T Shirt Holiday Design

by  Rene Remero

Rene is one of the most talented t shirt artist I know of and I thank him for letting me publish this on howtoairbrush.com.

Supplies used- Createx airbrush colors, Paasche VL double action airbrush, t shirt board, spray glitter

 T Shirt Holiday Design
t shirt design


Here is a fun design for the holidays, elf lovers, for fun, or for any other occasion, first I sketch the design onto the fabric with a charcoal pencil.


 T Shirt Holiday Design
t shirt design 2


 T Shirt Holiday Design
t shirt design out lined

Next I begin by painting the skin tone on the little elves……and outlining the letters of the name with red.


 T Shirt Holiday Design
adding color


 T Shirt Holiday Design

I proceed to fill in the letters and paint the clothes of the elves, I also add lime green to them.



 T Shirt Holiday Design
adding background
 T Shirt Holiday Design
adding background

Now is time for some swirls in the background with fluorescent raspberry, and baby blue for the stars and dots.


 T Shirt Holiday Design
completed t shirt design


There you go pretty simple and fast holiday t shirt design. Finally I outline all the elements on the design with black and white, and finish the whole thing with golden glitter.

Sheet Metal RC Design

by Chris Duzenberry

Chris is an art major who up until 2 years ago was allowing his talent to play second fiddle to his career as a Communications Engineer . Taking TeamDuze online changed the focus to the customizing and detailing of R/C vehicles, helmets , and shippable items. His forte lies in taking the customer vision for a project , and allowing his talent to dictate a spectacular outcome. His mantra ” The Details Matter!”

We will start off with a list of items that I used through out the job.

( 1 ) Iwata HPCS and Revolution airbrushs.
( 2. ) New #11 X- acto Blade
( 3 ) Grafix Frisket Film Matte in Color
( 4 ) Tamiya Lexan Acrylic Paints and thinner. ” Flat Aluminum ” Gun Metal ” Metallic Grey ” Black ” White
( 5 ) Parma Lexan Water Based Paints. Createx can also be used. ” Black ” Pearl Silver
( 6 ) 1 Paper Clip
( 7 ) 1 Business Card standard size.
( 8 ) 1 Atomik F150 Pre-Cut Lexan body for R/C ( 9 ) Printed out Graphics from the computer. You will need a program like PhotoShop or Paint Shop for Mirroring the images .

#1 Wash and Scuff the body using mild soap, Scotch Brite pad, and lukewarm water. Dry completely using a lint free cloth, and allow to air dry, wipe again just before applying masking material. Scuffing the body will promote adherence of the paint.

I pulled up on the computer the graphic files sent to me from Vertigo Performance in Photo Shop. I manipulated the image down to the size I needed for this paint job and then created a mirrored image. If it were not mirrored then the lettering would be backward on the detail and would be reversed once painted. I then printed the graphic on normal paper, cut it out and taped it into place where I wanted it.


Next, I took the Grafix Frisket film and cut a piece to the size of the area that I wanted to mask off, and applied the frisket to the area. Frisket film can be tricky to use on these bodies as it sometimes does not want to adhere. Press the edges down really well so that you do not get spray under the mask.
With my X – acto blade, I free hand cut the image into the frisket. Use caution to not apply to much pressure as you do not want to see the cut marks on the lexan. The graphic is used only as a reference. I did not cut out all the details as I wanted to achieve a certain effect with the logo. Therefore, I only cut the perimeter lines that would be aluminum, the inner VP lettering, the inner lettering for the VP, and the flame embossment. I did the same with the small VP logo that would be on the rear of the truck. For the lettering on the sides, I cut the perimeter and the inner lettering.

Reference pictures below .




Once all the graphics were cut, I then unmasked the first area that I would be painting. Normally in painting designs for Lexan, you would paint dark to light. In this case, I did not. As long as the graphic is backed with either white or Silver, you can paint the detail pieces and then go back to the main body work.

Now that we are ready to begin painting the details, I unmasked the first area that I would paint. I removed the perimeter around the lettering. Using Parma Faskolor White I shook the bottle and removed the cap. With the little bit that was in the cap I dipped the end of a straightened paper clip into the paint in the cap and just dotted the areas of where I wanted the rivets for the sheet metal to be in the logo. Continuing to the other smaller logo’s in the rear doing the same.



Let that dry for 10 – 15 minutes and next with the FasBlack I dipped the straightened paper clip end into the cap of the black paint and dotted over the white. Being careful to not scratch the white away but to ensure that the coverage of the black goes over the white completely. Let that dry for 10 – 15 minutes. . At this time I am not worried about the rivets on the rest of the body. These will be taken care of later. Reference pictures below.



After the black is dry I then loaded just a small amount of Tamiya Acrylic Flat Aluminum into my HP-CS and shot the unmasked border. Reference pictures below.





I then removed the masking for the embossed flame area inside of the letters VP see as well as removed the internal portion of the Vertigo Lettering on the sides.



I did not apply a drop or light shadow on the flame as I want them to look recessed into the logo. I took Tamiya Acrylic Gun Metal and shot the flame area in all of the VP’s and I faded half of the lettering. I achieved the fade by painting heavy on the bottom of the letter and pulling the brush away as I moved toward the top of the letter. This will be a very subtle fade as the other color will be very close to the Gun Metal color. Reference pictures below.




With that completed, I then removed the outside Graphic and the rest of the mask for the design. When removing the frisket it can sometimes leave behind a sticky residue. Using the frisket you just pulled up use the tacky portion and stick it to the residue and lift. Generally this will work. If it does not be sure that the paint has dried really well first, then take some painters green tape and carefully blot to remove, or if you do not want to risk removal of the painted area, you can use a Q tip with non blurring thinner, rubbing alcohol, Windex, or BoLink Body Wash to name a few. All of the cleaners, do not leave any film or cloudiness behind. DO NOT USE ACETONE as it will cloud the lexan.

Now for the Shadows! I used Tamiya Black and painted drop shadows on one side, and using Tamiya white I painted light shadow’s on the opposite. This helps to provide depth to the lettering.



This allowed me to then use for the main color again the Tamiya Flat Aluminum. The shadows do the work to separate the colors for me. I applied the main color with several light coats and then backed with white.



On the lettering, I used Tamiya Metallic Grey from the top of the letter down toward the middle making sure to fill in the lettering. I then backed this with white as well. In some light the lettering looks solid on color and then others you can see the difference.



Now we will move onto the graphics for the main portion of the body. This is where the fun begins. Taking a regular sized business card and figuring out the way that you want the panels to lay on the truck I began by just holding the card in place and using Parma FasBlack painting half on and half off the card all the way around the card. Try to keep the angle the same, still painting half on and off all the way around the card. This will help to keep the look of the panels going all in the same direction. . As you can see in this picture, I then went and using the same method with the straightened paper clip I dipped and white and did the corners and then in black. Don’t forget that the entire truck is to look like riveted sheet metal. So I put rivets where the sheets would be fastened to some kind of under member to keep them from flapping around. . I also painted a drop shadow behind the lettering and the logo to provide more depth.Reference pictures below.




On this body, I opted for a Black cover on the bed. So I took green masking tape and taped off the perimeter of the cap and used the black at the same time as doing the above detail work.
Once the black is dry, it was time for the main event. Usually for main body colors I like to use my HVLP ( High Volume Low Pressure ) gun. For those that do not have the larger gun you can achieve the same with the airbrush.
I created a custom silver color as I wanted it a bit deeper than just Parma FasPearl Silver. So I mixed FasPearl Silver with a few drops of Black to get that deeper gun metal look, but as NOT as deep as the Tamiya Gun Metal. Using VERY light coats I covered the entire body three times. Light coats with even coverage will work better every time than 1 heavy coat.
A little tip: most people choose to back main body colors with either silver, black or white. White will brighten and enhance most colors, black will deepen and richen, and silver will hold the color right where it is. In this case, I wanted a deeper richer color so I backed it with Parma FasBlack.
Time to tear down and clean the brushes and let the body dry for 24 hours (drying time may be different depending on humidity in your location.) Some people will heat set the paint, and others will cure them in a dry room. I have a special setup where they get some heat setting and some normal curing. The thing with Parma and Createx paints being water based is that in order for them to set they must evaporate all of the water from the paint. So either way works.
Once the paint has set for 24 hours, I then backed the entire job with Pactra Spray Can Outlaw Black. I did this as the Pactra Lacquer based spray cans have excellent nitro fuel resistance to the paint. Nitro Fuel will remove the Parma and Createx paints from the Lexan.
Normally the next step would be to remove the excess Lexan and fit the body. In the case of the Atomik Pre-cut body, all I have to do is insert the window insert using double sided tape and fit the body to the truck.

Painting My First Bike

By Gary Fredericks

As the title says this is the first motorcycle I have painted. This is just the beginning as I will add some airbrush work later this year as well as fades and highlights into the existing flames, and an outline pinstripe. After a few months of consulting various internet sources, magazine articles, videos and attending a couple classes this is the method I used to complete my first bike.

Please drop Gary an e-mail and thank him for this contributing this article to the mag. I know he would love to hear from you.

Materials Used: Tack rags, lint free towelettes, ½” 3M tan masking tape, Auto Mask, 3M blue 1/8 fine line tape, DuPont Prep-Sol wax and grease remover, House of Kolor: Epoxy primer, Orion Silver base coat, Snowhite Pearl basecoat, Kobalt Blue Kandy Koncentrate, SG-100 Inter coat clear, and UC-35 clearcoat with catalyst.

I washed everything with dawn dish soap and water and thoroughly rinse everything taking care to tape off all openings into the tank. Using the Prep-Sol on a lint free cloth I wiped down the entire surface of the tank and fenders. Then using a red scotch brite pad and water with your average Comet type household cleanser I scrubbed again trying to insure against any left over wax or grime that was to stubborn to come off.


Step 1: I then used my electric orbital sander with 80 grit sand paper to remove the factory decal as its texture on the factory clear coat would shown through. I took it all the way to bare metal and wet sanded with 400 grit wet/dry sandpaper. There should be no shine left to the existing clear coat when you are done. Also be certain to feather the edges around the bare metal to a gradual transition from metal to paint. This will help save a little sanding after the premier is applied.


 Painting My First Bike


Step 2: I again used the Prep Sol to remove any oils from my hands that may have gotten on the surface during the wet sanding process than use a tack rag to clean any dust off of the surface. Be sure to wash your hands between each step to help prevent this from happening. I then blew it dry with my air hose and mixed up my Epoxy Primer according to the label. Using a 1.8mm HVLP gun by Astropneumatic I apply three primer coats over the bare metal spots on the tank, allowing it to flash dull in between coats. I repeated the same steps with the bottom of the fenders and the underside of the gas tank as well. Three medium coats follow this over the entire tank and fenders allowing flash time between coats. I let them cure for two days even though you can sand on them after 12 hours.

Using wet 600 grit wet / dry sandpaper I began creating my tooth for the paint and leveling off the surface making it as smooth as I can. During wet sanding I noticed low spots where the decals were. I mixed more primer and re do the same steps as above to fill these areas. The next day I wet sanded again and this time it came out fine and I was ready to apply my Orion Silver base coat. Some people use the sealers for this product line but I decided not to as I was on a tight budget and this is my personal ride. I apply 3 light / medium coats and this covers well and even. Two medium coats of inter coat clear follow the silver. You can use a catalyzed topcoat clear as well.


 Painting My First Bike


Step 3: Onto the flames. I use 800 grit wet / dry sandpaper to create tooth for my flames, followed by wiping it down with the Prep-Sol, blowing dry and then tacking off the dust with a tack rag. Using the 1 / 8″ blue tape I “draw” out my flames. The first couple designs didn’t suit my taste so I re-did it several few times until I was satisfied with them. The good thing about this tape is it can be peeled and re applied a couple times before it is no longer any good which is especially helpful around the curves. I suggest buying a roll of it just for practice and layout flames on your coffee table during your favorite show as it will give you practice and leave no messy residues. This stuff will take a little getting used to. Keep the roll in the hand that is doing the “drawing” and keep the tape low to the surface. Make your turns in smooth turns by keeping the motion steady and constant. If you do it in slow, unsteady movements, your turns will come out irregular and not smooth. After I am satisfied with the flames I cover the entire surface with the AutoMask, overlapping each piece by 1/2 inch. I then used my #11 X acto knife and CAREFULLY cut along the center of the blue tape using a new blade and changing to a new blade as soon as I felt resistance to the cutting action. I removed the cut outs and checked for areas that I had ANY doubts would allow paint to spray under and onto where I did not want to paint. I used my ½” tan 3 M tape to seal these areas off along with taping the seams of each overlap of automask. Wash your hands thoroughly with dish soap and run your finger along the blue tape to insure it is completely on the surface and sealed properly.

 Painting My First Bike

 Painting My First Bike


Step 4: Mixing the Snow White Pearl base coat according to the label I then add approx. 10% Kobalt Blue Kandy Concentrate to the mix to create my blue pearl flame color. I used my stir stick to judge the intensity of my color continuing until I was satisfied with it. Using my Iwata W-88 I apply 2 coats evenly with a 50% overlap. I let it flash for about 60 minutes and removed the auto mask first and then pulled the blue fine line tape sharply against itself to perform more of a shearing action with the tape rather than pulling it straight up which can cause the blue paint to flake off and ruin the flames edge.


 Painting My First Bike


 Painting My First Bike


Step 5: I mix my UC – 35 clear coat with a 2 : 1 : 1 mix ( 2 parts clear : 1 part reducer : 1 part catalyst ). I clear coat the entire sheet metal surface including the bottom of the fenders and the tank tunnel underneath using 3 wet coats than letting it flash until sticky, but NOT stringy when touched with a finger between each coat. I let it cure 24 hours and wet sanded with 1000 grit wet, we t/ dry sandpaper smoothing the borders of the flames and creating one uniformly smooth surface. Using the tack rag I clean the surface of dust and debris and blow off with air. I now mix another batch of clear and over reduce a little bit to get more flow out and more shine in the finished product. I apply one wet coat and let it cure over night. The result is a very nice shine and smooth surface. The bike was re-assembled and immediately taken for a ride around town!


 Painting My First Bike


 Painting My First Bike


Comments: I must add that I used my barn / garage for the whole process. This is a back yard job from start to finish. It is important to have adequate ventilation and to wet your floor to keep the dust down prior to spraying. Be sure to follow ALL safety guide lines for the products you are using as well as a dual cartridge active charcoal respirator rated for Volatile Organic Compounds ( VOC ‘s). I had a lot of fun doing this and hope at least some one can get a better idea on how to approach similar projects such as this from this How To. Hope you enjoyed it!

Painting Pin Up Tank

Pin up on motorcycle tank tutorial hopefully explains the method I used to paint a Yamaha fuel tank with a bomber theme. We decided to call it “Triple Trouble” because the bike has 3 cylinders and 3 bullet holes in the design. By Ashley Brayson

Materials used in this tutorial: Paints used: Auto Air, Airbrushes used: Iwata Eclipse, Olympos hp-b, Iwata RG3, Masking: Application tape and 3M masking tape, Brush: Daler Rowney Rigger.


primed motorcycle tank

Step 1: The tank was primed and ready to paint when it arrived at the shop.




scuff primed surface

Step 2: I scuffed the surface with a red Scotch brite pad to provide some tooth for the paint to adhere to. This was then wiped down with panel wipe to give a nice clean surface.




auto air dark base sealer

Step 3: Using my Iwata RG-3 spray gun (0.6 nozzle) I sprayed an initial coat of Auto Air base coat sealer dark. This provides a good base for the subsequent Auto Air colours to adhere to. Notice that I have the tank on a bean bag covered with a sheet. As I go along I dry the paint with my heat gun and turn the tank over for the next area to be painted. I find I can paint the whole tank without hanging it up.


auto base coat applied

Step 4: Here you can see the whole tank is painted using the base coat dark sealer. I like to use water based paints because my studio is small and it suits my working environment very well.


Auto Air metallic silver

Step 5: Now I come in with the Auto Air metallic silver. As I go along I heat set the paint with my Bosch hot air gun. This ensures the paint is cured properly. Don’t get too close and keep the gun moving so you don’t blister the surface! I generally wave the gun about so I’m not in one position too long.


silver tank

Step 6: Now we have a silver tank. If you’re worried about getting fluff etc on the tank from the sheet then put a plastic bag over the bean bag instead.


masking the tank

Step 7: Application tape is now placed on both sides of the tank. This is a low tack tape used in the vinyl sign making trade to apply stickers. It doesn’t stick very well to metallic surfaces so you need to use a low pressure when airbrushing or it may lift.


drawing deign on masking

Step 8: I now draw the girl I have chosen for the design onto the tape; just the basic outline is fine. I’m using the same girl on both sides but her dress will be a different colour. I use tracing paper so that I can replicate the design exactly.


carefully cutting the design out

Step 9: Now it’s time to cut along all of the lines you have drawn with a scalpel. Be gentle as you don’t want to cut too deep. I find using two hands helps me to cut steadily and makes it easier to negotiate the sometimes tight curves.


start painting with white base

Step 10: I remove a section at a time and spray a reduced white (Auto Air semi opaque white reduced with Fantastik/water).


progress painting leg

Step 11: I try not to simply cover the area but go for a 3 dimensional look. Study your picture and add highlights as you go; you want depth to the image.


painting pin up progress pic

Step 12: Here you can see I have finished this stage of the girl. The opposite side of the tank is done in the same manner. You are striving for a good base on which to apply your colours. The colours would not show correctly if you simply applied them on top of the silver base.


apply flesh tomes

Step 13: Using detail ochre I begin to apply the flesh tones; I work lightly almost dusting the colour over the white. Again you need to keep studying your reference picture and apply the colours to specific areas. Don’t just covers the whole image in one go; it won’t look anything like flesh until you start to apply other colours on top. Remember that this is a layering process so work slowly and hopefully thoughtfully!


painting shadow areas

Step 14: With detail golden and then detail red we begin to see the skin colour beginning to evolve. Concentrate the darkest colours where the shadows are.


working on eyes and lips

Step 15: With a brush I add the whites of the eyes and red lips; I rarely use a brush in my work but I wanted a crisp look to this. I wouldn’t go near a brush if the girl had been freehanded with my airbrush.


painting eyes

Step 16: With black and blue for the eyes I add more detail. Don’t forget to add a glint in the eyes to bring them alive.


painting dress

Step 17: With the girl complete I mask over her and remove the dress area. Again with my reduced white I detail in the creases with my airbrush. All of this detail gives you something to aim at when you go in with the colours.


painting pin up dress

Step 18: I liberally spray detail violet over the dress to provide a background tone.


adding shadow area to dress

Step 19: Using detail magenta I follow the folds and creases to slowly add depth.


adding detail to shoes

Step 20: With the dress unmasked I now remove the tape covering the shoes. With a base of detail yellow airbrushed first, I then detail the shoes with my brush.


adding detail to pin up

Step 21: A little shadowing and some highlights with my airbrush gives a more 3D look. At this stage all that is left to do is the hair.


painting hair on pin up

Step 22: With a mixture of opaque brown and opaque purple to darken it I begin work on the hair.


pin up complete

Step 23: This is a shot of the girl completed.


adding rivet to tank

Step 24: Now at this stage I wanted to add a riveted panel to the top of the tank. To provide an outline to the panel I applied masking tape with a 3mm gap which I then airbrushed black.


painting rivets

Step 25: For the rivets the easiest method seemed to punch holes in a sheet of clear plastic so that my spacing would be constant. I held the sheet in place with tape and airbrushed a reduced black on the top edge of each hole to give the illusion of a curved shadow. A dot of white to the opposite side of each one gives a raised domed look.


adding shadows to the rivets

Step 26: You can see here that I have added a shadow and highlight to the outside edge of each rivet also so that they look pushed into the surface of the steel.



Step 27: This is a clearer view of the rivets. Just remember where you think your light source will be coming from and add the shadows and highlights accordingly.


adding lettering

Step 28: Now it’s time for the lettering. With some application tape in place I trace the letters onto it from a print out I produced on my computer, make sure the spelling is right.


painting lettering

Step 29: At this stage the tape has been cut and removed, try and get smooth curves as you cut. There’s nothing worse than wavy edges on a rounded letter. After white I airbrush yellow and orange to give a “bomber look” to the words.


outlining lettering

Step 30: Using base coat sealer dark I outline each letter with my rigger brush. I used the base coat sealer because it is very opaque. Outlining finished. I can breathe again!


bullet holes

Step 31: This is a close up of the bullet holes. I rendered these in a similar way to the rivets but the center hole is simply black. White and black to the outer edge add depth and make the holes look punched in.


adding rusty look
pin up tank completed
pin up tank completed

Step 32: With transparent root beer I add rust/gasoline runs for effect. Its silly little things like this that adds interest to a project. Last of all I cut out some bombs in cardboard and stenciled these at the girls feet

As far as the painting goes that’s it! Now for the clear coat and a polish.This is the tank finished. I hope you found this How-To informative whether you are a beginner or advanced airbrusher just comparing techniques.

Painting Motorcycle Tribal, Tiger Design

by Ashley Brayson

I picked up my first airbrush in 1998 after a lot of research. Initially I just wanted to paint mirror frames using simple stencil techniques and fades. It wasn’t long before I realised the potential of this tool and I started to read articles in magazines. I learnt about thinning the paint correctly and general airbrush control. It changed everything for me. The hard-edged look was gone and I became more and more proficient.

I really like painting animals so for this design I decided to go with a head-on tiger portrait incorporating tribal design flames. It’s very easy to overdo a tank so the most complex part will be the tiger itself. It’s nice to really go to town on the main subject and leave the rest of the design fairly simple.Materials used: Createx Auto Air, masking tape, small magnets, Iwata HP-C airbrush.

Airbrush Supplies Required:

Createx Auto Air, masking tape, small magnets, Iwata HP-C airbrush.

holding stencils with magnets

Step1: To begin with I painted the whole tank in Auto Air basecoat black. This will be my background colour for the flame design. You can see here I have covered the tank in 2-inch masking tape. To ensure symmetry I have cut out 2 flames from a sheet of paper and positioned them on the tank using magnets.


out lining design

Step2: using a reduced black I lightly spray around the stencils. Repeating this using various other flame stencils I can get the look I’m after knowing that it will be even on both sides of the tank.


remove masking

Step3: With the flame design cut out using a scalpel blade I remove the background tape leaving the tribal flames covered.


tiger stencil

Step4: I have printed a black and white tiger image onto A4 paper and this will serve as my basic stencil to position various areas of the tiger ready for my freehand work. I have cut out the brightest areas of the head as you can see here and again attached it to the surface using my magnets (very useful!)


airbrushed through the stencil

Step5: Here you can see how lightly I have airbrushed through the stencil apertures with my very reduced white. Remember this is purely to give me reference positions for the freehand work to come.


started to stroke in the fur detail

Step6: I have now started to stroke in the fur detail with my airbrush and reduced white. These are simply fine lines to create the illusion of fur.


establish a good background

Step7: All of the areas that that the stencil gave me are detailed with fur. In doing something like this it helps to begin with the lightest areas and establish a good background for the transparent colours to follow later on.


brightest areas established

Step8: With the brightest areas established I have now roughly given some dimension to the muzzle and the rest of the head.


use my stencil again

Step9: At this point I need to know where the black areas are so that I can avoid them when painting the rest of the white fur. To do this I use my stencil again but this time I have cut out the stripes.


areas to avoid

Step10: Here you can see that using a reduced black I can now see the areas to avoid when continuing with my white.



Step11: This is a photo I took showing the contrast between the untouched area on the left and the detailed right side.


white so far

Step12: A close up shot of how it looks with just white so far.


added detail

Step13: Now I have added detail to the black areas with my reduced black. We now have a fairly good tiger just using black and white paint. This is necessary to create good under painting for my colours next. The fur detail will show through the transparent paints. If you used opaque you would end up covering the work you have just done.


Auto Air transparent yellow

Step14: Starting with the lightest colour I use Auto Air transparent yellow. Study your reference picture and try and see all of the different colours involved. Tigers are not just orange. There are yellows, oranges and reds in some areas. Transparent allow you to layer your colours for subtle tones.


transparent orange

Step15: With transparent orange I apply light coats over the fur avoiding the fur areas I want to remain white. There’s a lot of white on a tiger. Losing this would destroy that beautiful contrast. When applying the colours always airbrush in the direction of the fur, don’t just blast the colour on from a distance. You want to create a tight painting and maintain detail.


head is now complete

Step16: The head is now complete apart from whiskers. I have used red to darken some areas and some red violet mixed in for the muzzle. Green was also used for the eyes. Always add white highlights to the eyes when done. Tiny areas of moisture and reflections really bring them to life.


simple fire design

Step17: I decided to go with a simple fire design for the rest of the background so using firstly reduced white I used transparent yellow and then orange to create a simple design that should separate the tribal flames when the tape is removed. At this point I also add a faint drop shadow on the lower edges of the tape before removing it.


airbrush some highlights

Step18: Here I have removed all of the tape. The tribal design looks very flat at this point. So in order to give some dimension I airbrush some highlights to give the impression that they are standing out from the tank surface. Please refer to the finished photograph to see the effect of the highlights.


clear coated
finished tank

The clear coat when applied professionally really does make a big difference. Thanks to Sam of Airbrush Perfections for doing a great job.

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 How To

This article will cover 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, airbrusgallery.com

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

I hope you also learned from my going over this project and will post some of your results on the forum.

Jordan On Black T Shirt

by Dainon Woudstra


 Jordan On Black T Shirt
portrait one

Michael Jordan This design begins with yellow chalk outlines that have been blown out with an airbrush at 25psi. The design needs no borders but I would like the sleeves to be kept black. There for, masking off the seam in the sleeves is a good idea.


 Jordan On Black T Shirt
portrait two


 Jordan On Black T Shirt
portrait three


The main focus in the portrait is Jordan’s face. I’ve begun with the highlight areas of his face and use the overspray to cover some of the darker areas. Detail is important in this stage of the white process so keep it clean. I’ve also misted in the back of his head and his hand.



 Jordan On Black T Shirt
portrait 4

The background to the left is going to be bright white. Notice that I’ve filled it in white but it isn’t all that bright. An even spray of white is what is important because this area needs another layer after the black stage to brighten it.


 Jordan On Black T Shirt
portrait 5

Now that the white is laid out, I move into black. I started this stage with the left outline of his face. I then cut out his body area from his chin and background. Then the head is defined and the area between his hand and face.


 Jordan On Black T Shirt
portrait 6
 Jordan On Black T Shirt
portrait 7

Now that I can see the shapes of his face and hand, adding in his features is next. I’ve sprayed in the eyes and shaded his face. Since Michael Jordan has dark skin, the shading of the black will be darker.


 Jordan On Black T Shirt
portrait 8

I’ve now moved on to his hand and rings. The rings were mostly white before and they need to have more definition so painting them in mostly black will allow the white to be much brighter in the final stages.



 Jordan On Black T Shirt
portrait 9

Now I’ve balanced the design with black and white until he has the right contrast. Notice the blotchy areas on the right side of the face. This is a spaying technique to allow the portrait to have more life. It is created by using light amounts of white, followed by light amounts of black and repeated until the desired tone is met.


 Jordan On Black T Shirt
portrait 10
 Jordan On Black T Shirt
portrait 11


The close up above shows the edge of the face and the detail in the eyes. Keep in mind this is without any masking. A lot of times, masking will leave the image raw and unreal.

An Introduction to Airbrushing Skin Tones

By Kevin Mayes

Painting the human skin can be intimidating, to say the least. There are several things to take into consideration when painting the skin. Light always is the first to consider. Is the light natural or artificial. This makes a huge difference in the colors of the skin. Shadows–are they cool or warm? Again, this effects the colors seen. What is the base color of the skin I am painting? With caucasian skin, the base color can be red, yellow or blue. Asian’s generally are yellow, orange or reddish-brown. African and Middle Eastern people are typically reddish-brown to bluish-black. In this demonstration I will be doing caucasian skin tones since this will allow you to see more easily just how the colors work together and where the differences are between light and shadow. Once you see how the skin tones are effected by light, shadow, exposure to weather and age, you can adjust these colors to any ethnic group without too much trouble. With a bit of practice doing ‘swatches’ on paper of different skin types, you will soon build a reference book on skin that will prove invaluable to you as you grow as an artist and do portraits and figures in your paintings.


What I will be using:

Crescent 100 Illustration board


Paasche AB-Turbo

F&W Acrylic Inks (opaque and transparent)

Flesh tint

Red Earth

Burnt Umber


Liquitex Acrylic Paint (tube)

Ultramarine Blue

Mars Black

Hansa Yellow

Liquitex Acrylic Gesso

( Used as white instead of paint)

Prisma-Color Colored Pencils

Various Colors-primarily earth tones

Sepia, Cream, Yellow Oxide, Jasmine, Burnt Umber

and Burnt Sienna


Although this demonstration is done the way that I choose to work, the technique used would remain the same for a work done without a comprehensive under-drawing. I will also use the white of the board for the white areas as opposed to paint. When white is called for, I use gesso instead of tube white since the texture and opacity of the gesso is better and gives a truer white. I am using a limited palette for this painting, however, if I were to be doing a photo-realistic work then the palette would be larger in number of colors. The palette used here is more typical for illustration and pin-up work and not necessarily typical for portrait, photo-realism or fine art.


It is important to note that your color should be built up slowly and deliberately. Start with a very light application of color… you can always increase the value of a color. Then move on to the next color and, starting lightly, apply the color to the intensity that you want. You should repeat this procedure throughout the painting. Try to avoid going back in with the lighter tones! Spraying the initial light tones over areas thathave already had the deeper tones applied will cause the darker tones to ‘bleach’. That is to say, the darker tones will turn to a bluish gray and will be difficult to overpaint to restore the color. For learning purposes, try this on a scrap piece of board to see what this does. For this project I used a photograph that I had taken several years ago for my reference source. Having drawn the subject onto the illustration board, I proceed to do the under-drawing with a Sepia Prisma-Color pencil. Sepia is used to avoid the drawing turning an ugly grey when the color is sprayed over it.





Once the drawing is completed, I go back with Mars Black for those areas that are to be solid black.



The background will be the first thing painted, so I have masked off the subject to protect it from overspray. When this is done, the mask is removed and the background color is applied around the head making the background fade into the hair. This is done so that, when the hair is painted, it over- laps the background naturally.



The head is now masked so that the face is ready to paint. Beginning with the ‘Flesh’ color, paint a thin layer over the  entire area, then shape the structures of the face using the  same color. Follow the under-drawing or your reference to build this first step of establishing your shadows and highlights. Note: Do not mask the hairline. Let the color of the face and hair overlap each other slightly. This will help you to achieve a more natural looking hairline.





Now, apply the ‘Red Earth’ color. Begin by spraying lightly and build the color slowly. What you want to do at this point is to deepen the shadows and shape the head further. This is the point where you will want to start being more precise with the painting.



When you feel that you have what you want with the ‘Red Earth’ stage of the painting, clean the airbrush and begin with the Burnt Umber’. Use the same methods described in the previous step. Work slowly and deliberately, building up color slowly to the value you want.





At this point, block in the colors and form of the hair. Don’t get lost in the details of the hair! All that is needed is to introduce the colors and shape of the hair so that any weakness in the colors or shape of the face and head that are needed will show up. If your colors are weak or too strong, it will show up at this point. Make any adjustments that are needed, spraying the colors in the same order as originally done. To deepen any of the dark areas use ‘Sepia’ lightly and slowly build up to the desired color. To make these shadow areas a bit deeper- use blue very lightly over the shadow.




The hand and forearm are done the same way as the head. The depth of the colors is the only difference in how this is  painted. The observations you make of your subject are what you will want to rely on here. Is the subject tanned or pale? How this question is answered will determine how you paint. As a rule, the hands and arms are more exposed to the sun and weather. Therefore, they are darker in tone compared to the rest of the body.



Mask off the areas you have just painted and paint the shirtand phone cord. This done, we will begin on the eyes. Now, I am sure that you have been wondering if the subject was going to have normal eyes or just go gothic. Mask off the area around the eyes. Since the eyes have not been masked throughout the painting, the overspray  has done some of the work for me. Since I do not want hard lines I will freehand the iris and shadow on the eyeball cast by the eyelid. The eyes, teeth and nails all are the color of the flesh – only much lighter. To make the highlight in the iris scrape carefully with an x-acto knife or use gesso tinted very slightly with yellow. Avoid using stark white. By tinting the gesso with yellow the white becomes warm and more natural in appearance. Remove the mask and check the color around the eyes. If needed, deepen the color of the shadows and eyelash lines to the desired depth.



The hair needs to be done now to get everthing to work together. Earlier, I mentioned that the edges of the hair should blend with the background and the hairline with the face. By doing it this way, the hair becomes a part of the head and face as opposed to looking like it is a bad hairpiece. The hairline should never be done as a hard line. Like a forest, the hair does not cover absolutely. The thinner the hair, the more you see – the thicker the the hair, the less. Using the Prisma-color pencils, draw the hair. Loose strands, indications of individual hairs toshape it and the transition from highlight to shadow are what you want to achieve. Creating the volume of hair and the ‘wispy’ strands are what will give the hair a realistic appearance. And don’t worry about crooked lines or uneven spacing of hairs– nothing in nature is perfect! It’s the flaws that help that ‘natural’
look work.




With the completion of the major areas, you can now paint the details that bring the whole thing together. The highlights on the phone and its cord are simplified to bare minimum. Only those
tones and highlights that define the shapes and light direction are necessary. The same is true with the highlights on the skin. By painting only what is necessary, you allow the eye of the viewer to ‘see’ detail that isn’t really there. The human eye and brain will ‘fill in’ the gaps. This is where a lot of artists get into trouble when using photographs as reference. The tendency to put in every little wrinkle, fold or crease in a painting happens because they try to mimick the camera. The camera ‘sees’ absolutely everything….the human eye does not. It’s the principal upon which the impressionist painters took advantage. They allowed the eye to complete the details.




Although this demonstration may seem very basic, I hope that it will help some of you with your own painting. Look for more detailed demonstrations in future issues and thank you for taking the time to read this one.

Kevin Mayes

Fire How To

Learn how to paint fire with Brads great article “Fire How To” The trick to fire is accomplished with a ton of practice and patience. I have done 300 license plates worth of practice, studied everyone’s fire, studied real fire, studied different colors, have done countless helmets, and the list goes on. Still I can get better; it takes time and I have to be willing to realize this and so must you.By Brad De La Torre, www.ArtWorldCreations.com , reprinted courtesy Airbrush Technique Magazine

Stencil Size and Shape Matters

You must have a fire stencil to help shape your fire. My stencil is cut from a manila folder, no need for expensive stencils home made work just fine. This is one of my favorite fire stencils and is the perfect size for fire on a motorcycle. If I were doing a car hood the stencil would be doubled in size and if it where for a helmet I would make the stencil smaller. The size of the stencil is important. I laid this stencil on a piece of paper so that you can make your own and can see the size of the stencil compared to the paper.

airbrush freehand stencil, template


fire layout

1. I use Createx Auto Air for these and a double action airbrush. On a black painted surface layout the design of your fire using Transparent White. Keep in mind the shape of the bike and the overall flow of the fire on the bike. While airbrushing my fire design in I make certain to use my fire stencil in conjunction with freehand airbrushing. This way I will not end up with a Swiss Cheese Fire paint job.


Add some flames

2. Add some flames that are broken away from the rest of the flames into the design. This is to help ensure a natural look to your fire, flames.



3. Simi Opaque
Freehand fill in the White with Semi opaque Flame Red keeping it strong on the outskirts of the fire.


make some areas even stronger

4. Also remember to make some areas even stronger by increasing the color of the red and by flaring it a bit more into the black areas. These areas with more intense color value are considered higher in “Chroma Value”(color intensity).


Sun Gold

6. Note the Sun Gold does not have a lot of Chromatic glow to it at this point. Also, some of the overspray from the Flame Red to the Sun Gold is blending together and appears like Orange. In this fire Orange is not needed.


fender done

7. The top of the front Fender was done first in order to help insure the “Principles of Design”. Now do the sides and the broken away flares of fire and ignore the top as if it is not there.

Note: One of the key principles in designing is to have a Dominant (large) object, a Sub dominant (medium) object, and a Subordinate (small) object. On this front fender it has this concept and that is partly why it is appealing to the eye.

Also the whole bike would need this concept as well. So if the front fender is my medium amount of fire, and the tank is my larger and bolder amount of fire, then on the rear fender the fire would be subtle or small fire.


nice overlapping

8. You can see how by ignoring the top fire helped create a nice overlapping and separation from the top. This gives the eyes more to view and a more pleasant view as well.


hottest spots

9. Now I add some of the hottest spots using Transparent White and go over it with Sun Gold. This is almost there, completed.


final highlights

10. Add the final highlights to the hottest spots of the fire and blend in just a bit with the Sun Gold.


clear coated

11. At last it is cleared and ready to buff out.


finished bike
finished bike
finished bike

I hope this tutorial helped give everyone some insight.