How To Paint Your…Rambler

I must admit I’m new to the whole stainless rambler scene, but for many folks these cups are an absolute must have. I’m no expert, but my understanding is that there are multiple companies who make or distribute these all over the country. I can’t speak for other places but here in Texas- these are all the rage with fishermen, outdoorsy folk, and beverage aficionados.

I’ve had several people ask about my custom painted ramblers so I’m going to give you all the information you need to paint your own rambler.


Step 1) Find a friend or company who can sandblast and base coat your cup with automotive paint. Bigfoot Hydrographics does this for all the cups I paint and they can do yours too, or you can find your own local shop. You CAN do this step on your own, but I don’t recommend it unless you’re very familiar with automotive painting as you’re painting a metal cup AND you want your hard work to stick and last.


Step 2) You’ll need some brushes, paint, and a palette to mix colors on. I use airbrush paint because the consistency is really smooth and I can get opaque and transparent colors. I don’t thin the paints the way I would if I was running them through an airbrush, but use them straight from the bottle. I also use a variety of brushes, mostly in small sizes. I got a nice variety pack from Hobby Lobby along with the Createx airbrush paint. The Aztec paint comes from Michael’s which is handy if it’s a Sunday and you need to pick up some paint. The Aztec is thinner than the Createx, but the Createx seems to have a much wider variety in colors. Both work great and you could use both or just one. I also picked up a pad of palette paper at Hobby Lobby because the amount of paint being mixed is so small that a traditional well palette would be wasteful.

Step 3) At this point, it’s time to decide what to paint. For the cup in the pictures I painted a feather because that’s what the customer requested. I regularly look on Pinterest and Google Image search for ideas and reference photos. Once, you decide what you want on your cup- you need to lay out your design. A layout pencil is super handy because it erases or rubs off the painted surface of the cup without marking.



Step 4) Once I have my placement laid out, I like to use a color I know will blend with the final design to lightly layout everything in paint. This way if the pencil gets rubbed off I still know what I was planning. It also allows me to make any final adjustments. In the case of the feather cup, this lets me outline all the tiny patterns so that later I can just fill them in with color and I’m not trying to think up what pattern I need to put in what section.


Step 5) At this point, it’s time to start filling in and adding color. For this cup I chose neon colors and stuck to 4 distinct colors. In general, it makes for a much better finished product to decide on 3-5 colors and no more. The exception to this, is if you’re painting something in a realistic style such as a landscape, portrait, or wildlife. If you want to go that route I can’t encourage you enough to amass as many reference photos of your subject matter as possible and do as many sketches as you need before you tackle painting on the cup.


Step 6) This is the hardest part…keep going. No, seriously, keep working on it. It will probably take more hours than you ever thought possible to get the design to resemble what you had in your head. It’s okay. Don’t give up. It usually takes me 3-20 hours to finish a cup and I have ALOT of practice. Be patient and compassionate with yourself. But, keep going. Think about everything you do, because you can’t unpaint your cup. If you make a mistake you’ll have to find a way to make it work or paint over it, so paint cautiously and with great deliberation. Even when it leaves you feeling like you wanna quit…


 The last step is to understand that you have to call it “done” at some point. The struggle is real for artists. You have to stop at some point, even though you’ll probably feel like you could do more, make it better, change that one thing, adjust this or that. Stop. Put down the paint and walk away from the cup. Take the cup back to the shop that coated it for you initially and let them clear coat the cup with automotive grade clear coat. Several times.


Thanks for making it this far with me, and please feel free to ask any questions you might have. Painting your rambler is certainly not a project for everyone, but if you’re the type who’s so inclined you’ll find it’s super rewarding and even cooler that you can carry your art around with you! There’s nothing better than art that has a purpose, especially when so many other people will see it. I think this allows the art to make a bigger impact that traditional gallery showing, but that’s just my humble opinion. Don’t forget to check out the other cups I’ve painted in the gallery under “Custom Ramblers”.






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