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Holding an airbrush  leftBeginners lesson Cubic tree

This beginners lesson will give you a fairly good idea what you need to create an airbrush, this lesson is not intended to create a masterpiece right away, but during this lesson you'll get familiar with your airbrush. Also you'll get acquainted with some of the materials you need for your first airbrush. During this lesson we are going to exercise the masking technique. Have a lot of patience and start over often, you'll get the hang of it.

Airbrush - Astek

Holding an airbrush  right  
  Cubic tree complte Read this lesson from start to bottom, make sure your work space is clean and tidy.

First of all, and this is very important! don't ever touch the surface you are spraying on with your fingers, finger prints will become visible when you are going to spray that area.

Have fun with this lesson, and please send me an e-mail if you are using this lesson, if there are enough reactions I'll ad some more on-line lessons.

Renata van Andel (Tinkerbelle)

3 sheets A4 paper 160 gr
masking tape
knife (scalpel)
cutting mat
airbrush paint
paper towels
airbrush and compressor
  Practicing The Airbrush Techniques
Hold the airbrush in your hand just like a pen, your thumb and middle finger are for support, the index finger controls the trigger, try how the double action trigger works, to release air push (and keep) the trigger down, then gently pull the trigger back, this action releases the paint. It is important to keep the trigger down until you cut of the paint release by moving the trigger back to the starting point, if you stop the airflow before the paint the nozzle will be clogged up with paint and also when you start again the airbrush will spit out the left behind paint.

Remember this sequence of airbrush handling:
1 air on (trigger down and keep it down upto nr 6 )
2 start moving (keep the airbrush in motion over the artwork)
3 paint on (pull the trigger backwards, keep moving)
4 paint off (push the trigger forward, still keep moving)
5 move away (move airbrush away from the artwork)
6 air off (trigger up)

Time to fill the airbrush with some paint, try to spray some straight lines on a piece of paper, experiment with angles and distances. Try to create some blending straight lines as well, for this hold the airbrush at an 45 degree angle, the closest part to the nozzle will get more paint and therefore will be darker.

For this lesson we don't need lines :-) so practice again, but now find the correct distance to create larger equally colored areas, also try to get some blendings (gradient fills) into the areas as well.

For this exercise you can cut a cardboard mask as shown on the right, start and stop spraying outside the mask. Don't give up, the above takes hours and hours of training, you'll get it eventually.

Practice the above on a daily base, create loads of straight and curved lines, blending lines and filled areas, variating movement speed, distances and angles. This is the only proper way to get that instinctive feel you need handling an airbrush.

Cubic tree
This Cubic Tree has only two colors, blue and black, this keeps the cleaning of the airbrush between colors reserved to a minimum and you can focus on the actual art work.

The left column below show a step by step of things you need to do, the middle column contains supplemental info, the columns on the right can have tips or other handy stuff..

Use your other hand to support the hand with the airbrush, vary movements from pivoting the writs or even rocking your entire body while holding the airbrush stationary.


Attention Click on the image below to download the Cubic Tree drawing.

Zip file


  Cubic tree 1 one You can draw the tree your self, or much easier download and print it out, if you draw it make sure the parts are numbered correctly from 1 to 7

Use a very sharp knive and a ruler to cut out the pieces.

Use small pieces of masking tape to keep all of parts together.

Place the just created mask onto a new A4 paper, tape the left side down.
attention  While cutting the masks make sure that your knive handle points in the same direction as the line you are cutting, rotate your work if needed. Cutting a circle can be done -with a little practice- by hand or you can use a good compass cutter. tip Use masking tape of a good quality, always test your tape first, if it is too strong you could ruin your work.  
  Cubic tree 2 two Remove part 4 and start airbrushing from left to right, start at the bottom and slowly work your way up, repeat this until you have a few layers of paint.

Now remove part 5 also, repeat what you did before, but now fill areas 4 and 5 together

Remove part 3 also and start painting as before, paint areas 4-5-3 also together.
info By removing parts between paint sessions you automatically create several tinted shades

sun The sun symbol shows where the light is coming from.
tip You can place some heavier objects on the mask to prevent is from blowing up to much.  
  Cubic tree 3 three Replace parts 3-4-5 seamless, make sure that the seams are closed.

Remove part 2 here we need a blended line for the tree trunk, spray from the left to get an gradient flow to the right, replace part 2.

Remove part 1, spray 3/4 of the circle, also with a blended flow to the right, replace part 1.

Remove 6 paint this area solid in a lighter tint than area 4, replace part 6.
attention To create the illusion of round object like a sphere or tube, keep a small line of light at the shaded side of the object. tip Use some masking tape to keep the seames together.  
  Cubic tree 4 fourRemove part 7 and use a few pieces of masking tape to replace part 1 for this fold the tape so the glue is on the outsides.

Now take a paper towel to create clouds, tear a strip of the towel, make sure the tear is irregular, use the lager piece as mask, just spray blended along the just created tear then slide the mask to a lower position and spray again, practice first on a test sheet.

Cubic tree detail Tip:  If you use a metal plate or a magnet bulletin board as work space you can use tiny "fridge" magnets to secure your masks .
  Cubic tree shade five Replace part 7 and remove part 6, mask the artwork with two paper sheets as shown on the left, use only tape on the outside to keep the mask a little free to avoid harsh lines, Note that for the first spray session the paper on the right should be aligned with the lower corner of the cube.

Clean the airbrush and fill it with water diluted black. Rotate the artwork 180 degrees so you can spray blended along the bottom of the cube, replace the right mask so it lines up with the back right corner, note the arrow, this area will now be open, cover this area with a piece of paper, now spray a blended shade along the now exposed area.

Replace 6 now use the above described actions to create the shade at the bottom of the tree trunk, so start moving the mask to the bottom corners of the tree trunk, you know the rest ;-)

note For shaded areas we use strongly diluted black paint, use plenty of water and test the dilution on a test sheet before you use it.    
  Cubic tree final six Now its time to remove all the masks from your artwork, probably you have made some errors here and there, doesn't matter, you now have a fairly good idea how things work, just start over, to create the examples here I needed too, three times even.

On the right you'll see some inspirational examples for you next attempt.

Cubic tree redCubic tree red and green  
  © Copyright Renata van Andel - Special Paint Studio Tinkerbelle - www.airbrushbook -  
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