Trucks with patina are certainly rad, but patina trucks with old-school sign work are even better. Most of us can agree that these classic trucks look great with original sign art that was done decades earlier, or at least looks like it was. It really adds to the style and gives trucks tons of character. However, it’s pretty damn difficult to find a patina truck with a straight body and old-school artwork.

The solution is to make your own signage, but this can get tricky. The problem is that if you lay down paint using a traditional technique, it might look too new for the truck’s style, and you’ll need to break the rules to make it look right. Certain brushes and paints can be combined to create the right piece, but there are a few insider tricks that can make your art look legit. It also helps to research designs that will fit the part before you get started creating art specifically for your truck. If you can’t come up with something on your own, you will more than likely find a suitable design on the web.

Since we already had a patina-style truck, we wanted to take it to the next level. Seeing several trucks with shop logos inspired us and got us thinking about what we could do. Though we don’t have an actual shop ourselves, a name was a must. Because this ’62 GMC has a 383-ci Stoker small-block engine, it’s pretty fast even though it might not look like it. Stock-looking trucks with a few upgrades are regarded as restomod trucks. Since our truck is the same thing minus the new paint job, we came up with “Rust-O-Speed Shop” for the name of our fictitious shop.

To get the artwork done for this story, we found an artist who could not only design the logo but also apply it properly. Since we’d done some work with Chad Carothers of Chadcan’tcolor, we knew he was a talented artist who also works on trucks. We hit him up about doing the GMC, and he decided that it was right up his alley and got right to work. 

Although we had help from an artist, our goal was to demonstrate how just about anyone can handle this mod. We suggest using our steps as a basic framework and building off of them to suit your own truck. If this is your first time doing something like this, you should practice quite a bit before applying paint to your actual truck. You can use acetone to remove mistakes, but it might also strip off your truck’s patina. It’s wise to practice and make as few mistakes as possible. If you follow these steps and take the time to get the method down, you should be able to add custom signage to own truck.

Auto Air Colors

Chad can’t color

Coast Airbrush


1 Shot

What we Used

To start, we drafted some sketches of what we wanted. Pictured are some of the main supplies we used: Auto Air Colors and One Shot paints, brushes, a pencil, tape measure and masking tape.

The Prep Work

Using a tape measure, Chad masked off the area of the door where we wanted the art.

In order for the paint to stick to the door, all dirt must be cleaned off. If there’s anything on the surface, it could fall off, taking the artwork with it. The doors were sprayed down with CLR, which will clean them without altering the patina. Then Chad used a microfiber towel to wipe off all of the debris.

Creating the Signage

Next, we taped together some scrap white paper to make a template.

Then the artwork was transferred to the template with a pencil so it could still be tweaked if we wanted to do so.

Once the designs were on paper, they were traced with a felt marker to give us a better visual reference.

Each piece was cut out so it could be traced onto the door. After the pieces were cut out, they were taped to the door with masking tape. We were able to change the arrangement using the cut pieces.

Transferring the Art

The outlines were traced in pencil. You can flip the drawing up and recreate them underneath. Chad traced them with a marker and the ink passed through the paper to mark the door.

You might have to reference the drawings and transfer them freehand using a pencil.

With all of the outlines down and most of the art transferred, Chad went back in with a pencil to fill in any gaps on the lines.

Laying Down the Paint

Next, he thinned out off-white Auto Air Colors paint slightly with reducer so it was a little transparent, and then he filled in the letters with the paint. You could use 1 Shot, but it’s rather thick for this type of job.

Since it was pretty warm out on the day we were working, the paint dried in just a few minutes’ time. To give it a weathered look, Chad scuffed it with a scouring pad. You can use multiple tricks here like sandpaper to get similar results.

There are a few ways of laying down the detail paint. The old-school method is to use specialty brushes to make all of the lines. This will get the job done, but it takes some time to get everything finished because you have to constantly dip the brush in paint throughout the process.


Chad prefers to use refillable paint markers. These can be found at specialty paint or craft stores. Paint and reducer are mixed and then used to fill the custom paint markers. Using these takes skill, but that skill can be developed with practice. Once you know how to use them, they’ll save you hours of work.

After all of the black details were done, we went back in with white. We added a white outline to make the piece stand out even more.

For the other side of the truck, the templates were taped and a photo was used to reference placement. Since the creative part was finished, Chad knocked out the other door pretty quickly.

To lock in the signage, it was coated with a few layers of single-stage flat clear from an aerosol can to match the patina. A piece of cardboard was used to block wind and prevent overspray.

The Final Results

It took the better part of a day to figure out the design and apply the paint to the truck. It wasn’t that difficult, but it took some time and patience to get it right. After all was said and done, the piece adds character to the truck. If you want to do the same, remember to practice before jumping into the actual job.