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airbrush tutorial

The following lesson is also on video tape How To Airbrush # 1 , 48 minutes long with an added section on Airbrush cleaning and maintenance & taking your airbrush apart and putting it back together . Check it out on the video page HERE

The picture's in this lesson below are still image's taken from my video How to Airbrush # 1 .

What you will need to complete this lesson : A good double action airbrush , either gravity feed or bottom feed, air hose , air source be it a compressor or CO2 tank , pad of news print ( this you can buy at most art or hobby stores get the largest size pad you can ) , one bottle black airbrush color either Golden Airbrush Colors Dr Ph Martins airbrush colors will work the best for this lesson, an easel or something to lean your pad of newsprint against ( you might find these easier to do standing up , an easel is a great help if you have one)


Please use airbrush ready paints while learning, either DR Ph Martins or Golden Airbrush Colors, even food coloring will work for this. You will learn much faster and enjoy it more if you didn't have to hassle with paint that's hard to use. The two mentioned above are the best to use, craft paint, textile paint, hobby paint are all fine to use after you learn the basics. Make life easy on your self in this respect, trust me use the colors I suggest, please.

Relax and have fun with these exercises, by doing these you are training your mind , finger to control this tool called the airbrush . If I can learn to airbrush anyone can.

Hold your airbrush much the same you would a pen but with your index finger on top of the trigger as pictured below. You can drape the air hose over your forearm to keep it out of your way. Airbrush should feel comfortable in your hand don't hold it real tightly, relax. Both your hand and upper body should be relaxed. For now always hold the airbrush perpendicular to your painting surface.


With a double action airbrush pushing down on trigger gives you air, pulling back gives you paint, do both you get both air and paint. While airbrushing always leave the air on trigger fully depressed, air always on.

First thing we will do is airbrush a simple line across the page. Keeping your wrist locked move the airbrush with your hand and whole upper body keeping your wrist locked .Use both hands to steady the airbrush as you move slowly across the paper. AIR ON FIRST AND THAN START MOVING YOUR AIRBRUSH THAN APPLY COLOR.

Refer to diagram below.

1. air on
2. start motion
3. pull back on trigger for paint
4. push forward on trigger to reduce paint flow
5. follow through with air on off edge of paper

I believe its best to learn to leave air on, finger down on trigger all the time even between strokes. Please do not form bad habits now by pushing up and down on the trigger continually while doing these exercises.

You will notice that the size, width of the line you are airbrushing is directly affected by the distance that the tip of your airbrush is from the paper. The closer you are to the paper the smaller and thinner the line will be. The further away from the paper you are the larger the line will be.

Lines: Now airbrush small lines straight across the page about 3 or 4 inches in length. Air on, start moving your airbrush than apply paint as you near the end of the line start forward with trigger shutting the paint flow off and follow through with the air still on. As you go from making one line to the next keep the air on. AIR ON FIRST THAN START MOVING YOUR AIRBRUSH THAN APPLY COLOR.

Do several pages of just these lines tring to keep them as straight as possible all the way across the page.



Now that you have mastered straight lines lets move onto DOTS. Again going across the paper make nice round dots not spats but nice round uniform dots . With airbrush square to the paper ( 1 ) air on ( 2 ) pull back on trigger just a little making a nice round dot ( 3 ) push trigger forward paint off ( 4 ) air still on move to the right a little make your next dot . Keep going all the way across the paper slowly. Do several pages of these until you feel comfortable with rendering nice round dots.



So you have now mastered dots and lines, let's put the dots and lines together. Airbrush nice round dots all over your page, in no order just all over the place. Now connect all the dots with nice straight lines. With the air on all the time, even between lines airbrush a line from one dot to the next dot, stop on that dot before going on to the next dot. Nice straight lines from one dot to the next, do not change the shape of the dots as you go. Again notice how the distance of the tip of your airbrush from your paper affects the line you are airbrushing. Close - small tight line, far away - big fuzzy line.

airbrushing line between dots


Next we will work on shading techniques with the airbrush. We will start on the left side of your paper with the tip of your airbrush several inches back from the surface. Start moving your airbrush straight across the page and lightly apply color as you go. Remember to start moving your airbrush with the air on than gently pull back on trigger to apply color, as you near the opposite edge of the paper start pushing the trigger forward shutting the color off and follow through with air on only. Now with the air still on go back to the left side of the page and start all over again. Your goal is to have nice shading (color) all the way across and down the paper with no signs of starting or stopping. Nice even tone all the way across and down the page.



Now put your airbrush shading skills to work with this circle. First consider which direction your light source will be coming from than apply shading as the light source would indicate it to be. By pointing the tip of your airbrush in towards the center of the object you can contain most of the over spray within the circle. Make sure to follow the shape of the object, in this case the circle. Do not try shading the circle by going straight across the circle but around with the shape of the circle. Going straight across the circle will produce a flat round dot on the page not a nice round looking circle. Imagine it to be a ball and try to bring it to life with your airbrush. Put your shading skills to work on other objects as well, a children's coloring book is the perfect place to test your shading skills.

shading a ball



The dagger stroke is next. You'll find the dagger stroke to be a very useful skill, rendering hair for example or in lettering. The dagger stroke goes from wide to a very thin point. At the widest part of this stroke you want to have your airbrush back away from the surface and as you travel down the paper move your airbrush closer while reducing the amount of color you are applying. This is done with your whole arm and upper body not just your wrist, keep your wrist locked. Dagger strokes should look like the 4 on the right below and not like those on the left.

dagger stroke


The three examples on the left (above) the paint was applied before I started moving the airbrush not what you want to do. Once you get the dagger strokes down from wide to thin try them thin to wide, right to left etc..

dagger strokes


Practicing doing loops is another good exercise for helping you learn to control your airbrush. The goal here is to airbrush loops all the way across the paper keeping them all leaning the same direction and all the same height and width. Once you are comfortable doing that try rendering them fat on the down stroke and thin on the up stroke. So one side of the loop is fat the other is thin.

airbrushing loops


Another good exercise to practice for control are these curls using the dagger stroke again .


Hope you have fun with these exercises and they help you become comfortable using your airbrush . I will add to these as time allows . Any questions just drop me a e-mail . If you found this web page helpful please let me know,. Don Johnson , Airhead Airbrush .Com , Inc.
Copyrights :Airhead Airbrush.Com , Inc. Reserved No part of this tutorial may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, electrostatic, magnetic tape, mechanical or otherwise, without prior permission in writing from Airhead Airbrush. Com , Inc. and or the Contributing Artist
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