right now.

Here are a few more chaotic ones I’ve done:

Hand painted cherry blossom trees and anime style hand drawn details.

Paint splatter Juice World themed.


Oooh, I like! Very nice and thanks for sharing.

I am guessing John is doing it very old school using hand applied tape, etc. Does technology play a hand in your professional work? I have found that the software today is freakishly powerful in comparison to what we used in the 1990s, same suite. Do you do any part of your design or visualization using graphic programs?

And, have you messed yet with AI in design?

fyi that looks almost like an inlay, really pretty, almost a laquer (well, duh, cherry blossoms now that I think of it, thus the lacquer which evokes those Chinese lacquered containers, in my mind) edit again, changed my mind… Mother of pearl. But not. More colorful. Both, very pretty!!! Fun to look at, too.

John is doing it right with regards to taping; all painted helmets are hand-taped out like that. Not old school at all. I’ve designed and built some tools and jigs to help make everything more precise but at the end of the day you still have to tape it all out by hand.

I use Adobe Illustrator for all my design work. Been using it since high school and I do basically no hand-drawn design work anymore, just straight into the computer.

Here is an example of one of my design files from Illustrator (and a sneak peek of Kirkwood’s 2024 helmet):

I’ve played with AI but it doesn’t really work for what I’m trying to do. It’s too loose yet to provide the specificity needed when making a custom design for a client who has specific wants.


Very cool! I figured it was a part of your process. I personally have not tried ai yet but I have been seeing a lot of headlines suggesting that it is a game changer for professional designers.(re illustrator: I got iPad for holidays to be able to work on suit/gloves but I have totally forgotten everything. It’s been 20+ years :smiling_face_with_tear:)

maybe one day i will …

Why mess with perfection?

dont have a mello yello rep yet … but some day i will try and paint one … it will go pair with the mello yello cosmic i got as my kart

Well @Bimodal_Rocket, you could add some wind generators on the mountain, silhouetted by the sun (or maybe that’s moon). :wink:

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what a cool thread… definitely following this one because it’s so interesting to me to see how a helmet painting process works.


Speaking AI:

Ai: please design me a racing helmet in the style of TjKoyen using the mellow yellow logo against a field of wind towers on top of this hill (photo provided)…


I did a little promo vid that shows a lot of the process a few years ago. Some things have changed but it might be a fun watch if you’re interested.


Dude that’s an insane video. Very well put together. That looks like a painstaking process that takes so much patience. Massive respect.

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I was looking for this a while ago! Thought you had taken it down. Or perhaps this is a new paint time lapse.

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