Airbrush Lesson Three

Airbrush lesson three we are going to render a palm tree and island using the dagger strokes and other basic airbrush techniques you have been practicing. The dagger or rat tail stroke is a very important technique to master in helping you reach your goal of controlling your airbrush so paint goes where you want, when you want and with the desired affect. By Don Johnson, airbrush artist

Airbrush Supplies Required:

pad of news print, double action airbrush, compressor and color of your choice (black is what I use here).


palm tree picture 1

Step 1 – To start we will render the two palm trees. In the middle of your paper put a dagger stroke going from fat on the bottom to thin at the top. Make the stroke 4 or 5 inches long.


airbrushing palm tree 2

Step 2 – Now to the left of the first dagger stroke let’s put another dagger stroke. These will serve as our palm tree trunks.


airbrushing palm tree step 3

Step 3 – Now at the top of each of those dagger strokes add small dagger stokes going both right and left of the palm tree trunk.


airbrushing palm trees 4

Step 4 – At this point your painting should look similar to mine above with the small dagger strokes at the top of the palm tree.



airbrush island

Step 5 – Now at the bottom of the palm tree put a dagger stroke going from fat at the base of the tree to thin away from the tree. This will serve as our ground or top of our Island.


airbrushing island step 6

Step 6 – Now do the same going to the left.


airbrushing island step 7

Step 7- Pictured above we will add small dagger strokes going from fat at ground level to thin in the sky. These of course will serve as our grass on the island.


airbrushing island step 8

Step 8 – You might want to add a few mounds of grass else where on your island as I’m doing above. These are painted by using small dagger strokes.


airbrush island step 9

Step 9 – Now we can add our water line where the waves will be breaking on the beach.


airbrushing waves, water

Step 10 – With the water line in place we can now add some waves by using big fuzzy lines going across the page.


airbrushing tree shadow

Step 11 – Above add a shadow for your trees going down the island and out into the water.


airbrushing a sun

Step 12 – To airbrush a sun or moon which ever you prefer to call yours we will use the top from a can of spray paint.


airbrushing a sun 2

Step 13 – Hold the can top in between the two palm tress add a little color all the way around the can top.


palm tree’s, island

Step 14 – Pull the can top off and your painting should now look like mine above or better.


airbrushing birds

Step 15 – Now within your sun or moon using small dagger strokes add some birds. Start at the center fat and go out thin on the right side. Come back to the middle and do the same now going left. Add a little curve to the birds wings makes it look more like a bird in the distance.


airbrushing island, palm tree’s

Step 16 – And there you have it your first completed painting in less than 5 minutes. Please continue to play around with this lesson adding different colors more trees maybe even a boat. I hope you enjoyed this. It’s accomplishing simple little paintings like this that will give you the confidence to move on and try more complicated paintings.
Below is a video version of airbrush lesson three above, I hope you find it helpful.

Airbrush Lesson Four

Airbrush lesson four will be another practice painting where you’ll need to all airbrushing skills that we learned in the first three lessons, we’ll also make our own stencils. Written by Don Johnson, airbrush artist

Here in airbrush lesson four I’m again going to keep it very simple and fully expect you to out shine me here with your finished painting. I will show you the very basic’s of this simple painting, it’s up to you to take it a step further by adding different colors etc.

Airbrush Supplies Required:

Once again we will be using news print as we did in lesson one and the color black. Please remember to use good airbrush ready paints like DR PH Martins or Golden Airbrush colors, Createx Illustration Paint. For this lesson you’ll also need a piece of thin card board and the top off a rattle can of paint.

Here we will be using home made free hand shields practicing the skills we learned in lessons one thru three in the “How To Airbrush” series.

cutting airbrush stencil

Step 1–  Taking our piece of card board cut the out line or rolling hills or mountains. Do so using the bottom one third of the card board leaving two thirds above the rolling hills, mountains. Ti get more jagged mountain peaks you can also tear the card board as opposed to using scissors like I’m doing above.


airbrush lesson 4 step two

Step 2 – Now take your home made free hand shield and hold it against the news print about in the middle of the page.



airbrush lesson 4 step 3

Step 3 – Apply a thin layer of color spraying half on the free hand shield and half on the newsprint. Bring your rolling hills, mountains down below the card board defining one hill, mountain being in front of the others.


airbrush lesson 4 step 4

Step 4 – Moving the free hand shield up the page place some hills, mountains behind the your first row of hills, mountains you just created. Just a light mist of color no need to apply a bunch of color rendering a real hard outline here.


airbrush lesson 4 step 5

Step 5 – Now with two rows of hills or mountains we will go in to further define the shapes using very thin lines to out the hills or mountains.


airbrush lesson 4 step 6

Step 6 – Starting with the hill, mountain that will be in the back ground of your painting we will add some shading to help create the look of depth to our painting.


airbrush lesson 4 step 7

Step 7 –  While adding this shading please keep in mind which direction your light source (the moon or sun) will be affecting the hills, mountains from. In this case the sun or moon will be coming up behind them


airbrush lesson 4 step 8

Step 8 – Continue to define the hills, mountains by applying nice even shading creating depth in your painting. Nice even tone to the color, no hard lines at this point.


airbrush lesson 4 step 9

Step 9 –  To control over spray keep your airbrush directed down into the hills, mountains avoiding a lot of over spray up into the sky area.Make sure you follow the contour of the hill, mountain as we did in airbrush lesson two with the sphere.


airbrush lesson 4 step 10

Step 10 – Its time now to use the top off the rattle can of paint to create your moon or sun.


airbrush lesson 4 step 11

Step 11– Place your can top at the top of the hills, mountains about in the middle of them. Apply a nice light even layer of color around the can top that extends above the mountains, hills. Do not follow the out line of the can top down into the mountains.


airbrush lesson 4 step 12

Step 12 – There you have it our nice round moon or sun which ever you prefer to call it.


airbrush lesson 4 step 13
airbrush lesson 4 step 13a

Step 13 –  Now we will make a very simple free hand shield to add some trees to our little painting. Draw three triangles one top of another. The top triangle being the smallest and getting bigger as you draw the triangles below that. Use a craft knife to cut the out line of the trees out.


airbrush lesson 4 step 14

Step 14 –  Now as we did with our hill or mountain free hand template hold the tree template at the bottom of the hills, mountains add a little color.


airbrush lesson 4 step 15

Step 15 –  Move your tree template a little to the right or left and apply some color.


airbrush lesson 4 step 16

Step 16 – Try and keep in mind not all trees grown straight its fine to angel some of them by just turning the template a little.


airbrush lesson 4 step 17

Step 17 –  Move the template down away from the hills, mountains and use the amount of color you apply to add depth to your painting as we did with the mountains, hills. The trees in the back ground would be lighter color than the trees in the fore ground.


airbrush lesson 4 step 18

Step 18 – Now to complete our simple painting we will go back and add a little more shading within or forest, hills, mountains.


airbrush lesson 4 step 19

Step 19 – There you have it your second completed painting. I hope you will share your completed work by posting it on the forum Airbrush Technique.Com. I’m sure you can add a lot to this simple painting and hope you have fun with it.

Below is the video version of the above airbrush lesson.

Airbrush Lesson One Part Two

Airbrush lesson one part two tutorial covers mastering basic airbrush lessons for dots, lines essential airbrushing skills you’ll need to learn no matter what it is you plan on airbrushing. Written by Don Johnson, airbrush artist

In Airbrush Lesson 1 part one we went over what material and equipment you’ll need for this lesson, how to hold your airbrush and how the distance away from you painting surface effects the paint you spray. Here in Airbrush Lesson One part two we’ll be going over the first basic strokes you’ll need to master, lines and dots.

Airbrush Supplies Required:

double action airbrush, color black airbrush ready paint, pad news print, easel, airbrush compressor

1: First thing we will do is airbrush a simple line across the page. Keeping your wrist locked move the airbrush with your hand and whole upper body keeping your wrist locked. Use both hands to steady the airbrush as you move slowly across the paper.

You apply color by pulling gently back on the trigger while keeping the trigger of the airbrush fully depressed.

Refer to diagram below:

  1. air on
  2. start motion
  3. pull back on trigger for paint
  4. push forward on trigger to reduce paint flow
  5. follow through with air on off edge of paper

I believe its best to learn to leave air on, finger fully depressed on trigger all the time even between strokes. Please do not form bad habits now by pushing up and down on the trigger continually while doing these exercises.

You will notice that the size, width of the line you are airbrushing is directly affected by the distance that the tip of your airbrush is from the paper. The closer you are to the paper the smaller and thinner the line will be. The further away from the paper you are the larger the line will be.

airbrush lesson
airbrush lesson


airbrushing lines
airbrushing lines


2: Lines: Now airbrush small lines straight across the page about 3 or 4 inches in length. Air on, start moving your airbrush than apply paint as you near the end of the line start forward with trigger shutting the paint flow off and follow through with the air still on. As you go from making one line to the next keep the air on.

Do several pages of just these lines trying to keep them as straight as possible all the way across the page.


airbrushing dots
airbrushing dots


airbrush dots
airbrush dots


3: DOTS: Now that you have mastered straight lines lets move onto DOTS. Again going across the paper make nice round dots not spats but nice round uniform dots. With airbrush square to the paper:

(1) air on
(2) pull back on trigger just a little making a nice round dot
(3) push trigger forward paint off
(4) air still on move to the right a little make your next dot.

Keep going all the way across the paper slowly. Do several pages of these until you feel comfortable with rendering nice round dots.

airbrush dots and lines
airbrush dots and lines


airbrushing dots and lines
airbrushing dots and lines


4: PUTTING THEM TOGETHER: So you have now mastered dots and lines, let’s put the dots and lines together. Airbrush nice round dots all over your page, in no order just all over the place. Now connect all the dots with nice straight lines. With the air on all the time, even between lines airbrush a line from one dot to the next dot, stop on that dot before going on to the next dot. Nice straight lines from one dot to the next, do not change the shape of the dots as you go. Again notice how the distance of the tip of your airbrush from your paper affects the line you are airbrushing. Close – small tight line, far away – big fuzzy line.


Here is a video covering AIRBRUSH LESSON ONE I hope you find helpful.


Airbrush Lesson Four The Video

This is the video to go along with the written airbrush lesson 4 here on HowToAirbrush.Com.
This video is intended for those new to airbrushing, if you are proficient using a airbrush you’ll find this pretty boring. What you will need: double action airbrush, card board, easel, black airbrush paint – Trident, ETAC, Badger Ready Tex will work. PSI I used in this video was about 30.

Please keep in mind the black in this video appears darker than it really was, that is just the nature of video.

In this lesson we are going to practice the skills we’ve learned in lessons one thru three as posted on the web site. It’s intended to provide you with a fun way of breaking up practicing dots, lines, shading techniques. I fully expect you will do a better job with your mountains, hills and tree’s than I did. I’m more concerned with the content than creating a great work of art in this video. So have fun, it’s just paint, relax and have fun with it. Don

Airbrush Fine Lines Video

Airbrush fine lines video covers step by step airbrush technique’s involved in the basics of airbrushing fine lines. Like a spray can of paint the closer you are to the painting surface the smaller an area the paint will cover, the further away you are the larger an area the paint will cover. It’s the same with an airbrush, the closer you are to the painting surface using a small needle, nozzle combination airbrushing fine lines becomes very easy.

Airbrush supplies required:

Double action airbrush, news print or another type of airbrush practice paper, airbrush ready water based paint Golden Airbrush Colors, Createx Illustration Paint, Comart, easel, airbrush holder

Airbrush Design Transfer Video

In this short Airbrush Beginners Tip video I’ll show you a way to quickly transfer your design onto your painting surface – helmet, motorcycle tank, fender, panel. We have already covered transfer tape in a prior Airbrush Beginners Tip Video and we’ll be using that on the painting surface in this video. You always want to keep your painting surface as clean as possible so you use transfer tape to draw our design on instead of the painting surface. It also makes adjusting your design much easier, simply ease lines on the transfer tape and make your changes. I hope you find this short video helpful. .
It’s just paint, relax and have fun.

Airbrush Changing Colors

Airbrush changing colors will cover changing colors in your gravity feed or bottom feed airbrush covering both water based paint and solvent based paint. To those experienced with airbrushing technique this might be old hat but for those new it can be a perplexing situation when it comes to changing colors in your airbrush. This just becomes second nature after you have been airbrushing for awhile, no airbrushing tricks here just solid info for those new to airbrushing.


paper towel


First we’ll start off with where do you spray the color you are not going to use and or the cleaning solution. The most obvious way is to just spray the extra color or cleaning solution out into a paper towel. This solution can be pretty messy and not very healthy way to go about ridding of the color or solution.

 Airbrush Table Top Cleaning Station

Iwata cleaning station


A far better solution is to purchase a airbrush cleaning station like the one pictured above made by Iwata. This cleaning station not only keeps that spray off contained within an easy to clean vessel but also acts as an airbrush holder. Using a cleaning station should help you keep your studio area clean and is a healthier situation by keeping that over spray from floating around your studio. Cost about $20.00 as of 11/08 for this Iwata cleaning station.


airbrush cleaning station


airbrush cleaning station


For those of you on a real tight budget you can make your own cleaning station from an old Clorox type plastic jar like the one pictured above very easy.


airbrush cleaning station 3

Pop the top off, stuff some paper towels inside, put the top back on and there you have your cleaning station.


cleaning water based paint


Ok now we know where we are going to be spraying all that unused paint and cleaning solution so let’s move onto checking out the fastest way to change colors. In a bottom feed airbrush like this Iwata Eclipse BCS the most efficient way is to have Fast Blast bottles are set up containing different colors.

This can be done with both water based paint and solvent based paint as long as the Fast Blast bottle is solvent proof. Ideally for airbrushing T Shirts it’s best to have at least three airbrushes one for black, one for white and one for all the colors you will be using.

Get done with one color simple unplug the color and flush the airbrush and plug your next color into the airbrush.


cleaning water based paint


With a bottom feed airbrush like this Iwata Eclipse BCS airbrush you would unplug your fast blast bottle of color and simply plug a fast blast bottle full of Airbrush Cleaner into your airbrush. Iwata and EZ Air both make excellent airbrush cleaning products that are best to use in your airbrush for cleaning. With your fast blast bottle plugged in spray your cleaning solution into your cleaning station until it sprays clear.


airbrush water based paint


With gravity feed airbrush like this Iwata HP-CS airbrush and water based paints you’d spray the remaining color into your cleaning station. Add some airbrush cleaning solution into your color cup than using a small paint brush clean the sides of your color cup and spray the cleaning solution into the cleaning station.


solvent based paint


If you are using solvent based paints instead of airbrush cleaning solution you would use reducer or lacquer thinner to clean your airbrush of the old color when changing colors. With a bottom feed airbrush like this Iwata Eclipse BCS you’d have a fast blast bottle containing reducer or lacquer thinner, plug it in and spray into your cleaning station until you spray a clear solution.

With a gravity feed airbrush like this Iwata HP-CS airbrush and solvent based paints you clean your color cup out with reducer or lacquer thinner much the same way you would with water based paints but use reducer or lacquer thinner instead of airbrush cleaner.

I hope you found this helpful, Don Johnson


Below is m short video on making your own airbrush cleaning station.

Airbrush Basic Lesson #1

This airbrush video covers Airbrush Basic Lesson #1 which includes reviewing types of paint you should use to learn. Using the correct paint during the learning to airbrush process will make your experiance a lot less frustrating and allow you to progress thru the lessons faster.

We’ll also cover how a double action airbrush works in easy to understand terms.

It’s important you get the basic techniques down so they become second nature after which you should be able to airbrush just about anything.

A written version of Airbrush Basic Lesson #1 can be found HERE

airbrush practice paper for airbrush basic lesson #1
airbrush practice paper for airbrush basic lesson #1

Airbrush Supplies Required:

Double action airbrush, news print, one color airbrush ready paint such as Golden airbrush colors, Createx Illustration paint, Comart

Airbrush A Star


Airbrush a star tutorial we’ll be airbrushing a simple star and practicing airbrush dagger or rat tail strokes.These are the ame stars you see in a lot of airbrush t shirt designs. How simple can you get you ask? Well before you can create that great masterpiece, paint the hottest bike on the planet or the meanest low rider on earth you have to master these very basic airbrushing skills and the dagger stroke is one of the most important. I’ve had several requests for a airbrush how to article along these lines, airbrushing stars so here is a short version I hope you find helpful. This type of star you see on airbrush t-shirts all the time and is used just to add some bling to the t-shirt design.

Airbrush Supplies Required:

Double action airbrush, news print, Golden Airbrush Colors or Createx Illustration Paint black, easel.


We’ll start out with what we’ll call a t-shirt star, as this technique for creating stars is very popular for t-shirt designs but can be used in on verity of other surfaces also. This technique will test if you’ve been practicing the dagger strokes as outlined in Airbrush Lesson #1 on this site.




airbrush dagger stroke 1

Step #1) Make a dragger stoke up your painting surface, mine is about 4 inches long. Please keep in mind thru this entire article I’m using newsprint which is not a white surface so the colors will not be that bright.


airbrush dagger stroke 2

Step #2) Now airbrush dagger strokes going down and to the left and right as pictured above.


airbrushing a dagger stroke 3

Step #3) Airbrush four more dagger strokes, one between each of the dagger strokes you added in step 2.


airbrush a dagger stroke step 4

Step #4) Now backing your airbrush back away from your painting surface several inches airbrush a circle around the star as pictured above. Moving your airbrush back in closer to the painting surface airbrush dots as pictured above.



airbrush dagger stroke step 5

Step #5) Now airbrush some white highlights as pictured above and you have just created your first t-shirt design star. Change the colors, add more dagger strokes, vary the length of the dagger strokes the possibilities are endless with this so have some fun. Post your results on the airbrush forum here I’d love to check them out.

Below is my short video covering this airbrush lesson. I hope you find it helpful.