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Old 10-20-2004, 07:13 AM   #1 (permalink)
Insane
 
Location: Dallas
My Complete Airbrush guide

Rocinantes beginners guide to Airbrushing.

Hi all.

A few people have asked me to write a little guide to give some pointers how to start airbrushing. I will give it my best shot and tell you everything I can think of, up to now that I have learnt. I will start with the hardware, then tell you how to paint the Texas mouse from start to finish. This is a long post written for all my friends a tilted. I hope some of you find a use for it 

-- Hardware --

The two fundamentally important pieces you need are an Airbrush, and an air source. With regards to the air source, you can opt for the cheep route which is to buy compressed air in a can form, but these are very expensive over time. They also do not have good constant air flow and run out extremely quickly.

A good tip is to take a trip to your local hardware store and pick up any compressor that has at least a 2 gallon holding tank, Oil less design and has an air regulator. It needs to output at least 60 PSi. I purchased this one, it is a bit noisy, but it does a great job for under $100, its almost perfect for starting out. http://www.lowes.com/lkn?action=prod...11-1126-FP2051

The hardest part is choosing the Airbrush you want to use. Now many books tell you that only you can decide on what you need, but truth be told, there are good brushes that are well loved, and there’s some stinkers, that struggle to work at best. There are two basic designs to look into, which are Gravity Feed, and Siphon feed. To make it short and simple, a gravity feed has a paint cup located on the top of the brush, and the Siphon has a jar/bottle on the bottom that holds paint that gets sucked up into the brush.

One other thing to note is you can get Single action and Dual action brushes. If you pick up a single action brush, put it back down. Double action brushes let you control the amount of paint that is to be released into the brush for atomization. Single brushes have a pre set value, that is usually adjusted via a dial, and you just can’ do a lot of effects as easy with a single action brush.

-- Recommended brushes --

Siphon feed – Paasche VL(S). You can find them at Michael’s stores as well as just about all online stores. Michael’s usually also keep parts stocked as well. This brush is a Dual action, siphon feed workhorse that has some very beautiful qualities and is built like a tank. I have the VLS set, that came with everything I needed to connect to the Air Compressor for under $100. You can find them online for under $70.

Gravity Feed – IWATA HP-C+. This is my latest brush that I use. I purchased it not because the Paasche wasn’t good, but I was wasting a lot of paint in the bottles when I just needed a little paint. Gravity feed brushes tend to be better for quick color changes because you don’t have to have jars to swap and clean. However, if you are only going to be larger areas, the Siphon designed brushes work best. This brush runs around $150

-- Paints –

I use Createx and auto-air paints for paper, plastics and metals. I will explain how I used them later. Many paints are on the market, and I actually started practicing with food colored water on newsprint paper. Hobby Lobby and Michael’s stock a fair amount of Createx paints. They are water based acrylics and run for around 3 bucks.

-- Other important purchases –

WINDEX - This will break down acrylic paint in a heart beat, even dried acrylic. I use it to flush my brush when finished too.

Newsprint paper for practice. I use Strathmore newsprint pads.
http://www.michaels.com/art/online/d...041&channelid=

You may need to buy yourself an inline water trap. This will stop any moisture from getting into your airline, which ALWAYS decides to spit right in the middle of your project.

-- Technique basics –

The common practice routine is to learn how to draw dots that represent circles with no runs streaks or spiders. Once you have mastered dots, you need to learn how to join them together to make a loose spider web type pattern. I have spent many hours drawing dots and lines.

I usually have my compressor set to around 15-30 PSI. This will completely depend on your brush, your air source and even the medium you are using.

I recommend using water with a little food coloring for beginning. It’s easy to mix up and will not clog or dry the needle in the brush and be easily viewable on newsprint paper.

Once you get to the real paint, always make sure that it has a consistency of 2% milk. Always run a quick practice when trying new paints.

I always have a regular bristle brush close with some Windex in a little container to allow you to gently free up any paint that can dry on the tip of your airbrush needle. This will not happen with the water with food coloring tip.

Keep your airbrush clean. Don’t soak it over night in anything, because you may start to wear down the rubber o-rings. Learn how your brush dismantles, be careful, and use a bath towel on a large surface so you don’t loose any parts. This will allow you to really clean the needle, and the chambers, and will also show you how the brush works. Besides that, it is just great fun to pull apart mechanical things.

-- Full rundown of painting the Texas Mouse –

Needed supplies.

Mouse
Createx Opaque Blue, Red and White
Krylon Crystal Clear coat
Paint primer - I have used a rattle can white Krylon Primer
Transparency Film
Sharpie Pen
Exacto knife (Sharp)
Blue masking tape with a very low adhesion. I use Scotch Safe release #2080 from any store such as Wal-Mart etc.

Dismantle the mouse, this will void you warranty, but I think painting it will also kill that too. I use a jar for every screw, spring and plastic widget that falls off.

Sand the soon to be painted mouse case surface lightly with a fine grit sand paper, around 600 should be fine. This will give your primer something to bite in to. If your primer doesn’t bite to the plastic, your paint will peal off like a latex glove.

Sand out any logos, and text from the mouse case, because you will still see the decal after painting because most of the time, they are slightly raised.

Once sanded, wash thoroughly with Windex and then rinse with water. I just do this in a sink with running water. Once you have cleaned, I usually let them dry outside in the sun. A great tip is once the mouse casing is washed, hold the bottom. Do not get a single finger print on the clean surface. The little bit of oil from your skin can be enough to make the prime coat not adhere fully.

Once thoroughly dried, dust coat the mouse casing with the primer. Build up this in very thin coats and don’t rush. The more even the prime coat goes down, the better the end result. I know this is hard to do, but if you make a mistake on the prime coat, clean with windex and water and re start. It really is not worth going past this point if you are not really happy with your prime coat.

Let the Prime coat dry for a good hour, even if the instructions say 15 minutes.

Next is to mask out the first mouse button. This will completely be dependant on your mouse design. Don’t apply to much pressure to the masking tape, just make sure that you take your time. I also take the time to mask the rest of the mouse with some scrap news print paper. You would be surprised how much over spray will find its way to un protected surfaces.

The only visible part of the mouse should now be the button your painting. Lets say your painting the left mouse button red. Shake your Createx paint and add a required amount to your brush. Set your PSI just enough to get a nice fine atomization, but not enough that you will get spider legs on the surface from too much power. Practice on paper first. I can’t emphasize how important it is, to build your paint up in slow thin layers. If you lay down a thick coat of paint, it will not adhere and peel off. Dust it, wait a minute, dust it, wait a minute etc until you have a beautiful even coverage. This technique will not only help adhesion, but will prevent your masking tape from leaking at the edges.

Once you have let the red dry for a good 30 minutes, remove the masking in a slow, but constant motion, trying to slightly pull away from the line you created at a 90 degree angle.

Mask the mouse so the other mouse button is showing and repeat the step. Also do this for the blue area at the back. Only you can tell the dimensions as each mouse is different.

Once you have your mouse buttons and the blue back section painted, print out a star on your PC. Then using the sharpie trace the star onto the transparency using a ruler to get straight edges. Cut this out using the exacto knife, again using a ruler if you require guidance to get straight lines. You will be keeping the negative of the star and not the actual star you cut out. A tip I use is to also cut out “holes” or “grooves” a little way from the edges of the star. I then place masking tape to cover these holes so the sticky side of the tape is accessible from the back side of the transparency, which then will make contact to the mouse surface allowing the transparency to stick down and tight to the surface. This does require a little practice.

Using the white, gently dust the star in side the mask, the lighter the paint goes on, the more even the coat, and the sharper the edges will be. Remove the transparency mask as soon as you are done, because the transparency can sometimes wick the paint under itself.

Let your painted mouse case dry over night.

This part is the scariest part for me, the final clear coat. The reason is, you can absolutely destroy your project if you use the wrong product or rush the job. I have used the Krylon brand Crystal Clear coat with pretty good results. I highly recommend doing this in an extremely well ventilated area.

To clear and get a good shine, apply a very fine dust coat, this is called flashing. Let dry for 15 minutes and flash it once again. After another 15 Minutes, apply a wet coat. This requires quite a lot of practice. I can struggle to do this with a rattle can, so I now use a createx clear I purchased online that I can spray thru my airbrush.

Let dry and re assemble your mouse.

If you take your time, you can get superb results with little effort. Remember light coats are your best friend.
Finally Resources.

Good airbrush retailers are..
www.bearair.com
www.dixieart.com
Hobby Lobby for some Createx paints
Michael’s store sales some IWATA brushes, and Paasche VLS sets

Essential book
Airbrush The Complete Studio Handbook

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg...glance&s=books

Wow that took me some time lol. I hope that this helps answer a few questions you may have.
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Old 10-20-2004, 07:16 AM   #2 (permalink)
Insane
 
Location: Dallas
I dont know if it should be in this section or tilted how tos?
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Old 10-20-2004, 11:19 AM   #3 (permalink)
Tone.
 
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thanks for posting! Gives me what i need to get started with this. Maybe I'll get good enough to 'brush my car
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Old 10-20-2004, 03:31 PM   #4 (permalink)
Insane
 
Location: Washington State
Thanks a lot!!!! Very helpful!
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Old 10-22-2004, 04:43 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Location: Chicago
Very cool. I'm still fairly new at airbrushing, so this was a very interesting/helpful read.

Thanks!
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Old 10-22-2004, 06:02 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Location: Edmontania
Wow that was a great read!

I'm guessing using an airbrush is for fine work- is there a cheaper way using an airgun for doing a large volume of work? And an oil based paint will probably wreck the o rings right?

Sorry for the questions, just trying to work some stuff out in my head.
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Old 10-23-2004, 06:46 AM   #7 (permalink)
Insane
 
Location: Dallas
Hey Guys, thanks for the replies.

To do really fine airbrushing works, you need to be well practiced and have a micron style airbrush.

An airgun is used for doing larger volumes in less passes. I dont know too much about oil paints in airbrushes. Most paper artists use inks and acrylics which are water based. If your going to be painting on cars/metal, most people tend to use urothain transported paint.
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Old 10-23-2004, 08:17 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Location: Thunder Bay
Thanks man for all the help
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