February 13, 2022

Rebel in the Making - Part 13 (airbrushing!)

Confession: I am totally intimidated by the airbrush. I tend to procrastine airbrushing, a lot, but it's NaMoPaiMo and there is no time like the present.

This is my makeshift airbrush booth in my basement. The cardboard is meant to keep overspray from spreading. I wear a mask and I don't spray any toxic paints like cadmium. I brought in a little space heater today since the basement was a chilly 54 degrees.

I switched to using an Iwata Neo recently, which is much less finicky than my other 2 airbrushes, an Iwata CM-C plus and an Iwata HP-B. I sent the latter two off to Iwata for cleaning and repairs to make sure they were good to go. After spending a small fortune, they both clogged the first time I tried to use them, again.

I use a Silentaire airbrush compressor, which was recommended to me by Tiffany Purdy many years ago. I held my breath when the basement flooded since it sits on the floor, but thankfully it still works! Hooray!!! This has been (knock on wood) the least problematic part of airbrushing. It really is wonderfully quiet.

One of my all time favorite colors for basecoating is Jo Sonja's Unbleached Titanium which I applied on the entire model. I could not get Jo Sonja paint to work in the more expensive airbrushes, but the Neo (so far) has worked like a champ. Since this is a heavier body acrylic I use airbrush medium and a little water to thin it to skim milk consistency in a small plastic cup.

Since NaMoPaiMo is all about challenging yourself, I'm also going for a shaded basecoat. For the pangare areas, I mixed some Golden High Flow Acrylic Titanium White and Titan Buff to create a lighter color. Thanks to Mel Miller for sharing Golden High Flow Acrylics in a NaMoPaiMo post from a prior year. They have good coverage for hand painting, and can go into the airbrush without any thinning. 

And because you spend as much time cleaning your airbrush as you do painting, I always try to make it worth my while and basecoat several models at once. The model at the bottom right is covered in plastic wrap, as I resculpted the base of her tail, which impacted some of the body color. I'm trying to blend the area into the surrounding color, while protecting most of her existing paint job. We'll see how it goes...

I also mixed up a third color for the darker areas, which was a combination of Titanium White, Titan Buff, and Raw Sienna. Above are all the paint colors I used in my shaded basecoat. Yes, I'm very messy.

The lighting is not great, but I think I'm happy with him so far. 
After he dries, I'll seal him with fixative. 

The aftermath. 
I had mixed up some burnt umber to add to his legs, but it didn't blend well and I chickened out. I'll probably go with my mainstay, pastels, to do his points. They are a messy pain that requires careful attention to not get any where you don't want it, but I feel like I have better control with pastels. 

Cleaning is probably the most important part of airbrushing. I've started using an ultrasonic cleaner at the advice of others, but it doesn't work miracles for me like it apparently does for them. It probably does help. The picture above is the teeny tiny nozzle on the tip of this little airbrush cleaning tool. I feel like the little nozzle is the heart of the airbrush. If it's not clean, you can just forget about it. It's easily dropped (and lost). And I've overtightened one more than once and broken it off inside the airbrush. Since I had to learn the same lesson twice, maybe the following advice will help someone else. If you have one, don't use the Nozzle Wrench to put the nozzle back on the airbrush, only use it to remove the nozzle for cleaning. The first time I was able to get it out with an exacto knife using a YouTube video. The second time was the impetus for sending the airbrushes to Iwata. Still for all the annoyance it can be, I am very glad that everything worked today and Rebel got his basecoat on!

No comments:

Post a Comment