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Airbrushing Tips and Techniques

Useful Tips and Techniques to Improve Your Airbrushing Skill

Airbrushing is a type of painting done with the help of an airbrush. This article will give you some tips on airbrushing.
Mayuri Kulkarni
Last Updated: Dec 10, 2017
Airbrushing can be used to paint a lot of items like toys, cars, trucks, walls, clothing and much more. It is important to know which paint will be appropriate for a specific surface. Water colors, gouache, acrylics, oil paints, and sign paints are some of the paints usually used for airbrushing.
What is an Airbrush
In simple words, an airbrush is a tool designed to spray color in different patterns that ranges from a thin line to a wide belt, or a thin layer of paint to a thick coat. There are basically two types of airbrushes, namely the internal mix and external mix. In an external mix airbrush, air and paint are mixed outside the body of airbrush, while in internal mix airbrush, air and paint are internally mixed.
These two types are further divided as single and double action airbrushes. Single action airbrushes are those where the airflow can be controlled by the user with the help of a trigger, while in double action airbrushes the user can control both air and paint flow. So, the types of airbrushes can be listed as below:
  • Single Action Internal Airbrush
  • Double Action Internal Airbrush
  • Single Action External Airbrush
  • Double Action External Airbrush
Airbrushing Techniques
Airbrushing is a skill that takes time to develop and improves with practice. If handled properly airbrushing can give realistic effects. Following are the basic steps of airbrushing for beginners:
Get Familiar with the Airbrush
One should be careful while selecting an airbrush. Research thoroughly, consult experts and only then buy the airbrush that will satisfy your needs. Then, after getting the airbrush of your choice, get familiar with its components. Many of the manufacturers provide a diagram that labels all the parts of the airbrush. Understand each part, its functioning, and how each part fits into the whole assembly. For beginners, a single action external mix brush is always a good option.
Air Compressor
This is the most important component that will supply the required amount of air for airbrushing. The type of the compressor depends on the place where you will be doing airbrushing, because compressors can be noisy. For example, if you are living in an apartment, you will need a silent compressor.
Type of paint always depends on the pattern you want to paint and the painting surface. For beginners it is always safe to use water based paints. Choose the paint according to the surface on which you are going to paint.
Before you actually start painting on the surface, practice on some wooden or plastic surface. Distance of the airbrush from the surface and the angle are important factors while spray painting. Cover the walls and floors to avoid overspilling. Use drop cloth or plastic sheets for the same.
Tips on Airbrushing
  • Painting may get spoiled because of an untidy airbrush. So, it is always better to clean the nozzle before airbrushing.
  • It is recommended that you wear eye protection while airbrushing, as the paint may have harmful chemicals.
  • Paints and dyes are harmful and can cause health problems if inhaled. So, use an industrial grade dual filter mask while airbrushing.
  • It is necessary to let the overspray dissipate in the air. Use a ventilator or a spray booth for the same. Spray booths are expensive, as they have filters that draw all the paint vapors.
  • You should know how to dismantle and assemble the airbrush properly.
  • If you are a beginner, start by using water-based paints and later move on to other paints.
  • Wear gloves while cleaning the airbrushes. Many of the solvents are made from chemicals that can cause skin problems.
Airbrushing is fun and there are tutorials that guide you with all basic techniques. One should learn how to handle the airbrush properly, and then it gets easy with practice. It has wide application range and can be used to paint anything. All you need is practice and the skills will develop eventually.
Airbrush in hand
Wall painting
Airbrush pistol