Airbrush Step-by-Step

After the Pour. Airbrushing the Fire Goddess

Not all Great things have to end. You can keep creating art over and over again, even recycling canvases or panels. Here is a pour that I wasn’t very happy about and thought I could salvage some of the canvas by painting a portraait over it. For this kind of magic, I will need the airbrush, so grab your brush and paint along with me!

Step: 1: The most important but tedious step, is the stenciling process. Finding what to to cut and what to keep is the key to proper stenciling. Here I am simply cutting out the dark areas of the face such as the eyes, nostrils and mouth.

Step 2: Next, I add transparent black to the airbrush and begin following the stencils I just cut out. I use a transparent black because you are going to want to go very light on the first run. You want to rely on the building up of layers to achieve the softest shadows.

Step 3: Here is a close-up of how you build up the layers, stroke after stroke until you reach the darkness you want.

Step 4: Here I am using the transparent black to do her nostrils and the shadows. Notice here I am utilizing both the positive and negative parts of the stencils to create her nose and in this case, I use the positive to create the shadows.

Step 5: Now here you can see the way I use the negative part. It is just a way to protect parts that you want to save and parts that you want to spray. I do use this technique a lot, like her lips, her eyes and hair even. Cutting your own stencils is tricky because of the many different components of a stencil.

Step 6: Here I am adding some more Bright Yellow highlights in her eyes to make them really pop! I also add the iris of her eyes at this point as well. For that technique, we just use the wooden handle end of the brush to create the round Iris. I love painting eyes!

Step 7: Now, it is time for the freehanding. If you are intimidated by freehand airbrushing, there is a great video on Beginner practice strokes on this site, under How-to-airbrush. So as you can see, I am very gently and sparingly pulling the needle back to get just the utmost spray out of the tip. I am still using the Transparent Black and I added one or two drops of water to make the airbrush strokes even more gradual. Notice the stencil work for the nostrils, they came out just right and I was able to sneak in some freehanding on it just under the tip of the nose.

Step 8: Now comes the white parts that I want to look like it is being hit by some intense light over in the distance. Notice on the nose and lips get some of this white paint. You can always refer to your original photo for all of the details of where the shadows and the highlights live.

Step 9: Now I get the opportunity to add highlights to the entire face, wherever it is needed such as the nose, cheekbones, and forehead. I love the paint pouring technique so I do want the cells and textures from the pour to come through. It makes for a very unique way to add fun things to your portraits.

Step 10: Here comes the time to put the airbrush down and get the real paint brushes. Here I am using a pinstripe brush to add some fine line hair. She has short beautiful black hair, so make sure to use a long bristle paint brush for this type of work.

Step 11: Continue building up the layers in the hair the same way you are building up the layers in the skin and shadows. Layer after layer, make sure your strokes are exactly where you want them. Once it is on there, it is permanent. There is always a way to salvage any mistakes into something awesome. Like Bob Ross Says, “No mistakes, only happy little accidents!”

Step 12: Now the next step is to add some airbrush shading back into the areas I want a touch more darker. I am hoping that you are catching on to the idea of freehand shading. It is one of the most important things to master other than cleaning your airbrush.

Step: 13
Here, I am just adding some bling and flare to any other parts of the painting. I don’t think this is cheating at all, it is all art after all! Adding subtracting in an artistic way!
So, man, that was fun! s I hope you learned something new. This is s great way to utilize two completely different styles of art into works of magic! It does take a little time to master anything, but you keep in the mindset that we are always a student.

Leave a comment below and let me know what you want to see next.

Remember to follow me on Instagram at @artistanhpham for more art

Artist’s Tool Box:



Airbrush Paint

Pouring Paint

Paint Brushes

Pinstripe Brushes

Art Panel

Please follow and like us:

(1) Comment

  1. paintersforumadmin says:

    very interesting…what do you think?

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: