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Easy Easter Egg Decoration

By Janean Thompson
(Click on any photo for a larger view!)

Easter is a great opportunity to flex some of your creative muscle and design some extraordinary Easter eggs and treats for the youngsters, and it even lets the young artists participate.

You may use real boiled eggs to make some original color applications or perhaps you might want to use artificial eggs so that you can keep them from year to year.  Either way, using your airbrush to apply color and design is entertaining.  You will need an airbrush (single action or double action—your choice—I will use my Iwata Revolution HP-CR 4500); an air source (I always rely on my quiet and reliable Smart Jet compressor); food coloring to use as “paint” or acrylic airbrush paints if you are creating permanent decorations; stickers; wax crayons (colors and white); and newspaper to catch overspray.

 If you are using boiled eggs, cool them to room temperature before beginning.  Be sure they are dry.  (Photo 1)  Use the food coloring straight from the dropper or bottle to get the richest tones, or thin with water and apply very lightly for pastel colors.  Over-spraying is a great way to get mixed colors quickly.  (Photo 2)  Dynamic colors are created by over-spraying one area with a lighter and brighter color.


Photo 1:  Real eggs, ready for decorating.

Photo 2:  Over-spraying of colors gives rich tones.

If you are using plastic or wooden artificial eggs, it is a good idea to lightly sand the surface so that the acrylic paints will adhere.  Airbrush a base coat first and then cover with some rich, juicy colors.  For impact and interest, use stickers on the egg shape before you airbrush the base coat or brights.  When you peel off the stickers, the original color of the egg will show as a design on the surface.  (Photo 3) Crayons (colors and white) can be used to draw designs on the surface of either real or artificial eggs and will prevent the food color or acrylics from toning those areas.   This is a quick and easy way to get lines, spirals, star shapes and more on the eggs.  You or young "helpers" are the designers and can create whatever shapes in crayon you want.  Then tone over the wax designs for real interest and appeal.    (Photo 4)


Photo 3:  Stickers can be used as resist to add color and interest.

Photo 4:  Wax resist with crayons gives artists a chance to create one-of-a-kind eggs.

To engage really small artists, there is a cool look achieved by using watercolor markers on eggs – any lines, designs, squiggles, circles…anything at all.  Then, with the lightest application of plain water, spritz the egg.  The watery tones wash together wherever the mist combines with the color.  Where the mist does not sprinkle on color, the lines stay visible. (Photo 5)  This can create some elegant, soft tone colors and lets everyone enjoy the process.


Photo 5:  Watercolor pens and a spritz of water combine to equal total fun.

If you would rather not do actual eggs or artificial eggs, you can create cool wall décor by airbrushing egg shapes cut from poster board.  They can be attached with poster Tack-it to the wall, are easily removed and can be used year after year.   To make the shapes, draw an egg shaped “pattern” and use it to cut shapes from poster board.  The flat shapes are easy to design and airbrush in whatever colors you like.  Again, crayons can be used to “resist” the airbrush colors and make it easy to do lines, curves, or circles…any shape you prefer.  Where the crayon marks are made, the airbrush colors will not cover.  This is a great opportunity for the graphic designer in you to shine.   

Poster board shapes make great décor for family rooms, bedrooms, kitchens, classrooms and more.  You’ll have fun making them in different sizes and colors, some hung from ribbons in entry windows or hanging from the rear-view mirror in the car (if legally allowed in your state).   They let you enjoy the season no matter where you are.

For super fancy egg designs, use silk flower blooms and leaves, decoupage fancy/painted papers on the surface, etc.—you can do so much with a colored egg shape. So get creative!  There’s plenty of time for you to make original and unique decor for Easter—and it’s quick and easy with the airbrush.


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Dracula’s Coin

By Wes Hawkins
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Hello everyone!  In this issue of AirbrushTalk, I’d like to continue my series of models based upon Bram Stoker’s Dracula.  Instead of a bust or figure this time around, I’ll be painting a coin that I recently commissioned a sculptor friend to create.

I chose to forgo my usual detail brush, the Custom Micron C+ , and instead use my general purpose workhorse, the Iwata HP-CS airbrush.

Here you can see the coins primed and ready to go.  I’m painting three different colors and I wanted you to see the back of the coin as well.  The coin is the size of a fifty-cent piece, so you can have an idea of the small details that the coin has, and this will also emphasize the capabilities of the HP-CS.  Now, on with the project.

I chose to use the best metal finish paint I’ve managed to find, Alclad II.  This paint is somewhat peculiar as it first requires a base coat of gloss back, which I’ve sprayed on the coins as seen in the pic.  The directions indicate to spray with a higher pressure than I normally use, but I decided to use my regular pressure of 2-5 PSI.  I use a lower pressure for two reasons:  one, to lower the amount of overspray and two, to allow me to slowly build up color and to spray a lighter coat.

The lower pressure didn’t cause any problems and I sprayed my first coats lightly.  It is sometimes hard to see the Alclad on the gloss black because the metal finish is so bright.  My trick here is to use the overhead light to see the spray leave the airbrush and focus on that and not so much the item I’m painting.  This sounds reckless, I know, but before long you’ll get used to knowing where the paint is hitting on your subject and how much is spraying.  The Iwata brushes make this easy. I don’t think I could use the same trick using any other airbrush.  Give it a try and see how it goes.

So, here we are. Three coins sprayed with Alclad copper, chrome silver and pale gold.  All in all I think the project turned out pretty nicely.  The Iwata line of brushes offers virtually endless possibilities for your project, and I’m considering going back with the Custom Micron C+ and hitting the details on the coin with differing shades of the same colors in order to age them and give the details more depth.  The Micron will make this easy, as it can spray with the absolute minimum pressure.

Give the Micron and the HP-C a try and see what you can accomplish!

If you’re a Dracula fan and are interested in purchasing some of Dracula’s coins, please email me here. Thanks for reading!


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Against the Grain
Illustration Effects Part 2

By Thomas Adams
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Once again it is time to go back to the drawing board. Literally!  This time around we will be creating another astonishing illusion, wood grain. The wood grain effect has been an airbrush custom for years. This special effect, if done right, can make you a ton of money and earn you the respect of many airbrushers. The effect is very simple in nature and technique but takes a good artistic eye to pull off. Let’s try it out and see what we can do.

This illusion is built in several layers. The first, and perhaps most important to realism, is the background. There are many ways to lay the background for wood grain, but when doing this effect on canvas or paper, I prefer using a brush. Start by choosing two to three colors, usually a brown, yellow and an intermediate.


Fig. 1:  Using a brush for the background will give great depth and texture to your wood grain.


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This palette will make a good illusion of pine wood. Cedar and walnut call for a more reddish and umber color.  Start by putting these colors on the paper separately, and then mix them as you brush back and forth. This will give a slight striping effect that will further the detail in the piece.


Fig. 2:  A nice background will be key to achieving a great effect.

Once the background is done and dry, it is time to begin the fun stuff. The thing I like most about wood grain is that it involves a lot of free handing to achieve this effect. I use a light transparent brown in my Iwata HP-C. The HP-C is great for this technique because with the needle cap removed and the air pressure reduced to around 30 psi, it emits a very fine soft line.  These lines will become the growth rings of our tree. On a side note, these growth rings are circular when viewing a stump from above, but when a piece of wood is ripped in a sawmill (like a 2X4), the contours appear like pointed ovals. This is why it is great to have an example of the grain you are trying to achieve while airbrushing.


Start by fluently spraying a fine line in this pattern. Remember that the growth rings have a lot of squiggle and character to them, but they contour around each other like little sound waves.


Fig. 3:  You can see the grain starting to take shape here.

As you progress you will find the occasional need for a knothole. This presents a small challenge. When doing a knothole (which I will explain later), the contours must follow around the knot and also contour to the other lines of grain around it. Once the first layer of lines is done, it is time to add depth to the grain. The depth effect is achieved by backing the airbrush up from the paper a bit and shooting a lighter, foggier line over the top of your existing ones. Try to stick just a little to the inside of the lines as you do this to give the effect of uniformity.


Fig. 4:  Once the initial lines are down, going over them lightly will build depth.

After the layering has been done, you may want to go back over some lines again and again to build them up. Now a fine detailing of this piece is in order. In the next figure, I have put a strip of tape from top to bottom on the page. I have done this only to accentuate how realistic the effect looks when finished. But, while finishing, we hit a knothole of sorts.


Fig. 5:  Dividing the piece will let us know just how realistic it turns out.

It’s time to unravel this mystery. Knotholes are kind of a free spray area. By this I mean they have no right or wrong shape to them. So an easy way to make knotholes appear true is to randomly build sprays of paint on them. Also by surrounding the knot with a light spray you add to the realism we are trying to achieve. Once again I am using the Iwata HP-C to do this, as it is perfect for these heavy areas, but there is no need to switch brushes when you need to get precise.


Fig. 6:  Knotholes add the ultimate effect to our wood plank.

Once that is done and you have continued the effect all the way up to the tape, it is time to unwrap this thing and see how close to the mark we hit. Wow! Now that’s not real, but it looks as close as you can get.


Fig. 7:  It’s all good in the wood!

The finished product is amazing! But what can you do with a great piece of practice work?  Well if you have another 10 minutes you can easily turn it into something that looks like a surreal masterpiece, all with the airbrush. This one is going on the fridge. Well, until next time, keep on paintin’.


Fig. 8:  Let your imagination take you wherever it wants.


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Designed for the person who has never before used an airbrush or for those who have used one without success, this time-proven class in basic airbrush techniques has been taught throughout the U.S.   Students will learn how to handle and hook up an airbrush, air sources to use, compatible materials, suitable work surfaces and their preparation and the simple maintenance procedures that are required.  A high-quality Iwata airbrush will be used by students as they render a series of pre-printed exercises, while learning the fundamentals of airbrush technique.  This workshop mirrors the publication Basic Airbrush Techniques Course, a new book by Robert Paschal.

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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.