Volume 2, Number 4, April 2001

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

SUBSCRIBE to Airbrush Talk© — It's FREE!!


Dixie Art Supplies since 1935
2612 Jefferson Hwy. • New Orleans, LA 70121
Phone 1-800-783-2612
Order online sage, secure and easy at Dixie Art and Airbrushing
FREE Shipping on Orders over $45 in lower 48 states


With Michael Cacy

Subtractive Techniques in Airbrush Painting

Most airbrush illustrators and fine artists use a variety of techniques for actually removing paint from the art as an essential part of the rendering process. This amounts to "painting in reverse. " as I like to think of it, and it adds an extra measure of control and is a whole lot of fun at the same time. Certain effects almost require the use of one of these techniques. Paint removal techniques can also be great problem solvers. (What airbrush artist hasn't had to go back and fix a glitch in a painting?)

Which tool to use is likely determined by the type of surface upon which you are painting and the type of effect you wish to achieve. The following techniques work best on smooth, high quality hot press illustration board or primed canvas.

Probably the most common means of removing paint is gently scraping away airbrushed paint with a knife blade--let's say for the lit edges of facial creases, ragged highlights on lips, details in hair, and so forth. You get the idea. Favorite blade configurations for this type of work include the X-acto #11 (pointed) and #10 (curved) profile blades. Medea Com-Art Transparent Colours are ideal for this type of work, especially when applied thinly and layered patiently to avoid heavy buildup or glazing. Opaque media (while not ideal for this technique) may also be scraped in this fashion if not applied too thickly. The idea is to remove paint by scraping without digging into or scarring the surface.

When using the #11 blade, scrape with the beveled, sharpened "edge" of the pointed tip and not the point itself to avoid damaging your surface. This is the technique we would use, for example, to light up individual hairs. For more general scraped details, such as stands of hair, try scraping with a blade with a curved profile like the #10 blade, again scraping with the beveled, sharpened edge of the blade, not the point. If we were intent on rendering every pore in the flesh of our subject, we might actually use the "point" of a blade to gently "flick" off or scrape off details.

Other common tools for subtractive techniques include erasers of various types. Just the simple eraser on the end of a common pencil will often work great as long as you have not built up paint too thickly. Erasing sticks come in a variety of hardness characteristics. There are softer pink ones or the harder grey or white tipped ones like the EraserStik 7099. Obviously, we use the softer erasers for more subtle effects and the harder ones when we want to be more aggressive. Another pet tool of airbrushers is the electric eraser. There are the small, battery-powered erasers and the larger plug-in electric models. Both hard and soft erasing nibs are available for either. And, of course, there are the "manual" erasers like you used back when you were in grade school such as "Pink Pearl. "

The effect of erasing paint off the surface usually results in a slightly organic (or not-so-perfect) subtle texture that can really enhance flesh, leather, fabric, and other subjects. Always test your techniques off to the side as practice before diving in on the "masterpiece. "Most subtractive techniques, erasing in particular, are used more extensively during the intermediate stages of a painting. That is, painting, removing, and painting again--pushing and pulling until you get it just right. Extreme highlights such as a highlighted seam in metal, flashed up hot spots on wet lips, or sunlit hairs may be scraped or otherwise removed in the final stages and allowed to remain as the white of your working surface. (Not to seem overly redundant, but you are being careful not to scar the surface, aren't you? Practice makes perfect. Patience is required here.)

I often use fine grit or coarse sandpaper or steel wool to remove or "blend away" paint when I want to lighten an area. Coarse steel wool or even a wire brush is a fun and effective way to establish the directional growth pattern of the fur on an animal.

Artists through the ages have used the "rub out" technique to pick out highlights in gouache or oil paintings. If you are using airbrush acrylics, try moistening a cotton swab with airbrush cleaner and removing paint from the surface. Be careful not to use the swab wetter than it absolutely needs to be to achieve your desired effect, and stay away from (or at least be very careful of) masked edges so as to avoid bleeds into adjacent previously painted areas.

There are other innovative ways of subtracting paint from the surface, of course. Fine artists who paint on metal love to manipulate painted areas with power grinders and buffing tools. My hyperrealist European friend Meinrad Froschin, who paints mostly on hot press illustration board, has taken subtractive techniques to a high science, amassing an ever-growing arsenal of scraping, grinding, and blending implements. His results are astounding. (See the Dec. 2000 issue of Airbrush Action magazine.) Think of all the unique effects you could create using different tips in a Dremel tool.

Intrigued with the process of subtractive techniques? Try working on Claybord. This amazing product is a perfect ground for airbrush paintings where you intend to use subtractive techniques. You can check it out yourself, as it is linked to this site, or go to their site at any time at or call them at 800.822.1939. Any of the techniques already mentioned can be used, but there is a Claybord Tool Kit that includes scribes, a small wire brush, a fiberglass-tipped blender brush, steel wool, and some other useful "toys. " I never mind hyping a product that I've had success with, myself.

So, to wrap up this installment of Cacy's Corner, the key to success in your next painting may rely almost as much on how you take it off as how you put it on in the first place.


With Janean S. Thompson

Textile Design a la Airbrush

Everyone knows what a dynamic tool the airbrush is for fine art and illustration. But have you ever considered airbrush as a tool for fabric decoration and embellishment? Consider the variety of textures one can create on paper. The same application techniques can be used to design original fabrics. Some of the best uses for these fabrics are the creation of wardrobe items and household decorating (window coverings, pillow fronts, slipcovers, and bed linens). Because the airbrush can quickly impart a high volume of color over a large area, it is ideally suited to large-scale projects such as bed and table linens and drapery fabrics.

When airbrush is used, one most always thinks of adding color to a surface. Did you realize that you could also remove color from pre-washed, 100% cotton fabric by using a controlled mixture of chlorine bleach and water? This is called "discharge dying. "If a solution of one cup of bleach mixed into one pint of water is sprayed over solid resist materials and allowed to rest until the color starts to change (and this happens really fast), one can create softly feathered "clouds" around solid color shapes. Be sure to use caution and see note below.

You may want to create specific shapes that seem to float upon varied color backgrounds. This can be done with designs cut from contact paper and pressed onto the fabric surface. Remember to be flexible enough to anticipate a bit of weeping under the design (which might even give you new and exciting results). Other ways to create specific designs are wax resist (batik), with airbrushed toning over the wax, and solid objects that are clamped together with the fabric squeezed between the shapes.

When you use discharge dyeing, you control the degree of color change. Spray the discharge solution on the fabric and watch for an appropriate color shift. When you see change, immediately immerse the object into clear water or a mixture of one gallon of water and one pint of vinegar (color set).


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.


Project:Airbrush Discharge "Dyeing" – Napkins

Materials Required:

--2 yards of 100% cotton, dark color – Pre-washed
(Tip: Buy more. You will love doing these.)
--1 cup chlorine bleach
--1 pint warm water
--Contact paper


--Pre-wash yard goods. Cut each yard into 4 even square pieces. Hem and then press.
--Cut various basic shapes from contact paper. Press against the top side of the fabric. Use no heat to attach contact paper.
--Carefully mix bleach and water. Attach a splatter tip for freckled color discharge or use an airbrush with a wide spectrum spray.
--Test on a sample of the fabric to determine the amount of spray needed.
--Spray over designs. Rest momentarily.
--Plunge into clean water.
--Wash the napkins in a clothes washer.
--Dry, press, and enjoy!

NOTE: When using a chemical such as bleach, it is necessary that you work in a well-ventilated area, wear a respirator, and use extreme caution.


Artool Products Co.
Art bridges for painting and drawing with soft and wet mediums. Safety non-slip rulers, and cutting mats for use with art and utility knives and rotary cutters. Low-tack film for airbrushing, illustration and fine art. Airbrush templates for illustration and graphics. Body art and finger nail art accessories and paint. Manufacturer of innovative art materials, tools and airbrush accessories for fine art, illustration, T-shirt art, body and finger nail art, sign and automotive art and graphics. Artist Bridges, Cuttingrails, Freehand Airbrush Templates, Friskfilm, Artool Cutting Mats, Body Art and Nail Art supplies.


Airbrushing for Model Railroaders

By Lee A. Yeager

Airbrushing? The very sound of that word throws many hobbyists into cardiac arrest. I have heard people say "I could never learn to use an airbrush" or " An airbrush is too expensive, so I just use spray cans. " Well, I am here to tell you that anyone can use an airbrush and it is not as expensive as one might think. Airbrushes are extremely useful tools and greatly enhance the finish of models.

As a model railroader and professional model builder, I have used airbrushes for about 25 years, in all kinds of situations. My first set-up was on my open patio. I had to paint in the spring/summertime and could not paint on windy days. I did custom painting for hire with this set-up for five years and obtained very good results. In my present situation, I have a professional paint booth. This is very convenient and allows year-round painting with the airbrushes hooked up at all times.

I have people asking me all the time "What type of airbrush should I buy for model painting? "There are many types and styles of airbrushes and you really want one that you will be comfortable using. There are generally four types of airbrushes as follows:

External Mix - paint and air mixture is performed outside the airbrush body.

Internal Mix - paint and air mixture is performed inside the airbrush body.

Single Action -The airbrush trigger controls only airflow.

Double Action -The airbrush trigger controls both airflow and paint flow.

I personally use both an external mix-single action and an internal mix-single action for the majority of my model painting. These airbrushes allow you to preset the paint flow and then just spray. You will find that if you paint a lot, as I do, the single action does not fatigue your trigger finger as readily as a double action. I also use an internal mix-double action for most of my weathering effects. Once learned, a double action airbrush will give you very fine control to do very realistic weathering effects. Internal mix airbrushes tend to atomize the paint more sufficiently, which I have found gives a little smoother finish. However, once learned, I think that you can get great results from any of the above-mentioned airbrushes. External mix is a little easier to clean than an internal mix.

I have used many different brands of airbrushes, and I am presently using the Iwata "Eclipse" series. I have a #HP-SA Single Action and a #HP-CS Gravity Feed-Double Action. The #HP-SA I use for general painting and the #HP-CS I use for weathering effects. I also like the Paasche H series airbrush for general painting. I have found these to be the most well balanced airbrushes with the paint cup/jar attached. The better balance an airbrush has, the better results you will get. You don't want to be fighting your equipment. I also like the fact that these airbrushes are the easiest to clean. And cleaning your airbrush is extremely important to insure that it last for years.

The Iwata airbrushes have a unique feature, which I really like. The needle does not protrude from the front of the nozzle. So, if you bump the front of the brush or drop the brush as I too frequently do, the needle is protected from damage. It is very important that the needle remains straight and centered in the nozzle of the airbrush.

My intention with this series is to give information on what works for me and to, hopefully, help you avoid some of the pitfalls that I have experienced. I intend to discuss airbrush equipment, paints, mixing, cleaning, weathering and any other items that come to mind that pertain to airbrushing model railroad equipment. The techniques and equipment I use are not exclusive to model railroading, though.

If you have specific questions or ideas for something you would like to see in this series, please feel free to drop me a note. I am always happy to discuss this hobby of ours. Until next time!


TATTOO BODY ART – "Artistry in Ink"

By Ron Gress and Bess Wiley

(Click on any of the photos for a larger view!)

The Real ThingLate last year I was asked to attend the National Tattoo Show, "Artistry in Ink," at the Long Beach Convention Center (CA). The show organizers wanted to have a demonstration of airbrushed body art as part of their ongoing stage presentation. I immediately thought of Gabe McCubbin and Medea's "Body of Art" body painting products. After a quick call to Gabe, we met at my studio with our model Suzy and planned our approach. Since this was a "tattoo" show, we decided to decorate our model with authentic Japanese body illustrations.Suzy at Work

Our first job was to research as many tattoo magazines as we could find to get a feel for the style we wanted to use. We eventually chose the dragon and goldfish themes along with some of Body of Art's self-sticking stencils. The night before the show, using the magazines as reference, we drew designs with permanent markers on Suzy's alcohol-prepped back and arms. Once the designs were laid in, we loaded a Spectrum 2000 Color Changer with Medea Body of Art paints, connected an Iwata HPBC airbrush to it and began the "tattooing" process.Suzy's Leg

The excellent control of the HPBC airbrush, along with the color changing and blending features available with the Spectrum Color Changer, made this job a "piece of cake. " The golds and yellows were airbrushed freehand, with care taken to keep the color within the lines of the outline images. The colors were built up slowly so as not to obscure the fine details of the drawing. Using the fine stipple available with the Spectrum pressure delivery system, the subtle shading and highlights associated with tattoo work were added to give the piece the illusion of depth. Once we were happy with the color and shading of the goldfish, we touched up the original outline. The final step was to "fix" the paint of the tattoo with powder, giving the slightly faded look of a real tattoo.Suzy's Back

Here's Suzy!!!The dragon on Suzy's leg was done on stage at the convention center using the same method as the fish. This was followed by what could best be described as a frenzy of performance art body painting as Gabe and I attempted to cover Suzy with as much decorative paint as possible in the short time we had on stage. The results of our painting adventure that transformed the lovely Miss Suzy into a geisha/biker/tigress/granite girl can be seen in the attached photos.

Everyone present appreciated our airbrushed tattoo work, and we were kept very busy during the rest of the show airbrushing all comers using Artool's Body of Art stencils and paints.



Silentaire Technology
Silent compressors for use with airbrushes, spray guns, and air tools from Werther International.



New Spray Guns from Iwata-Medea, Inc.

Iwata-Medea, Inc. , Portland, Oregon, is proud to announce the release of two new spray guns: LPH-50 Spray Gun and RG-3 Spray Gun.

The LPH-50 miniature spray gun is a full-featured HVLP (high volume, low pressure) gun with spray characteristics similar to Iwata's RG-3 gun. Using only 1. 8 cfm at 13 psi, this low air consumption gun will provide high atomization with a minimum of overspray. This gun features an adjustable spray pattern from round to full fan shape. With a stainless steel nozzle, paint passage and heat-tempered needle, this gun reflects Iwata's trademark in long-lasting peak-performance spraying.

The LPH-50 uses the reliable and easily serviceable "Air Valve" and "Air Valve Packing" cartridge sets, which can be serviced outside the gun and easily replaced back into the gun body.

The RG-3 miniature spray gun is the new version of the popular RG-2 gun. With the spray pattern being the same as the RG-2, the major difference is noticed in the integrated "Air Valve" and Air Valve Packing" cartridges. These cartridges can be serviced outside the gun and easily replaced back into the gun body, making the RG-3 more reliable and maintenance-free. It comes standard with a Round Cap, which is better for painting and graphics, or an optional Fan Pattern Cap for varnishes, coatings and backgrounds.

Both the LPH-50 and RG-3 are miniature gravity/side feed spray guns, which produce remarkable atomization with precise control of the spray pattern from 1/8" to 2-1/2". Their 4 oz. (110ml) stainless steel gravity cup is side mounted and rotates, allowing for spraying horizontal, vertical or underneath surfaces. Unlike siphon feed guns, this gravity feed cup will work with small amounts of paint without spitting.

Both miniature guns are ideal for touch-up or custom automotive and motorcycle painting, illustration background spraying, large studio work and murals.

The new LPH-50 and RG-3 Spray Guns are available now at your favorite Iwata-Medea supplier. For a complete listing of the Iwata-Medea-Artool catalog on the Web, go to Email:

New Film, Template, Artist Bridge and Cutting Mats from ARTOOL

Artool Products Company, Portland, Oregon, is very pleased to announce the acquisition and availability of FRISKFILM, the addition of their new line of Cutting Mats, the release of the ARTIST BRIDGE and the long-awaited release of their newest Freehand Airbrush Template: MATCH MAKERS FH-11SP, by Michael Cacy.

FRISKFILM is the very same one that has set the standard in excellence with airbrush artists and all creative fields requiring controlled color application for over 30 years. It is available as a gloss or matte film in rolls and pads and has a translucent backing sheet for easy handling. Art studios and design agencies have relied on the high transparency and low tack adhesion of FRISKFILM as a temporary overlay to protect presentation artwork from finger marks, while the crystal-clear film permits perfect vision of the work surface. FRISKFILM is compatible with nearly all art boards, papers and films.

The Artool Cutting Mats are constructed from a new 3-ply polymer composite material that makes them the most flexible and durable mats available. They feature a self-healing surface for maximum longevity and toughness with repeated use, whether using art and mat knives or rotary cutters. If one of these mats should every become distorted because of improper storage, simply place it in sunlight or hot water until it becomes pliable, and then lay the mat perfectly flat again.

An added feature of the Artool Cutting Mats is that the black and green mats are two cutting mats in one. Whenever a different colored mat is desired for cutting, simply flip it over! The translucent mats are perfect for light tables and cutting situations where a colored mat is not suitable. Other features include non-marring and non-glare surface, non-slipping for added safety on worktables, calibrated grid lines for accuracy, and a perfect surface for writing and drawing. The Artool Cutting Mats are the ideal choice for artists, designers, photographers, illustrators, calligraphers, hobbyists and model makers.

The new ARTIST BRIDGE is actually an improved version of the very popular MULTIRAIL. Not only was the ARTIST BRIDGE renamed to fit its intended purpose, but a neoprene insert was also added to the anodized tempered aluminum models for added control and comfort.

Control all soft and wet mediums with confidence, whether rendering details or cutting in accurate line work. Use paintbrush, pastels, charcoal, markers or even airbrush with professional results every time. With the non-flexing ARTIST BRIDGE, you will never smear or smudge the surface of your artwork again!

Artool's new MATCH MAKERS Freehand Airbrush Template by Michael Cacy makes it easier than ever to create professional 3-D airbrush effects for hair, smoke, foliage and flames and is actually four Artool Freehand Templates in one! Detach by simply cutting through the 1/8" tags connecting the shapes and you're off to the painting surface. Each shape is precisely marked with corresponding numbers to the positive and negative matched curves, which provide desired alignment to achieve the perfect 3-D effects for smoke trails, flowing hair patterns, foliage or flame effects. These templates are also solvent proof, and clean up is a snap with either airbrush cleaner or the appropriate solvent.

Whether you're an airbrush beginner, novice, or seasoned illustrator, you'll find the new Artool MATCH MAKERS to be a must-have asset to your bag of tricks.

For a complete listing of the Iwata-Medea-Artool catalog on the Web, go to Email: features informative articles on Watercolor paints, brushes, paper, techniques, tips and products.



June 22, 2001

Airbrush Action magazine's Sixteenth Anniversary Dinner and Varga Awards Presentation will be held on Friday, June 22, at 7 p. m. at the Sheraton Atlantic City Convention Center Hotel in Atlantic City, NJ. 2001 Vargas Award Winners include Roger Dean, Nick Gaetano, George Green, Bill Mayer, Robert Rodriguez and Brian Zick. For reservations at $80/person, call 1.800.232.8998. Group rates are available.

October 11-14, 2001

Art Methods & Materials Show

Pasadena Convention Center

Pasadena, CA

Sponsored by American Artist Magazine

Look for a complete listing of classes soon at

November 9-10, 2001

Pearl's Great American Art Event

Huntington Hilton

Melville, L.I. , N.Y.

Look for complete information soon at                  


...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 the next issue of AirbrushTalk©--July 17, 2001