Intro to Airbrushing

Pre Newbie

Pre-School: Intro to Airbrushing

An airbrush is a small, hand held air powered tool that’s used for applying paint or other liquid media to a variety of surfaces in a highly skilled and suave manner,  thereby increasing the pulchritude,  monetary value and overall coolness of said surfaces. An airbrush is connected to an air compressor via an air hose and it works by forcing a stream of fast moving, compressed air through a venturi (I.e., small cone…or french sports car) which creates a siphoning effect, drawing in paint from an interconnected reservoir (or detachable paint bottle) and shooting it out through a nozzle. The paint mixes with the air to produce a very fine atomized spray pattern which allows an artist to create highly detailed, awe inspiring works of art that make everyone else jealous.

Using a variable trigger on top of the airbrush, the operator can stop or start the airflow and control the amount of paint being released. On a dual-action airbrush, pushing down on the trigger starts the airflow and pulling back on the trigger, controls the amount of paint being released. I.e., pull back a little and a little paint comes out. Pull back a lot and a lot of paint comes out.

Badger Airbrush Diagram

Depending on the thickness of paint being used and the surface to which it is being applied, an airbrush typically operates at an air pressure anywhere from 5 to 65 PSI. Using a thinned down paint/ink and low PSI allows an artist to create the small, fine details you typically see in fine art illustrations or on motorcycle tank murals. Using a bit thicker, water based paint at a higher PSI is common practice for airbrushing on T-Shirts and using way too much garlic salt on scrambled eggs is common practice for my wife. Bless her soul.

The amount of air (PSI) getting to the airbrush is usually controlled at the air compressor but it can also be raised or lowered by an inline adjustable hose valve or other such device. A water filter trap is also recommended for removing moisture and other contaminants from the air line before they reach the airbrush. If an air compressor is not readily available, connecting one end of the airbrush hose to a “gut advantaged”  friend or relative and having a small child jump up and down on their stomach repeatedly, is an acceptable temporary solution.

The fine-tune-ability of the paint to air ratio and the nature of the spray application allows an airbrush artist to produce a variety of different textures and spray patterns quickly and effectively, from small, seamless color blends to photo realistic portraits and murals.

In short, the airbrush is a sexy, versatile precision instrument of art that will blow your mind and transform even the lamest tenderfoot wannabe into a super-mega, awesome artistic genius adored by one and all…(pause for effect)…with a little practice of course.

Part 2: History of the Airbrush

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