Getting Comfortable


Getting comfortable tutorial explains the importance of holding your airbrush correctly and so that it’s comfortable and relaxing at the same time, this is key to achieving great results with your airbrush. I spent a week teaching in the Custom Paint & Graphics Program at Ohio Technical College a few weeks ago, and I noticed that over half of the students were having difficulty achieving consistent, fine lines. The one thing that they had in common was the way in which they were holding their airbrushes. By Tom Banks

“Trigger Grip” is something that varies from artist to artist. There is no right or wrong way to hold an airbrush. As long as you can achieve your desired result, and it’s comfortable for you, why change the way you hold it? But, there is a way to hold the airbrush that will make consistency and fine detail much easier for the Newbie and pro alike.

holding airbrush

It’s very common for the new artist to “knuckle up” on the airbrush. Almost like they are holding a pencil. The index finger is highly angled, and their grip on the AB causes discomfort after only a few minutes of airbrushing. The physical movement of the finger to use the trigger is highly complex and difficult when holding the AB this way. Not only are you pressing down on the trigger to release air, but you are moving several joints, causing muscles and tendons to work against each other. It’s no wonder that it’s difficult to achieve consistent, fine lines this way.


holding airbrush two


holding airbrush three

The way that I grip the trigger is much different. You want to hold the air valve housing (under the trigger) with your thumb and middle finger. Then lay your index finger flat along the airbrush body, with the meaty part of your index finger on the trigger. It should look like you are pointing your finger. This grip can be performed on either a bottom, or top feed airbrush.

When using the airbrush, you push down on the trigger to release air. Now, instead of “Pulling” back on the trigger to release paint, press down harder. The increased pressure will cause the trigger to pull back a fraction of a millimeter, thus releasing a tiny amount of paint. This is a much simpler movement of joints and muscles, and is much easier to control.



comfortably hold airbrush


holding airbrush in comfortable position

There’s another thing that I have my students do to achieve consistency. And that is using your non-airbrush hand as a guide. The closer you are to the surface, the finer your line will be. To maintain a constant distance, I wrap my non-airbrush hand around the front of the airbrush. I then adjust my hand to “drag” across the surface…..I’m using it as a spacer. This allows me to keep my needle very close to the surface, without bumping into it. It also keeps my airbrush a constant distance from the surface, resulting in a line that maintains the same width from start to finish.


airbrushing lines

Now take a look at these lines. The top line is from a ball point pen. The second line is from a mechanical pencil. The third line is from my Iwata Eclipse BCS (.5mm) spraying Auto Borne Black. The fourth line is from my Iwata HP-C plus (.3mm) spraying a urethane red.

Using this type of trigger pull will allow you to achieve incredibly fine, and consistant lines. As you can see, I can achieve virtually the same amount of detail with my larger Eclipse (.5mm) spraying water borne paint as I can with my smaller C plus (.3mm) spraying a urethane.

Using this type of trigger grip will produce immediate and dramatic results. Ultimately, it allows for finer detail, greater consistency, and reduce the amount of muscle cramps in the hand. Let’s not forget that it will reduce the amount of airbrush sizes and types that you need to have in your inventory. Who says you can’t achieve fine detail with a .5mm bottom feed airbrush?

 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.

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