Take Your Painting To The Next Level
decided to create a series of articles dedicated to
helping the average hobbyist get into, or at least
consider whether airbrushing can be used to enhance
the hobby and any other projects you may want to complete.
In this first article, Ill go over the two main
kinds of airbrush designs as well as a couple compressor
you all like this idea and would like to see more
articles in this airbrush series, leave a comment
I begin, Ill give you a little bit of a background
and show you some of the work Ive completed
using an airbrush. Hopefully my examples will demonstrate
the versatility of the airbrush and maybe get some
of you interested in how you too can get the effect
you desire while utilizing an amazing tool like an
most of my work has been done on a positive surface,
or should I say, painting on the outside of an opaque
surface, airbrushing can just as easily be used for
painting on the reverse side of a translucent surface
like an RC body. Im sure there are some of you
out there that have much more experience than me painting
RC bodies and I hope you will join in through the
comments below. Theres a whole other aspect
of painting that can be opened up with an airbrush.
had been creating artwork through drawing and painting
since a child and usually got pleasing results. As
I entered my 20s I began painting wall murals
and canvas paintings for friends, family, and the
day I was walking through our local mall and saw an
airbrush store. You know, the guy that paints T-shirts.
I watched him for a moment and decided I was going
to buy an airbrush. My first two real airbrushes were
Pasche single action and Pasche double action airbrushes.
Well get into the difference in a moment.
quickly evolved into mail boxes, motorcycles, trucks,
wall murals, and all types of other things. I absolutely
love the versatility of using an airbrush. I could
achieve fine lines or gradual fades with the same
airbrush. It was awesome!
are a few examples of my artwork created primarily
is a tire cover I created using double action Pasche
and Iwata airbrushes. This type of material called
for a flexible paint, so I used Createx colors and
clear. A standard air compressor was used.
most of my RC bodies somehow avoided a photo session.
I guess I was too eager to run them to take pictures
of them. Here are a couple early photos of RC bodies.
the Revo is painted from the underside and the Tamiya
was surface painted. I used Pactra paint and double
action airbrush on the Revo and Automotive HOK base,
candy, and clear on the Tamiya.
guess I need to throw in a couple T-shirts since I
mentioned it earlier. These were created with Createx
paint and double action airbrush. The last picture
is of my some dressed like a clone trooper several
years back. I used an airbrush to darken all the seams,
giving it an aged look. I also added other battle
scars and burn marks with a double action airbrush.
second stage prop was created a year or two later
for the same yearly banquet. As you can see in the
picture, I first created a wooden frame and then painted
it to look like a giant television. This prop was
created using a combination of roller, brushes, and
airbrushes. The paint used was interior wall house
paint and createx paints. This too is a good example
of how you can make something flat appear to be three
dimensional. A standard air compressor was used.
this next stage prop, a local school hired me to create
a castle entrance way for their senior prom that year.
They also used it the following year for homecoming.
The draw bridges were repurposed to allow it to fit
properly on the trailer. This prop was gigantic and
was also created using a flat plywood/2×4 base.
Like the other stage props, I used a combination of
paints, brushes, rollers, and airbrushes. Because
of its size, I also used automotive spray guns to
cover large areas quickly. A standard compressor was
following automotive artwork was done by following
proper auto paint industry standards using primers,
base coat, mid coat clear, and clear. Mid coat clear
was only used to protect completed stages of work
before laying down more graphics and colors. The two
main base coats I used were SEM and House of Kolor.
As far as clear goes, some of them I used House of
Kolor and other I used Xtreme clear, but all of them
I used an airbrush. There is now possible way I could
have gotten these effects without an airbrush. The
main airbrush I used was the Iwata but I also used
a $30 Chinese knock off, and it worked just fine.
Unfortunately I can no longer find the Chinese airbrush
for sale that cheap, but there are others out there
that will do what you need them to do without breaking
the bank. A standard compressor was used.
last picture is an example of painting furniture
with an airbrush. You can do all types of faux
finishes from antique to marbleizing like this
wooden dresser that was converted into a vanity.
This dresser started off as a typical dresser
found in about any furniture store, except this
one was old and had a worn out finish. The customer
wanted me to make it look like marble, so I
printed off a couple of marble photos and got
to work. I treated this dresser as an automobile
paint job. I used multiple layers of epoxy primer
sanding between each coat. This allowed me to
get rid of the wood grain look. I then applied
SEM black base coat with a spray gun and followed
it up with the airbrushed white. Later coating
the entire job with multiple layers of Imron
high gloss clear by Dupont. A standard compressor
hope you can see by now that airbrushes are amazing
tools that can be used for many different applications,
including RC. The great thing about an airbrush is
that once you have one, youll want to use it
think Ive shown you everything BUT and RC car
shell, but well get into that in a later article
in the airbrush 101 series. For now, lets talk about
the two different types of airbrushes mentioned earlier.
Below are examples of single action and double action
A single action airbrush means the button on the top
of the airbrush does on thing and one thing only.
When the top button is pressed, it allows air to flow
through the airbrush. As this air flows over the top
of the (angled) needle, it sucks paint from the holding
kind of like a syphon. There may be a height adjustment
dial at the base of the button which allows you to
adjust button travel resulting in adjustable air flow.
flow is also adjustable on a single action airbrush,
it just doesnt use the button to do so. An adjustable
cone screws on over the needle allowing you to restrict
the amount of paint flow. Tightening the cone down
(not completely) creates a fine line and loosening
the cone creates a large spraying area. As you can
see, a single action airbrush is still a versatile
tool and there are many who prefer them. Though they
can be used as a primary airbrush, I find them most
useful for painting a line or fade of consistent size,
whether it be fine or large. The close up picture
shows the adjustment screw available in some single
A double action airbrush controls the airflow by pressing
down on the button and paint flow by pulling back
on the button. A single button literally controls
the paint and paint flow independently. Generally
when your ready to paint with a double action airbrush,
you hold down the button (airflow) and pull back (paint
flow) as needed. The more you pull back, the more
the paint will come out. For example, if you want
to create a fine line, Youll press the button
and pull back very slightly while holding the airbrush
close to the painting surface. If you want to create
a thick heavy line, push down on the button and pull
back on the button generously while holding the airbrush
further back from the painting surface. This is of
course a very crude explanation of how to lay down
paint, but it gives you an idea of how the double
stage button works, and more importantly, the difference
between single and double action airbrushes. The main
advantage the double action airbrush has over the
single stage airbrush is its ease of creating gradual
transitions and fades.
are many variations of these two types of airbrushes
which may include extra control knobs and levers,
but these are the two basic types of airbrushes most
others are stemmed from. In a later article well
talk about needle sizes and different techniques one
can use to achieve a multitude of results.
next thing well talk about is compressors. The
main thing here is noise level and adjustability.
A regular old compressor will work fine for airbrushing
as long as you can control PSI and attach a moisture
PSI (pounds per square inch), or pressure adjustability
is very important to airbrushing. Certain paints and
even certain colors of the same paint require different
levels of pressure. As a general rule of thumb, the
thinner the paint, the less pressure needed. The paints
tendency to dry also plays a role in this but well
get into this in greater depth in a later article.
other thing we mentioned was the noise level. If noise
is a big issue, there are some options out there.
When I was painting automotive or stage props, noise
didnt matter. When I painted murals however,
that Hitachi compressor was unacceptably loud! They
make small diaphragm compressors for studio use that
are very quiet and still offer plenty of PSI to power
an airbrush. I purchased an inexpensive Sparmax diaphragm
compressor that still produces 80PSI, which is more
than enough for what I need.
traps were mentioned a necessary addition to any compressor
used for airbrushing, and for good reason. Air compressors
naturally create moisture which travels down the hose
into your airbrush. This can create many different
problems with all paint mediums. The water is released
onto you beautiful paint surface as soon as the air
button is pressed, it doesnt wait for the paint
to flow as it comes from the air source. This results
in a nasty blob of water right where you want to paint,
so instead of painting on a nice clean surface, youre
trying to paint through a puddle of water. Needless
to say, you end up with a less than perfect paint
job. Water traps can be found at local hardware or
home improvement stores and are fairly inexpensive.
I usually run the air through a small water trap and
then through an inline filter the make sure I get
dry air. Now there are obviously many other styles
of compressors and air-drying systems out there, but
for this series were going to keep it simple
as this isnt intended for the professional car
painter or airbrush artist. This series of articles
is designed to help the average hobbyist get started
in, or at least think about, the wonderful art of
the next article Ill show you how to hold the
airbrush, how to create fine lines, and large lines
using both single and double action airbrushes. Well
also go over simple fades and transitions.
future articles, once weve gotten through all
the basics like line width, flow, fades, dots, and
shapes, well get into stencils, creating graphics,
and start applying this to the RC hobby.
me know in the comments if this sounds interesting
to you and wether you may be interested in taking
your painting to the next level.