Paasche VL Airbrush

Passche VL airbrush is an overview of the double action Paasche VL airbrush for those folks who run into trouble putting the VL back together after taking it apart to clean it.

Airbrushs are easily taken apart but more often than not hard to get back together .Here’s how to get your VL back together. Thanks to Dr Doom for allowing me to use this VL he won in our tech tip contest on the airbrush forum.


Paasche VL airbrush

So you have taken your VL apart, cleaned it now its time to put it back together. Below is a picture of all the parts you have, hopefully. By now I hope you have learned not to take your airbrush apart over the sink, great way to loose parts.


Paasche VL parts
airbrush lube

Above: Its personal preference but I use the above all the the time in my airbrushs. You can purchase Spray Gun Lube in any good automotive paint store. I put a very thin ( THIN ) film on my every part before I put the airbrush back together.


needle support

1) First we will put the spring over the needle support.


needle adjusting sleeve over the spring

2) With the spring in place we will put the needle adjusting sleeve over the spring. Next we will take the locking nut and screw it onto the end of the needle support assembly.


needle housing assemble
VL trigger

3) Pictured above you can see on the inside of the airbrush the top of the valve plunger. This is where the piston on the trigger will fit into . The notch in the trigger shaft should be facing the front and back of the airbrush as that is where the needle will slide thorough . Also you can see the top of the rocker this will ride on the back of the trigger once its installed.


airbrush rocker arm

4) If the trigger is installed correctly when you push down on the trigger it should spring back up. The top of the rocker should be against the back of the trigger.


Paasche VL nozzle


Paasche VL tip or nozzle

5 ) Now we will install the tip. This tip happens to be a self aligning, floating style tip . An Iwata HP-C has a fixed tip that actually screws into the airbrush. The VL tip just sits there and is held in place by screwing the aircap body over it. For this we will turn the airbrush up , place the tip in place and screw on the aircap body.


airbrush tip and air cap

6 ) Once the aircap body is in place your airbrush should look like the above. You can see the tip sticks out of the aircap body a little. The aircap body I just hand tighten, you can use the small wrench Paasche provides with the airbrush but there is no need the crank down on the aircap body. Remember you will have to get it off someday .


Paasche VL air cap

7) Next we will screw the aircap onto the aircap body. Again hand tight is generally just fine.


installing the needle

8) Next we will install the needle. Make sure the locknut is backed off ( not tight ) and carefully insert the needle. Push the needle in until it seats in the tip, no need to apply pressure here just gentle push the needle in until it rest inside the tip.


stalling the back handle

Finally screw the back handle on and you are done and ready to start airbrushing.

Motorcycle Gas Tank Trick

Motorcycle gas tank trick tutorial covers a little trick for masking off the gas filler hole on a motorcycle tank when painting the tank. Written by Don Johnson brought to you by Airbrush Technique Magazine.

Kustom painting for a living how much better can life get? Being able to work our own hours, playing in paint all day, creating until your hearts content; cool deal.

But a last before we get to play, be creative there’s the reality of prep work and the dreaded countless hours of masking, taping areas, objects off so no paint creeps in those areas. It’s boring even writing about it much less spending countless hours actually doing it.

Here’s a little trick I picked up along the way to make the task go a little quicker, make life a little simpler less stressful if you will. One of the worst areas on motorcycle gas tanks to mask off are those holes where the gauges are inserted and the gas filler hole. These areas should stay bear metal as we don’t need the primer, paint in these areas acting like a wick, sucking the gas up under our nice new kustom paint job.

The three pictures below show you a very simple way to mask these areas off and the best part is the masking material used is as close as your mom’s or wife’s baking supply stash. Yes as you can see it’s the cup cake foil deals your mom or wife (husband maybe I guess) use to bake those great cup cakes in.

Simply double up a piece of masking take so both sides are sticky and put it on the bottom of the cup cake foil, insert it in the gauge, filler hole and it’s a done deal. Those areas are now masked off good enough to not allow paint to get where you don’t want it. Pretty silly but very effective and cheap, hope you find this helpful next time you are masking off a motorcycle tank.


motorcycle gas tank
motorcycle gas tank
motorcycle gas tank

I hope you found the above helpful and you can apply it to your next custom painting project. Please book mark this site and come back often as I will add more info as time allows. If you like this web site please check out our magazine as its your support for that which make this site possible.

Monster Truck Mural

Monster truck mural tutorial covers  how I airbrushed the murals on the monster truck Bad News Travels Fast for the owners and Mattel Toys. Although I the article was originally published on 2005 the information, techniques used are still very relevant to today’s airbrushing and custom painting. This project was a lot of work but it was a real blast to see the truck out crushing cars at the monster truck shows. This article appeared in issue #4 of Airbrush Technique Magazine in 2005 and is in PDF format for easy reading and downloading if you care to save it.

monster truck mural
monster truck

What I used to paint the murals: House of Kolor basecoats, Iwata airbrushes, transfer tape, 3M masking tape, fine line tape.

CLICK HERE to read the article

airbrush magazine issue 4

Airbrush Technique magazine Issue #4 CLICK HERE for more info

Monster Truck Mural Video

Airbrushing murals on the Monster Truck Bad News Travels Fast truck. I really didn’t set out to make a video of this as I was really pushed for time to get this done. I put some clips I shot during the painting process and this video is the result.


Materials used House of Kolor, Iwata HP-CS, transfer tape, fine line tape, masking tape.

Pictured below the monster Truck Bad News Travels Fast in action crushing some cars.

 Monster Truck Mural Video
monster truck

Masking Helmet Trim

Masking helmet trim is always a pain to accomplish I’ve experimented with dozens of ways of dealing with helmet trim this is the way I’ve found works best. For high dollar helmet designs I more times than not remove the trim replacing it with new trim but for the average helmet paint job this works great. I have to thank Pat (aka airbrushguy) for turning me onto using the fine line tape technique.

helmet trim 1

Using 1/8 inch fine line tape ( I prefer the purple plastic tape for this) run it around the ever top of the rubber bottom trim. Using your finger nail roll the fine line tape under the trim. When running your fine line tape you want it even or just over lapping onto the helmet a very, very small amount. Make sure you get ALL the fine line tape rolled under, leaving any over lapping on the helmet will cause problems at the finish of the project so be sure to double check this.


masking visor area

Next you want to close up the visor space, seal it off when a good grade masking tape. I use a plastic spreader to work the tape in against the rubber trim than cut off the excess that over laps onto the helmet.



protecting inside of helmet

Next step is to protect the inside of the helmet, for this I use a plastic bag like you get at grocery store.


protecting the inside
protecting inside helmet

sing the plastic spreader again I work the plastic bag down between the helmet padding and helmet providing a good seal so no paint gets inside the helmet.


helmet trim

Now I run a single row of tape over lapping the rubber trim and plastic bag. Keep it off the fine line tape thought…


masking helmet trim

Lastly one more row of masking tape this time over lapping the fine line tape. I do this so when I need to use two coats of clear I can remove the fine line tape between clear coats with out removing the bag protecting the inside of the helmet. After you clear the helmet you’ll want to pull that last row of masking tape and the fine line tape BEFORE the clear dries. This allows the clear to flow a bit and provides a nice seal between the helmet and rubber trim. When I have to clear coat, wet sand to knock down the edges on graphics before I apply the last coat of clear I apply the fine line tape/masking tape again.

Using this technique you should end up with a nice clean looking junction between the rubber trim and helmet. I hope you found this helpful….

Masking A Airbrush Design

Masking a airbrush design tutorial covers back masking tribal graphic’s on a Harley tank before painting. Brought to you by Airbrush Technique Magazine published monthly now!!

Now, if you need to back mask your design and don’t know how to back mask “in place” you could be in for some real trouble……especially if you masked your tank in this fashion (green tape), or you don’t have usable “cutouts” that you weeded out earlier, easy solution. by Tom Banks

masking before painting 1
masking before painting 2


I use some left over vinyl Paint Mask (tackier than transfer tape). I press it down very well over my design and onto my original masking. I ensure that I don’t have any wrinkles anywhere on my tribal design….I push them to the outside.


masking before painting 3


masking before painting 4

I can’t see through the paint mask, but because I left my original masking “in-place” there is a physical difference in thickness that I can determine. There is only 1 layer of tape (paint mask) on my tribal design, while there is now 2 layers of tape everywhere else. I will use my fingernail to trace this edge, and really work the paint mask down. Now I have a usable guide for my razor cuts.


masking before painting 5


masking before painting 6

Using the sharpest razor I can find I carefully begin cutting along the groove I just put in with my fingernail.

Once I remove all the masking around my tribal design, you can truly tell how accurate of a mask I’m able to create this way. You are ready to keep on painting at this point, with no worries about overspray because you effectively protected your artwork.

ABOUT Tom Banks:

Tom Banks provides airbrush graphics and custom paint on anything that will stay still long enough to paint! Whether it is a custom chopper, crotch-rocket, metric cruiser, car, truck, van or human – Tom “Big Daddy” Banks will take it to another level. Tom is self taught, as well as trained by the world renowned Airbrush artist, Richard Markham…..all to provide airbrush designs that are unique and in high demand. From classic designs to hardcore-in your-face schemes, dreams (or nightmares) will be brought to life. Award winning designs include;

Easyriders Magazine Rodeo Tour 2009 – 1st Place Ride in Bike Show, Artist of the Month – December 2008 in Airbrush Technique Magazine, 1st and 3rd Place at the Niles Expo Center Bike Show 2008, 1st Place May-June 2008 Airbrush Competition in Airbrush Technique Magazine, 1st and 2nd place, metric cruiser at Gatto’s Harley Davidson Block Party 2008.

In addition, Tom is an airbrush demo artist for Ohio Technical College and spends much of time on the road and in high schools demonstrating the art of airbrushing and the career options for students in the field. Over the past 2 years, Tom has demonstrated at over 100 high schools to over 7,000 students. He has also appeared in dozens of Autorama, World of Wheels, and International Motorcycle Shows as a demo artist and charity auction artist.

Making T Shirt Boards

Making T Shirt Boards

There are many ways of making T Shirt boards in this tutorial I’ll show the way I’ve found worked best for me when I owned a T Shirt shop. Don

What is a T Shirt board?
For those of you who don’t know a T Shirt board is inserted into the garment you intent to airbrush to separate the front from the back of the garment. It wouldn’t do to have the paint you apply to the front of a shirt bleed thru to the back with the board in between the front and back this will not happen. The T Shirt board also acts as a foundation from which to hang the garment so you can stand it on an easel while airbrushing. And lastly it provides you with a way of gently pulling the garment tight to provide a nice flat, wrinkle free surface to paint on. The same type of boards can be made to use in pant legs, shirt shelves also while airbrush designs on these parts of a garment.

What do you make shirt boards out of?
Just about any rigid thin material will work just fine as a shirt board, most commonly used is card board, hard board or particle board. A sheet 3/16 In. x 4 Ft. x 8 Ft. service tempered hardboard at Home Depot retails for about $10.00 and you should be able to get four to eight boards out of it depending of course on the size you make them.

What size should you make the shirt boards?
You will find that having several different size boards for different size shirts, shelves or paint legs is very handy. The board should fit snuggly into the garment but should not stretch the garment to much beyond the natural fall of the garment. The best way is to actually measure the garments is side to side and top to bottom to come up with the best dimensions for your boards.
Some artist like their boards to be smaller than the top to bottom measurement so you fold the tail of the shirt under the bottom of the board, others prefer the boards to be slightly bigger that the shirt. It’s personal preference and will require some experimenting on your part to find what is most comfortable for you.

Below is an example of how I go about making shirt boards.


t shirt board 1
t shirt board 2

I like to use hard board or particle board which can be purchased at Home Depot, Lowes type stores in the lumber section. You can generally purchase full sheets measuring eight foot by four foot or half or quarter sheets. This board measures about three sixteenths inch thick or about the same thickness as most card board if you have a hard time picturing three sixteenths of an inch.


tools for making t shirt boards

After you have measured your shirts side to side, top to bottom simply use those measurements to cut your particle board to size using a jig saw. To keep your garment from snagging on the corners when you are inserting or taking the board out of your garment it’s best to round the corners off. For this I simple laid a roll of masking tape in each corner tracing the circumference of the roll of tape to get nice rounded corners. Again use a jig saw to cut your corners and hit it quickly with some medium grit sand paper.


t shirt

Pictured here you see the T Shirt compared to the board I cut for it, notice it is not very much wider than the shirt itself. If you make the board to wide and stretch the shirt to much it will of course result in finished art work that is a bit distorted.


t shirt board

Here you can see my shirt board is longer than my shirt which is how I prefer to make my boards. With the shirt on an easel paint will collect on the shelf of the easel as you airbrush if the board is shorter than the shirt requiring you to fold the shirt tail under the shirt board at the bottom chances of getting that paint sitting on the shelf on the shirt is pretty much a given. To solve this potential problem I make my boards longer than the shirt so no part of the shirt will touch the shelf of the easel.
Taping the shelves of the shirt around the back side of the shirt board will ensure they stay out of your way while you are airbrushing the design.


t shirt boards 6

Pictured here is a T Shirt board I cut for a children’s shirt you can see how much smaller it is compared to the adult T Shirt board behind it. I hope this gives you some ideas on making your own shirt boards.

Making Airbrush T Shirt Stencils

Making airbrush t shirt stencil tutorial covers materials used to make your own airbrush t shirt stencils and the techniques to go about making them.

Airbrushing T Shirts is fun and can be very profitable as a hobby or a full time job. To make stencils for airbrush t shirts where you will be using the stencil repeatedly the best material to use is pennant felt stenciling material. Written by Don Johnson brought to you by Airbrush Technique Magazine

Where using card board, plastic, x-ray film as stencil material can get pretty messy as they will not absorb the excess paint pennant felt will. A huge advantage when using a stencil for airbrushing t shirts as you don’t have to worry about the excess paint getting on your t shirt.

stencil material
stencil material

Pennant felt is sold in rolls by the yard and is about two dollars a yard at the time I wrote this. That is a fairly cheap for stencil material that you can use over and over and not have worry about cleaning. When your stencil gets to much paint on it you just toss it and make another.

Above you can see some of the t shirt stencils I have used cut out of pennant felt, a horse, clouds, circle. On the right are some temp tattoo stencils I cut out of pennant felt, pennant felt works great for that application also.


thin material

Pennant felt is a felt like thin material that is very easy to cut and is flexible.


cloud stencil

Here you can see the cloud stencil I cut out of pennit felt.


tools to cut stencils

Pennant felt can be cut easily with a hobby knife or stencil burner.


spray adhesive

Once you have your pennant felt stencil cut it can be held in place on the t shirt with repositionable spray adhesive.Be sure to allow the spray adhesive to dry a little before sticking it on the shirt for best results.You can purchase pennant felt at some craft stores locally, if that is not possible here are two other outlets that sell pennant felt.The Felt People where you can order On-Line or Troy Corporation at 800-888-2400 Hope you found this helpful. Have fun, it’s just paint.

Making Airbrush Stencil With Computer

By Brad DeLaTorre

Supplies required: Computer, Printer, Scanner, X-acto Knife, Paper, Spray Adhesive, Clothes Pins, Double Action Airbrush, Createx Paint, Masking Tape

First, I will scan a business card logo in order to crop and resize the image to fit perfectly on three hats I’m working on for a small business. For those of you who do not have much experience with a computer, here’s how to scan the business card.

Scanning Your Image
Place the card on the scanner with the printed side of the card facing down. Open your photo program and look for an area titled “File” on your Menu Bar. Click that and then scroll down to “Import” and click. Next, select “Twain” and then click on “Acquire”. This will open your scanner program and scan your picture. Adjust the resolution in Pixels and Output Type to your liking. When all the scanner settings are where you want them, select “Accept” and the image will now appear on your photo program. Now you are ready to crop and adjust the area that you wish to print.

Printing Your Image
To print your image, go to the File menu and scroll down to “Print Layout”. Adjust the size so it will fit to the object you are painting on. Next, go into the Print Settings and find the setting for the printer that says “Quick Print”, select that so you do not waste ink. Now you can take the print to the object you are painting to test out the size. If it fits well, do not adjust it. If your image is more detailed, it is wiser to use photo, transparency, or sticker paper for your stencil. Also you may want to print multiple copies for different areas of the image and one for a reference.


design to be airbrushed


scan design


airbrush stencil 1


Cutting The Stencil

When I have my printed image, I take a X-acto Knife and apply enough pressure to cut the image out smoothly. Caution:X-acto Knives are very sharp, be careful!! Sometimes it is easier to cut the image out by dragging the paper while cutting. The cleaner and sharper that you cut it, the better the end result of the painted project will be and the less hassles you will have to endure.


cutting airbrush stencil


How to Prepare and Use the Stencil

Now I take the stencil and flip it to the backside. Use some Spray Adhesive and gently, lightly spray the back of the stencil two to three times. Let it bond to the paper for about two minutes before sticking it to your project or it may leave goo on your project when you are finished. Your project must be properly mounted, so in my case I place all three hats at the top of my airbrush board with clothes pins, but I space them out enough so over-spray will not affect them. Then I line up and stick the stencil to the hat. Make certain that it is flat to the surface so that you will not have to much under-spray. Now use tape so you can cover or mask off the areas of the hat that will not be painted.

spray adhesive


hats to be airbrushed


airbrush stencil on hat

Because the hats are black, I spray a base of white first and use a hairdryer to set it. Next, I airbrush the colors that I want the image to be. Lastly, I airbrush the shadows and highlights. After airbrushing, remove the tape first and then remove the stencil, be careful not to rip it! There will be some under-spray when it is removed, however it is easy to touch that up in this case because it is a black hat. The flatter the surface, the better this technique works. Using the edge of a paper and placing the edge to the area that needs to be corrected, I paint the area black where the error is. Now that your project is completed, you may use the same stencil for the remaining two hats. Remember, after each hat, step back to look at it, find any errors and correct them. Now you are finished!



airbrush hat with stencil 1


airbrushing hat with stencil 2


airbrushing hat with stencil 3


airbrushing hat using stencil 4


airbrushed hats completed

Lion Helmet Airbrush Tutorial

Lion Helmet Airbrush Tutorial covers rendering a lion on the back of a motorcycle helmet using techniques borrowed from other forms of airbrushing, illustration mostly. It is also a good study on why you should never give up on a design and see it thru to completion. Written by Don Johnson,

Sponsored by Airbrush Technique Magazine the best airbrush magazine on the planet.

The lion is not meant to be fine art by any means its helmet art but many of the techniques used in airbrushing illustration, canvas can be used just the same. Mainly the techniques of using an easer and hobby knife to remove paint from an area to help build highlights  character in your design are barrowed from those airbrushing those surfaces. You accomplish this on a hard surface much the same as you would on illustration board or canvas; you apply your paint in very thin coats and in many layers. Between layers use an easer or hobby knife blade tip to remove some of the color revealing the light back ground color.

Using this technique doesn’t make you less of an artist, doesn’t reflect your lack of skill with an airbrush it’s just another tool you have at your disposal to help you render your art. Some of the best illustrators in the airbrushing field use this same technique, Mark Frederson for one.

One thing I have learned over the year’s custom painting is to see a design thru to the end; there may come a point where you believe all is lost, the design just isn’t working. At times like this don’t throw the towel in see the design thru to the end; more times than not you will be surprised at how well things turn out in the end.

Airbrush Supplies Required:

double action airbrush, House of Kolor paint and clear coats, hobby knife


motorcycle helmet

The helmet the customer sent me was black so in the back where the lion will go I based it white and shot a quick coat of clear over it feathering it out on the rest of the helmet. Very similar to spotting a panel in on a car that’s been damaged in a small area where you just blend the clear in. After allowing the clear to dry, flash over night I scuff the area preparing to add the lion.

For rending the fur I will be using a scraping technique to remove paint so the clear coat over the white is required to hold up to this technique. A simple mid coat or SG100 will not work so I op for two part clear.


lion head stencil

Using Photoshop I resize my reference image to fit the size I need for the helmet. With a hobby knife I cut out the main parts of the lion like the eyes, nose and mouth. The foundation of your painting has to begin with having the correct prospective. The nose, mouth and eyes need to be in the correct position to help make viewers believe it’s a lion. Using this technique insures that at least to start the painting I have a good foundation to work from.


lion head out line

After positioning the reference picture on the helmet I airbrush a little black thru the opening I have cut leaving registration marks on the helmet. Now I know where the eyes should be in relationship to the nose, mouth, ears.


spraying light brown

And now the fun begins as the painting process starts, I begin by using a light brown rendering, airbrushing in the first layer of fur and base color. Keep your reference photo right there so you can refer to it often to ensure you are painting what you see in the photo not what you think you remember seeing.


continuing to paint fur

I tend to jump around a lot while painting working on the fur than the mouth or the nose pulling the entire painting along as one. At this point I sort of question should I continue on here it’s not looking very good, one of those moments I spoke of in the opening of this article. I think you’ll see I made the right choice to see it thru to the end. Even if it had not turned out as I imagined it would it’s all a learning process, experience that you can put to use in the next project.


Layer after layer build your fur up

Here you can see the sides of the snout just above the nose are way to well defined and must be fixed. Layer after layer build your fur up, build your colors in the same manner. Don’t just work on one local area of fur rather move all over the design pulling it together all at once.


shadow areas

In areas that are darker color I spray a very over reduced black into the area and than use my hobby knife to bring the fur back out. With House of Kolor the base black is way to the brown side of black, it’s not a true black. So when House of Kolor base black is over reduced for airbrushing you end up with a dark brown rather than a true black, the same dark brown I’m looking for in parts of this lion. If you airbrush or custom paint long enough you will come to realize there are many, many different blacks just like the other colors.


using hobby knife

Here is the knife pictured and a better view of the paint removal I’ve done with the knife. I have also started to work on the eyes by adding white, and our dark brown (HOK black) around the eyes, nose and lips. Notice I still have not taken care of the snout which looking at it now still drives me crazy.

I’ve also started to clean up around the lion bring that area back to black as the original factory color is.


airbrushing fur

At this point I have at least six layers on the entire design using the same technique of adding color, scraping to being the fur back out. Remember the warm and cool colors I spoke of from past articles? Well here is your chance to put those colors to work, transparent purple and transparent yellow. In areas you want to recede in your painting apply just a touch of transparent purple; just a touch is all it takes. On the snout, nose area use your transparent yellow to bring those areas forward in the painting.


add some yellow in the eyes

Almost there add some yellow in the eyes followed by brown, drop shadow the brow and add a small gleam in the eyes. I’ve found by taking pictures of my work and than viewing them on the computer it helps me see where I need to make changes to the design. In this picture it tells me I still need to work on the snout and blend it in better from the top of the nose to the bottom of the eyes.


before clear coat

These are the last pictures I shot before clear coating the helmet. I learned a lot during this project, having to recall the steps taken to write this article has also helped me recognize what I should have done differently.


helmet finished