Volume 13, Number 5, January 2012

Published six times a year by The Paschal Group, Inc.
Publisher: Robert Paschal
Editor: Jeanne Paschal
Also see — The Newsletter for Visual Artists

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Take to the Skies

Using the Airbrush to Accent Your Illustrations

By Thomas Adams
(Click on any photo for a larger view!)

It’s a New Year and everyone has resolutions.  One of mine this year was to finish the numerous unfinished paintings I have sitting around the shop. Upon further inspection of several of them I found that most of them, while looking complete, lacked some airbrushing that could be done quickly and easily. One in particular was a journey that we took together — the old B17 painting with a certain pinup on it.

When we last left this painting it was just a green fuselage adorned with a beautiful pinup girl.  Since then I logged many hours here and there hand painting the rest of the plane’s fuselage and the sky around it.  So now that it is in this state it is ready to be tuned up with the airbrush. There is quite a bit that can be added to this painting, so let’s get started.

 Fig. 1 The proud B17 is back on the easel for some finishing touches.

Through this article you may want to keep referring to Fig. 1 and noticing the changes, especially the final product.

The first area I want to address is the top turret, which has been bothering me since I painted it, and I think it needs a tint like the rest of the windows. The best way to do this on a semi-complete illustration is with frisket film. Frisket film is a clear film that has a slight adhesive backing. This film will act as a mask; it will cover the painted areas and give us a chance to address a certain aspect of the painting. Frisket is available from your local art supply retailer; see

The first key to using frisket effectively is cutting it. Once applied to your painting it is easy to cut along existing edges and lines because of the frisket’s translucent property.

Fig. 2 As you can see, the frisket is applied and conform cut to isolate the turret.

Once the turret area has been isolated, it is time to do some more masking.  TIP: never underestimate an airbrush; atomized paint can travel very far away from the area that you are working on, so take extra care in masking your painting. Once the turret has been tinted with a little black, it is time to frame in the surrounding areas and add some realism to this illustration. To achieve this I will use my Artool freehand stencils.

Fig. 3 Work to make the painting look whole by bringing some things forward and moving some back. (Don’t worry, you can touch up later.)

Now on to the propeller.  I am using an Iwata HP-C with the cap off to keep a very tight spray pattern. This airbrush will also allow me to do some larger work, which we will see later.  For now we will address the center of the prop. I am going to add some light to it with a little white paint reduced with a bit of water to make it a bit more transparent. TIP:  Stay mindful of where your light source is when airbrushing highlights and lowlights; mixing this up can give you a result that looks blatantly fake.


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Since the center is round, we will put a round dot on it and a light line to contour the shape.

Fig. 4 Thin out your paint and build up the reflection slowly.

Also, while we are on this area, let’s pick up some light and drop it on the propeller blades.  Time to go back to the Artool freehand stencil. This stencil set is a must-have for any airbrusher because it saves so much time. There is no need to mask and frisket everything when you have one of these handy freehand stencils.  For the larger props, I just use a wide light line to give them a “shape.” Since the lower prop is in a different position, you must show the twist in it.

 Fig. 5 Throw a spin in that prop.

Next we will start to kick in the clouds.  Now there is an entire lesson behind the clouds; if you would like to read more, please refer to the AirbrushTalk Archives and find my article on clouds. For a quick lesson, though, the clouds are made up of very light wispy strokes of white, followed by some light to medium bursts in random places. I use the HP-C once again and about 40 psi of air. Never use a template on the clouds, as they need to come out light and blurry.

Fig. 6 I put clouds all over the illustration and ran some over the body of the plane to make it feel like it is in flight.

After a few other easy highlights and general touch-ups, the B17 is ready for the wall. Remember to look at the illustration as a whole. It is good to do a little work and then stand back and take it in. Make sure that your light reflections point in the same direction and your shadows are cast the opposite way.  And after all the fine tuning is done, make sure that the whole tone of the picture is correct. You may have to add and subtract a few elements before you are happy, but don’t give up. Until next time—Keep on Paintin’!

Fig. 6 Take your time; this painting was long and frustrating.


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Journey from Dark to Light

By Shen—Jazz, Celebrity and Portrait Painter
(Click on any photo for a larger view!)

Wash that Painting!

In this issue I would like to discuss in greater depth the gentle effect that washes can lend to a painting.  As you can see from my rendition of Elton John, it is a very vibrant and colorful piece with a great deal of texture.  This painting wasn't entirely planned.  It was, as many of my paintings are, an evolution of its own.  In this article, I outline the steps used to create this painting.

First, I found an outstanding photo reference which I then turned to black and white and bumped up the contrast and sharpness a great deal on my computer.  I just used Preview... but when I sometimes need a little help, my hubby is the Photoshop King! 

I then used my projector to project it onto Ampersand Gessobord (, which has become my favorite surface to paint on by far!  The painting is only 11x14 inches, so I used the projector facing down and created my drawing flat on the table. 

I then used gesso to create texture with thick brushstrokes in the background, where nothing else was happening visually.  Using acrylic inks, I washed magenta and violet and a little yellow over the background, being careful not to go over the face.  I did let a little seep into his right shoulder so there would be an organic quality to his shirt.  I let this layer dry overnight.


Note on Washes:  A wash is simply a pigment with a binder in which a medium is used to thin it out to a very thin, almost watery consistency.  With acrylics, I use water as my medium.  A large flat brush is generally used to lay the wash across the surface.  The wash can then dry flat or the surface can be tilted to cause the paint to drip down.  The variety of effects that you can achieve using this technique can be amazing!

After the wash has dried, I used brush with gouache and watercolor to loosely paint the colors into the portrait.

Now for the airbrush...Using my favorite Iwata HP-C (, the inside and outside areas of his glasses are glazed over using my Artool shields, of course, with ComArt Smoke ( to make the glasses pop out and the face in those areas recede.  The same is true around the outside of his head and in the areas of shadow.

The magic of Com Art Smoke is that it lends a gentle sepia color to the chosen area and at the same time darkens ever so gently when used with a light touch.  I really enjoy using this color because it doesn't take away from the hues I originally used in my underpainting.

Finally, I used some opaque white gouache in the glasses and in a few areas for highlights.

Some examples of other paintings that have been done with this technique are pictured here.


Looking forward to hearing about your journeys with the airbrush and other media in the New Year!  May yours be filled with blessings of all kinds, especially wonderful artistic discoveries!  Please contact me at with your questions and/or comments or to view more of my work.



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Why Not a What-Not!

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

Bargain shopping is a great deal of fun and I find neat treasures at resale shops all around our town. Usual purchases include small items like glassware or kitchen things, but recently I stumbled across a neat little shelf that needed some TLC. I bought it with the purpose in mind to refinish and revitalize it.

The shelf is rather unusual in that it is not glued together but the pieces snugly interlock to form a neat geometric. The shelf caught my eye because it was so different and the right scale for displaying some small items. (Photo 1) The lack of glue makes the project easier because the pieces can simply be unfastened and resurfaced.


Photo 1: Unimpressive green, resale shop simple shelf.


As for color/texture/adornment, I think the clean lines of this what-not shelf should be maintained. Color selection is unlimited…but I hesitate to “Fu-Fu” it too much and ruin its versatility and simplicity. That doesn’t mean that I can’t have some fun with it. So, color selection will be a clear, soft red for the overall finish.

First, properly clean the item and then lightly sand the surface. (Photo 2) That gives the paint something to grip and will make the finish smooth and even. Also remove tiny splinters or irregularities from an unfinished surface by sanding with very fine sandpaper. Either painted or unfinished items are ready after light sanding. Then you are ready to apply a base coat. It is always best to apply two or three coats of the base color in order for the final tones to have a good ground upon which to build and for the surface to be smooth. (Photo 3) When covering dark finishes, several base coats will allow good coverage and no “bleed through” of the dark tone. Notice the shelf was disassembled to make the job easier.



Photo 2: Properly prepared surfaces make painting more permanent.

Photo 3: Base coat colors are applied.


With the red I selected I chose bits of bright yellow, green and purple to accent the corners of each shelf. I now add accents and punch up the character a bit. (Photo 4) Because these areas must be controlled, it is easiest to apply with a brush. The colors add interest without being too flashy. Those types of details may add a lot or may make the finished piece look too “over the top.” You will have the opportunity to make those decisions for yourself. It is your project, so you can pick what you like best. (Photo 5)



Photo 4: Topical spots of color can be made with a paint brush.

Photo 5: Completed and ready to fill with small treasures.


To make the shelf even more “one-of-a-kind,” you might want to add metal medallions, trinkets, faux jewels, ribbon and the like to the shelf edges. These types of personalization give the shelf a very unique appearance. But, I am more of a minimalist, so I choose to do my decoration with paint colors – both airbrushed and dry brushed.


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As a finished piece, this little what-not shelf is perfect for some of the tiny things I have around. They seem to fit very well in the spaces of the shelf and give a more unified look to such small pieces. (Photo 6)


Photo 6: The re-purposed shelf – new look, new use!


To coordinate with a shelf of this type, one might want to decorate a small storage box or other décor item to make it look like a set rather than just a small shelf on its own. You might want a shelf above your night stand or near your office desk area and that would look great with other coordinated items like a waste basket, lamp base, picture frame, etc.  I guess it pretty much depends on what you like and want to work on. So, look around and see what you might already have that could be “coordinated” into a unified look, convert an old into a “new” or go through thrift/resale stores and explore. There is so much stuff to investigate, and the sky is the limit when it comes to re-purposing goodies.


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Airbrush Workshops

—Airbrush Workshops with Jürek

Introduction to Freehand Airbrushing with Jürek

Saturday, March 24, 2012
6 Hours – Hands-On
Beacon, NY

This class is designed to introduce those with no or limited airbrush experience to the exciting technique of freehand airbrush by master painter Jürek.  Students will work on preplanned exercises, utilizing techniques for developing images without stencils.  And more advanced projects will challenge even those who have some experience with airbrushing.  Students will learn to create images with amazing realism and soul. 

Portraiture with Jürek

Sunday, March 25, 2012
6 Hours – Hands-On
Beacon, NY

Prerequisite:  A working knowledge of the airbrush

This step-by-step class demonstrates Jürek's unique method of painting portraits using an achromatic approach.   The use of greys, black and white is clearly illustrated in Jürek's great way of learning the basics of portraiture with dramatic theatrical results.

Using the modern tool, the airbrush, and his distinct techniques, Jürek explains in detail how to use the “Old Master's” methods to paint an underpainting.

Then he reveals the secrets of glazing and turns this underpainting into a full-color finished portrait.  This class is highly recommended for portrait art students!

All equipment/supplies are provided for use in class.

Seating is limited.  For info/registration, visit  Call 845.831.1043.

—Airbrush Workshops with Robert Paschal

Saturday, April 14th, and
Sunday, April 15th

Robert Paschal—Author of Basic Airbrush Techniques—A Complete Course, Airbrushing for Fine and Commercial Artists and Advanced Airbrush Techniques-The Art of the Dot—will be conducting workshops in Chicago!

– Three 3-Hour Basic Airbrush I Hands-On Workshops.
– One 3-Hour Basic Airbrush II Hands-On Workshop.

– The use of all equipment and supplies is included!
– Seats are limited and workshops fill up fast!

Hosted by:

Genesis Art Supply - Chicago Airbrush Supply
2417 N Western Ave
Chicago, IL, 60647


Fulton Street Collective
2000 W. Fulton Ave
Chicago IL 60612

For More Info/Registration:


...the link between you, the visual artist, and the manufacturer of art materials.
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.




Look for your next issue of AirbrushTalk in March 2012!