Airbrushing dagger stokes or rat tail strokes as some call it is one of the hardest basic airbrushing skills to master but in this tutorial we’ll show you just how easy you can master the dagger stroke. You have come this far mastering lesson one, two and three so relax and practice the dagger stroke until it becomes second nature also. by Don Johnson Picture in your mind a plane practicing touch and go’s (landing, taking off) The widest part of the dagger stroke the tip of the airbrush will be further away from the surface, the thinnest part of the dagger stroke the airbrush will be very close to the surface.
Airbrush Supplies Required:
Double action airbrush, airbrush paint of your choice, easel, news print
DAGGER STROKE: The dagger stroke is next. You’ll find the dagger stroke to be a very useful skill, rendering hair for example or in lettering. The dagger stroke goes from wide to a very thin point. At the widest part of this stroke you want to have your airbrush back away from the surface and as you travel down the paper move your airbrush closer while reducing the amount of color you are applying. This is done with your whole arm and upper body not just your wrist, keep your wrist locked. Dagger strokes should look like the 4 on the right below and not like those on the left.
The three examples on the left (above) the paint was applied before I started moving the airbrush not what you want to do. Notice the blob of paint at the top of those three that comes from applying paint while the airbrush was not moving. These are much easier to accomplish if you do them big at first; as you become comfortable doing them big start making them smaller.
Once you get the dagger strokes down from wide to thin try them thin to wide, right to left etc.
Summary: Dagger strokes or rat tail strokes are very important to master so practice them until they become 2nd nature before moving on. Review the above relating to how the distance from the surface your airbrush is determines the results. At the top of the dagger stroke your airbrush will be further away from the surface than it will be when you are finishing the dagger stroke or bring it to a point. In the upper two pictures you can see at the widest part of the dagger stroke (top picture) my airbrush is further away from the surface than at the narrowest part of the dagger stroke (bottom picture).
Pictured left: Once you have airbrushing a dagger stroke down in one direction practice doing them in multiple directions.
Airbrushing Loops: Practicing doing loops is another good exercise for helping you learn to control your airbrush. The goal here is to airbrush loops all the way across the paper keeping them all leaning the same direction and all the same height and width. Once you are comfortable doing that try rendering them fat on the down stroke and thin on the up stroke. So one side of the loop is fat the other is thin.
Another good exercise to practice for control are these curls using the dagger stroke again.