Volume 10, Number 4, November 2008
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Holiday Vest in Deco-Denim
By Janean Thompson
|Photo 1: Hold the vest flat by pinning through the vest into the edge of foam board.||Photo 2: Frisk Film acts as a mask for the tree shapes we’ll airbrush later.|
Begin by flattening the item to be decorated. It needs to lie as flat as possible so that the image will translate correctly. I usually pin the garment (item) to foam board or card board for easy manipulation. (Photo 1) Once that is done I block the tree shapes completely by cutting the Frisk Film into tree shapes and applying them to the back of the vest. (Photo 2) This keeps the tree shapes clean when the background landscape mountain colors are applied. You could use other frisk materials, but I find that, with care, Frisk Film does very well and doesn’t lift during airbrushing.
Position your torn paper stencil on the vest and over the Frisk Film tree shapes. Apply a light mist of mountain range tone along the torn paper edge. (Photo 3) A gradient application of thick to thin tone will give a better impression of distant mountain tops and foggy valleys between them. The tone will need to be more heavily applied at the top of each mountain shape, and then very lightly applied between the peaks. At the ends of the “mountains,” feather the tone out so that it gives the impression of a vignette. What we want is a snippet of a contemporary mountain scene.
|Photo 3: Torn paper strips create unique “mountain” shapes for the background.||Photo 4: Use the Frisk Film shapes to cut tree shapes from the file folder - creating a positive stencil.|
Allow the mountain impressions to dry, and then remove the Frisk Film tree shapes. Use the frisk shapes as guides to cut windows out of the card file stock. (Photo 4) These masks will protect the mountain background. Use the windows to paint the tree shapes. Once dry, you can decorate the trees if desired by adding snow, glue glitter lines, etc. Snazzy embellishments can be added with faux gems, rhinestones, puff paint details, etc. But, for me, I go back to that admission of simplicity. I will add only a bit of brush finish work: trunks of the trees, decorations on the trees and the snow capped peaks are applied by brush.
The finished vest is lots of fun to wear mainly because it is unlike any other garment you’ll see. (Photo 5) You could coordinate the vest with a scarf done in tree motif along one or both ends of a soft fabric scarf. If you have decided to create a tote instead of a winter scene vest, it is perfect for transporting food and gifts to holiday gatherings. The tote makes a great gift, too.
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Building a successful custom airbrushing business has its own set of dos and don’ts. As with any business, you should have tight controls on your fixed overhead and make serious attempts to stay within spending limits that you set for yourself and employees. Spending limits are based on factors such as need, cash flow and business profitability. You should be marketing your business in a diverse manner that aspires to reach the most people with the least cost. A business plan or mission statement helps you stay on track when things get tough or you must make “this or that” types of choices, when it comes to expenditures or where to focus your energies. These basics apply to almost any type of enterprise.
During the thirty years I have been involved in the custom airbrushing business, I have attempted to exercise every imaginable business model that would apply to a small business. Most were gleaned from standard references such as books and magazine articles. On the surface, these would seem to suffice. That is until you attempt to put into practice what the texts preach. My experience has shown that in addition to standard business controls, special attention needs to be paid to your marketing strategy.
Promoting a custom airbrushing business relies heavily on personal contact. The clientele seems to prefer to connect on some level with the painter. It seems to be a source of pride to the customer when he or she can refer to the painter with some level of familiarity. This scenario plays out well when your clients are relating their experiences with your business to their friends, and they can make antidotal conversation that informs the listener not only if they were pleased with the service, but also more about you and how you related to them. This type of information really helps instill confidence in your perspective customer about doing business with you in the future. Referrals are a first class business stimulus. The more a customer knows about you and the service you offer, the more likely he is to send his friends and associates to you.
The best way to give your prospective clients a chance to know you is to exhibit at any event that is pertinent to the service that you offer. We shake hands and kiss babies at auto, motorcycle and art shows. This simple interaction promotes familiarity and gives you an opportunity to question the person about his needs or desires that relate to your offerings.
The photo display that we use at these shows is prominent and can be seen from a distance. It is designed to draw the viewer toward it as well as allowing dozens of people to view the photos at once. In addition to the photos, we have airbrushed parts on display such as motorcycle tanks and fenders as well as a motorcycle or a car. This way they can see actual painted parts instead of just photos. The display serves to familiarize the potential client with what you do and how it is done. If they understand you and your service, they will have the confidence to spend their money with you.
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Jefferson Hwy. • New Orleans, LA 70121
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For custom painting, Yellow Page ads (in my opinion) are next to worthless. Our business offers automotive-based airbrushing, commercial illustration and airbrush instruction. Our Yellow Page listing was under the “Airbrushing” heading. Even though our services were listed, 99% of all calls that originated from the phone book were for airbrushing on T-shirts or other apparel. That ad cost hundreds of dollars a month and returned nothing. Needless to say, we no longer are running ads in the phone book.
The Internet, on the other hand, is very cost effective, and clients find you by typing in specific search terms that relate directly to the services that you offer. When the phone rings or an e-mail comes in from an Internet-based customer, you can bet that they know what you offer and that makes them a qualified buyer.
A big part of our approach to success is our commercial affiliations. A number of regional motorcycle dealers and custom paint shops refer airbrushing inquiries to us. Cultivating a good relationship with these entities is vital. They are a sales force for you. Always remember to make it worth their while to send you their referrals. Money talks and everything else walks in business, so create a workable percentage that you are willing to compensate the referrer for thinking of you when their client expresses a need for your service.
Last but not least, always remember, if you intend to be around for thirty years, be honest and professional. Customers should always come away from your dealings with a good taste in their mouth. Be sure that they appreciate the value of your work and that they received good value for their money when trading with you. Following these guidelines has served us well since 1976, and they should serve you as well.
Paint long and prosper!—Donn “Too Tall” Shanteau
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This article’s focus involves auto airbrushing, and I want to take some time to say a quick word about this. First and foremost, do not be afraid of airbrushing cars, bikes or anything that concerns auto paint. I was very intimidated by auto paint when I began because it seemed there was such a science and technique that went into painting a car. Well the truth is there is a little, but you only need to concern yourself with the airbrush side of it. Don’t worry about what comes before and after—that is for the body shop to figure out. The bottom line here is auto airbrushing is just airbrushing with the same tricks and techniques, just a different surface. So please do not be afraid. I urge you to just get out there and do it!
That all being said, let’s move on to our 2004 Corvette Convertible. This car has just received a full paint color change and a few special mods, courtesy of Auto Concepts in St. Louis, MO. The basecoat is a metallic red. First we will lay out some flames and then very lightly ghost them in with metallic silver. After all my airbrush work is done, the metallic silver flames will be covered with a transparent red paint called a “candy.” This paint will add a slight deep red tone to the flames and the rest of the paint. So let’s get started on the flames.
Usually an auto or motorcycle flame job is mirrored. This is done by dividing the layout in half and first laying out one side and then matching it. To begin this job you must divide your workspace in half. (FIG. 1)The corvette hood is pretty easy since it has a slight center hump. I put a piece of 1/8-inch blue line tape down the center to mark off. Now to begin laying out the flames you work off the center and down one side.(FIG.2) Flames are a little tricky the first few times you do them, so don’t be discouraged. You can always remove the tape and start again. I lay out the flames paying close attention to the inside of the tape because this will be our edge when they are airbrushed. Keep in mind that there is no definite “right” way to do flames; they vary greatly, so work with what you know to find your personal style or, in some cases, the customer’s personal style.
After the initial layout, the job must now be mirrored. This gives the composition the effect of being equal on either side, starting from the center point out. This is not always necessary, as some people prefer it not to be uniform. But in this case the customer wants it mirrored on the hood and not mirrored on the doors. To copy the flames from one side to another you must lay a sheet of thin masking paper or Kraft paper over the side that has been taped. It helps in this step to use landmarks such as headlights and hood jambs to mark where your flames are according to the rest of the car. Once your paper is placed and taped down, it is time to make an impression of the flames in it.(FIG.3) I do this by using a blue lumber crayon, available at the hardware store and essentially just a large hard crayon. As you rub the crayon along the paper, you will see the image of the flames imprinted on the paper. This will be the guide.
|FIG. 3. Once the layout is finished, begin the mirroring process by laying trace paper over the image and rub with a lumber crayon.||FIG. 4. After the trace paper is finished it is realigned on the hood of the car to make a solid equal design.||FIG. 5. The complete design is ready to be back masked.|
The second step in mirroring the flames involves making a template from the paper. Once you have completed making the impressions in the paper, remove it from the car and place it on a large sheet of cardboard. Now use a razor blade to cut out around the flame designs. Once you have finished, flip the whole design over and place it on the hood of the car. Line it up using the landmarks I stated earlier and stay aware of the center line and how it relates to the designs being equal. (FIG. 4) Now use this guide to trace a very thin dotted chalk line to work around. This chalk line will be a guide for the tape on the opposite side of the hood. Once that is done, repeat the steps in taping the rest of the hood just like we have already done. (FIG. 5)
|The professional Iwata Airbrush line is imported and manufactured exclusively by Medea Airbrush Products, along with commercial spray guns, Medea Textile Colours and Com-Art Airbrush Colours.|
Here comes the trickiest part of the job. A transfer paper (white translucent paper with a sticky back side) is applied over the entire job. Use a vinyl squeegee or a roller to smooth out the paper and get out the bubbles around the flames. If the paper gets creased or wrinkled, don’t fret. We are only trying to mask off the outside of the flames, so just make sure any wrinkles are sealed off so your paint doesn’t find its way through. To cut the masking tape, use a brand new razor blade to slowly follow the tape lines, making sure to stay on the blue tape. The blade can easily slice right through the base coat and scathe the car. Use only new blades and don’t put any pressure on the blade. The tape cuts very easily, and no pressure other than the weight of the blade is needed. After you cut around all of the design, pull out the inside parts of the flames and try to button up any gaps between the blue tape and the masking paper. (FIG. 6) Now it’s time to have some fun with the airbrush.
|FIG. 6. Once masked we are ready to create the ghost flame effect.||FIG. 7. The finished design will now get the “candy” applied to darken the flames in red and then clear coat will seal the job.||FIG. 8. For this corvette it is off to the clear coat booth and then to the detailer to get the show quality shine.|
For this job I use my ever-dependable workhorse, the Iwata HP-C. I personally believe this is the best airbrush on the market for auto airbrushing because of its gravity feed cup and ease of use. With the addition of the triple action handle, it is infinitely easy to break down and clean or spray out a clog. When airbrushing ghost flames you need to have a very light hand. I turn the pressure down a little to start and just lightly fill in around the tips and body of the flames. This adds to the effect of the flames coming from nowhere and getting darker at the hottest points. (FIG. 7) Stay cautious of where your hands and equipment are so that you don’t run into the job and smear it. Also, it is important to thin the paint to the right consistency so it dries fast and doesn’t run. The local paint store or the body shop can help you with the mixture of your paint and chemicals to make sure they are all compatible with the base coats and clear coats the body shop is applying.
When all the spraying is finished, carefully remove the tape. Touch up any mistakes with your initial base coat colors. The details make all the difference in a large expensive job like this, so be patient in fixing your mishaps. For this corvette it is off to the clear coat booth and then to the detailer to get the show quality shine. (FIG. 8)
As long as you are patient and willing to make some mistakes, auto airbrushing is simple. For me the only tough part about auto airbrushing is that you start to wish you could drive everything you paint!
|Medea Com-Art Colours|
|All airbrush colours are not the same. Com-Art is considered to be one of the finest and most versatile professional airbrush colours in the world. Because of a common hydro-carbon base binder, Com-Art transparent and opaque colours can be used together without bleeding between colours. This non-toxic, ready to use paint is specifically formulated for use with an airbrush and never needs to be filtered or strained. Com-Art colours are heavily pigmented and light fast, allowing for accurate 4 colour separations. They provide superior atomization, smooth spraying, and they dry instantly.|
Artool Products Co., Inc., Portland, Oregon, has announced the release and availability of the new Artool HOTHEADZ Freehand Airbrush Templates designed by Mike Lavallee. Hold onto your hats because it’s gettin’ hot ‘n scary in here! For a few years the world of kustom painting hasn’t been the same since the creation of Mike’s True Fire® airbrushing techniques. Now Mike turns up the heat a few notches with his outrageous skull offerings, which are sure to win over the hearts ‘n souls of kustom auto painters everywhere. They’ll save you a ton of time in creating something completely wicked for your rod or chopper. There are two sets of HOTHEADZ to choose from, which contain 4 sizes in SM through XLG: SMOKIN’ JOES (FH HH 1) and HELL RIDERS (FH HH 2).
Artool Products Co. also announced the release and availability of the new Artool BONEHEADZ Freehand Airbrush Templates designed by Mike Lavallee. Fasten your seat belts, raising the dead just got horrific! There are two sets of BONEHEADZ to choose from, which contain 4 sizes in SM through XLG: CRANIUM (FH BH 1), SCREAMERS (FH BH 2) and EIGHT8DEAD (FH BH 3). These realistic skulls highlight a myriad of angles, sizes and looks for any skullicious project you can conjure up!
“My Artool HOTHEADZ and BONEHEADZ Templates make my skull ‘n fire airbrushing a Killer Painting® breeze!” —Mike Lavallee
The new Artool HOTHEADZ and BONEHEADZ Freehand Airbrush Templates are now available at your favorite Iwata-Medea-Artool supplier. For a complete listing of the Iwata-Medea-Artool catalog on the Web, go to www.ArtoolProducts.com; E-mail: email@example.com.
For HOLIDAY GIFTS/STOCKING STUFFERS, visit www.cagsol.com for airbrushes, compressors, accessories, templates, videos, books and more from Iwata-Medea. The Speedshop Shirts make a great gift for an airbrush enthusiast. Choose from the Bowling Shirt by Craig Fraser and Steve Vandemon, Hawaiian Shirt by Dennis Mathewson, Classic Iwata-Medea and Artool Staff T-Shirt and Long-Sleeve Tribal T-Shirt and Iwata-Artool Shop Shirt, both designed by Fraser and Vandemon.
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Don’t miss this opportunity to learn basic airbrush techniques with instructor Robert Paschal! Learn a new skill that will increase your income potential. Knowing basic airbrush technique will allow you to apply the technique to painting or enhancing decorative murals, nails/makeup, cakes and pastries, automotive/motorcycle design, temporary tattoos, artwork, crafts, and much more. The use of all equipment/supplies is included, and seats are limited.
Basic Airbrush Techniques
6-Hour Hands-On Workshop
with Robert Paschal
Beacon, NY – Saturday, February 21, 2009
Approx. 65 miles north of N.Y.C. – On the Metro North Line
Consider giving a gift of learning!
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|ARTtalk is a monthly eight-page newsletter available FREE-OF-CHARGE from Participating Art Material Retailers in the U.S., Canada and Bermuda. Each month you'll find informative articles that deal with a variety of subjects such as painting, printmaking, sculpture, ceramics, arts and crafts, and more. These explain various techniques—how to work and paint with watercolor, oils, or acrylics; use pastels or pen and ink, airbrush, and more. You'll find information on art history, current events and art world news, as well as an occasional "Kids' Korner." Subjects vary and change each month.|