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Dixie Art Supplies since 1935
2612 Jefferson Hwy. • New Orleans, LA 70121
Phone 1-800-783-2612
Order online safe, secure and easy at Dixie Art and Airbrushing

Fast Track Faux Marble

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

There are many ways to use an airbrush to assist in the creation of faux finishes, patinas and other decorative applications in the home or in commercial locations. Modifications of techniques used by professional painters and designers can help to create unusual and striking surfaces and make them easy to master. If easy to master, varied and personalized finishes sound interesting to you, then these concise methods might help you broaden the scope of your airbrush work. While designed for aesthetic applications such as walls and decor items, they can be used in your canvas work as well.

Some of the most intriguing things about the look of stone are the wide variety of colors, the complexity of patterns and the application in today's building and interior markets. Replications of natural stone finishes are seen in every style of home, on grand scales in office and commercial buildings and even in advertising art as well as other widespread applications. Once reserved for only rich and opulent locales, we find expertly presented faux finishes in every walk of life.

Color coordination and application can be selected for drama or realism. You may decide to add accents of color not ordinarily found in nature but suited to your situation; or you may want natural tones that are seen in nature, are soothing and coordinated or totally original and dramatic combinations.

Our goal in this article is to encourage you to experiment with some of the finishes you like and to use them in your decor. Materials are much the same as for any other airbrush project but the results can be exceptional. You will need an airbrush and air source (I use the Iwata/Medea Eclipse Revolution airbrush with its handy cup, perfect for smaller projects, coupled with the quiet yet hard-working Smart Jet air compressor), airbrush acrylic paints, a script brush for accent application, paper toweling and your cleaning station. Optional items include a feather for veining and a clear coat if you want a polished appearance. Since this is a practice, experimental, learning exercise, our base is mat board but you could practice on wood, canvas panels, cardboard, etc. Once your skill level is refined, almost any surface can be decorated. But we are going to keep our first exposure very simple so that the nuances of the finishes remain the focus.

The colors I have selected include a range of greens, black and two brights--yellow and lime green. Each will be applied to a base coat of white so that any open areas will serve to brighten the surface. When you practice, also use your selected tones on a dark surface. Using the same application order and amounts, the difference is dramatic. Try it and see.

Start color application with the darkest tone that in this case is black. Although there are no precise formulas for applying color, beginning faux finishers need some guidelines to determine the amount of color to apply. Through experience, I have found that coverage looks best when roughly 2/3 of the surface is covered by the darkest tone, leaving 1/3 completely unpainted. Medium tones are applied to 1/3 of the surface, usually in some but not all of the open areas and overlapping the dark tones. Accent tones are simply flicked on the finished tonal coverage.

Applications of two dark tones create a basis of depth and richness.

Dark tones, black and dark green, have been applied. Notice the contrast difference between the light open areas and the dark tones. Also, notice the random, spotty way in which the darks have been applied. This leaves areas of open base color for depth and upon which you build. If you covered the entire surface, you would eliminate the depth of lights and darks that shimmer through the finished surface.

Middle tones add a nice mix of tones.

Medium tones slightly overlap some of the dark tones, leaving less and less base tone unpainted. Using this method, two colors combine to create the appearance of a third color. Other layers of color can be added in this way for great variety of tone and texture.

Spritzes of black and bright tones create a look of depth and structure.

Final tweaks include flicks of black and brights. These spritzes of color add subtle texture and visual interest. These spits of paint are created by "plucking" the trigger of the airbrush so that it sends a burst of air through, carrying with it larger droplets of paint.

To create the look of marble, add break lines with a script brush (or feather). Allow the patterns created by darks and lights to help determine the placement of lines. Let the breaks outline, rather than dissect, areas of rich color and your result will be more realistic. Detail shows the relationship between the areas of base color, dark and medium applications and accent spritzes of color.

Script brush lines create the breaks and cracks characteristic of marble finishes. Detail of the final spritzes and breaks over base colors. Additional splatters tie the lines to the body of the faux stone.

Spray on a covering of gloss medium for a polished, shiny appearance and you are done! Experiment with other combinations, base tones and accents for a personal palette of faux finishing beauty. Remember, you are in control of all finishes and accents. Have fun and be creative.

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.

Into the Airstream

by Tom Grossman
(Click on any image for a larger view!)

Thinning Paint

There is a huge selection of paints on the market today in hobby shops, craft stores and art supply stores. Some are airbrush-ready or close to it, while others aren't. Thicker paints have to be thinned to work at pressures around 20 psi. Some manufacturers also make their own thinner or airbrush medium, while others don't. With a little practice, anyone can thin paints to the right consistency.

I use acrylics. A low-cost, potentially universal thinner for acrylics is window cleaner (not the automotive solutions, but Ajax, Windex and the like). And it won't tint your paint blue or pink, either. It works great with paints like Acryl, Liquitex or Ceramcoat. The technique in this article can be used with enamels as well. Note that it's important to always have good ventilation.

You will need a sample of paint that works well for you. We'll call that the known mixture. You will also need a non-porous surface like a glazed tile or a piece of glass. Place a drop of your known mixture near one edge of the surface. Place a drop of a new mixture close to the edge of tile near the drop of known mixture. Tip the surface and watch them run downhill. If the new mixture keeps up with the known, you got it right the first time. Be happy! If the new mix runs behind the known, you need more thinner. If the new mix runs ahead of the known, you need to add more paint.

Always do your test mixes with small amounts of paint and keep track of the proportions. That will keep you from possibly ending up with a huge volume of thinned paint.

Listen to how your paints sound in the bottle when you shake them. Watch them drip off toothpicks. With practice, you'll be able to tell if the mix is right just by that, and you'll also know how much to thin it.

A continuum of paints going from ComArt, the thinnest, on the left, to Liquitex, the thickest, on the right. With practice, you can thin just about any paint and make it spray for you. ComArt, Smiths, Model Master Acryl, Acrylicos Vallejo Model Air, Createx Auto Air, Delta Ceramcoat, Liquitex Artist Color. ComArt, on the left, is very thin and flows very quickly. Acryl out of the bottle, in the center, may be a bit on the thick side as it is just starting to flow. Liquitex, on the right, will need lots of attention.
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.

Painting Leopards' Dots and Patterns

by Alex Castro
(Click on any image for a larger view!)

Note scale of saddle. Officer Chasseur A. Cheval, Imperial Guard, Mounted, 180 mm, resin and white metal kit from LeCimier, Work-in-progress by Alex Castro

Painting miniature historical figures has always been a challenge. Regardless of the subject, a miniature painter is always expected to accurately depict the subject. One such example is the painting of a leopard skin on the saddle of mounted Imperial Guard. In the kit from LeCimier, The Officer Chasseur A. Cheval, Imperial Guard, Mounted, 180 mm, sculptured by the French Grand Master Charles Conrad, bringing out the leopard pattern for the saddle has typically been difficult and frustrating for modelers.

To paint the saddle, first prime the entire piece using the two-part priming process, which consists of silvering the piece with Krylon Bright Silver spray and then airbrushing it (use Iwata HP C) with Tamiya FX2 (flat white). Proceed to paint the leopard skin by mixing Tamiya FX60 (Flat Dark Yellow) and FX2 (Flat white) in a 1:1 ratio but leaning towards a cream color. Using the Iwata HP C airbrush, spray on the cream color. Then using the Iwata HP A or HP B, lightly spray Tamiya FX64 (flat red brown). To do this, start spraying at the middle of the leopard skin, gradually moving towards the sides. The middle should be a darker red-brown and the edges should be a lighter red-brown color. Do not over spray. When you finish spraying, you should be able to see the cream color coming through the red-brown color. Dull cote to protect your work and dry for a couple of minutes.

Painting the spots on the leopard skin is a slow, methodical process. With a small sable hand brush, using Tamiya red-brown, paint the dots, working them in a circular motion. Then to create the clusters, using Tamiya Flat black and flat brown in a 1:1 ratio, paint the dots around; again working them in a circular motion using a hand brush. Note: In studying the leopard skin, I found that there is a clear pattern. Clusters of spots vary in shape and size and can range from two to as many as five dark spots. I also found that the clusters are arranged in rows of twos and these rows vary. On the higher extremity, which is the leopard's head, the spots are small and as you follow them to the middle, they become clusters. As you keep following the spots from the mid-body descending to the paws (lower extremities), you will note that the spots again become small.

The painting of the leopard saddle requires patience and skill, but the outcome is well worth it!

In my opinion, this is one of the best mounted Napoleonic pieces ever cast in resin--a must-have for those of you who collect Napoleonic figures.

Alex Castro

Real spots!! Spots painted by Alex Castro!!


Note the lighter areas around the edge of the saddle and the folds. Close-up view from left side.

Note that the spots extend under and behind the saddle. Full view of saddle. Note the airbrushed tones at the front.

Note the buckskin breeches of the rider. Note how the under tone comes through and how it affects the dots.

Rear view - This is a composition by itself. Full view of horse and saddle.

The border of the saddle will be painted in red followed by gold, red, and green lines. The composition is balanced using warm and cool tones between the saddle, the rider and the horse to make it visually balanced and attractive to the eye.

Officer Chasseur A. Cheval, Imperial Guard, Mounted, 180 mm, resin and white metal kit from LeCimier, Work-in-progress by Alex Castro.

Reuel's Art Supplies
Reuel's Art Supplies, Drafting Supplies and Picture Frames, Framing supplies and we ship worldwide. All Major Brands of Art Supplies. Art books, Projects, Art Information and Drafting materials for all your artistic needs. Call us toll free at 1-888-355-1713 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mountain Time or shop on-line at www.reuels.com.

The Artool Story - Part 1

Reprinted with permission of Airbrush Action Magazine

The Artist as Entrepreneur

Gabe McCubbin's Passion for Airbrushing Sparks The Creation of Artool, One of The Industry's Fastest Growing Companies

By Dave Waite

Many great ideas start on a bar napkin. Gabe McCubbin's starts with a doily.

Made of decorative lace, doilies were intended to be placed under cake or party plates to make food look inviting. But in Gabe's hands, they invited invention.

For a young airbrush artist craving new patterns for his T-shirt canvases in the early 70s, old, handmade doilies acquired at collectible shops, garage sales and thrift stores became his first templates.

"I would scour the thrift stores for them. They made great images with their intricate, textural patterns which were great for textural backgrounds and gradated looks," Gabe said. "They were perfect for outer space or underwater scenes. I used some of the doilies so much they would get stopped up and had to be tossed out."

But the supply of doilies was drying up. Which gave Gabe an idea...

Gabe in Tijuana atop a donkey, err "zebra," which served as his first airbrushed canvas.

Devilish Details

Growing up in his father's workshop in Sacramento, Gabe drew cartoons while honing his tool skills, and watched his dad create and patent carpentry tools for woodworking.

"I became obsessive when I bought anything," Gabe said. "If the product packaging was made to hang on a peg, I would routinely pick out best one, and look for any manufacturing anomalies in the others, noting the slightest differences. I was intrigued by the details of how everything was manufactured and put together."

Academically, he wasn't much of a high school student, but Gabe would always ace his shop classes, where he learned everything he could on metal, wood and automotive projects.

Seaman First Class McCubbin aka "The Barber of the High Seas."

Surf's Up At The Circus

Following a three-year stint in the Navy, Gabe gravitated to the sunny climes of Southern California with only a suitcase and a guitar. He loved the sunny weather and the beach scene. His first job was painting and refurbishing broken-down teletype cabinets for resale.

For Gabe, Southern California indeed became La-La Land for a time, as the singing waiter served celebrities in a famed hip-and-happening Santa Monica restaurant called The Great American Food & Beverage Company. He worked alongside Katy Segal, an exceptional blues singer who went on to star in the TV show Married With Children, and Patti Davis, Ronald Reagan's daughter.

A girlfriend introduced him to a "wild new scene" with an arty crowd situated in Topanga Canyon that was unlike anything he'd seen before. Airbrushing was surging in popularity there, with a Rainbow Family wearing outfits that were airbrushed from head to toe in colorful patterns.

In 1973, Gabe used his first airbrush at Lady Rain Productions, a studio where he would paint anything and everything, creating custom T-shirts, spraying surf boards, experimenting with early body art and decorating custom costumes for rock stars like Elton John.

One of Gabe's first airbrushed pieces.

"It was a circus ride," Gabe said. "It was where Hollywood and the art community came together."

He mixed his own acrylic tube paints that were squeezed in empty juice bottles with various mediums, and strained through a cheesecloth to get out the heavier pigments.

"This was where I learned my skills in airbrushing, and eventually started making and cutting my own templates," said Gabe, who spent nearly eight months working in the studio.

Birth In Venice

Gabe's undeniable passion for airbrushing led him to set up his own shop in sunny Venice, where he spent two years airbrushing tons of tees, custom-painted dolls and women's wear for boutiques. Many of his creations were sold on the beach and local boutiques.

Venice was where he would design his first templates, made out of oiled stencil board. They would last for a while, but then paint would eventually build up and a new template would need to be made.

After perfecting how to make acrylics stay on a shirt, Gabe needed a new challenge.

The three missing Village People (artists all, naturally) get their photo snapped with a pensive Jim Morrison look-alike in the mid 70's.

Flying Solo

Back in the 70s, the airlines would retread old tires to save money. Gabe took a job managing a tire service conveniently located in a huge warehouse with full plumbing. Little did the airlines know that Gabe spent his evenings their as well.

"I delivered those recapped tires to the airport, working a few hours a day, and then spent the rest of my day and night painting and playing music. They had no idea I lived there," said Gabe, who was often the only soul still stirring in the industrial area of the city, except when his avant-garde jazz group would jam and rehearse late into the night.

His "art studio" proved to be the ideal location over the next five years for making enormous fine-art canvases that he would stretch himself, and then paint abstracts of random shapes or colors. He was still captivated by the airbrushing medium.

"It was amazing the way you could gradate colors so quickly and seamlessly, one to the next, blending them, covering all this area in a short space of time," Gabe said. "The act of atomizing paint on a surface...there was just something really magical about it."

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"Sojourn # 4", 5' x 7', 1976. One of Gabe's early dimensional, airbrushed fine-art canvases.

Gabe also became a serious student, getting a degree in the theater arts, which he used to perform at the Venice Living Theater, and taking nearly every art class he could at Santa Monica College, where the only real costs were art supplies.

Flat Broke

The retread tire business eventually went under and suddenly Gabe had to find some place to not only work, but live as well. He would continue to paint on the side, but spent his days now working for Columbia Pictures Distribution, promoting new films to exhibitors in the mid-70s.

"I would have to watch many films, but only a small percentage of these movies was even worth watching," Gabe said. "In the end, I realized that selling films wasn't in the cards for me. I could have stayed and been very successful and secure there, but I didn't have the passion. It was too regimented. I had to create."

The Airbrush Action magazine article that debuted Artool's first Multirail.

Wandering Into Fate

Gabe next managed a music repair store. Still filled with a passion for painting, he wandered into Zora's Art Supply in West Hollywood, one of the only stores that carried airbrush supplies and replacement parts. Zora Pinney was known for traveling the world with her husband to visit paint manufactures so they could find paint no one else had. At that time in LA, many specialty fine art materials were hard to come by.

"Zora, who was legendary in the art supply business, said to me, 'I'm kind of shorthanded, could you help me out?'" Gabe recalls. "I ended up staying in the art supply business for 10 years."

Gabe would manage different stores, including Graphaids, Inc., in the West LA area for eight years, selling supplies to artists and celebrities like Sylvester Stallone and David Hockney.

By this point, Gabe was exceptionally knowledgeable about art supplies, and was well connected within the community. In 1992, entrepreneurial ideas would come to him that had been simmering all along.

Vision Leads To Action

Gabe saw a need. There was still no company making templates. He thought his invention, the Multirail, today known as an Artist's Bridge, would be a tremendous aid to artists for working closely over surfaces with soft and wet mediums without smudging or smearing, but didn't know enough about manufacturing to start his own business.

"I would spend all day and night trying to fine-tune this new product," said Gabe, who didn't realize his efforts were about to become a company called Gabe McCubbin Design, which he quickly changed to Artool Products Company.

He sent his first invention, an 18" Clear Multirail, to Airbrush Action magazine. It garnered a full-page review written by John Thies, and Cliff Steiglitz called to see if he wanted to take out an ad in the magazine, which Gabe didn't need to think about twice.

The product review changed everything. The Multirail was being sold in modest amounts by some Southern California art and airbrush stores, but now requests started pouring in from around the country.

He was helped by good friends Gig Sims in Redondo Beach and Karen Heidrick in Santa Monica, who both worked tirelessly to help turn his ideas into reality. And Gabe's parents both supported and lent advice to get Artool off the ground.

See our next issue for The Artool Story - Part 2. Visit www.artoolproducts.com.

WatercolorTalk.com features informative articles on Watercolor paints, brushes, paper, techniques, tips and products.

New Products from Iwata-Medea

Iwata has just introduced two new products: Table-Top Cleaning Station and Pistol-Grip Filter.

The Iwata Table-Top Cleaning Station is the perfect complement to your airbrush. When cleaning your airbrush you spray directly into the container, which greatly reduces overspray in your work environment. The container is easy to clean, is convenient and portable, and has an easy to change filter. It is also solvent-proof so that you may use it when cleaning either water- or oil-based paints from the airbrush.

The new Iwata-Medea Pistol-Grip Filter is the final defense to deliver clean, dry air to your airbrush and conveniently attaches directly onto the airbrush. Miniature in size, the super-fine 5-micron filter element performs like a full-size filter separator. The clear filter bowl allows a visual inspection of built-up moisture, which is then evacuated through a spring-loaded release valve-without removing the filter from the airbrush. Comfortable in the hand, the Pistol-Grip Filter acts as a handle on the airbrush and helps to relieve muscle tension.

These airbrush accessories have arrived just in time for the holiday shopping season and make great gifts or stocking stuffers, so see your Iwata-Medea dealer; and visit www.iwata-medea.com to view the best in airbrush equipment/accessories that the industry has to offer!

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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.

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