Airbrush Equipement and Supplies

Airbrush equipement and supplies covers airbrush equipment and supplies for those new to airbrushing; an over view of airbrushes and compressors. My whole goal with this web site is to help you step in to the world of airbrushing and have a positive and fun experience. Please at least give airbrushing a fair chance by buying the best equipment you can afford. Check out my new Airbrush Magazine it’s packed full of useful airbrushing tips , tricks and technique How To Articles.


Airbrush Compressor’s / Air Sources

My personal feelings on this is to purchase a good air source, one that supplies steady , dry air. You need at least 10 to 30 psi for airbrushing models , fine art , illustrations , finger nail art, bike and car murals, 5 to 12 psi for body art, 40 to 60 psi for t-shirts, textile art and large wall murals. For a spray gun like a Sata or RG 3 you need a 3 to 5 horse power compressor . If your are on a limited budget spend your cash on a good airbrush , as a fancy air compressor will not improve your airbrushing results, a good airbrush will.

CO2 tanks might be the best choice for the artist on a limited budget. It will supply a steady supply of dry air depending on pressure you’re running 20 to 30 hours. For fine art, models, helmets, auto murals, body art, finger nails would work great .Check with your local welding supplier or beverage supplier for rental rates.

Piston driven commercial compressors like you buy at Home Depot, Eagle Hardware etc. work just fine. Usually you can get a good 1 or 2 horse power commercial type compressor for under $200.0 . As long as this type of compressor has a pressure regulator on it, moisture trap it should work just fine . Before buying ask to hear the compressor run, hear for yourself how loud it might be. You can always build a plywood box to fit over the compressor and insult the inside with stro foam to provide sound dampening. Cut two holes one each end for air flow .This type of compressor is the best way to go if airbrushing t-shirts.

Silent compressors: are nice if you have the coin to buy on . Good for just about all airbrush applications. Make sure the silent compressor is rated for the type of airbrushing you will be doing before you buy it. Most use a refrigerator compressor with air storage tank, pressure regulator and moisture trap. Most are oil lubricated with piston driven motors which eliminate friction and noise. An attached air tank allows the compressor to store air which than shut’s off when the tank is full.

Diaphragm compressors: try before you buy. These are small airbrush compressors marketed toward the start-up airbrush artist. Make sure they supply a steady flow of air. Best if you can find one with air supply or storage tank attached. For about the same amount of money you can get a mini oil less piston compressor, much better off with this type compressor than small diaphragm compressor like a Paache D500.

Cans of Air: If this is what you have put the can in pan of hot or warm water when using will work better. You will never understand what Airbrushing is really like using these. A waste of money in most case’s.

Oil less piston compressor’s like Spar Max TC 2000 , Stealth 5000, Medea Smart Jet, Intruder 100. These are made in Taiwan and are very good compressors. Most are a great buy for the money. Great for just about any airbrush application, just make sure the one you buy is rated for the type of airbrushing you intend to do . Smart Jet, Intruder 100, Spar Max Gold, work great for fingernail art, models, crafts, illustrations, fine art where you need 30 PSI or less. For Textile, T-Shirt art you would want the TC 2000 or Stealth 5000

Compressor terms what they mean:

High Viscosity or thick paints (createx, Aqua Flow, Auto Air) require a high pressure compressor.

Low Viscosity or thin paints (com-art, water colors) require less pressure than the above.

High Volume Airbrush’s (VL, BCS) require high pressure (30 to 60) compressors.

Low Volume Airbrushes like gravity feed HP-B or HP-C require lower pressure compressors.

PSI means pounds of air per square inch.

Max PSI means maximum air pressure.

Auto Shut-off usually means compressor turns off with the airbrush or when air tank is full.

Cooling fan cools the compressor



External Mix 

Airbrush Single action airbrush, looks good price wise but of very limited use. Amount of paint to be sprayed is adjusted separately from the trigger, usually by turning fluid cap front of the airbrush.

Double action airbrush is the way to go for airbrushing just about anything. Again there are many different models, types. In a nut shell by pushing down on the trigger you get air and by pulling back on the trigger you get paint ( on independent double action). The further back you pull the trigger the more paint you get. So pushing down on the trigger and pulling back on the trigger at the same time gives you both air and paint. Most will produce spray pattern from pencil line size to 2 inches. How big a spray pattern you get is determined by how far you are from the spraying surface. Two main types of double action airbrush’s are the siphon feed (either bottom or side color cup. container) and the gravity feed (color cup on top of the airbrush) Generally speaking you can get better detail from a gravity feed airbrush than a siphon feed airbrush.

There are two basic kinds of fluid tips or nozzles use by just about all airbrush’s. The floating tip, nozzle being one such as the Vega 2000 airbrushes. With this style tip the nozzle just sits in the end of your airbrush held in place by air cap or nozzle cap. Screw in tip is the other type used and these actually screw into the body of the airbrush, like Iwata HP-B. You can general get better detail from this style tip nozzle than with a floating style. For t-shirts, textile art, wall murals, background fine art, bottom siphon feed Airbrush works best. Fine art detail, finger nail art, models, bike and automotive murals gravity feed Airbrush works best (Iwata HP-B , HP-C) Above is a very fast overview there many good books on the subject if you need further info.

Richpen airbrush


Above example of a double action gravity feed airbrush. Paint would go in small cup on top of airbrush, hose connects to bottom by screwing it on. Behind the color cup is the trigger.


Iwata airbrush BCS


Above example of a double action bottom feed, siphon feed airbrush, paint or color goes in bottle on bottom, hose screws on post next to color bottle.


Iwata SBS airbrush


Example of a double action side feed, siphon feed airbrush, you can see color cup, paint container on the other side of the airbrush, plugs in usually friction fit, hose connects to bottom and screws on the post.


Please don’t let what other people say about a particular airbrush determine what you yourself can do with that airbrush. I can take one of my $49.00 airbrush’s and get just as fine a line as I can with $500.00 airbrush. And that is not to say a $49.00 airbrush is as good as a $500.00 airbrush its not. But it is how you have trained your finger and mind to use and control the airbrush. Just like most things in life your going to get out of it what you put into it. Take the time to learn the basic airbrush strokes no matter what you want to airbrush, finger nails, , models, Harley you will get better results.


Airbrush Paints

This can’t be stressed enough if you are just learning to airbrush use a good AIRBRUSH specific paint. Paints made for use in the airbrush in other words . Golden Airbrush Colors or Doc Martins, Com-art are colors that are very easy to use. They are inexpensive paints that will make your learning experience a lot more enjoyable. Airbrush textile paints, hobby paints or model paints, most of which are fine products probably, but not what you want to use while trying to learn how to airbrush. Use the one of the above mentioned products on paper until you are comfortable using your airbrush. You will find you get less tip drying and clogging with these so instead of messing around trying to get your airbrush to work you can actually be using it. After you have become comfortable with how the airbrush works you can use just about any kind of paint you want.


Airbrush Paint terms what they mean:

Opaque is impervious to the passage of light. To enhance airbrush colors use white first as its very opaque , like when airbrushing on any dark surface, black t-shirt. for example

Transparent will transmit light so that the colors beneath can be seen. Combined with opaques will create beautiful pastels.

Fluorescent colors will fully cover any white or light colored surface. Gives you that neon look or hot look.

Pearlescent covers both dark and light colored surfaces , creates satin-like sheen and shimmer.

Metallic covers both light and dark colored surfaces,creates metallic like sheen, reflective properties.

Iridescent is permanent, light fast capable of producing an array of rainbow colors, covers dark surfaces without base coating white first.

Chameleon magically changes color with reflected light for maximum effects use it on dark surfaces.

Airbrush Detail Trick

Airbrush Detail Trick

Airbrush detail trick tutorial covers an old trick making it easier to airbrush fine detail, there are no short cuts the basics of airbrushing are still required to airbrush fine detail.

There is no short cut your ability to airbrush fine lines; detail will come only thru PRACTICE, PRACTICE the basics of airbrushing. The ability to airbrush fine detail calls for working very close to your painting surface at the correct PSI for your situation.

Below is not for the faith of heart, mess up and you could bend the tip of your needle or worse. Below is nothing someone new to airbrushing should try until they are very comfortable using their airbrush. Should you bend the tip of the needle getting the needle out with damaging the inter seals of the airbrush will be hard so only use this technique if you are very familiar and comfortable using your airbrush.

There are many airbrush artist who can render fine lines, great detail work with the needle cap on please take this into consideration when thinking about using this technique.

When all is said and done it’s not the airbrush that creates the fine lines, detail work it’s the artist operating the airbrush. The airbrush is just a tool learn to operate it with a great deal of proficiency and airbrushing fine lines, detail work will not be a problem.

This is an old airbrush trick that I’m not sure anyone can take credit for its been around forever. For those of you new to airbrushing and for those with experiance who haven’t tried it I thought it would be worth posting again. It’s a very simple little trick as you can see below.



airbrush needle cap

In most case’s by simple removing the needle cap from your airbrush while tring to render nice clean detail you’ll find it alot easier to accomplish. Just remember to put it back on after you use it.

airbrush needle tip

Pictured above my airbrush with the needle cap removed. Give it a try I’m sure you will find it works just as well for you as it has for me over the years.I will add more to How To Airbrush.Com as often as I can so please book mark this web site and stop back often.

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 Compressor

Airbrush compressors what a maze of confusion there is when looking for a good reliable air source for airbrushing, kustom painting. The main object of of this tutorial will hopefully offer some clarity to the many options you have to choose from when purchasing a airbrush compressor.

To start off lets go over some common terms and definitions relating to airbrush compressors.

Air compressor a compressor that takes in air at atmospheric pressure and delivers it at a higher pressure

Reciprocating air compressors are those in which each compressing element consists of a piston moving back and forth in a cylinder.

Moisture separators are devices for collecting and removing moisture from the air.

db: Decibel  A term to describe the relative loudness of a sound. Typically, heat pumps and air conditioners are between the sound of a human voice (70db) and a blender (88db).

Displacement:  The volume of air displaced by a full stroke of the first stage piston, multiplied by the rated RPM of the compressor. This is measured in cubic feet per minute (CFM)

Filtration:  The purification of air by passing it through a porous material for the removal of solid particles and liquid droplets. Filtration is an essential step in the process of air purification

Air Pressure Regulator  A component of an air compressor that allows the user to adjust the air pressure in the air line

Maximum Pressure Ratin The highest-pressure level recommended for a compressor.

Diaphragm compressors achieve compression with the use of a flexing diaphragm that moves back and forth in a closed chamber; the design is an alteration of the reciprocating piston concept. The motion of the connecting rod under the diaphragm causes the flexing and only a short stroke is needed to generate similar pressure effects as those of a reciprocating piston compressor.

CFM Cubic feet per minute  Compressors are rated by CFM. It is very important that you know what the delivered CFM is at a specific pressure when comparing compressors. Some dealers may advertise CFM displacement which is always higher than CFM delivered. Another key is the pressure given. A CFM rating at 40 PSI will always be a higher value than at 100 PSI or 175 PSI. The main thing to remember is Delivered CFM at the same Pressures when comparing performance.


Gauges pressure gauges to monitor tank and regulator pressures.

Horse Power: The power rating of an electrical motor. Unfortunately , this is a very vague and confusing term due to the fact that the “Value” of Horse Power (HP) is not a constant among the various types and sizes of motors. When selecting a compressor you should look for the CFM delivered at a specific pressure.

Oil less Compressor: Any compressor that is not lubricated by oil.

Pressure Switches: An Electrical device that is designed to monitor and control the tank storage pressure and to shut off the motor by means of opening a control circuit. In smaller units, the Pressure Switch may be wired directly to the motor. However, in larger units the pressure switch is wired to a control circuit.

PSI: Pounds Per Square Inch. “Pressure”. Used to describe the storage pressure, operating pressure, regulated pressure, air tool pressure requirement etc… Used in conjunction with CFM which is an expression of volume. When comparing Pressures and CFM between units, be sure to use both CFM and PSI at the same compared values. Example; 17 CFM @ 175 PSI. or 6 CFM @ 90 PSI.

Regulator: An inline device designed to reduce downstream air pressure to a specific adjustable setting.

Air pressure regulators, moisture traps / filtershould be used on any type compressor used for airbrushing. An air pressure regulator controls the air pressure at which the paint is sprayed. Moisture trap / filter captures the moisture created by the flow of the hot air cooling in the air storage tank or airbrush hose.** For oil lubricated compressors a oil filter should be used to capture any oil from the compressor before it gets into your airbrush. .

COMPRESSED CO2 TANKS Perfect for airbrushing in many cases if the size of your projects are not huge. No need for a moisture trap or oil filter are needed for CO2, just a regulator. For a regulator you should use a welding type regulator which screws on top of the tank.


Now that we have a basic understanding of some of the terms we will be coming a crossed when researching airbrush compressors lets move on to some of the things you should take into consideration before you purchase a airbrush compressor.

First and foremost is to determine what exactly you will be airbrushing, custom painting and the type paint you will be using. Paint is propelled through and out the airbrush tip in a controlled manner by compressed air. The higher the viscosity of the paint (the thicker the paint) the higher PSI will be required to get the job done. An illustration type airbrush paint like Doc PH Martins or Golden Airbrush Colors both of which we would call low viscosity paints would require 10 to 30 PSI with a 0.18 to 0.35 nozzle / needle to give you good results. Where as Createx (a textile paint) being a higher viscosity paint would require 40 to 60 PSI to give you good results.

This translates in simple terms to if you are airbrushing illustrations, fine art you might well get away with a smaller compressor than if you where airbrushing T Shirts.

Other considerations: Is a noisy compressor acceptable to use in your case, would the noise created hinder your ability to airbrush in other words. If you have a studio in your home or apartment a noisy compressor might not be the way to go. If you have a shop or studio outside your home, apartment a noisy compressor might work out well for you.

How much money do you have to spend is always part of the mix when purchasing art supplies, equipment. That’s why it’s so important to do your home work now before you make a buying decision, spend your money wisely.


Passche D 500 airbrush compressor

Pictured above is a Paasche D500 airbrush compressor. This is an oil-less diaphragm type compressor and would work well for very light duty airbrushing with a gravity feed airbrush and a low viscosity paint.


Sprint Jet Airbrush Compressor

Pictured above is an oil less piston type airbrush compressor which is great for use with thin (low viscosity) type paints such as Comart, Golden Airbrush Colors and a fixed nozzle, gravity feed airbrush or a siphon feed airbrush with low viscosity paint. This set up will not work well with say an airbrush like the Paasche VL and textile colors unless you thin or reduce the airbrush textile colors.


Power Jet Airbrush Compressor

Here we have an oil less piston type airbrush compressor within a metal case, a suite case style airbrush compressor. These are great for in home or apt. studios to be used with thin paints (low viscosity). If you require a quite running compressor you might want to give these style compressors a look. Again it will not work well for high viscosity paints such as textile colors with a floating nozzle unless you thin or reduce the paint.


SIL-Air 50-24 airbrush compressor

Here we have a half horse power compressor that runs very quite made by Silent Air for the airbrushing market. This size compressor will do limited T Shirt production, provides the PSI required using textile colors and syphon feed airbrushes. Also would be good for use with Auto Art, motorcycle murals. It will not provide enough air for base coating or clear coating large surfaces but would work great to the art work. Silent Air makes larger models which will provide enough air for doing such and I’m sure you can find them listed on that company’s web site.


Great White airbrush compressor

Pictured above is the Great White airbrush compressor which I personally used for years in my Mall T Shirt shop. It will run two to three airbrushes at the same time using textile colors with very little problem. These type compressors use a refrigerator type compressor and are very quite.


commerical type airbrush compressor


Finally we have the type of compressor you buy at Home Depot, Lowes or Sears. These will work fine as long as you have a regulator and filter attached. The draw back is they are noisy and before you purchase one ask to hear it run so you know just how nosiy they are. One good point is with a big air storage tank as pictured the compressor should not run often when using it for most airbrush applications.If you plan on custom painting bikes, auto art this might be the way for you to go as you can run other air tools off it also like a DA, spray gun,etc.

Finally the airbrush or spray gun you have should have recommended pressure and volume requirements for air please be sure the compressor you buy meets or excedes those requirements. It is always a good idea to buy a compressor bigger than your present needs so you have room to grow and so you don’t over work your compressor.

I hope you found this helpful If you have any questions please feel free to register and post a comment below. Thanks Don Johnson


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 Basics

Airbrush basics for those new to airbrushing here is some essential information to help you get started in the right direction making your experiance a lot less frustrating.

by Kevin Mayes

For some time now, airbrush artists have had to gather their knowledge from any source available. Fortunately, there have been a number of very good books published in recent years. One that I highly recommend is by Radu Vero, titled “Airbrush: The Complete Studio Guide”. This is an excellent book for all levels of study. It is my hope that this newsletter will also be, or at least become, that kind of source for helpful, intelligent information on the art of airbrushing.

What I hope to achieve with this newsletter is to impart the knowledge and experiences that I have had and to relate the experiences of those who wish to share the same by writing me. This is intended to be a platform for the exchange of knowledge, experiences and practical information concerning the airbrush. It is in this context that I encourage you to participate in this exchange and thereby enhance the growth and enjoyment of this art form.

When I first began my work with the airbrush, there was literally no one from whom to to learn the ins and outs of the medium. I learned from trial and error (often there was more error than trial) and from studying samples from magazines and posters. Trying to imitate the work in those samples was frustrating at best. Fortunately, I was able to find an air brush illustrator years later who was kind enough to share his knowledge and skills with me. Thanks to him, I was able to achieve my goals and reach the level that I now enjoy. Thank you, Dave Willardson, for your honesty, direction and inspiration. I am very grateful.


self portrait by kevin

Above is a ‘self portrait’ by airbrush artist, artist Kevin Mayers. I would like to thank Kevin for letting me reprint this news letter series here on How To Airbrush. I think you find them very informative.

My advice…………..don’t hesitate to contact an illustrator artist you admire for advice or infor- mation. Most, I have found, are more than willing to help new talent. You can do so on our airbrush artist forum at Airbrush Technique.Com


Airbrush Basic Maintenance 

Proper care of the airbrush is essential to insure a positive experience

First of all, clean your airbrush often! It’s a good idea to rinse the brush with clear water frequently during your work sessions. This will help reduce the build-up of pigment around the needle at the head assembly. Some build-up of pigment is bound to happen regardless and the easiest solution to this is to clense the brush with a cleaning solution. You can use a cleaner purchased from your local art store or you can make your own using the following formula.




Although this is an effective formula, it is moderate in strength. I do not reccomend using more than a 30% ammonia/ 70% water mix. Anything stonger could damage your airbrush!


A number of people have asked what to do to keep the paint flowing instead of clogging and spattering. Often it is simply a matter of keeping the tip of the needle moist. Periodically, during your work, it is helpful to simply apply a drop of water to the tip of your needle. Remember that you are blowing air along with the paint! Air dries paint, and under the right atmospheric conditions, it can dry it as it comes out of the nozzle!



All too often, people will be intimidated by an airbrush to the point that it ceases to be fun.

Remember, the airbrush is only a tool! It is not the be-all and end-all in art! This simple tool can, when used on its own or in combination with any other medium, be pleasurable and just plain fun to work with.

Everyone, including me, gets frustrated with this darn contraption from time to time. When this happens, take a moment and let patience be your guide. Patience is one virtue that is needed when airbrushing. Sometimes it tests your patience, but you can win out over it. Ask yourself where you went wrong, or if the instrument is acting up; ask yourself what is it doing and where could it be coming from? Do a little trouble-shooting and calmly remedy the situation. If needed, set the project aside for an hour then go back and start again with a fresh out look. Should that not work, and then set it aside over night before trying again. If you are still puzzled then contact someone with airbrush experience and enlist their help with the problem. The trick is to not let the medium defeat you.

No matter what medium you work in, such as airbrush or watercolor or oils, there will be days that are problematic and you learn to work through them. Look at it this way: With every problem or glitch you encounter, you gain knowledge. Knowledge is what we seek. And with knowledge comes skill. Your work will only improve with each thing you learn.

So, don’t take things too seriously and HAVE FUN


Airbrush Fundamentals  

To be or become proficient with any art form, there are certain fundamental things you must do to achieve your goals. First and foremost,you should draw as often as possible. As I learned early in my career, you will never be able to paint better than you can draw. So, draw whenever you can. Secondly, practice the elementary exercises found in most airbrush books. Those annoying little circles, squares, dots and gradations are invaluable to improving your skills. These exercises are also a great way to ‘warm up’ before painting. Third, be observant. Observing things and people around you can be a great source for inspiration and reference.

I hope that you have enjoyed this premier issue and that you will look forward to the next.

Kevin has a great DVD series on airbrushing pin up art be sure to check it out on his web site

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 Baseball Helmet Rips And Tears Design

I have seen a few inquiries requesting a step by step doing rips and tears and did a quickie today on a baseball helmet and thought it may help some folks. This was done on the back of a catcher helmet. Hope it helps someone. TABG

draw the design

1) Drew out a pattern on a low tack vinyl masking material.


cut the design out

2) Cut out the inner portion that will be painted with what is “breaking” through the helmet. Save this portion as you will need it later.


airbrush white into the design

3) Apply the mask and begin painting the inner portion (a baseball) as needed.


start airbrushing color

4) Continuing the inner painting.


start airbrushing detail

5) More detail on the inner portion, threads or seam on the baseball.

airbrushing drop shadows

6) Finished the inner portion. At this stage, keeping in mind of where your light is coming from, spray in some drop shadows which the torn portions will cast on the ball (or whatever you are doing in this portion). This part will give a nice depth to your design when finished.


airbrushing folds

7) With the inner portion completed, remove the “fold back” portions of the tears. This part will give the illusion that the surface is folding back or curving back. This part really gives the 3-D look and gives some nice depth.


masking inside the design

8) Replace the inner portion that was cut our in step 2. Spray in the color on the fold back portion remembering light source, using highlights and shadows to give illusion of the material “folding” over.


adding to drop shadows

9) Remove the masking over the inner area. Then go back over the drop shadows to darken as needed. At this time also check all of the edges where the masking may not have lined up properly. On the left of the image you will see some white where the mask was misaligned. Spray in some shadows to cover up any of those ugly “lines” that may be left.


design completed

10) Remove all masking and make any touch ups needed to eliminate any lines that may still exist. All that’s left is to apply a clear coat.
The most important step is #9 as this eliminates the ugly separations that show where the masking was. Blending is the key to have a somewhat realistic 3-D look.
Keep in mind that this was done on a small area,(about 4 inches) so the level of detail is limited. The larger the area that you are working with, the more detail you will be able to achieve.
Good luck and have fun.

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.