Chipped Painted Metal Faux Finish How-To, The "Route 66" Look

Old weathered painted metal objects like a vintage road sign, or a abandoned car, or an enameled coffee pot, or even a zombie containment pod have a very unique patina. They have those specific areas of chipped or peeled paint, unlike wood or other surfaces, that just tell you at first glance it's made of steel.

Designer Ken Wingard and I worked together recently on a retro marquee sign wall prop DIY project that although was actually made of wood, had a vintage metal faux finish treatment that sold it as the real deal. It's a super simple trick I picked up from a scenic artist I worked with many years ago.

Here's how to do it. Four easy steps. I'm nicknaming it the "Route 66" look.

Step 1 - Base coat your prop in a dark brown or similar dark rusted aged metal color paint. Go thick with. Once brushed on, pounce it, creating a more textured surface. Let dry completely.

Step 2 - Pour ordinary grocery store salt over the areas on your prop you want to look aged (for this project we used heavier coarse ground salt, but finer ground would work too). For vertical portions, you can defy gravity and make a paste of salt and water and brush on.

Step 3 - Spray paint your prop the color of choice. Let dry.

Step 4 - Brush away salt. You can leave rough edges of paint infused salt or refine the faux finish with some sand paper. Any overall dusty haze the salt leaves easily wiped away with a damp rag or sponge.

There ya go. An easy way to give your props a fairly realistic aged painted metal look.

31st Day of Halloween - The Finished Yard Portfolio

Happy Halloween all! Here's what I've been up to the past month.

I hope to retro-post the "how-to" details on some of the props next week. Especially the plexiglass ghosts you see, an idea I had that wasn't sure would work but turned out really well.

29th Day of Halloween - A Home and Family Halloween

We shot the Halloween episode of "Home and Family" today, which will air tomorrow morning on the Hallmark Channel. Hope you watch. It was kind of epic (for our show).

My prop gang, the wardrobe crew, and the hair/makeup team really came together capturing the fun of Halloween I think. Here are some photos from the day.

25th Day of Halloween - Inside the Psycho House

One of the amazing perks working on the Universal Studios backlot is being able to explore it - as long as you don't interfere with the tour trams or get in the way of production's filming.

My prop crew and I decided to take a team photo the other afternoon on the porch of a very iconic place. Our work often makes us "psycho" so it felt right.

While there, I was compelled to see if the front door was open. It was and I stepped inside this historic home of horror history. Now don't get your hopes up, It's just a facade, which means only the outside looks real. The interior is just bare bones framing holding the four walls up. Yet, for those curious, here's what it looks like...

Rear of house.

Left side.

Right side.

The infamous front.

And here's what the foundation floor looks like. And I did grab a handful of it to create a fun relic jar one day labeled "Dirt from Norman Bates' Basement".

And for those extra extra curious, here's what Norman Bates' doorbell looks like...

6th Day of Halloween - Coffin Coffee Table

I've had this crazy idea for a coffee table for years...

Guess what we made on the show today? I like my job.

How-To soon.

4th Day of Halloween - Monster Warning Signs

Years ago I created a "Frankenstein's Monster" warning sign for my front yard display. Here's that original sign and two NEW ones if you want to use for your haunt or party decor.

DIY suggestions - stain print outs with coffee or print out on old parchment looking paper.

Countdown to Halloween Day One - Cryptastic Start

I've been a terrible regular blogger for a long time, but not a terrible Halloween lover. This is the month I thrive creatively in. So counting down to the big day seems a good time of year to force myself into getting back to regular posting.

Working on the Home and Family show on the Hallmark Channel for the past 3 years has given me one great perk... when Halloween time comes around I get to design and influence some of the DIY segments we showcase. Not because of my 20 plus years experience working in TV, but because producer's know Halloween is my beloved holiday ( and I might stake them in the heart if questioned ).

Our October 1st show today featured making a fun CRYPT walk through facade for your front lawn. It was made in less than a day and was a great project to kick off the season.

Here's the quick sketch I made to sell the idea.

How-To here

Greatest Disney Pin Ever Made

One of my prop assists, Robin, went to Disneyland last weekend and brought back a Disney pin he thought I might like...

Halloween and Star Wars and Disney combined? Well played Robin, well played. You've gained your boss's favor... for now.

Humbug Sketching

So this time last year, elves and reindeer preoccupied my sketching time. This December I've rediscovered a love for Dickens' A Christmas Carol. I think you'll see a lot more doodles in the coming weeks inspired by.

Sawhorse Reindeer How-To

This sawhorse reindeer is a fairly easy Christmas' decoration to make. It's not an original idea, similar ones have been around for years, but it's my take on it. I hope it gives anyone who makes it the amazing instant creative satisfaction feeling I got once done. Ignoring the time painting, was completed in less than an hour.

- A wooden sawhorse. I used a Burro Brand one. They are inexpensive and easy to find at most big box hardware places.
- Jigsaw
- Drill/driver
- Sander/ sandpaper
- Pencil
- Ruler/Tape Measure
- Plywood with a nice clean finish. I used 1/2" thick Poplar.
- Paint and colors of choice. I used both latex house paint for base color and craft paint for detail colors.
- 10 - 12 Small "L" brackets. 3/4" x 3/4" ones worked for me.
- Short wood screws for brackets (less than the thickness of your wood)
- Eyes. I used large buttons, but you could paint on if want.
- Exterior grade clear varnish. Anything your comfortable using would work. Spray or brush-on.
- Wood glue (OPTIONAL)  This is designed to be a temporary assembly for the holidays so you can take apart and store easily, plus use sawhorse as really intended later, but you can make a permanent prop just by adding wood glue to any of the steps below.

Step 1 - Print out the templates I drew up ( see below). I grid them out so you upscale onto plywood by drawing a larger grid on. Trace the pattern on the plywood and cut out with jigsaw. Be sure to cut out the notches in the head and on the antler carefully (these are 1/2" thick. if you use thicker or thinner plywood redraw notch that thickness). Sand all the rough edges.

Click on images to enlarge.

Step 2 - Attach head and tail to appropriate ends of your sawhorse using "L" brackets.

Step 3 - Place the antlers on by sliding it's notch onto the head notch.

Step 4 - Paint and decorate the way you want. Have fun, on my first take I added a red ornament for a nose (see below). Clear coat if needed for exterior use.