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Artists Toolbox: Airbrushing Basics

Fri Sep 13, 2013, 1:22 PM


Today I'd like to take a moment to talk about airbrushing basics.  I feel that it is an art form that is very under represented here on deviantART and perhaps with a little education on it, more people might become interested in airbrushing.  
Airbrushing can be used for various different things, from body art, to painting model cars and planes, to painting sculptures, to painting automotives, T-shirts, canvas, even cake decorating, etc etc, the possibilities with airbrushing are pretty limitless and as such can be a wonderful art form to get familiar with and perhaps even utilize yourself.  Oh, and did I also mention that airbrushing is fun? 
Try it, you'll like it!

Equipment:


Airbrushes come with a few different features which I've outlined below to help make an educated guess on what type would best suit you if this is something you're interested in trying.  

Airbrush by TomSchmitt

:star:Suction feed
Suction feed airbrushes suck the paint up into the airbrush.  These airbrushes are sometimes easier to hold steady since the bottle can aid in gripping your airbrush well for maximum control (two handed grip).  They are also great if you want to lay down the same color to a larger area since you have a larger capacity to hold paint.  Another benefit is that it can be much easier to switch colors by simply removing the paint bottle, running your brush clean and attaching the new bottle.  

:star:Gravity feed
Gravity feed airbrushes allow gravity to help get the paint where it needs to go.  These airbrushes have a small cup on the top or side of them which can be filled with paint.  These airbrushes tend to have a more limited liquid capacity and need to be cleaned thoroughly after each color change and use.  The upside to gravity feed airbrushes is that they tend to be more balanced and as such are often better suited for fine details.  

3d Airbrush black rework 2006 by hoschie


:star:single action
Single action airbrushes are pretty simple, you pull back on the lever and paint comes out in a constant and steady flow until you move the lever back to the off position, or you run out of paint.  These airbrushes are generally cheaper than double action ones so may be the way to go if your budget is tight or you do not plan on doing overly detailed work.  Single action airbrushes, while certainly worthwhile, do not provide the same versatility that dual action ones will.  With single action airbrushes there is no control over the amount of air or paint being drawn through the airbrush while spraying.  You can however still adjust these things while not spraying, or simply change your distance from what you are airbrushing to get a better range.  

:star:double action
Think of this functionality like you would pressure sensitivity in a drawing tablet.  Depending on how far back you pull the lever on these airbrushes, the more or less paint you'll have coming out.  This is great especially if you plan on working with small details often.  Double action airbrushes tend to be more expensive than single action ones, though the added cost is usually worth the money spent.  These airbrushes are more versatile.  While these may take a bit more time to master, they really do give you a much broader range of how you can work with your airbrush.  



Air Compressor
If you are interested in getting into or trying your hand at airbrushing you'll need an air compressor.  
Air compressors can range in price from roughly 50$ - 500$ and up.  This is usually where the bulk of your start up costs will go when you decide that airbrushing is for you.  It is worth noting that while the cheaper air compressors will do what they are meant to do, if you plan on working on larger projects that require you to airbrush for longer periods of time, you will likely want an air compressor with a higher HP/Volume that way you won't need to wait for the compressor to refill in order to continue working.  
Air compressors can also be quite loud and noisy so if that is something you do not desire you can either put the compressor in another room and run a long hose to your working area in order to drown out some of the noise.  Or, you can also buy a compressor that is specially designed to not be so loud.  


Paints
There are various types of paint you can use for airbrushing and when all is said and done, the type of paint best suited to your art or project will depend on what exactly you plan on painting, or painting on.  I won't go into detail on the various paints since it really does depend on what you plan on airbrushing as to which paints are best but I do want to take a moment to talk about pre mixed vs mixing your own paints.

:bulletred:While mixing your own paints is definitely cheaper, it does come with its own challenges.  For example mixing your own paints can give you small clumps you didn't notice which can clog up your needle, or you may make the mixture too runny or too thick and either have paint that is quite runny, or clog up your needle.  

:bulletred:Buying airbrush ready paints will generally give you the consistency and smoothness you are looking for out of your paints and you won't have to worry about getting the right consistency on your own.  You can even mix different colors together to make new ones if needed and still retain the proper consistency and smoothness to prevent sloppy sprays of paint and or clogs in your needle.  

airbrush kit by AchiestDragon


Features:


Checkmate- A Painting by itva
Power of nature by PacodelMar
The Construct by STiX2000
tiger blue by hotabych
dual transparency by moogoorel
dragon on the hood by anestheticolor
Burning Ring of Fire Toilet Seat Lid by hardart-kustoms

Airbrush Groups:


:icontraditionalairbrush::icontheairbrushclub::iconairbrushart::iconairgraffix:













Add a Comment:
 
:iconsublimev:
sublimev Featured By Owner Apr 27, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
omg this is just the information I've been looking for!!
Reply
:iconbronzewinged:
Bronzewinged Featured By Owner Sep 15, 2013  Hobbyist
Well written, simple to understand and just about everything to know in the beginning. 
I've only sniffed a bit with airbrushing so far and I've solved the noisy compressor in an unusual way. My dad got a small airtank that can even be carried or wheeled away. So it's just to fill it up and go. 
I've a dual action suction fed one and I sometimes feel like working with it but never gets the idea to go to the big compressor to fill the tank. Any idea on how to solve this?
Reply
:iconcariannarz:
Cariannarz Featured By Owner Sep 15, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
awesome article :love: I'd love an airbrushing kit. it looks way fun.
Reply
:iconastralseed:
Astralseed Featured By Owner Sep 16, 2013  Professional General Artist
it is a lot of fun!  
Reply
:iconreldia:
Reldia Featured By Owner Sep 15, 2013
Fabulous article! Really well written :heart:
Reply
:iconastralseed:
Astralseed Featured By Owner Sep 16, 2013  Professional General Artist
Thanks hon :)
Reply
:iconartbycher:
ArtByCher Featured By Owner Sep 15, 2013   Traditional Artist
Great article, Katy!!! I would love to try my hand at airbrushing. And your timing could not have been any better. I was just thinking about it yesterday!!
Reply
:iconhairypawter:
HairyPawter Featured By Owner Sep 14, 2013  Student General Artist
Nice article!  Though, if your trying to make airbrushing a full time job, it doent pay high. I know that from my dad.

People call him in New England (we live in california so its far uvu ) for tattos, not for airbrushing. Only locals, friends, ect. call him for airbushing. It's fun, but not that great of a paying job.
Reply
:iconjane-beata:
jane-beata Featured By Owner Sep 14, 2013  Professional Traditional Artist
Simply great article, good job :thumbsup: The moment I put my hand on an airbrushing equipment, I'll re-read carefully :)

And lovely samples as well! :frail:
Reply
:icongypsytrail:
GypsyTrail Featured By Owner Sep 14, 2013  Hobbyist
Interesting read, but I would recommend replacing the nature image in your post. If mature content filtering is enabled by the user they won't see your image and by default, mature content is hidden. You can probably replace the source image and have a better impact.
Reply
:iconastralseed:
Astralseed Featured By Owner Sep 14, 2013  Professional General Artist
Perhaps, but it's a good example of what can be achieved with an airbrush so I'll opt to keep it in the article :)
Reply
:icongypsytrail:
GypsyTrail Featured By Owner Sep 14, 2013  Hobbyist
I'm cool with that, was a suggestion anyway. :D
Reply
:iconastralseed:
Astralseed Featured By Owner Sep 14, 2013  Professional General Artist
:)
Reply
:iconelandria:
Elandria Featured By Owner Sep 14, 2013  Professional General Artist
You're making me feel guilty over my sadly neglected box of airbrushes ^^
Reply
:iconastralseed:
Astralseed Featured By Owner Sep 14, 2013  Professional General Artist
:faint: no more neglect... that's what they are screaming :giggle:
Reply
:iconelandria:
Elandria Featured By Owner Sep 14, 2013  Professional General Artist
:lol: I don't think I have the patience any more.  Lee uses them for doing his warhammer models, but its all the masking and stuff that I get annoyed with doing full on artwork  :XD:
Reply
:iconsavagingdragon:
SavagingDragon Featured By Owner Sep 14, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Many digital-art programs such as Paint Tool SAI, Photoshop, and GIMP come with an Airbrush tool. While not as interesting and fun as the real thing, it is easier to use them, no mess, and as always, the handy undo-button...

And that toilet seat. Just an amazing find, heheh...
Reply
:iconastralseed:
Astralseed Featured By Owner Sep 14, 2013  Professional General Artist
That is true but as you yourself state here "not as interesting and fun as the real thing", I think is a key factor :D
Reply
:icongypsytrail:
GypsyTrail Featured By Owner Sep 14, 2013  Hobbyist
Traditional is a true test of skill, digital is FAR more forgiving to the novice painter.
Reply
:iconginkgografix:
ginkgografix Featured By Owner Sep 13, 2013
Airbrushing is something i would love to give a try. You can do some pretty epic things with it.
But i guess it's not really a cheap hobby, is it?
Reply
:iconastralseed:
Astralseed Featured By Owner Sep 14, 2013  Professional General Artist
Yeah the start up for all the equipment can cost a pretty penny, though you could always buy used to save there.  Airbrushes are generally quite durable and have a great life span if cared for properly.  
Reply
:iconginkgografix:
ginkgografix Featured By Owner Sep 14, 2013
I already have so much painting and crafting stuff, it would be bad to just start another thing :lol:
But yeah, if i ever would give it a try, starting with a used one would be better.
Reply
:iconastralseed:
Astralseed Featured By Owner Sep 16, 2013  Professional General Artist
:nod:
Reply
:iconlittlekirara:
LittleKirara Featured By Owner Sep 13, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
OMG, it is SOOO fucking ironic and awesome that you posted this today, my airbrush kit JUST came in the mail today!
Reply
:iconastralseed:
Astralseed Featured By Owner Sep 14, 2013  Professional General Artist
You lucky duck!  
Reply
:iconlittlekirara:
LittleKirara Featured By Owner Sep 14, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Needless to say I haven't been very successful so far, but I guess practice makes perfect.   
Reply
:iconastralseed:
Astralseed Featured By Owner Sep 16, 2013  Professional General Artist
give it some time, you'll get the hang of it :)
Reply
:iconrayvenseye:
RayvensEye Featured By Owner Sep 13, 2013   General Artist
Awesome examples of airbrushing works :) This is something I still want to learn and appreciate the article :)
Reply
:iconastralseed:
Astralseed Featured By Owner Sep 14, 2013  Professional General Artist
It's a lot of fun, I highly recommend it to anyone :)
Reply
:iconrayvenseye:
RayvensEye Featured By Owner Sep 14, 2013   General Artist
When I can afford to buy one I will :D
Reply
:iconpeter-the-knotter:
Peter-The-Knotter Featured By Owner Sep 13, 2013  Student Artisan Crafter

long live! devillebis,  paasche and  ...er...um... badger...bless the poor wee thing

 

nice simple but authoratitive article..nicely covers all the basics with some like-minded support with groups at the end...Plus a nice variety and multi-complexity of samples to show the airbrushes paces... so: out of 10: 9.... would have given 9.5 (one never gives 10/10 right?..), but a quick comparison of models was absent with no links to samples online.. but I'm slightly picky as you obviously know what you're about.. so holding you to higher standards but only 0.5 tax fer that! ;)...fair enough?

 

Bravo!, Peter.

Reply
:iconastralseed:
Astralseed Featured By Owner Sep 14, 2013  Professional General Artist
I wanted to cover so many things but then felt perhaps I'd be going a bit overboard with information.  Perhaps I will write a follow up to this article at some point :)
Reply
:iconpeter-the-knotter:
Peter-The-Knotter Featured By Owner Sep 14, 2013  Student Artisan Crafter

yeah I know what you mean... have same dilemma with my areas of work...

 

I knew you could write a definitive and pretty much exhaustive article if you wanted to... (that's a very serious compliment from an ex-airbrusher...;)..), but, quite rightly, you created a perfect one! for the "spirit" of the week/theme....

 

btw:  eveningish pst... Mine appears later today so you can chew it up and spit it out...;) (...your turn..hehe!)

 

A follow-up article would be a great idea perhaps with lo-tack-film, liquid rubber frisket, spatter, etc  techniques? + some current brush models...?

 

(I'm not so au fait with them now as my work, (paasche + devillebis mostly...) was done in UK in 1970's+ v, early 80's  ....same period as the yes, grateful dead, etc etc airbrush work.. not to mention all the Harley-D, Norton, and model T drag conversion commissions...  and the odd guitar with a whitesnake logo....in the early eighties...)

Reply
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