So I bought a nice fender usa strat, and it happened to be at a very good price because the previous owner decided to sand off all the paint on the top. The sides and back still have the original purple however. What I want to do is paint on a very nice design, perhaps something intricate, not just a plain color or two. I am ready to sand off the rest of the paint if need be.

My question is, what kind of paint is best for this? Ive seen some people use spray automotive paint, but I would like something I could possibley even apply with a paint brush. Any ideas?

Also, is there a certain order of things I need to do here? Should I just put on whatever paint I need then put gloss over it?

Thanks for any help you can give.
It's mostly up to you what to use, I've seen your standard acrylic paints used and then clear coated, some use enamel (something like a testors model kit), or I believe Hendrix did his V with nail polish.

Have you checked the stickies for painting instructions? You can scuff sand the previous paint job and then go at it with whatever design you choose, or you could repaint it and then when dry, paint your design.

The paint shouldn't take very long to dry, a few days at most, but after you clear coat you'll need to let it cure for several weeks.

edit: beat me to it jim
Well thanks for the replies. I check on that thread, and it has answers to most questions, but my specific handpainting, then coating questions isnt in there (at least not on the index page.)
Do you have any experience painting? Canvas, models, color by numbers etc. ?

I prefer acrylic, but that's just because I've grown used to it - it's possible that you wouldn't need to coat something like an enamel, but the rest of the guitar would be unfinished. I guess I'd recommend trying your hand at the different types of paint first, if you haven't already.