Monday, October 20, 2008

Airbrushing Part 1, Basics

I know many of you have been bugging me for a long time about airbrushing, and it's not because I don't want to talk about airbrushing, it's just that there is so much to cover I've been reluctant to start on that topic. If you haven't noticed, once I talk about something, I talk about it until there's nothing more to discuss. Airbrushing could take up my blog posts for the next month, but I'm going to try to limit myself to a few days at a time.

First of all, I'm attacking this in chunks, so if your questions aren't answered today just wait and I'll probably talk about them later.

Basics of Airbrushing
I'll be abbreviating Copic Airbrush system to ABS. It's easier than spelling it out.

Q. Which markers can I use in my ABS?
A. You can use either the Sketch or Copic markers in the ABS system. I know some of you have fiddled around with getting Ciao to work. If you are willing to mess with it then go for it, though it's not officially endorsed by Copic, so I can't give you directions.

Q. How does the ABS Work?
A. The ABS is spraying air across the exposed tip of the marker. You can hook your system up to either special cans of air or an air compressor. Insert your marker, aim and spray. To change colors you pull out the marker and put in a new marker. No mess, no clean-up, and it's non-toxic.

Q. How fine a line can you get with the airbrush?
A. Not very fine. If you want a fine line you need to mask it (see today's post). Same holds for crisp edges; they need to be masked or else they won't be crisp.

Q. What is the ABS used for?
A. Most commonly it is used for filling in large areas (backgrounds) or coloring 3-d objects. There are really so many things to use it on that if you ever get an airbrush system you'll find yourself addicted and looking for any chance you can get to spray things. Wigs, fly fishing lures, paper boxes, teddy bears, metal, embellishments, I say, the possibilities are endless.

Q. Do you have more info about Airbrushing?
A. Yes. Go visit the Copic Library for more info and download the brochure on airbrushing. Otherwise, just follow along for the next few posts and I'll explain things more in-depth. A lot of the members of the Copic Design team have written directions in the past about airbrushing as well, and if I could find links more quickly I would have included them. If you have a favorite link to airbrushing tutorials please leave the link in the comments on this post for everyone to visit.

Airbrushing and simple masking
I've had this artwork for a few days, but I am just now getting around to posting it. I mentioned above that if you want a fine line or crisp edges you need to mask it.

For today's project I'm going to make a quick, fun background. Backgrounds are the most common use of the airbrush and this is about as simple as you can get. I grabbed a couple small leaves from the trees outside and I am using some Star Nestabilities by Spellbinders as my mask.

Under each leaf and on one corner of each star I added some removable adhesive. This keeps the stars from shifting and the edges on the leaves from lifting up. The airbrush system is spraying air that wants to sneak under any exposed edge so if you want crisp edges mask very carefully. If you want soft edges then you don't need to bother.

Next I chose a few fall colors to spray. I don't remember exactly which colors, but it was a yellow, a dark red, some browns, an orange etc. See how I sprayed a color, moved the masking shapes, sprayed again, moved the shapes, etc. This ends up giving us an interesting background. I happen to be using an ABS-1 kit for this post, but any of the ABS systems will do the same thing. Also, I am using the chisel end of Sketch markers, but Copic markers will work just as well.

This is a good exercise to practice spraying evenly, close, or far away and see what kinds of effects you can get. Since the background is mottled people won't notice if you make a mistake. Try close up spraying, far away, pushing harder, pushing softer. With practice you will be better able to judge how much pressure to spray with and how close to the paper you need to hold your marker (I'll also cover spray patterns later this week).

Once you are done spraying carefully clean up your star dies with a little bit of hand sanitizer. This contains alcohol and will remove all the marker from the metal very easily. Also, look at your leaves- if they're like mine then they now have some pretty neat coloring on them. Airbrushing is a great way to add extra color to dried leaves or silk flowers in your fall arrangements.

Next, here is my artwork that I want flying above my leaf background. I drew this with a multiliner 0.3 mm onto color laser copier paper. Notice how my main outline is thicker? This is because I knew I'd be carefully cutting it out and I wanted my edges nice and bold so they stand out more against the background.

I cut her out, poped her up with a few scraps of paper to give her a natural shadow rather than a colored one and my artwork is done. Very simple, very fun, and is perfect for the fall season. All this week I'll be covering more about airbrushing, so let me know your questions. Have a great day!


Nicole said...

Isn't this the most fun image EVAH??? How adorable it this?? I can't wait for Part 2!

Thanks again, Marianne, for sharing your knowledge!

Janet said...

I bought an ABS a couple weeks ago and just keep looking at it in the package. I've been afraid to use it. Your tutorials came just at the right time. Maybe now I'll be brave enough to pull it out and try it. The you so much for always providing useful information. Now, please come to St. Louis so that I can somehow get into one of your certification classes!

Keri Lee Sereika said...

AHHHHHHHHHHHHH I am so excited to PLAY PLAY PLAY!!! Once is simply not enough~! LOL Of course, everything has come up this weekend but you know...this week should slow down a bit! :)

thanks for keeping us all "in the know" Marianne!

Linda Carson said...

Thanks so much for this tutorial! I am airbrushed challenged!! This is great!

Melanie said...

very cool Marianne!

Sandy Knecht said...

This looks like a fun thing to do. Thanks for explaining.

Lori aka Lo Lo said...

Thank you for all the info. I can't wait to get an ABS. Looking forward to reading the rest of ABS posts.

Mrs. Nancy G said...

Really-really-really COOL!!! Thanks so much!!!


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Unknown said...

Thanks for sharing such a useful information with us …. I like the way you describe the post with us. Many thanksThanks for share