How To Paint Your Fins

Turn your fins into art with these 5 easy steps

Turn some heads, for better or worse, on your walk to the water.
Turn some heads, for better or worse, on your walk to the water.

Have a bunch of old plastic fins lying around? Buy a board off the rack recently that had a set of these cheapies plugged in? Then you've got yourself some fin canvases. Just because you paint them doesn't mean that they'll work as well as a set of $120 carbon-fiber superfins (then again, maybe they will). But they'll be personalized, and that's almost as good. Freehand some pictures on your fins if you can; I went with an abstract design because it's a whole lot easier. The paint will last for plenty of surf sessions. Here's how to be a fin picasso, in five easy steps.

YOU WILL NEED:

Fins — This tutorial uses plastic fins, but it works with fiberglass too.

Paint pens — I like the DecoColor paint markers. Posca pens work great too.

Masking tape — For taping off your badass abstract design.

Sandpaper — Any grit will work, but fine is better. You're just scoring the fin's surface a little.

Clear lacquer spray — This will protect the paint from seawater. I use Testors Glosscote, but any clear lacquer spray works.

Beer (optional)

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Your tools.

STEP ONE:
Just look at that plastic fin. Sad. Boring. Make sure it’s clean and free of wax, then take your sandpaper and rough up the area you want to work on. This will help the paint stick to the surface.

Step 1: Just score the surface a little.
Step 1: Just score the surface a little.

STEP TWO:
If you're going for an abstract design with straight lines, you'll have a better result if you use masking tape to make a stencil. Tape off all your lines and angles, and paint inside the spaces left by the tape.

Step 2: Use the masking tape to mark off your design.
Step 2: Use the masking tape to mark off your design.

STEP THREE:
Get in there and paint. Contrasting colors, matching colors, whatever your heart desires. Using a color wheel helps. So does that beer. Let the paint dry, then retape as needed to fill the whole fin in with color. In this example, I left straight line gaps between the colors to fill in with black. It also works great if you set those black lines down first, then fill in the colors after. Either way is fine.

Step 3: Take a deep breath and start filling in your color.
Step 3: Take a deep breath and start filling in your color.
Just keep filling in the colors, retaping as necessary once the paint dries.
Just keep filling in the colors, retaping as necessary once the paint dries.

STEP FOUR: 
Peel off all the tape and admire. Open another beer as necessary.

Step Four: The finished product.
Step 4: The finished product.

STEP FIVE:
Once the paint is dry, take the fin outside and spray it with the clear coat. Let the first coat dry, then hit it again. Three coats wouldn't hurt. The more lacquer, the more protection. Don't breathe in the clear coat, for the love of God. Once the lacquer has dried, that fin’s done. Then repeat with the rest of your fin set. Now screw in your fins and go for surf. Or frame 'em, display 'em on a shelf, or sell 'em on Etsy.

Step 5: When you spray the clear coat, do it outside.
Step 5: When you spray the clear coat, do it outside.
Your new fin set. Individual results may vary.
Your new fin set. Individual results may vary.