Your Creative Source
Descriptions of our working processes (and occasional editorials).
The process of airbrushing is simply the process of painting.
The airbrush is only one of the tools available to an artist
to express intent on the ground (canvas, bristol, etc.). The
airbrush artist has to plan an image just as any other artist,
considering such things as composition, light and shadow,
tone and value, transparency, etc.
The preparation before painting is as important as in other
techniques as well, with the addition of foreseeing the
order of masking (to expose only one working area at a
time). The mask material can be nearly anything, with
a transparent material called frisket being the most often
used. This is a thin sheet, similar looking to contact paper.
The main distinction of frisket is its adhesive, which is
formulated to release from the board without leaving
residue or pulling paint from the surface. Possibly the
most difficult procedure to get a handle on if you are a
new user of frisket is cutting through the applied frisket
without letting the blade cut into the surface of the board.
The medium pushed through the airbrush can be nearly
any paint or ink, with the combination of viscosity, airbrush
type and air pressure infinitely variable. The use of acrylic
paint is prevalent, although certain images may dictate
a different medium to achieve specific effects. Care must
be taken to keep any medium from getting into your
lungs. Some pigments and cleaners are particularly
dangerous as they accumulate, so be sure to provide good
ventilation, or use a quality respirator.
The airbrush is one of the few art tools that is "handed."
Some can be used left or right (a centered or repositionable
paint cup) but for most you'll need to choose left handed or
right handed. The least expensive models are usually single-
action, which means "you press the button and it's on; you
release and it's off." The use of single action airbrushes is
unusual in illustration, due to limited control. I do know
a couple of people with an amazing control of this type of
airbrush because that's all they've ever used, but they're
not the norm. A double-action airbrush is more commonly
associated with illustration. Double-action means that
you push the button and the air is on; you pull the button
back and the paint flows - the further back you pull, the
greater the flow. It is this control that allows the smooth
gradations evident in airbrush work. The modern airbrush
has evolved to the point where you can paint to a hairline
width if everything is set up correctly.
Go to the Downloads page, too,
for links to our Tutorials.
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