Now that you feel comfortable with the airbrush, have worked with frisket film and
know how to develop hard-edged lines, it's time to move on to some fundamental exercises.
shapes have always been used to teach basics of art. It is said that all objects brought
down to their simplest visual levels are made up of basic geometric shapes. The airbrush,
because of the soft dots of the spray, has the ability to render objects
Sphere - When a sphere is rendered with an airbrush using black ink
and frisket film, it ends up looking up like a black and white photograph of a ball with a
On a sheet of paper (a minimum 145lb. weight or two-ply, 50% rag content, hot or cold
press, use a compass and a No. 4H pencil to draw a circle.
Remove the protective backing and apply the self-adhering frisket film. Smooth out any
Using a frisket knife, cut around the circle. Remember not to cut into the paper.
Remove the frisket film from the area to be painted (center of the circle or sphere).
NOTE: At this point you are ready to airbrush. Let's say that the light
is coming onto this sphere from the upper left-hand corner, so the highlight of the sphere
will be at the top left and the dark of the shadow will be at the bottom right.
Load the airbrush with a pre-reduced black airbrush color (Medea Com-Art) and begin to
spray it onto the surface of the paper. When you spray a shape such as a sphere, move your
hand in the direction of the shape. In this case that would be an arc, so spray the paint
onto the lower right-hand side and keep the upper left (the highlight) paint-free.
NOTE: When spraying the paint onto the surface, do it in slow,
overlapping movements, slowly building up the paint to the desired intensity. Let the
airbrush overspray that drifts out onto the work surface develop the value changes from
black to gray to white that make the sphere look rounder. Make sure that when you spray
the paint, you release the trigger at the end of each passon/off, on/offto
avoid the barbell effect (see Part 4).
Once you have airbrushed the sphere to your satisfaction, gently remove the frisket film
that remains on the background. You will see an exacting hard-edged line around the
perimeter of the sphere where the frisket covered the white of the paper. The overspray
from the airbrush came off with the frisket film, and the object that you have just
painted will look like a ball. Remember, practice makes perfect!
Cube - The rendering of the cube presents a particular challenge.
Unlike the sphere, which is simply one opening in the frisket, the cube has three separate
planes. One key point to remember in this exercise is once you establish a hard-edged line
in the darkest dark, it is virtually impossible to cover up. This statement will make more
sense as you progress through the airbrushing of a cube.
Using a 4H pencil, draw the three planes of a cube on a sheet of paper. (With a 4H
pencil you can erasewith a kneaded eraserpencil lines that may show up in the
rendering without marring the surface of the paper.)
Cover your drawing with a sheet of frisket film.
With a stencil knife and a straight edge, cut the straight lines that define the
perimeter of the cube and the three lines that separate the planes. We will number these
planes: right-hand #l, left-hand #2 and top #3.
Assume that the light is shining on this cube from the upper left-hand corner. The
darkest plane will be #1, medium value plane will be #2 and the lightest plane will be #3.
Remove the frisket film from plane #1. Load your airbrush with black Com-Art and spray
plane #1 dark. Do it by spraying overlapping passes, slowly bringing it up to an
opaqueness. Make the passes first back and forth and then up and down to get even
coverage. If you begin to see wet paint puddling on the frisket film, you are spraying too
much paint too quickly. Stop and let it dry.
Now that plane #1 is sprayed dark, remove the frisket film from plane #2. What will
appear is an exacting hard-edged line that separates one plane from the other. The only
way this hard-edged line can be obliterated is by painting the adjacent plane, #2, equally
as dark. You don't want to do this, since it will defeat your purpose. Without re-covering
plane #1, airbrush in plane #2 with slow overlapping passes, stopping when it becomes half
the value of #1.
Now that you have planes #1 and #2 rendered, remove the frisket film covering #1. What
should appear are hard-edged lines that give the shape of plane #1. This is your lightest
plane and should be painted 50% of the value of plane #2. Just a few passes with the
airbrush are necessary.
Now that all three planes have been painted dark to light, remove the remaining frisket
film that covers the background. What should appear is a cube that looks very
NOTE: If you wish to paint each plane a distinct color, you must
replace the removed frisket film over the previously painted plane before painting the
next to keep one color from drifting onto another.