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How to use Airbrushing in Watercolor (Watercolour)


With a little practice it is going to be very, very simple.

Remember Airbrushing is a Watercolor (Watercolour) Painting tool for the fine artist.

It can salvage a painting for you, one that didn't quite work out, maybe a dull area  accurd just spray it with several warm coats of paint - bingo you just saved the painting,

Paint looks different when sprayed through an Airbrush.  The paint comes out as a round shape when it dries on the paper the light bounces off the spheres.
When you paint with a brush, you flatten the paints molecules, so the light bounces off the flat plane.

That's why areas that you Airbrush have a little extra bounce, a little extra glow - that's what we are all looking for. Thats one big reason knowing How to use Airbrushing in Watercolor (Watercolour).

If you wanted to paint a shadow in the center of a fine delicate rose or darken the center of a peony, simply, hook up the Airbrush to the compressor, load the paint in the jar or bottle, protect the area of the rest of the painting, aim, pull back the leaver slowly, air comes out , no paint yet, that appears only as you slowly continue pulling the leaver back with the. Index finger.
In How to use Airbrushing in Watercolor you may not immediately see the fine dry mist but it will go on very softly without disturbing those delicate washes on the rose or peony.

How to use an Airbrush in Watercolor  (watercolour) try this as a practice run for clouds, mountains etc.  Place a stencil formed by a torn paper tissue making the edge rough, Airbrush above the tissue, remove place further down the page, repeat and repeat again as shown in the image below.

How about a Graded foreground or a Graded Sky. Spray the area with a fine mist then spray 75% of what you just sprayed the first time. Then repeat about 50% of what you sprayed the second time - bingo a Graded Sky.Now if you wanted a sunset look, spray some red or orange. 


Remember the brush (the one with the hairs) is your main painting tool, the Airbrush just helps things along and solves little problems like How to use an Airbrush in Watercolor well.

Maybe the group of roses or other flowers for that matter that you just spent hours and hours on might need some of the blooms to be less dominant.

Cover the rest of the flowers with a paper shield of some kind, tracing paper works fine, either hold it in position or use masking tape, (the rush of air from the sprayer will blow the tracing paper away if it's not held or taped down.

Please at this point be careful the air does not lift any part of the stencil and paint under the stencil. Below are two images, one was untouched the second one was pushed back by painting a thin mixture of Antwerp Blue, leaving the main petals untouched, in other words we produced a three dimensional look.



It is so much fun. Give it a try, you might want to paint everything, go ahead change those old paintings sitting over there.


Well you might say isn't that cheating. 

No Airbrushing your art maybe the tool for you to use occasionally, casting shadows , repairing muddy work,warming up a dead spot or too, and to soften some of the areas in your painting, You might want to take the attitude "What Ever it Takes". Look at it this way, if Chopin or Mozart were alive today I will guarantee they would figure out a way how to use electronic instruments and sound effects in their musical compositions. 

Frankly I can see Leonardo da Vinci or any of the old masters looking at brushing occasionally to use in their work. Many of todays best artists including the likes of Don Getz, Arleta Pech, & Carl Brenders all use this tool to help get the results they want.

You can too if you understand how to operate this tool. It's easy to operate with a little practice and it has the "way of saving" paintings. Fixing-up that dull section you accidentally painted. Placing a shadow right bang in the middle of a floral painting is a piece of cake. 

Yes placing it right over those delicate colors ,that you and I both know will lift very easily if you try to use a brush. Laying down glazes or very thin veils of color can be done. As the paint comes out "almost dry" you have no fear about disturbing the under painting. 

Suppose you wanted to place an array of radiant colors side-by-side in a relative small area without agitating the existing paint. This tool is the way to go. You maybe surprised to know that I could put a dot about as big as the dot on this "i" . 



Airbrushing, Equipment, for the fine artist basically comes in two types. Single Action. This is the most simple type available. When the finger is pressed on the button the color is sprayed at a pre-set rate. The rate is easy to change, stop spraying for a moment, turn the color valve slightly. The air and the color are mixed outside of the tip, less likely to clog if heaver materials are sprayed. 

This Equipment, is not the best choice for the Fine Artists work. Frankly the only reason I mention it to you in case you go to a craft shop or any shop for that matter and they try to sell you a single action, inexpensive sprayer, this is not for you. 

Double Action. Only one difference..........but a big one. Slowly pulling back on the finger button will increase the amount of color sprayed. So when you first start to press down on the button all that come out is air. Slowly pulling the finger button back out comes the color. Isn't that simple. 

This Equipment, may be just right for you. You can operate this Airbrushing, Equipment, with just a few practice runs. Press down the finger, out comes the air, pull back the finger slowly, out comes the paint. You can increase the values of the color this way easily. You can control width of line and like I said, the values.

How in the world does the air and the liquid mix? The liquid is fed into the air stream either by siphon action or gravity. The siphon-feed types work just like sucking liquid up through a straw and it takes one or two seconds to get it working. The gravity-feed types are quicker because the color cup is located on top of the sprayer, and the fluid flows directly down into the air stream. This is a nice advantage when making a lot of color changes. 

This is my choice - Gravity Action. How much air? You will find most Air Brushes will work just fine on clean dry air at 1/2 to 1 CFM. flow and 20 to 45 PSI. depending on fluids being sprayed. What can an Airbrush spray? Any liquid that can be thinned to the consistency of milk can be sprayed through an Airbrush. 

Thicker liquids should be sprayed with higher pressure but that is not something for a Watercolorist to worry about. You will be normally spraying much finer materials so don't worry about the pressure. 

There is another type of Airbrush, it's called Paasch AB. This is a double action external mix for great sensitivity and control of spray. It has no equal, this sensitivity limits the area coverage, but it is not intended for large areas of work. Details, you bet, you can even retouch photographic negatives with this AB. This Airbrushing Equipment is the one I can dot an "i" with. 




Is buying an Airbrushing, Compressor, Kits, a good idea? Yes it might well be for the simple reason the manufacturer has matched all the components in the kit. The compressor is matched to the sprayer the hose is matched to the sprayer and compressor. Some have everything to get you started. Saw one recently by Badger, it even had a video and some paint in the kit. Don't plan on using the paint on a good painting. Practice with the paint only. I highly recommend Airbrushing kits with Compressor.

Compressed Air Cans. Not too excited about them although they are inexpensive, when they start to lose pressure it has a negative effect like coughing on the sprayer. Don't recommend them. 

Compressed Air Cylinders. Compressed air cylinders have been around for many years. Some artists prefer them because they are totally silent, don't need electricity. But again they do run out. The same feeling you get if you have guests at your Barbecue and the propane gas cylinder is empty and the store always opens tomorrow. Now you haul it off to be filled and then you find out it weights over 100 lbs. Not recommended for my studio. 

Stick with a small, quiet, portable, no maintenance compressor even if you have to dig a little deeper in the old pocket book. You will thank me. Been there, done that. As I said before, Airbrushing Kits with Compressor will be the ideal thing to start off with, everything is there complete.AC Compressors These push the paint. Small to large, quiet to semi quiet, light to heavy, reservoirs to no reservoirs. The range of accessories and components for an air brush is very large. 

Decide how often you might use it, then judge accordingly. You don't need a huge expensive compressor if you are just going to use it occasionally. Saving a picture here and there, changing the background adding shadows and doing all kinds of small changes. That you could never do before, because you might lift the existing paint, now you just spray over the part that needs a change and go on without disturbing a thing.

I use a Scorpion #1 Air Compressor don't know if they still make them. Cost is about $100.00. It is quiet, light weight, no maintenance after 10 years. If I was buying my first Airbrush I might consider a complete kit.



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