Site hosted by Build your free website today!


22 Airbrush Lessons for Beginners

Paasche Airbrush

This Booklet has been prepared to assist you in becoming familiar with the basics of Airbrushing.

While practice makes perfect, anyone with some eye hand coordination can use an Airbrush be it for Art, Hobbies, Crafts, Ceramics, Cake Decorating, Taxidermy, etc.

Using everyday items or prepared masks and stencils, even a beginner can enjoy the results. Practice and imagination offer unlimited pleasure in the use of this remarkable tool.

Designed to accommodate all Water Based Paints, Inks, Dyes, Oils, Stains, Lacquers, Enamels and Acrylics. Anything free-flowing with the consistency of milk or thinner should be sprayable through an Airbrush.

The Multiplehead (Nozzle) size of the Airbrush should be selected according to the viscosity (flow characteristics) of the fluid i.e. "the thicker the fluid – the larger the Multiplehead (Nozzle) should be, The Paasche H and HS Single-Action, VL and VLS Double-Action Airbrushes offer three (3) Multiplehead (Nozzle) sizes, 1, 3 or 5, designed to accommodate various fluids and/or atomize thinner fluids faster. The AB Airbrush Turbine Double-Action is designed for only the thinnest fluids. The V Series Double-Action Airbrushes (V, VV, VJR and VSR9001) are available in two (2) Multiplehead sizes, 1 and 2, and are primarily for thinner fluids and small patterns.

Pattern aze is determined by the size of the Muttiplehead for Double-Action Airbrushes and the Tip, Needle and Aircap (Color Adjusting Parts) for the Single-Action Airbrushes as well as the distance from the Airbrush to the painting surface.

Remember the thicker the fluid the more pressure required to properly atomize the fluid. Paasche Airbrush Company’s Compressors can accommodate all the fluids normally sprayed through the Airbrush.

To thoroughly enloy your Airbrush use it with Masks, Stencils or try it Freehand to achieve the look you want. Decorative Painting, Model Customizing, name it, you can probably find a use for your Airbrush anywhere around the House.

Keep your Airbrush in good working order with periodic cleamngs. Fallow instructions furnished with each Airbrush and you will find it to be a lifetime friend.


Before Starting Lessons, Carefully Read the Operating Instructions Supplied with the Airbrush.

1. Taking goad care of your Airbrush will be well worth the time and effort involved. Keep the Airbrush clean at all times. Before laying it aside, even for a short period, empty it of all colo/ and run clear water through or solvent if Acryhcs or Lacquer' are used. In spite of all precautions, there will be times when dried paint will begin to clog it and alter the performance af the brush. When this happens special care in cleaning must be applied, such as completely dismantling and cleaning all parts. Refer to the parts and instructions sheet included with your Airbrush to insure proper dismantling and assembly procedures.


2. There are three principal movements which must be coordinated. This should be the primary objective for the beginner.

  1. Hold the brush so that the tip of the forefinger rests on the operating lever and press straight down to start the air flow.
  2. For Double Action: A slight pull back will release the color flow. With practice it will be found that movements 1 and 2 can be combined into a single motion.
  3. For Single Action: Regulate the volume of color by rotating Tip of the Color Adjusting Part.
  4. Movement of the hand from Right to Left, etc, (Horizontally) and Up and Down (Vertically).


3. The width of the spray the Airbrush makes, will be determined by the distance the Tip of the brush is away from your work. Thus for a medium broad spray, hold the Airbrush at a distance approximately 4" to 6" inches from the surface. Build up the tone gradually. If you get the surface too wet, color will begin to creep and form puddles. For a fine line hold the Airbrush Tip much closer, approximately 1/4" to 1/2" from the work surface. It will be necessary to release only a small amount of color for the finest line.



4. First Pencil lightly on a sheet of paper or board, a number of 1/2" squares. Then hold the Airbrush 1/2" from the surface and airbrush small dots on the intersecting lines. Use diluted india ink or water soluble colors.

When you are able to place the dots accurately, begin enlarging the size of the dot by allowing more color to flow through the Airbrush, at the same time increase the distance between the Airbrush and the surface. Next, practice making medium sized dots; then larger ones until the entire lesson is reproduced as illustrated


5. If the Airbrush is held too closely to the drawing, with the full amount of color flowing, “puddles” will form and spread. Aim for accuracy, not speed, and continue practicing until you can airbrush any size dot exactly where you want it. This simple lesson will give you control of position and density of dots or shapes you require, which are important for touch-up and fill in work


6. This exercise will enable you to draw straight lines without forming dots or puddles at the beginning and the end of each stroke. Practice working with a relaxed arm and wrist movement Working from left to right, start moving the Airbrush without releasing any color. Start flaw at beginning of the line, stop flow at the end, and continue moving the Airbrush after the flow has been stopped. Increase the length of the line until you can airbrush a straight even line, long or short, with ease.

7. Parallel lines graduating from narrow to broad are made by releasing more color and at the same time pulling the Airbrush away from the surface. Start with a fine line and widen it as you allow more color to flow and increase the distance from surface to the Airbrush. Keep the Airbrush moving when color has been cutoff to prevent overspray which makes dots at the end of strokes. Practice daily to develop lever action control until free, automatic response is achieved without exertion.



8 and 9. Layout squares as in lesson one (1). Airbrush the dots as small as possible on intersecting lines. Connect dots with straight airbrush lines of an even tone, as shown in illustration. Repeat this exercise until you can make several examples without imperfections.

If you have mastered the lessons up to this point, you will have gained control of the operation of the Airbrush. As you continue to practice, you will develop a skill that will enable you to draw with the Airbrush, producing a soft or sharp and clear contrast in color or black and white, thus producing the tone values possible with the airbrush technique.

Practice every lesson carefully before proceeding to the next one.

10. Working with a relaxed wrist and arm movement from left to right and right to left, a shaded tone can be built from light to solid colors. The edges are masked out with masking tape, stencil or frisket. Frisket paper is described in Airbrush Techniques on step 16.

Always begin and end the spray on the mask or frisket surface. The tone is more evenly controlled when applied by this method.

11. In this lesson, we airbrush a variety of tones and effects with the use of masks and frisket paper cut-outs. Copy as closely as possible the color tone shown m the illustration Allow the color in the darkest area to dry before adding more color, or runs will form and leave water marks when the color has dried.

Always airbrush tones lighter than seems necessary because when the frisket is removed, the tones will appear darker on the white backround.



The sphere, cylinder, block and prism pictured on this page show how realistic airbrush technique adds the third dimension to any drawing. The illusion of depth in these drawings is made by graduating the tones. Use some type of mask for the background, see Airbrush Techniques Lessons 16 - 22. Copy these examples several times larger than shown. Always keep in mind the source of light, as indicated by the arrows in the illustration.

12. To paint the sphere, mask the background. Work from dark to light Use a circular motion To correct the tendency of spherical objects to become lopsided, keep the graduation on your copy the same on both sides. A stippled background may be obtained by adding a little heavier color to the cup and cutting down on the air pressure. For even, more uniform tone, hold the Airbrush farther away from the surface to be stippled.

13. Note how the light varies on the cylinder and makes the top flat surface different from the curved lines and sides. The cylinder friskel is cut along the curved line, and while the top is masked the sides are airbrushed. The sides are masked and the top painted. Only practice will enable the user to know how dark to paint one side of the subject while the other completed side is masked.


14. The block is a six-sided object that can be made to assume numerous positions; each will have ih own value as to highlighting effects depending upon the source and direction of light upon the object. Creating the illusion of light and shadow is the basic pnnciple of third dimension drawings. Tones should be graduated from dark to light to produce the most realistic effect.

15. The cone is another shape you may encounter. Portions of the cone are masked and tones are graduated fram dark to light. Stencils must be cut accurately to make one tone register close to another, and not overlap, Be sure the mask or stencil is tight against the paper or board. A loose mask allows color to work under and create a ragged edge. Copy the tones as closly as possible to those shown.

AIRBRUSH TECHNIOUES Using Stencils and Masks


A Multitude of different patterns may be achieved by using common household items such as a ruler, masking tape, scrap paper or board Additional items such as pre-cut stencils, templates, liquid frisket or acetate and frisket films may be purchased from a local art, hobby or craft store to produce additional effects. All of the above items may be referred to as masks.

16. A ruler, masking tape or the edge af a piece of paper or cardboard may be used to produce a straight hne and hard edge. A softer edge may be obtained if the mask is lifted slightly above the painting surface. This will allow some of the color to bleed under the mask thus eliminating ttle hard edge.

17. When using large masks or slencils that cannot be held by hand, coins may be taped to the back of the stencil or mask to raise it above the painting surface and create a softer edge. Coins or small weights may also be placed on top of the mask or stencil to keep it in place while painting over it.

18. Tom pieces of paper, in jagged forms, may be used to represent the edge of a cloud or mountain when used as a mask. Airbrushing over the edge of the tom paper while overlapping them will create different effects. Air-brushing over a paper doily, piece of lace or screen will reproduce that image on your painting surface for additional decorative effects. There is no right or wrong way to use these simple stencils and masks; experimentation is the best way to see for yourself.

19a. The advantage of uang frisket film for masking and stenciling purposes is that it allows the user to view the entire paintmg surface while painting only those areas which have been cut away from the work surface. Frisket and acetate films require the user to cut away parts of the medium with either a knife or stencil-burner tool. There are many types of frisket films in a variety of thicknesses and surfaces i.e.; matte or glossy. Most frisket films come with a low-tack adhesive backing that will adhere to the painting surface and may be removed and replaced after painting. Be sure to expenment with a few types of frisket to select which is best suited for your work. Be sure to read and follow the Manufacturer's instructions for proper use.

19b. Stencil or acetate film, unlike frisket film, does not have an adhesive backing. This type of film does allow the user to view the entire painting surlace through the cut film (stencil/mask) while using it, unlike paper or board. There are a variety of acetate thicknesses, some as thin as paper or as thick as board. It is best to select one that is easy to cut but not so thin that it will curl or crack while being used.


20. Liquid frisket may be applied to the work surface with a paintbrush, cotton swab, etc. It e not recommended that it be sprayed through the Airbrush! Liquid frisket is best suited for masking out small areas that are too small for cutting a stencil. Once the frisket mask has been applied and allowed to dry, it acts as a proteaive shield over the area to which it has been applied. You may airbrush over it, but do not disturb the surface or scratch il or you may damage the protective layer and color may bleed through. Once the paint has throughly dried, the frisket may be carefully removed with a kneeded eraser or rubber cement pick-up.

21. For backgrounds, mask-off the section with strips of paper and tape for large areas, liquid frisket acetate or frisket film may be used for small areas. In laying in graduated tones, always start with the darkest portion at the top, using a free arm swing all the way aaoss, gradually working downward, decreasing the flow of color so that it fades out entirely before the bottom is reached. Repeat the process and fade out sooner each time so that when you have finished, the top is darkest and the bottom is lightest.

22. When trying to reproduce complex textured surfaces such as marble, brick or wood the aforementioned techniques may be utilized along with freehand techniques to obtain the desired look. It is always recommended to use an actual sample of these materials for reference. Also refer back to Lessons 2 through 15.

so that it may be used to cut either curves The Paasche Swivel Knife has been designed with a swivel blade and lock nut or straight lines in a variety of masking and stencil materials.