Saturday, 30 November 2013

Painting Workshop Part II - Airbrushing Techniques

Readers of this blog may remember a post about a painting workshop I attended back in June. Las week we had the second part of the workshop dealing with airbrush painting technique. I have always admired my friends' vehicles painted with this tool, but have never dare to go that route on my own without oversight or assisstance.

In this sense I can’t be happier after last weekend's workshop that was extremely useful to dispel some myths about the complexity of the technique and to show that with a little practice you can really extract value to acquire a good airbrush. The only drawback is that you need ample and well ventilated space to work with airbrush, a luxury not many people enjoy at home.

Like in the previous workshop, this was run by our club pal Alfredo who again showed his inherent teaching capabilities; and after a short preparation (masks and gloves) and an introductory speech, we started immediately to work with the beast. This is the photo of my (first-ever!) painted model (a Sdkfz 250/8 model to reinforce my German troops in Chain of Command) before the final details (markings, track painting and crew).

My first time
It is impossible to go into the whole detail of how to work the airbrush, but I’d like to say that it is much-much easier that it can be at first glance. In any case, I’d like to summarise here some of the key takeaways:

#1 Protect yourself!
Use gloves, masks and goggles and work in a ventilated area; why running health risks for a stupid piece of resin or metal??

Ready to work!
#2 Invest in cleaning your tools
Any time spent in cleaning your tools after a painting session is a high return investment. There’s nothing more frustrating than removing your tools from the cupboard or storage place, connecting and mounting the set to start painting your vehicle only to find that your paint splashes at random or that no paint at all comes out the airbrush.

#3 Prepare your model in advance
Wash thoroughly (specially resin vehicles) and apply two or three hands of fairly diluted wash with the base colour that you´re planning to use. NOTE: do not paint black or dark colours!: the paint coming from the airbrush leaves a very thin coat on the model at it will take ages and tons of paint to cover a dark base.

# 4 Plan the painting session
Start always with the lighter colours. This way you will save time each time you need to change colours in terms of cleaning the airbrush: instead of having to dismount the whole thing, you’ll only need to put clean thinner in the paint cup and operate until it comes clean.
# 5 Detailing is all
In order to “bring to life” your model, work in the detail is key. Some simple tricks learnt:

  • Worn out vehicle areas (hatches...) usually have deteriorated paint and rot. Wet a piece of foam (typically found in blisters) with hull red paint and apply small dips on those areas of the vehicle.

  • Specially for vehicles featuring one colour (US , British or Russians), apply lighter colour in the most exposed areas to create some “volume effect” on it. NOTE: look from above and identify those areas where more colour contrast can be made.
  •   Highlight door and hatches edges, bolts or any other features in the vehicle. For that purpose, first you must cover the vehicle with a hand of satin varnish (it is advisable to put the markings before the varnish too). Then use oil paints, mixing black, burnt brown diluted with thinner. Use the tip of a brush and let the mix flow along the lines. Any excess can be removed using a brush wetted with clean thinner.   

  • Highlight metal areas (like MGs..) with a soft pencil.

Overall I'm really plleased with the day. The workshop was held in "El Pedrete", a rural house overlooking the mountains and 40 minutes from Madrid. A perfect place for a smal gathering or event.  
I must say that it was quite a pleasent day in this early winter we have in our region, mot just the painting activity but also the chatter while sharing  cups of copy with the group



  1. I´m looking for your next step with the airbrush pal. Your vehicle looks nice, indeed.