Volume 14, Number 2,

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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Journey from Dark to Light

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

Beginning Freehand Airbrush Drills - Stage One

This article will focus on stage one beginner airbrush drills, the same drills I use when I teach my students or when I need to "brush up" on my freehand skills.

A few thoughts before we really helps to keep your air on before and after the paint flows out of the gun...this will help tremendously in avoiding tip dry. I often have my beginners start with paper towels for their drills.  It absorbs a lot more than paper, so it is a little harder to make mistakes in the very beginning. Also if you find your hand hurting, just loosen up your grip on your gun or try moving your hand back a little on your brush—just remember to relax! Unless you have a physical challenge, standing really seems to help when airbrushing freehand. Remember to have the surface you are painting on set about mid-chest and always keep your airbrush perpendicular to the surface.

When doing drills, I use Transparent Com-Art Black.  I find that it clogs less than opaque paint.

Step 1: Paint a series of dots in rows of all sizes and vary the amount of paint you spray and distance you spray from the surface. You will want to practice a row of small, tight dots and then soft dots, working your way up to large dots in both tight and soft.


Step 2 and 3: With your feet spread about hip distance apart, pivoting at the waist, spray lines from side to side, then top to bottom. If you know anything about golf or tennis, think of "following-through" with your stroke (meaning you don't start moving when the paint starts or stop when the paint stops - you keep moving a little while before and after). Don't worry about getting these perfect, as they will get better with time. Practice skinny, fat, and blurry lines. Your goal here is to have approximately the same width line throughout.


Step 4: As you begin to feel confident with your lines, try small boxes. These are about 2 or 3 inches wide. Try not to get dots at the intersecting corners (as I have done in several! lol!)


Step 5: Now draw a large box and then fill with vertical and horizontal lines to create a grid. Try to make these lines skinny and straight.


Step 6: At the intersections of the grid, place dots. This drill really helps with aim, which is very important. Then do a faded dot over your initial dots to get even more practice.


Step 7: Draw another fairly large box (about 8 - 10 inches wide). Then try to do a gradual fade from top to bottom. Your lines can be painted in either direction to create your fill, but I prefer the direction pictured.


 Step 8: Rework your initial fade, filling in the lines until you have a fairly gradual rather than choppy fade.


Remember, the goal here is just to improve your skills, not to be perfect!

In the next issue of AirbrushTalk, we will discuss the dagger stroke, the next step in learning to paint freehand and the most important stroke for airbrush artists. Sure hope you can join us!

Thanks! ~ Shen

Shen's work may be viewed at:


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"It's Pronounced Eyegor"

By Wes Hawkins
Start Over/W.A.D. Productions
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Hello once again, gang!  In this issue of AirbrushTalk, I'll be attempting something I had never tried before—airbrushing in black and white!  For this project, I chose a piece from one of my favorite movies: the Mel Brooks classic, Young Frankenstein.

Allow me to introduce "It's Pronounced Eyegor," sculpted by the talented hands of Alfred Paredes.  I've never tried to airbrush in black and white before, so to begin I looked through all my paint and picked out various shades of gray, flat white and black.  After deciding which colors didn't fit in with the others (you'd be surprised how many shades of gray there are), I laid down a basecoat of flat white with my Iwata HP-CS.  I've said many times before that the HP-CS is a workhorse airbrush that can handle everything from heavy/general spraying to finer details.  When I have a basecoat to lay down, this is always the one I grab.

I knew that with a bust of this scale (approx. 1/3) people would want a close look at the piece and I'd have to airbrush the wrinkles around the eyes and the eyebrows, so I grabbed the Cadillac of airbrushes, Custom Micron C+.  This baby can spray hair-thin lines due to its Micro Air Control (MAC) Valve.  After the basecoat, I took my lightest shade of gray and noodled the face to break up the basecoat and give the flesh a little depth.  For those of you who might be new to my articles, noodling is described as quickly and lightly spraying a color over a base coat in a random fashion. Think of dropping a spaghetti noodle on the counter and noticing how the noodle coils up on itself.  This is all I'm doing except the "noodle" is the line of paint leaving the airbrush.  It takes a little practice, but it makes all the difference.  Give it a try and you'll see what I mean.  Now, back to the bust!

Here you can really see what I mean by noodling.  Notice the forehead, cheeks and upper lip.  See the effect that the light shade of gray has?  You have to look for it to notice it, but if it wasn't there you'd know right away that something just wasn't right with the paint.

Another note of painting in black and white that I learned...go from light to dark.  It's far easier to cover a light shade with a dark one than vice versa.

I continued to work up my shadows with the progressively darker shades of gray, taking care not to cover too much of the highest points on the cheeks and nose.  I made mistakes in a couple places so I switched back to the Iwata HP-CS to cover the mistake and start again.

So, after several days, several cleanings, and a few “choice” words, here we are!  The biggest thing to remember is to take your time. Lay down a light layer and then step back to see if you need to add a second layer.  There are probably 200 layers of paint on this bust.  Again, take your time and don't become frustrated.  Once I saw my airbrush needed to be cleaned, I stopped for the night and cleaned up the brushes.  Getting anxious to finish and trying to clear the brush often results in a big gob of paint splattering on your piece, and that can become seriously discouraging!

I hear there are plans to produce Doctor Fronk-ensteen and the Monster as well, so don't be surprised if you see them featured here at AirbrushTalk sometime in the future.  Get your own "It's Pronounced Eyegor" by visiting AP Sculpture Studio today (and tell Alfred you saw it here!)

Thanks for reading, and I'll see you next time!

Wheels, Masks and Shields for Project Enhancement

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

For those of us who love complex designs and want to use them in our creative work, stencils make us—and what we create—look really good. I especially love the small designs that you can achieve by using nail art patterns. The designs are very small, so they are easy to use on some of your smaller art/craft projects and make a real impact. New designs make it easy to feel unfettered by a limited choice of patterns.  Iwata-Medea offers some super cool patterns, and they are my choice. Great for nail art as well as body adornment, the designs are very inspiring.

Wheels: The tiniest perforations on the nail art design wheels are a neat way to create wearable art really quickly and with open creative opportunities. Consider using these small designs to decorate strips of ribbon for gift embellishment or to make your own original gift wrap to coordinate with the ribbons. I like to re-make jewelry using the design wheels because you can overlap/combine some of the designs to make the result your own statement. This project used the oval patterns on one wheel. (Photo 1)


Photo 1: Wheels of multiple neat stencil shapes make designing miniature work fun and easy.

Masks: For larger pieces of art, use the repositionable masks (reusable) to mask off neat, simple and dramatic shapes. Repetition of shapes, layering and overlapping transform these basic shapes into elegant and unique visual art. Good uses for them might include notebook or briefcase embellishments or perhaps desk organizer sets that match with the same shapes/colors/layering of color and design. A quick look at the shapes will bring ideas to you quickly.

Shields: These are similar to the wheel stencils except that they are not circles and all edges are shaped with swoops and curves that can help you do some cool things with very little effort. The inside shapes again give the opportunity to combine/overlap/layer for personal statement artworks.

Since jewelry is my favorite, I will show you my methods using the wheel designs and help you see the potential of small, intricate patterns. Miniature works are always interesting and these designs will get you fired up for sure. Almost any base material can be used for the jewelry, and even old pieces can be transformed into new/hip looks.  Check out resale shops for bold shapes that could be made into dramatic, new art statements. I found a good shape and base upon which to work. (Photo 2)


Photo 2: Collect neat shapes to convert into personal wearable art.

Some of the wheel designs I have are several years old and have been used over and over with fun and interesting results. One of the favorite design wheels includes multiple geometric shapes. (Photo 3) Those are really neat for overlapping and creating implied texture within a small area...just right for earrings (or bracelet/necklace elements). Repositioning the designs can help create some neat effects.


Photo 3: Work in progress: Several repositioned linear shapes are the key to success.

Begin with an overall base coat. With the design selected, use several colors of acrylic over the base tone to create the look you want. Seal with clear sealer for more durability and you are set to go. For my project I selected a wide bracelet and earrings, patterned to match. I get comments every time I wear them and love sharing the easy "how-to" with anyone interested in airbrush crafts. (Photo 4)


Photo 4: Ready to go! Wear it and you will get lots of comments!

Either transform old pieces you might have as practice work or shop resale stores for neat jewelry to use in the creation of remade and unique wearable art. Airbrush work is fun to do and always catches the eye of others. With all the recycled jewelry out there, you can come up with a ton of not only cool things to wear yourself, but also items to give as gifts or perhaps to start your own cottage industry. Have fun!


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The House the Brush Built - Using Homemade Stencils for Simple Accents

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

Well, summer is the best time for projects, as warm weather and longer days just push you to get more done. Living for ten years outside the city has made me appreciate some of the finer things about summer, like nature—namely the birds that are often a nuisance as they make a home out of anything.  So I thought why not make them a stylish home they can call their own. I also thought this would be a great use for the airbrush and a summer project for kids and adults alike. The birdhouse project is good for the summer because it is whatever you want to make it. If you want to be serious and do something very stylish you can; if you want to put your airbrush in the hands of the kids and see what they can turn out, you can—the point being please have fun.  It will be easy to have fun with this project because it is so simple.

To begin, I bought one of those blank birdhouses at the local hobby store. These little houses come in all different styles and can be found at craft malls and sometimes flea markets, too. They are very cheap and ready to paint.


Fig. 1 - Find a bare birdhouse and let it be your canvas.

Next on the agenda we need to paint the roof and walls. For this project I am going to go ahead and brush paint the roof and walls because I have some latex paint lying around and I happen to like the colors. Since these houses are wood and for outdoor use, you can paint them with almost anything from oil paint to latex, and even stains will work. I try to stick to the water-based paints, since I do not want any harm done to the birds. Now you may also want to go straight to airbrushing on the birdhouse, too.  Go ahead and experiment or let your kids take the reins. Get a young person interested in airbrushing. Try fades and all kinds of funky stuff—the kids will dig it!

Once the house has an even coat of paint it is ready for some airbrushing, but first we are going to make some stencils to help us along the way. Stencils can be made from a very wide range of materials, from simple sticker material like vinyl to frisket film, etc. But if you want rigid reusable stencils, there are a few materials and techniques you need to know about.

First, the materials acetate and Mylar are popular stencil materials.  Each has its own properties and uses, but, that aside, these are just fancy words for a sheet of plastic. The easiest way to get some stencil making material for a job like we are doing is to go to the hobby store and ask for blank stencil sheets. I am using translucent blue acetate just for the sake of availability. These sheets are easy to cut, simple to trace onto etc., so they will make a fitting material for this job.


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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.

 Once you have what you need, it is time to unleash the artist and start sketching.  You may want to do stars and stripes or sea shells or even polka dots—the possibilities are endless. I am going to stick with silhouettes of birds and branches.


Fig. 2 - Sketch a bunch until you get what you like!

Next I use my sketches to make a stencil. I complete this by laying the stencil sheet over the paper and taping both of them to the table so they do not move while we are trying to trace. Then, using a sharpie, I trace around the images I want to cut out.


Fig. 3 - Line up your designs and trace them onto the stencil sheet.

After our designs are all transferred onto the stencil material, we are now faced with the task of cutting them out. This can go a few ways: One way to cut them out is a razor knife or X-acto. This will work, but be warned.  It is the harder way to do it and it can be dangerous, as the knife is sharp and you must apply a good amount of pressure to complete the cut. The popular and safer way to do it is with a wood burning tool. These, too, are available at hobby stores and hardware stores.  They range from $20 to $80, but any one is fine for cutting stencils. Use a thin sheet of metal or old wood to put under the stencil, as this tool will burn whatever is underneath it. Next just put a fine tip on the wood burner, fire it up and go at it. Be careful, as it burns quickly and easily, so try to be precise.


Fig. 4 - A wood burner makes stencil creation fun.

After that is all done you should have all the stencils you need to complete the project.  Our next order of business is going to be the airbrushing. Like I said, this is a fun and loose project, so I am going to use my Iwata HP Plus. I love this brush for so many reasons, but namely because it is reliable. It is a gravity fed, high performance brush so it never clogs or jams on me—and that can ruin your fun real quick. So with the Iwata in hand I set my compressor to 30 psi. I am lowering the pressure so the paint doesn’t run on the wood. Once we are set up it is time now to spray a few branches. I elected to freehand the branches because the stencil wanted to curl up with such fine lines in it, sometimes you make mistakes and sometimes you make adjustments, but that is the good part, as we are always learning. So with the airbrush needle cap removed I freehanded a few branches.  Begin lightly and go back over your work because the porous wood will want to soak up the paint and cause it to spread. For this I am using Com-Art Opaque Black airbrush paint. This paint is very versatile and works great in my Iwata HP Plus.

Next, still using my HP, I am going to set the trimmed stencil down and airbrush a few birds.


Fig. 5 - Let the birds know they are welcome.

So with that completed I decided to do a few more on the other side and spray in some branches around the door of the bird house, thus completing our bird chateau. Set it outside to dry and it is ready to hang. You may want to put a water-based clear coat on for protection. Either way, you will be proud of what you did and the birds will stop making nests in your barbeque grill. Well, till next time, keep on paintin’!


Fig. 6 - Front of bird house. Fig. 7 - Back of bird house.


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Artool – Aztec FX Freehand Airbrush Templates


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...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 September 2012!