Volume 4, Number 2, July 2002

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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With Michael Cacy
(Click on any image for a larger view)

Painting Hair, Smoke, and Other Effects Using Artool's "Match Makers" Templates

At the risk of shamelessly promoting a product that I designed, I offer the following tips on how to use the Artool "Match Makers" freehand airbrush templates. You probably know that all of the templates available from Artool were designed by various professional airbrush artists. The techniques explained here are methods that I have used for years in my illustration work. Whether you're after photo real effects or something heavily stylized, these techniques are easy, fun, and quick to master. At the urging of the folks at Artool, I submitted a road-tested design for four matching templates which are included in one package. What makes these freehand templates different than most, is that each "positive" curve has a matching "negative" curve on an adjoining template. A broad variety of effects are possible when using a positive curve along side a corresponding negative curve.

Before you begin, detach segments by cutting through the 1/8" tabs which connect the four shapes. Your Match Makers are now ready to go to work.


Rendering strands of hair which twist and turn in and out of the light is a breeze. For years, I called the technique "the homemade french curve technique". Depending upon the scale of your work and the nature of the curves you are striving to create, my prepackaged freehand shields may or may not be exactly what you need to get the entire job done, but they will undoubtedly come in handy. You'll be surprised how versatile these pre-cut freehand shields are. When custom curves, beyond what the "Match Makers" provide you with, are required, try cutting your own homemade curves from 5 mil acetate or, especially where placement is not critical, paper. The painting technique is the same, either way. (A bonus with the Match Makers templates is that they may be used with either water-based or solvent-based paints.)

Before I begin my demo, take a look at three easy to achieve shapes which may be of some use along the way. These are a result of how you stagger or overlap two template segments.

The "flying V", a shape which is enclosed at one end and open on the other.

A shape open at both ends.

A shape enclosed at both ends.

  1. To begin this demo, I have placed Segment 1 along Segment 2, allowing a narrow gap between the two. [Notice that, since the "Whiskers" die cuts in Segment 2 are not is use, they have been concealed with drafting tape to eliminate the possibility of overspray creating unwanted patterns on the artwork.] I have airbrushed a tone here and there (in this case, five spots, only) into the gap. It is important to remember that you need not paint throughout the exposed curve...paint will travel further within the exposed gap than you might imagine. Also, in this case, I am striving to achieve a strand of hair which is moving or turning in and out of light and shadow, so spraying at selected spots along the curve works in my favor to create this illusion.
  2. Though this photo may look to be the same as the last, I have actually skidded the two templates slightly off register from the the previous step (I moved the templates about 1/8" to the left) and sprayed again, airbrushing at the same spots as before. I will repeat this step another time or two, moving the two templates each time, before going on to the next step. Notice that the two templates are staggered a little in this photo so that the gap between the two is "thick and thin" whereas the two templates were nearly equidistant in Step A. [Whenever using loose masks, avoid applying your paint in too wet a fashion. In the steps shown here, I am able to work fairly quickly, without fear of dragging paint around when skidding the two templates, as long as my paint arrives on the surface somewhere between wet and dry. If I am in doubt, I use my double action airbrush to spray air as to dry the area I've just sprayed before moving the templates.]
  3. Before removing the two templates from the art, I make one more pass with the airbrush as in the previous steps, but this time I have rotated the two shapes a fraction of an inch counterclockwise (as opposed to simply moving them off register to one side or the other, as in the previous step).
  4. With the templates removed, we can view the result. You may be able to discern faint pencil indications which I have drawn in for the sake of establishing the directions of flow of the hair as suggested by my reference. I'll use this information as a rough guide, only, and construct the hair as I go. Disregard the bird at lower right, previously painted, and now concealed with frisket film. Techniques used in painting the bird have no bearing on the techniques being covered for hair. Notice, however, that when I painted the girl's head, I allowed the flesh tones to spill out into the hair area. This is something I do on a regular basis (unless the subject has white hair) so that, when painted, the hair doesn't look like a "hair hat"...the overspray of flesh tones helps to "family" the colors of flesh and hair, resulting in a cohesive palette. Now to use other pairs of Match Maker curves and maybe a couple of custom cut curves to create more strands.

    As you can see, an acetate loose mask has been used to keep paint off the jaw and side of face.

  5. With the "dark-on-light" strand rendering well established, I am just about ready to add some hair color as an overall tone.
  6. Since I have selected a quality hot press surface upon which to paint, I can gently scrape off some of that overall tone to punch up highlights in lit areas of the strands. This also works great on canvas or Claybord. Just for the record, I am painting my demo with Com-Art Transparent airbrush acrylics on Crescent Premium Hi-Line 9208 illustration board. If the surface your specific project calls for will not allow such a step, simply spray a light opaque paint through your Match Maker templates to achieve highlights. (See the strands of hair which pass over the cheek in the painting "The Artist's Apprentice" in the opening photo above.)

To disguise and refine the scraping, I buffer the beginnings and endings of my scraped shapes by airbrushing a little more hair color at those areas. To simplify the most brightly lit turns of the strands, I erase paint away with an electric eraser or eraser stick, so as to call attention to blocked up highlights (masses of bright light) as opposed to individual hairs. Where the scraping appeared too ragged, I sprayed opaque white (warmed with raw sienna and ochre) through pairs of corresponding Match Maker curves to make the highlights look more pristine and fluid.

The finished painting has a live area of approximately 8" x 10.5" and was painted entirely with Com-Art airbrush acrylics.

NOTE: To avoid tracking paint around on your working surface, clean your Match Maker templates from time to time as you work through your project. While painting my project, I cleaned mine up twice by placing the templates in a sink and sponging them off with airbrush cleaner. Clean up is quick and easy. Blotted dry with a paper towel, your templates are then ready to go back to work.

Match Makers are ideal for creating smoke or vapors. (Techniques are same as steps A through C as described for hair, except that I sprayed white paint through the Match Maker templates against a black background.)

I have used Match Maker techniques for effects in foliage, whiskers on animals, and a variety of other projects where pristine linear quality is required (such as highlighting edges or seams in product art). I find the result cleaner, more "fluid", and more consistent with the airbrush look than similar effects achieved with pencil, pen, brush work, or scratching paint away with a blade. What applications for Match Makers can you find in the kind of painting you do?

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.

Photo Fun

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

Add drama to photos by altering the background to create dimension.

Ever have a photo that is wonderful but includes clutter or unwanted or unimportant items in the background? Have a desire to experiment with a photo image to see what you can do to make it more personal or unusual? Want to enjoy creative photo alterations similar to those the ad agencies are doing without high collar computer equipment? Well, consider the versatility of altering a photo image with airbrush embellishment. It is easy, fun and can yield results that are unique and interesting. Not only can you remove distracting backgrounds, soften less desirable background items, and add unique and bizarre details around a subject, but you can also draw the subject forward in a near three-dimensional effect. It is easier than you think.

For best results, the experimental photo you choose to alter should be printed on a matte finish paper. Slick, glossy papers tend to resist the colors. Computer-generated prints are ideal subject matter, since you can print them on satin, flat and even canvas textures for a wide range of options and effects. Any size photo can be altered, but initially 4" x 6" is a good starting point--big enough for proper experimentation and small enough to give you time to do several at a sitting.

Create a mask using a black and white copy of photo.

If background blocking is your goal, begin by photo copying (or scanning) the picture you wish to change in the exact size you will be adjusting. Black and white copies from a copier are perfect, since this image will be used as mask material. Using a stencil knife on a cutting mat or other protective surface, cut out the subject you wish to highlight. Carefully lay the exact cutout (copier image) over the photo image. Hold in place with fingertip, caliper or carefully placed tabs of Scotch Removable Magic Tape. (Note: Photo damage can occur if tape is removed without care. Do not burnish tape tabs onto photo, and remove with a gentle, sideways pulling action.)

Using chopstick calipers, feather shadow tone around masked subject to bring the subject forward.

Select a tone of airbrush acrylic paint that complements the subject matter. A soft shadow tone is an excellent choice to start. With the subject masked off using your cutout black and white copy, fill the cup of your airbrush with the paint. Begin application with very light passes of color. You can always add more tone, so take it slow and easy on the buildup. The heaviest application of color should be around the cutout, with the tone feathering out to the edges of the photo.

If total blockout of background is the goal, simply use the cutout mask to protect the subject, then feather in layers to obliterate everything behind the subject. It might be interesting to add topical designs over the blocked background. Something unusual or unique will make your "adjusted" photo even more personal and will surely garner comments. Shapes can be cut from paper or Mylar, but commercial stencils originally designed for nail artists work great, too. The designs are varied and the size is perfect for photo backgrounds.

Two archival tips: Never alter a "one-of-a-kind" or heirloom photo. In those cases, work with a copy of the original. Minor restoration of sight tears or frays on photos is possible with airbrush as well. Use a high quality copy of the original photo, lightly misting color over the damaged areas. Use a very narrow spread of color and a very light touch. Adding more color is always easier than trying to remove or cover excess application. The results are quick, easy and often blend in perfectly with the original photo. Try it and see.

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.

The Art of Airbrushing Makeup

By Bradley M. Look
(Click on any image for a larger view.)

The use of the airbrush in the application of cosmetics in the film industry is becoming more commonplace then ever before. Television series such as PROVIDENCE, ANGEL, ENTERPRISE, FRIENDS, ACCORDING TO JIM, and PASSIONS, as well as features such as ALI, ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE, ZOOLANDER, STAR TREK FIRST CONTACT, and FLINTSTONES VIVA ROCK VEGAS, have all used the airbrush to further the craft of makeup artistry.

Makeup manufacturers, noticing the trend in airbrushing cosmetics, have followed the lead, developing products to be sprayed especially at low pressures. To date, there are currently 14 different lines of airbrushable makeup on the market. And there seems to be no end in sight. Even cosmetic giant Estee Lauder currently is having its liquid foundation line tested on customers in London using modified Iwata Eclipse gravity feed airbrushes.

As a staff makeup artist on the series ENTERPRISE (UPN's most current series based on Gene Roddenberry's STAR TREK), the makeup department uses the airbrush extensively to apply everything from a corrective female/male makeup to creating exotic aliens of the week. In addition to my regular work schedule on the show, I also teach airbrush workshops.

Recently, I was contacted by AirbrushTalk and asked to contribute my insight as a working airbrush makeup artist in the entertainment field. I was told that regular readers of this web publication had expressed an interest in this relatively new area of airbrushing.

But if the truth were known, the technique (or process) of spraying makeup on a performer's body is not at all new. One of the first features to apply liquid foundation using a spraying apparatus was the silent film, NOAH'S ARK, which was produced in 1929! The film featured a lengthy flashback sequence of the biblical Noah's Ark. For that spectacular flashback, Max Factor was called upon to apply body makeup to over 2,000 extras!! With not much time to apply the makeup, Max and his son got the bright idea of adding a liquid solvent to their regular cream makeup. Now with the makeup liquefied, it could be easily sprayed on the actors' bodies and faces.

Another early film to use the idea of spraying on the makeup was the 1938 feature, BOY MEETS GIRL. This was a screwball spoof about Hollywood, which starred James Cagney, Pat O'Brien and Ronald Reagan. Contained within the film is a scene in which Cagney played an extra in a Western as an American Indian who was sprayed down by the makeup artist with body makeup.

Within the motion picture union for makeup artists (Local 706 on the west coast), the ability to airbrush is now a part of the job classification. For job opportunities, it has become a necessary skill to possess, and not having it can keep you from securing work in this business.

While learning to airbrush makeup, it's important to take a class with a teacher who has a working knowledge of both makeup application and airbrushing. The contours, colors and movement of a face are very different from that of a flat canvas or T-shirt. Makeup artists have to be concerned with the hours the makeup will need to work. For example, the average time an actor will work on set is 12 hours! Additionally, it's not uncommon for the airbrushing on the talent's face to be sprayed onto prosthetics and around lace-fronted wigs. So you can see there are many considerations that have to be taken into account that a person who just airbrushes flat artwork would have no understanding or knowledge of. But, at the same time, that's not to say that a person who airbrushes 2-D can't work in 3-D on a human face or body. They can after they get additional training in makeup work.

In future issues I'll cover many topics, including a breakdown of product lines, safety issues, creating a mixed media airbrush makeup, airbrushing, pro's ethics, and beauty application, etc. If you should have questions along the way, please send them in, and I'll address them so that others can benefit from the answers: - Attention: Bradley Look.

Airbrush Products

New Products from Artool

(Click on any image for a larger view!)

ART MASK Friskfilm

Artool Products Company is proud to announce the availability of ART MASK Friskfilm. ART MASK is a medium-tack masking film that adheres to nearly all porous surfaces. It is especially suited for all canvas applications but also works beautifully on gesso board, illustration board and Claybord and is great with watercolor papers. ART MASK is very easy to cut and lift. Plus, it is easy to apply, even on larger flat surfaces, and it will not wrinkle, bleed or flutter under airbrush spray. It will not lift up paint when removed and/or repositioned, but will stay in place thanks to the smart-tack adhesive backing. ART MASK can be used with water-based and solvent-based paints, and is available in two convenient sizes: #F-201, 18" x 10 yd. and #F-202, 18" x 25 yd.


Artool Products Company is pleased to announce the availability of their long-awaited STRETCH MASK Friskfilm. STRETCH MASK is a multi-medium, stretchable and repositionable masking film, which is especially suited to conform to curved and irregular surfaces for painting, e.g., motorcycle tanks, helmets, and automotive shapes. STRETCH MASK is a clear film, so artwork is always in view. It is thin, has a medium tack and cuts very easily with an art knife or single-edged razor and can be effortlessly manipulated and repositioned without lifting up any paint. It will not wrinkle, bleed or flutter under airbrush spray. Artool STRETCH MASK is completely solvent-proof! It is excellent for fine artists, auto graphics painters, sign painters, hobbyists, modelers, sculptors and general airbrushers. STRETCH MASK has been rigorously field tested by some of the top pros and has been given a huge thumbs up by Chris Cruz, Richard Sturdevant, Pam Shanteau and The Skull Master himself, Craig Fraser: "STRETCH MASK is a definite must!" It is available in two convenient sizes: #F-101, 18" x 10 yd. and #F-102, 18" x 25 yd.

Patriotica Freehand Airbrush Templates by Craig Fraser

Artool Products Company is proud to announce the availability of their Americana series Freehand Airbrush Templates: "Patriotica," designed by the Skull Master himself, Craig Fraser. This is not just another collection of patriotic symbols, but ones that are guaranteed not to have graced a single famous monument to date. "Patriotica" comes in four easily recognizable motifs: "Red" PTR-1SP (You know, red, as in the stripes), "White" PTR-2SP (As you have probably guessed, white is for the stars), and "Blue" PTR-3SP (While this stencil does contain stars, which normally are not blue, "Red, White and White" just didn't sound patriotic enough.), and "Eagle One" PTR-4SP (No explanation required), or ask for All Four: PTR-5SP. And as always, the Artool "Patriotica" Freehand Templates are completely solvent proof. If these were any more patriotic, it would be illegal not to own them!

Visit Artool online at

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

New from Createx

Createx Airbrush Restorer

Createx is pleased to introduce its new Airbrush Restorer. Createx Airbrush Restorer safely dissolves hardened and dried acrylic and enamel paint from airbrushes and also safely rejuvenates O-rings and PTFE packing. Createx Airbrush Restorer is non-toxic, biodegradable, non-flammable and low vapor. To use, simply submerse the airbrush or parts for one to two hours; then rinse and spray with water.

Createx Airbrush Restorer is perfect for revitalizing any airbrush no matter how used, old or neglected it may be, and it is reusable!

Visit Createx online at features informative articles on Watercolor paints, brushes, paper, techniques, tips and products.

New from Iwata-Medea

Watercolor Airbrush Set with Compressor

With the new Iwata-Medea Watercolor Airbrush Set you can learn how to airbrush and incorporate it into your watercolor work. Everything you need to get started airbrushing with watercolors is included: The Smart Jet Compressor with Auto Shut-off, Iwata HP-C gravity-feed, dual-action Airbrush, 8 oz. bottle of Medea Airbrush Cleaner, Schmincke Watercolor Sampler Set of six 5ml tubes, three daVinci Cosmotop Watercolor Brushes, Ampersand Claybord, Fabriano Watercolor Paper, and Six-Well Mixing Palette for thinning and mixing your own watercolor combinations.

Automotive Graphics Airbrush Set with Compressor

The new Iwata-Medea Automotive Graphics Set supplies you with most of what's needed to get started airbrushing on vehicles, helmets, tanks, and virtually anything metal. Included are the new Smart Jet Compressor with Auto Shut-Off, moisture filter and air hose; Iwata Eclipse SBS side-feed, dual-action Airbrush; Pam Shanteau's new "Introduction to Airbrushing Flames" Video; Artool Freehand Template designed by renowned Flame Master Mr. J; and House of Kolor Paint Samples (three 1-oz. bottles of world famous urethanes.

Visit Iwata-Medea online at

See your retailer for these great new products from Artool, Createx, and Iwata-Medea!

...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.

Airbrush Workshops

The Gallery at the Square in Beacon, New York, (60 miles north of New York City) will present workshops in airbrush techniques on Saturday, August 10th. (The next class is scheduled for Saturday, October 5th.)

10am - 1pm
Basic Airbrush Techniques - Black and White
3-Hour Hands-on Workshop

Intermediate Airbrush Techniques - Working in Color
3-Hour Hands-On Workshop

The fee includes the use of equipment and all class materials. Instructor is Robert Paschal, MFA. Robert has taught these classes internationally and is the author of Airbrushing for Fine and Commercial Artists and co-author with Robert Anderson of The Art of the Dot-Advanced Airbrush Techniques. He has received the Vargas Award and American Artist magazine's Art Masters Award for Airbrush Teacher.

Class size is limited and pre-registration is required, so don't delay. For further information, go to or call 845.831.4458.

Whether you wish to use airbrush in fine art, illustration, crafts, tattoos, nails, or makeup, a basic knowledge of airbrushing is necessary. Here's your opportunity!

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Airbrush Action, Airbrush art, airbrush magazine, ARTtalk,