Monte Moore

Maverick Custom Paint


The Black Knight by Monte Moore / Maverick Custom Paint

Every few years I focus my efforts on a single bike project to showcase the absolute best of my illustrative abilities, and show the custom motorcycle industry what a truly unique bike paint job can look like. We aren't talking about flames, skulls or elaborate geometric shapes created with laborious tape-outs and metal flake paints. We are talking about original, hand drawn and painted illustrations wrapped around a unique design, to create a ride able canvas of art and eye candy. Several years back, my Fire and Ice bike was that bike, and it won several major shows including Best Paint at the 2006 Las Vegas Bikefest, and was invited to the Easyriders National show in Kansas City. Most of the time I hear comments like "I've never seen art of this kind on a motorcycle before", this coming from folks and builders who have been in the industry for decades.
As a bit of background on myself: I got my chops in fantasy and science fiction illustration the past fifteen years by creating images for comics, games and books, for such great customers as Lucasfilm, Coors, The U.S. Marine Corps, Playstation, Dungeons and Dragons and many more. One of the highlights of my career was being selected by Playboy to create a limited edition print for them. One of only four artists in the world to get that honor. Along the way I have won the World Fantasy Art Show twice, and have been the author/artist of six art books that exclusively showcase my art. Having achieved most of the goals I had set for myself by the age of 30, I was looking for a new challenge...enter the world of custom motorcycle paint. My passion for motorcycles had been growing for about a decade. I have owned as many as 16 different bikes...at one time! Its hard to ride them all, but I love the various joys they bring me. I've ridden in 39 of our glorious states and I love all things motorcycle related.
Now, back to the Black Knight. Maverick Motorcycles is a cooperative effort between Kozak Enterprises of Oregon, myself at Maverick Custom Paint, and Matt Huntley of Blacktop Choppers, who is an award winning bike builder in Denver, where I am from as well. The art and design of the bikes come from me. Matt does all the heavy lifting when it comes to actual assembly of the motorcycles. The Black Knight is serial number 002, as the Fire and Ice was serial number 001. The following information and images will take you through the creation of a custom bike that is unlike any other. Not because of crazy overpriced additions of $10,000-$15,000 motors, but because of the 150 hours of art and finish work that make it a feast for the eyes. If you don't like fantasy art, or images of beautiful women on your bike, then you may not like this one, but may learn something anyway.

The Black Knight


Stage 1 - Design the Sheet Metal

To keep the costs of the bike as low as possible, we are basing the bike on an existing bike platform. We are modifying a nice sized metal, rather than fabricating it from scratch which can add a lot to the cost of a custom build. The following images show my drawings, where I want Matt from Blacktop to use his plasma cutter. By removing parts of the metal, we will get rid of the stock look. The side shot of the front fender also shows that I have decided to add some sidebar pieces to the chrome supports to add a more unique look. I learned these 'paper' mockup techniques from watching other pro builders who I have had the honor of working with. At this point I have worked with 8-10 top builders in the industry

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Stage 2 - Mockups

As Matt is putting together some mockups of the frame and motor in the shop, we set the metal in place to make sure it looks and fits well. After this stage the metal goes off to be sanded, prepped and based, by my good friend Bill Eno. Since this bike is going to get a lot of art, its easier to paint over white rather than a dark color, which is added last. Bill suggests a Snow White Pearl texture as part of the white base, which adds a nice iridescent look in the sun when the art is finished. These mockups allow the builder or customer to get a feel for the bike as it takes shape. Seeing this stage, made me want to have more solid and aggressive looking wheels, since this is not an old school theme bike. I went ahead and ordered some custom cut Warlock wheels from Pro One, who also manufactured the front end for this bike. While all this is going on, I'm working on ideas and sketches for the all out attack of artwork that will transform the bike. Several builders have told me a hard truth, something many builders don't like to hear, and that is, you can have the coolest bike in the world, but if your paint job is lousy, then no one will remember it. Often an over-the-top paint job like this one will overpower the uniqueness of a bike, so you want to fit the right paint, with the right bike.

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Stage 3 - Drawings

Now that the mockup is completed, and the base sanding and prep is completed, the bike is ready to get the first of many stages of art. To separate the art from the base coat, a layer of clear is applied, then slightly scuffed with sandpaper to allow proper adhesion of the layers of art. This layer is 10-20 hours of drawing alone, as the 9 murals are starting to take shape. Murals will be on front and back of the front fender, rear fender, both sides of oil tank, as well as four murals on tank tops and sides. I would have to say 90% of artists in the custom bike industry skip this vital stage and they go straight to airbrush paint. As I was told by some of my art teachers in college, your painting is only as good as your drawing, so why not make your drawing as good as you possibly can. The other thing that sets this art apart from much fantasy art on motorcycles is that it is unique to this bike, not a copy of a Frank Frazetta or Boris Vallejo piece, which is quite common

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Stage 4 - Color Art

The drawings complete, I tackle the color art. Much of what sets my artwork apart is that I am not relying strictly on the airbrush as my sole tool, but actually impart a good majority of the 'under painting' as it is called, with hand painted techniques, using a traditional paintbrush. This allows me to create a lot of detail while not wasting time taping out edges, and lets me berearfenderstrapsmav as fast and efficient as possible. Since I wanted the bike to have a fantasy/celtic element, I designed some 'straps' with celtic artwork and small jewels to accent the art. It took about 10 hours just to create this graphic design element. Since my Bachelor of Fine Arts degree is actually in Graphic Design, I know the importance of design, and not just having some random murals placed on the bike in a haphazard arrangement. I sprayed a light brown with the airbrush, then did all the knot work highlights and shadows with my paintbrush. Notice on the front fender, I've used the existing rivets in the paint job, and painted them into the actual scheme, so they don't standout or draw away from the art.

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Stage 5 - Painting Design

Now that the less than exciting part of painting the straps is out of the way, I'm ready to jump into the fun stuff, painting all of the warriors and beautiful women. These images show the first round of under painting by hand with black paint. This establishes the details and shadows needed for deep looking images. It is a very long stage, taking dozens of hours, but patience here pays off in the end. The final image of the Black Knight on the rear fenders, shows the application of smoothing out the hand painted layer with the airbrush.

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Stage 6 - Completed Art

These images show the art all complete, about 80 hours in the painting stages. I blocked in some black to see how it would look, then later Bill and I decided an 'armor' like texture with silver paint would add a nice textural touch to the paint scheme. These images are still not a great indication of the final look, since there is no clear coat applied, and the images have a lot of overhead glare. Clear coat and pin striping will be the last stages before the bike is assembled. Most of the time I show clients this stage so they can approve the artwork, but am a little hesitant because the photos look lousy...lets face it I'm an artist, not a photographer....

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Stage 7 - assembly

Now that the final clear coat has been applied, Matt has been busy working on the final assembly, including the addition of the new Pro One wheels. Some other nice additions were also acquired including a Knight Helmet Horn Cover and Hypercharger that were donated by the great guys at Kuryakyn. Manufacturers such as them, want their products on high quality builds and bikes such as these since they tend to get a lot of attention. We are using the same powerplant that I used in the Fire and Ice bike, which is a 96 inch S&S motor. We ordered it blacked out for the Black Knight. We powder coated the frame for durability and cost, since it is a fairly inexpensive application. As far as bike building goes, to me this is the most exciting of the stages. The bike actually gets its 'personality' in my opinion. Before the metal was added to the bike, we had Rody come and pinstripe a nice purple accent color around all of the murals. This adds a nice traditional and clean look to all the other art.

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Completed Bike

Now it is complete and ready rock and ride! We had Still Motion photography come out and shoot model Shawna Zorka with the bike, and even gave her attire with a nice fantasy flair to accent the bike. These images show the final product with all its detail and flair. The finished product also shows late additions to the build including HotMatch pipes from well known builder Matt Hotch. These pipes add a great element to the attitude of the bike. The finished product is a very ride able and reliable bike. It isn't an 8-10 foot monster chopper often seen today.  Although those choppers look cool, they aren't the easiest to ride to the local watering hole. I call this bike a pro-street kind of look given the non-radical handlebars, but if nothing else, it is a great showcase of the absolute best of my ability, and something I will be proud of for years to come. Often times on the internet, we see images passed around of Hum-Vee's, bikes, and trucks with radical paint jobs. If you see one of these in person, they are less than impressive to the trained eye. This bike on the other hand...looks better the closer you get, which is a hallmark of my work. If you are interested in this or any other work, please visit my site at: www.maverickcustompaint.com


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