Airbrush Tutorial: The Art of the Blend

In this video we’ll take a look at a
relatively easy and safe method for rendering blends. Wicked Art Airbrush Studio The Art of the Blend So generally speaking, a
blend is relatively easy to accomplish especially with an airbrush. The way it’s
normally done is as you start to blend you will gradually increase the distance
between the canvas and the airbrush. And you want to angle the airbrush in the
direction of the blend. For this particular painting I need to render
this sky. And there’s a couple of different colors in here. Originally I
was going to do this with transparents, but I thought for the sake of this video
I would do it with opaques because opaque paint is easier to work
with. And I’ll explain why here in a minute, but you can see there’s a little bit of
a dark shade of a violet down here close to the tree line which
I’ve already rendered in a sepia. And then it goes to sort of an orange. And
then it lightens up almost to a peach color before it comes into this blue
violet color at the top. The reason I chose to do this with opaque colors, and
what I mean by opaque is I’ve mixed for different colors for this particular sky.
Each one of them has a pretty heavy content of white. The advantage of that
is when I go to spray this pretty orange right here, that’s as dark as the color
is going to get. It doesn’t matter how many coats of paint, with an opaque paint
I can put as many coats on here as I want and it’s not going to get any
darker than the color I actually mixed. With a transparent that’s not the case.
You can go too dark because it will continue to darken with each subsequent
coat similar to a candy. The difference between a transparent and true candy is
the transparent is not 100% transparent. You will… with enough coats
you’ll start drowning out what is in the foreground which is this background that
I’ve already established. There are ways that you can combat that a little bit.
Normally if I’m going to do just a blend I would just blend one color into
another with the airbrush without cutting the paint. The method I’m going
to show you in this video is slightly different. And it’s kind of a take off
from how we do blends in the automotive industry. In the 90s the blends on trucks
especially we’re very popular where you’d see one color blending into
another color on the top of the truck. The way they do that is we would cut the
base coat. So we would start… if we’re going to blend from the bottom up, we
would start with a full on base coat at the bottom. And then we would
gradually start reducing that more and more and more as we came up. That’s the
way we did those fancy blends in the automotive world. In order to combat some
of the coverage due to the opaque paint quality, I have mixed up the four colors.
And then I’ve taken those four colors and I’ve also mixed another batch. And I
cut that down one to one. I put one part of the mixed paint and one part of
transparent base and then reduced that again. So effectively, the viscosity of my
paint is staying the same, but the pigment is being cut way down. And that
makes it a little bit easier to blend very smooth fades, especially when you
get into these very light areas here in the center where it’s… There’s not a
whole lot of color there, but you want a smooth blend. So I’m going to start with
this kind of orangie color down here at the bottom. And you’ll see because it’s
opaque, it’s going to cover some of this background that I’ve already got,
but that’s okay. I can come back in and clean that up. So through the magic of video I
will fill the airbrush cup with paint and then we’ll get started. Okay, so I’ve
got my reference photo taped up to the canvas here. Like I said, I’m going to
begin with this kind of darker very orangie area here. This is the color that
has been cut down 50% with transparent base. So it will somewhat act like a
transparent, but it’s still capped essentially because of all the white.
It’s an opaque color, even though I’ve reduced it with the transparent base.
It’s still an opaque, but it will act a little bit more like a transparent
because the pigment is not as heavy. And for this area where it’s a little bit
darker I’ll go a little bit heavier. I’m using an HP-CS Eclipse. It’s an Iwata
airbrush and I’m at about 20 psi. And to begin with I’m just gonna do it very
lightly. Just to start to build some of this color in here.
And you can see because it’s cut, it’s taking a little bit longer to really build the
color. I’m not trying to blend anything at this
point. I’m just putting even strokes… And I’m even going to go over the
background. You can see it’s starting to build a little bit of
color in here now. Remember to dry your paint. Don’t get it on to wet. So I’m starting to see now this color is
starting to drown out the darker background that I have, but again that’s
okay. I can come back in and clean that up once the sky is complete. And I’m out of
paint. I’ve filled my paint cup back up. And like I
said, you can start to see some of this color building now. And this color blends
pretty far up into the sky. So I’m going to take the reference image it down. And
we’ll begin to start blending this up. So to start blending it up I’m going to
begin coming back further with the airbrush. And I’ll start tilting my brush
towards the direction that I want to put the blend in. So I better grab my airbrush
cap. All right, with a cap on I don’t have to worry about sloshing paint all over
myself and the floor and everything else. So again, I’ll begin kind of fading this
very light orangie color up just a little bit. And all I’m going to do… See how I’m angling the airbrush. It’s
probably about 45 degrees. And with this color being cut like it is,
it’s barely putting any paint on the surface right now. So you don’t have to
worry about going too dark too fast because I don’t want to go to full
saturation on some of these areas with this opaque color. In the reference that… this orange color
is pretty bright in this little break in the trees. Out of paint again. And when you run out
of paint it’s a good idea to step back and take a
look at it. Make sure you’re not going too high or make sure the saturation is
where you want it. You get a better idea standing further away from the piece
than you do when you’re right up at painting distance. All right, I filled the
paint cup back up so we can continue. And again, I’m just going to continue kind of
darkening this area right here and blending a little bit. If you notice I
haven’t been moving the airbrush up. I’m just concentrating on this area right in
here at the moment. I’m trying get this a little bit darker, a little bit brighter. And now it’s getting closer to where I
want it. So I’m gonna start bringing this up just a little bit. I actually have
another color mixed for in between this orange that’s more of a peachy color, but
I still want to get a nice blend with a little bit of this color. And that’s
starting to look pretty good. From this point, I’m going to go to the
same color but the one that is full strength so that I can come in and get… this area here is quite a bit more
saturated. It’s a lot more bright. So that’s why I’m going to go to the full
saturation of the same color and start to build some of that area in. Okay I’ve
refilled the airbrush cup. Again, this is with the full strength opaque color of…
it’s the same color, but it hasn’t been cut down. So it will cover a lot faster.
And you’ll especially see that when I get over into this background, but I just
want to work on building a little more saturation in this area, some of these
little wisps, hints of some clouds. And you can still use the same blend
technique. I’m going to come back pretty far, angled at about 45 degrees to
continue blending this more saturated color up into what we’ve already
established. I don’t necessarily want a super hard line in here
separating the full saturation from the cut down color. Again, remember to dry in between. You
don’t wanna get this too wet. And there’s even just a hint of red in there,
but we can come back with a transparent color and throw that red in. I think at
this point I’ll probably go to the darker violet that’s just above the
horizon, just right in this area. So I will empty the airbrush and put that
violet color in and we’ll go from there. Okay. I’ve cleaned my airbrush. And I’ve
added this darker violet color into the brush. And I’ll show you what that looks
like. You can see it’s very dark. This is cut down 50%, or 1:1, one part of the
opaque mixed color and one part of transparent base along with some more
reducer, because I don’t want to come in with the straight opaque. It would be
too much. It will cover all this too quickly and I won’t get a very nice blend
because this color in the reference image really blends into the sky. The
violet hue is visible, but it’s not just jumping out at you. So I want to keep it relatively muted. So cutting it with the
transparent base, again gives it somewhat of a transparent quality as far as spray
characteristics. So I’m just going to come in and put a little bit of this
down here right above this shore line. Very lightly to begin with because I don’t want it
to be overpowering. It’s even going to be probably a little bit muddy. And you can really start to see the
opaque qualities of this paint, how it’s covering this background of trees that
I’d already painted. But again, I’ll come back over that later
and reestablish it. And I’m gonna blend this up just a little bit. Again, remember to dry in between. If you put too
much paint on you’ll wind up with pigment migration and have little spots and that does
not look good for your artwork. I’m gonna step back and take a look at
that. I think it might be good enough. Okay. The airbrush has been cleaned and
I’ve added this sort of a peachy color into the brush. It looks like that. And again, I’m using this
color has been cut down 50 percent with transparent base because I don’t… when
you look at the reference image, I’m looking at this color in between that
separates basically the color on the top and the color on the bottom. Now
realistically you could probably use the original color we started with, which is
this orange color, and just keep blending that lightly. And then fade the blue into
that. I like the idea of using this color as sort of a transition period in
between these two. I think it’ll come out to be a better blend in the end. That’s the
reason I chose to do it this way. Because this is going to be a transition color
I’m going to blend it both up and down, because I want to blend into the blue, or
the… it’s almost a violet on the top. And I also want it to blend into this orange
color we have on the bottom. So it’s going both ways. So I’ll begin somewhere
in the middle. Again, this color is very light and it’s been
cut down. So it’s not going to be extremely evident that we’re putting
anything on the canvas for probably quite a few strokes. I got a little piece of
something that jumped off the needle… A little bit of an eraser… and that shouldn’t
be noticeable once I get enough coats on here. And again, because this is an opaque
color I’m going very lightly, especially with it reduced at 50% with the
transparent base and further reducer, but it still will not get any darker than
the actual color that I have mixed. So I have no fear of going too dark while I’m
doing this. And that is ultimately the reason I chose to use the opaques versus
transparents. Opaques are a lot easier to work with especially if you’re new to
airbrushing. Again, I’m back probably an airbrush or
two lengths away. And I’ve got the airbrush angled at about 45 degrees
spraying up because that’s the direction I’m fading this color at the moment. That looks pretty good there. So now I’m
going to start blending the same color down back into this more…It’s a little bit
brighter orange color. So now the airbrush will be angled downward at
about a 45-degree angle. I’m pretty happy with the way this looks
at this point. So now I went ahead and cleaned the airbrush. And I’ve gone to a
blue color. The color I mixed is a little more blue than what’s actually in the
reference image. Again, this is the color that is opaque, but it’s been cut down
with one part of transparent base. That’s what the color looks like. So now I’m
going to work on fading the blue down into this peach color. So I’ll begin from
the top. Again, staying at least an airbrush away from the canvas at this
point because I want a smooth gradation. If I get too close I’ll get
lines. And I’m also going to be angling the airbrush up, or excuse me… angling the
airbrush down at about 45 degrees so that this color will start to blend
down into the colors that we’ve already established. When you’re making
these passes you want to try to keep it even and smooth. And the top is going to be darker. As it
fades, the top will be darker and then it gradually fades into these other colors.
So I’m going… I’m using a few more passes at the top. You want to be careful about staying in
one area too much because you’ll wind up with a line rather than that gradated fade that we’re after. And because this color has been cut down
with that transparent base it makes a lot easier to gradually fade into this
lower level, whereas if I was using it at full strength it would be easy to
overpower these other tones that we have. I’ll come back in in a few minutes with
the stronger, or the full strength color, and then start gradually fading the top
down to about this point. I won’t go as far because again, I don’t want to
overpower. There you go guys.
Off-camera I came in and reestablished this background trees and land again, but
overall I’m very happy with the way that the blends and the sky turned out for
this painting. Obviously I’ve still got a lot to do. I still need to render the flag. And
there’s some water underneath this background land and trees, but overall
I’m very happy with the way the blends turned out in the sky for this painting.
Again, this is a way to do it, it’s not necessarily the way to do it, but it’s a
very safe way to do it especially if you’re a beginner with your airbrush. As
far as cutting your colors down with the transparent base, it really makes it very
difficult to go too dark too fast which is relatively easy to do. So try it out.
Let me know what you think in the comments. Thank you guys for watching. I
hope you got something out of this. If you did, remember to like, subscribe and
share. And I’ll see you guys next time.


  • JimboH5

    Thanks again my man; always appreciate your sharing of skills; especially this one as it is the only reason I have an airbrush… to blend.

  • Cariiboo

    why do i have so much more overspray than you xDDDDDD
    i dont know….. when i work with an opaque color (cut with base or not) on a sharp black edge like you did on this Video, i cover the black INSANELY much more than you…. and i would say i tilt (<<?) the angle of the airbrush a bit more than you…. what could be my issue? do you think i hurry too much? or is my airpressure to high? im working on a bit higher airpressure cause i have less issues with the paint while brushing..
    sorry for bad english again xD


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