Volume 14, Number 3, September 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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Fun and Games
Airbrushing Characters on Textiles

By Thomas Adams

Pressing buttons on a game controller is fun no matter what age you are; so is pressing the button on your airbrush. Video gaming is so much fun; but let’s face it, it’s not as constructive as you would like it to be. So in this article we are going to put down the trigger and do a short, simple T-shirt piece.

Today I am enlisting the help of one of my littlest fans to create a shirt with his favorite game character on it. Next time you are airbrushing for fun, grab one of your kids or nephews, nieces, grandkids, etc. Kids love to help and watch people airbrush. It is like magic to children when they see you creating things with an airbrush. Kids also love to pick up your brush and doodle around with it; you may even want to set up an old or unused brush for the youngster to use. I always try to promote airbrushing to the interested children I come across, since they will be the next generation of artists and craftsmen. Airbrushing is more popular than ever and you should pass on your knowledge with the hope that it stays that way. That being said, let’s get down to business.

I aim to make an easy project that anyone can do at home, so start with the airbrush, some fabric paint, a T-shirt, and a quilting marker. I affix the T-shirts to a piece of cardboard when airbrushing on them. It is a good idea to press any shirt you are going to airbrush, as it takes out any moisture and eliminates wrinkles and lint so they will not catch overspray. Pull the shirt over the square of cardboard and stretch the sleeves and neck around the back. Once you have stretched everything to the back you may use a few pieces of masking or cellophane tape to hold the stretch. Setting up the shirt this way will give you a smooth, even surface to work on and keep anything from getting in the way. With all the setup complete, it is now time to pick a design and transfer it to the shirt. Many people like to freehand. I like to freehand as well, but if you are a beginner you may want to do it this way to practice following the lines. A quilting marker is a washable marker that comes in several colors and is available at your local fabric outlet or the fabric section of most big box stores. These markers wash away clean and you can airbrush right over them, I have been using fabric markers since I first started airbrushing.


Fig. 1 — There is someone you may recognize.

Once your design is on the shirt you can now fill up your favorite brush with black fabric paint.  Mine is the Iwata HP-C, which is my “go to” for lining, but it can handle anything else like a champ, too. Almost any Iwata airbrush would be suitable for this little project, so we will also use the HP-Plus. Once the black paint is in the brush you can go at it, tracing out whatever image you have chosen. Tip:  Removing the needle cap from the end of the airbrush will allow you to get finer lines when doing this step. Your outline will look a bit like this.


Fig. 2 — A rough outline, ready for color.


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Now it is time for the color. Well this one is an easy pick, as I will use my Iwata HP-Plus to handle all of these colors. This brush is great for filling, and it also has a handle setting in the back that you can use to set the max pattern size. This feature is genius and comes in handy both when filling and lining your artwork. I am going to fill up this brush with red and work through. Set the air compressor to a lower psi to reduce overspray; somewhere around 30 should be okay. When painting thicker fabrics like sweatshirts, I tend to work at a higher psi, around 60 or so. This pushes the paint deep into the thick fabric.


Fig. 3 — A rough coloring of reds and browns.

Notice now that the red is very blotchy due to where the strokes start and stop. Some colors tend to do this more than others, and it is known in the auto paint industry as “modeling.”  It is a very common problem, especially when blending colors. Reds and blues tend to do it when airbrushing a shirt because they build. The more you paint, the darker they get. No worries though--we can heat-set this project with our heat gun and go over it again.


Fig. 4 — Dry the shirt with a heat gun before you put anymore paint on.

After coloring in the skin using the same airbrush and colors, I moved on to trying to touch up some of the modeling on the hat. Since there is now a flesh tone on the face, it is going to be tough to keep the red overspray away, so I will show you a little technique that will aid in that. When filling a bold color like red around a lighter one like white or flesh, I slightly tilt my brush towards the color I am spraying.


Fig. 5 — When the air/color mixes hit your surface, they spread out like a fog, but if you vary the incline of the brush you can assure that the air and overspray spread over the color you are spraying.

The angle trick works well, but it takes practice so as not to spread overspray elsewhere on the shirt. Once the colors are in I like to go over and line T-shirts with black a second time. On the second pass I thicken the lines and do some light shading. This reinforces the existing lines and helps to cover up some areas where the other colors have bled out a bit.


Fig. 6 — Time for an outline redux.

Once that is done and all the other black areas are filled, I throw in some ground shade and a little highlighting. I try to shy away from highlighting too much, but cartoons such as this are supposed to look embellished a bit.


Fig. 7 — A few washes will take out some of the blotchiness, and remember you can always go back and touch up T-shirts any time in their life cycle.

Once the paint is all done it must be sealed with heat.  Because there are many paints on the market, I suggest you stick to the manufacturer’s directions; they take the time to write them for a reason. Your work can be sealed with a household iron, but make sure there is NO STEAM, as this will bleed your work and ruin it. I have made that mistake more than once. If you are going to get serious about doing shirts or you have money lying around, you can purchase a large clamshell press like the one I have and make short work of heat setting the fabric.

Well that is all for now, until next time.  Keep on paintin’!


The Haunted Key

By Wes Hawkins
Start Over/W.A.D. Productions

Hi gang!  Since Halloween is coming up, I decided to do something a little different and try aging an object using the Iwata HP-CS.  In this particular case, I chose a magician’s prop called the "haunted key."


Here is the key as I received it in the mail.  I decided I wanted it to look old and rusty to lend credibility to the prop, so I decided the way to go is to first make the key look like it was made from iron.  I didn't have a color that satisfied me, so I decided to try spraying the key with brass first and from there to let my imagination take over.


I remember as a kid that our front door key looked a lot like the haunted key, but it was made from a dark metal that I couldn't determine, so keeping this key in memory, I then added some shadows using a brass color.


I realized that colors alone would make this key look as if it had been long forgotten.  After all, a haunted house has rusty hinges so it seemed logical that the key would be rusty too.  I needed to add texture to the key, but how could I do that?

I sprayed the key with a flat clear sealer to keep the previous airbrush work from rubbing off or being scratched and I waited until the clear was tacky.  I then sprinkled chalk dust on the key.  You can really see the results at the "bow" portion of the key (the part a person holds while turning the key).


After several coats of dust, I realized I would have to lower my spraying pressure to the absolute minimum in order to keep the dust from blowing off.  Luckily, the Iwata HP-CS is a gravity-feed brush, which doesn't require nearly as much pressure as siphon-fed brushes in order to operate.  I lowered the pressure to about 2 psi and colored the dust with several shades including rust, leather, a hint of copper, and ,again, with just a touch of brass and bronze.  I wanted the key to maintain the look that it was once an expensive item, but was now a derelict.


So, here's the finished key.  One final coat of clear to seal the dust and protect the colors and we're done!  I hope you've enjoyed this article and will try to age something using what you've read. 

Please click here to see a short clip of the key in action. And please feel free to contact me here.  Thanks for reading!


Iwata Airbrushes
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.

Abstract Grocery Tote

By Janean Thompson

Every time I go to the grocery store I try to remember to take the neat, colorful cloth bags that I bought to help save our planet. I have many different colors, and yet I don't seem to pass up the chance to buy any new design or color that I come across. It occurred to me recently when I purchased an insulated food bag that it was a bit on the ordinary/plain and boring side. Idea! Airbrush some abstract designs on it and wait for fellow shoppers to notice the latest in grocery transport. The very first time I took it into the grocery, a checker noticed and asked where I got it!

The bag is oversized and will be painted with hard-edged designs that soften into the base color - bright blue. My favorite airbrush is always a good choice - the Iwata Revolution CR Airbrush - and my air source is the Iwata Studio Series Smart Jet Compressor.  You’ll also need bright acrylic paints; a slender brush for detail work; hard-edge poster board or card stock to use in designs; and towels and clean up materials.

I begin by laying the bag out as flat as possible so that there is little chance of design interference. (Photo 1) Load the reservoir with the dominant color for your design and begin to lay on the color. Keep the airbrush moving as you gently enter the field where you want the tone to apply, and then gently close off the air and pigment close to the end of the "stripe." (Photo 2) This gives a very mellow tone to the edges of the color application while creating a hard, straight portion with denser tone. Apply overlapping colors in this manner until you achieve the degree of color you want on the outside of the tote. (Photo 3)


Photo 1: Insulated bag ready for decoration. 

Photo 2: Hard lines with softened edges - a nice combination.

Photo 3: Overlapped shades give a feeling of depth and texture.

When you have several applications of color, consider using the small pointed brush to add sharp details such as lines, cross hatch, dots or other designs that complement your original airbrushed color areas. (Photo 4) I also added some permanent marker lines for added drama. This gives the tote a very personal and decorative appearance. Sign the bag if you desire because it is a functional artwork!



Photo 4: Complete with some surface design additions - the tote is ready to go!


Other items that can be decorated with such designs are backpacks, duffle bags, weekend tote bags, canvas purses and the like. This style is very dynamic and can be color coordinated to match other items you carry. I remember the first hard-edged painting I did many years ago. It was an abstraction of a drawing I had completed. While I did not paint it with an airbrush, that style has long been a favorite of mine - mainly because of the total freedom of personal expression involved in its creation. There is something about the crisp edges that is eye catching.

One idea I am pursuing is to paint a group of pillow covers - each a different size and shape with hard edge stripes in colors to match the room’s decor. I think they would add a touch of implied texture and certainly great color to the room. We will see how that turns out. I may share the success in the next article.


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New Airbrush Products

Artool - New Freehand Killer GrungeFX™
by Mike Lavallee

Artool Products Co. has announced the release and availability of the new Artool Killer GrungeFX™ (FH GRFX) by Mike Lavallee.  This revolutionary new Artool Product is a Freehand® Airbrush Template in a can!  You will now be able to layout random organic patterns for creating some monster natural backgrounds at the press of your finger.  Simply shake Artool® GrungeFX™ and press either the Fat Splat™ or Fine Splat™ tip (both tips come inside each GrungeFX™ can) to achieve a myriad of one-of-a-kind textures on your surface for airbrushing solvent-based paints.  Turn your motorcycle, hot rod or hobby project into a killer creation instantly.  Special note: Mike Lavallee is currently filming online step-by-step instructional videos featuring many tips ‘n tricks that will make your special project smokin’ hot!   See your retailer and visit

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Airbrush Workshops

“Basic Airbrush Techniques”

6-Hour Hands-On Workshop
With Robert Paschal, MFA

Date: Saturday, November 3, 2012
Time: 10 a.m.-1 p.m. and 2-5 p.m.
Place: First Presbyterian Church, Beacon, NY
(65 miles north of NYC on the Metro North Line)

If you’ve always wanted to learn how to airbrush, here’s your opportunity!

For thirty years Robert has used this curriculum to teach thousands of students the basics of airbrush technique in this hands-on workshop.

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.  

All materials/equipment are supplied for use in class.  Space is limited.

Registration/Info at:
Call:  845.831.1043


...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 November 2012!