But I Can’t Draw


“But I can’t draw” is no excuse to keep you from airbrushing, custom painting. Just as using an airbrush is a skill you learn by practicing and repetition so it is with drawing.

There are many artist tools that will make your life easier when first starting out in airbrushing but as you gain experience the use of some of those tools will not be as necessary as when you first picked up an airbrush. The use of a lot of templates and masking are just two examples of artist tools or aids you might out grow as you gain experience.

So it is with drawing there are many tools, aids you can make use of when your drawing skills are not up to the task but as you gain experience the use many of those artist tools, aids will not be as necessary.

The start of any good airbrush project, work of art is a great foundation in this case that would be your line drawing (contour drawing). Below we’ll go over how those of you drawing skill challenged can build a great foundation, contour drawing from which to paint.


55 chevy




One of the cheapest and perhaps the oldest tools or aids in coming up with a great line drawing is the grid system for drawing. By applying a grid over the reference image you wish to airbrush it’s just a matter of making the grid on your painting surface look the same. Having precise reference points a grid will provide you with will help you make accurate judgments when drawing the subject on your painting surface.
Pictured above is a 55 Chevy I might want to use as a reference picture for a painting. It’s best to have at least two copies of your reference picture for this technique as one you will be drawing a grid on. Deciding on the size of the grids you use is completely up to you but any where from one half inch to an inch usually works best. As you can see in the second picture I have chosen to use one half inch for the size of my grid.

Now copy the grid onto your painting surface and use a B pencil and a light touch, so that you can erase the grid easily. This of course will depend on your painting surface as transferring a design to illustration board or canvas is different than a motorcycle tank or helmet.

When filling in the grid on your painting surface take your time and observe carefully; you are training your mind and hand to work together in learning how to draw much like you will be when learning how to airbrush. Here you will also experience how the weight of a line, that is how dark and thick it is, will make it jump out from the paper if it is a strong dark line or sink into the paper if it is light or thin. This will carry over to what you will learn with your airbrush also so take note.

If you use the grid technique enough you will come to learn how to draw without it before long it’s just a matter of training your mind and hand to work together as I’ve said above.


art projector


The next technique we’ll review for helping you to render your contour drawing from which to airbrush your artwork is the use of an art projector. The up front investment here is more than if you used the grid technique as you’ll need to buy an art projector but you’ll find this method much faster. Art projector’s range in price from seventy five dollars to several hundred dollars depending on the model you purchase. Pictured above is a Tracer Model which retails for about seventy dollars.


Super Prism art projector


Above is the Super Prism model art projector by Artograph. This model retails for about two hundred dollars.


Super prism demo


Pictured above is a demo picture of the Super Prism in use. You simple load your photo reference into the art projector and shine it onto your painting surface as pictured. With the reference picture on your painting surface it’s just a matter of tracing your contour lines.

Do not kid yourself some of the most successful airbrush artist use this technique to transfer their designs onto the painting surface.

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