The Art of Airbrush Painting

The Art of Airbrush Painting

Many makeup artists in the Philippines have already embraced the art of airbrushing and its benefits. It is not only the cosmetic industry that takes advantage of this technique. Airbrush art proved to be a lucrative business in various fields. In case being an airbrush makeup artist is not your cup of tea, you may try other mediums like canvas, wall, automobile, furniture, mugs, t-shirt, finger or toe nails, cake, or the human body itself.

Airbrush painting was introduced first by Charles Burdick in 1893. He patented the first airbrush device used to retouch photographs (the Photoshop of 18thcentury?). The technique was welcomed by advertising companies in 1930s. Walt Disney himself saw the potential of airbrush art in animated films when he used it to create realistic backgrounds in 1940. In the music industry, it was used to create covers for albums to give it a hippy look which emerged on the 1960s. It is also that time it was first applied in automobiles.

The cosmetic industry embraced the beauty of airbrush art when Abner Peeter invented the first Airbrush in 1879. In the movie industry, they first realized the convenience brought by airbrush painting when they had to apply makeup on thousands of performers who played Romans in the film Ben-Hur (1959). It can also be applied to create prosthetic makeup on sci-fi, fantasy, and horror films.

Not all airbrush kits are made equal. Each medium has specific airbrush equipment designed for it. Once you’ve made up in your mind which medium or platform is for you, you may start shopping for an airbrush gun, compressor, patterns or stencils, and paints. Take into consideration the medium of your choice when buying your materials. Below is a quick guide on how to buy your first set:

Types of Airbrush Guns

There are two types of airbrush: single-action and double-action. Single-action airbrush is, when pressing the lever of a gun, it releases the air and paint at the same time. It is similar to using a can of spray paint. With a double-action, or sometimes called dual-action, pressing the lever releases just the air and paint is fed to it via another control.

Types of Air Source

It could be a compressor, CO2tank, or propellant can. You can achieve different types of output or look by controlling the amount of air being pushed from your air source. Two things you should keep in mind are the cubic feet per minute (cfm) and pounds per square inch (psi). says, “an airbrush usually uses ½ cfm at 30 psi to spray properly.” Each medium or surface has a specific psi such as 30-35 psi for cars and 50-60 psi for t-shirts.

Types of Paints

  • Acrylics = for fabric and canvas
  • Inks and Dyes = for papers and illustration boards
  • Oils = any types of surface except vehicles
  • Urethanes = for cars, boats, and motorcycle

Of course, you can’t use the paints above for cakes and cosmetics. Liquid-base food colorings are used for cakes. On the other hand, for makeup and body paint, try purchasing a complete set or kit as some manufacturers require using only their own product of water-based makeup.

Mastering the art of airbrushing is hard at first. It is not just executed by simply pressing a lever and swerving the hand. The most delicate subject is the face or body. Airbrush makeup artists in the Philippines make sure they apply the right amount of pressure on the device they use. Applying the wrong pressure may make paint or makeup penetrate directly to the skin of the client which may cause rashes and other skin infections. Practice makes perfect, this is not just to create beautiful works of art but to avoid compromising the quality of one’s work.

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