Learn How to Airbrush

Anyone can learn how to airbrush!

Thankfully through the use of overhead projectors & stencils, you don’t even need to be able to draw in order to learn how to airbrush!

How is this possible?

Would you believe that all airbrushed artworks are created using only five different actions?

There are two strokes & three effects that make up the entire airbrushing alphabet!

This is the simple fact behind why anyone can learn how to airbrush.

We are going to go through the very basic airbrush actions required to get you to a stage where you can comfortably begin airbrushing your own artworks!

For the sake of this article I am going to assume that you citadel colors already own a double action airbrush, an airbrush compressor & have a space set up where you can flick a switch and start airbrushing within 60 seconds.

The first thing to learn about an airbrush is how to hold it correctly!

Pick up the shiny little art tool the same way that you would hold a pen! Ensure that your index finger is on top of the trigger for air control with your thumb & index finger on opposing sides. Once your fingers are in the right place it’s time to start learning how to double action correctly!

Double actioning is done to maintain airflow while airbrushing. If you shut off the airflow before you shut off the paint flow, then the next time you push down for air you will get a lovely splatter right in the middle of your artwork!

To avoid this happening follow this simple process:


  1. Holding the airbrush correctly, push down on the trigger for airflow.
  2. Aiming the airbrush where you want your paint to hit, pull back on the trigger for paint flow.
  3. When you have applied enough paint, push forward to shut off the paint flow.
  4. Only then can you shut off the airflow.


You are now double actioning correctly!

The next step to airbrushing correctly correctly is to learn how to airbrush the two different strokes!

The first stroke is more commonly known as a dot!

The dot is the most simple of the airbrush actions and can be done repeating the process described in the list above.

The second stroke (better known as a line) is a little more tricky as it involves pushing down for air, pulling back for paint & a third element – movement. Again this is done exactly the same as the double actioning exercise however you must be moving before you can pull back for paint & push forward for paint before you stop moving. confused yet? This simply means, move before you paint.

Finally we can learn how to create the three effects!

These are made up of two different blends & the dagger stroke!

The first two of these effects are done by executing exactly the same action as the first two strokes, however we are adding a fourth and fifth element – angles & height!

For each of these effects we would follow the same steps listed above but with 2 additions:


  1. Angle the airbrush at 45 degrees to the canvas.
  2. Pull the airbrush directly back towards you


In the case of the blending line this would mean creating multiple lines while getting slightly further from the canvas with each pass.

In order to learn how to airbrush a dagger stroke correctly, you should follow the steps for creating a line, however we are going to add height and speed.
Begin the effect as if you were airbrushing a line but move closer to the artwork as you near the end of the effect.

At the end of the effect, speed up and flick the airbrush in the direction of the effect to encourage a nice, long tapered line.

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