Basically, an airbrush works by passing a stream of air through a venturi – a venturi creates suction allowing paint to be withdrawn from a reservoir. The reservoir is either a well at the top of the airbrush or a jar below the airbrush. The paint is mixed with the air and is then blown through the airbrush nozzle, which atomizes it into droplets (along the lines of the old perfume atomizers). The artist controls the amount of paint using a trigger controlling the nozzle – allowing more or less paint to be passed through the very fine tapered needle of the airbrush. The degree of control is what allows the artist to achieve smooth blending effects and this is where the practice is required. Mastering airbrushing requires being intimately familiar with triggering – the back-and-forth movement of the ‘button’ on the airbrush. The airbrush I have is a dual-action brush, meaning that you need to move the button 3 times per stroke – down, back, and release.
How To Airbrush for the Complete Beginner
To achieve competency in airbrushing, a LOT of practice is needed. This means practising spraying dots, lines, comas, and gradations as well as becoming familiar with adjusting the air source which will allow the user to achieve a variety of effects. Try practising on different surfaces as well – they receive paint differently: fabric, plastic, gypsum statuary, wood and paper to name a few.
Start by holding the airbrush like a pen or pencil. Then press the button all the way down to release air; pull back on the button (while depressed) to release paint, and then release the button. It’s that simple. Start by practising dots – pressing down for air, pulling back for paint, and then releasing the button to shut off both air and paint. Listen to the spray-on/off. The closer you are to your work, the smaller the dot; and the further back you pull the trigger, the more paint comes out.
Airbrush Basics: Picking an Airbrush, Compressors, & Cleaning
Practice spraying until you have the command of spraying small dots and then large dots.
Once you are settled into your airbrushing groove, you can work on: varying thicknesses of lines, dagger strokes, comas, and gradations.
How to Airbrush for Beginners