Airbrush Step-by-Step

Airbrush Painting the Millennium Falcon

This is another fun project, painting the Falcon in celebration of the new Solo movie.  This one involves a lot of stenciling and masking but, it has some really cool results.  If done in steps and layers, it can really pop out and feel like you are going light speed.

Step 1:  The hardest part about airbrushing is finding the patience to sit and custom cut your own stencils for your projects.  The Millennium Falcon is no easy task but, if you can pick what to cut and what to leave, it is very rewarding in the end.  Here I am cutting out the black shadows wherever I can find them.
Step 2:  Here is the finished cuttings.  Notice I left the negative layer nice and clean.  You will need to use both sides of the stencil and you’ll see why later.  Try to make all your cuts clean and fresh so that when you spray them , the edges come out perfect.  I do not throw anything away as I never know what I might need.
Step 3:  Using an Opaque black airbrush paint, I spray the entire canvas in preparation for the blackness of space and the coming of the rebellion.
Step 4:  With the airbrush, I created hundreds of stars within seconds.  If you remove the needle and air caps on the airbrush, you will expose the fluid nozzle and needle.  Now if you turn the air pressure down, this will allow “stipples” of paint to release.  The lower the pressure, the bigger the dots and the higher the pressure, the smaller the dots. I selected random pressures to get different sized stars.  Have fun with this step but, don’t get carried away.
Step 5:  So while I have the large planet stencil down, I might as well spray a glow around it.  I think a rainbow refraction of light would look most natural.  I started with white first, then I sprayed the blue. then green.  A little freehanding is required to make the finest spray patterns here.  You will want to keep the spray to a very minimum to create a faint layer.
Step 6:  Next comes the yellow and then the orange and finish with the red.  It is all done using a transparent paint to make the refractions realistic.  If it was to opaque and solid, it would not look like a prism of light.


Step 7:  More stenciling needs to be cut for the starburst.  I do this with a ruler and an Exacto knife.  You won’t be spraying the entire cut away and I’ll show you why next.
Step 8:  With a nice thick opaque white airbrush paint I spray the starburst from the middle out and fade as I move out.  To really make it look bright, I do this in layers and let the paint build up from the middle out.
Step 9:  Now some freehanding with the white.  (for lessons on freehanding and controlling your strokes, please see the video called, BASICS, HOW TO AIRBRUSH Beginner Practice Strokes and Shading ) So I am ready to freehand the sun flares with the white before adding color.  Also, here is where you can add some white gleams to the bright white sunburst.  Again, use layers of paint to achieve this. You don’t want to overdo it because there really is no way to erase.
Step 10:  Now that the white sun flares have been added as a basecoat for my color, I can now add the rainbow-colored sequence.  This part is so fun to do and it really pops out.  I always start with the light colors first and go in order: red, orange, yellow, green and blue.  Use a transparent paint so that it looks really overlayed and the colors blend in nicely together.  I also add the same colors to the “lens flares” as I move along.


Step 11:  Now it’s time to add the Falcon.  Using the negative part of the stencil I cut, I have to first add a white basecoat down.  I sprayed a little light tack spray adhesive on both parts of the stencil to keep the underspray out and the edges clean whe I lift them off.  Spray the white also in layers and multiple coats to really make it a nice and solid base.
Step 12:  After the white basecoat is dry, I applied the positive side of the stenciled Falcon.  Add some Transparent black paint in the airbrush and lightly spray all of the cutouts you made.  Use several light layers to get the effect you want.


Step13:  When you peel off the stencil, you will get a better look at what you need to shade and what you want to leave highlighted.  This step does require some freehand control and airbrush control.  Have fun building in all of the weird little parts of a spaceship and watch it come to life!


For more info on airbrush control and freehanding tutorials, go to our beginner-practice-strokes-and-shading/  It gives you some great tips on how to control that airbrush.  To leave your thoughts and ideas, comment below and Happy Painting!


Artist Tool Box:


Complete Professional Airbrush System Kit with G44 Master Airbrush, Master Compressor TC-20T, 24 Color US Art Supply Paint Set with Reducer & Airbrush Cleaner


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