by Airbrush Artist Ray Gatica





?The first airbrush was patented in 1893 in England and were cumbersome compared to the slick little machines of today. Since then they have been developed into the smaller, more sophisticated and more precise instruments.  Airbrushes are smaller versions of the ones used to paint homes and automobiles and are more precise instruments than the larger type airbrushes.

* They were initially developed as a tool for retouching photographs (daguerreotypes) smoothly and quickly without leaving any brush strokes as with conventional brushes, used at the time.

* There are a variety of airbrush manufacturers and styles, even one that is specifically designed for right or left handed users (Paasche AB).

?Very popular in the twenties, as the airbrushes improved, artist began to embrace them to create airbrush art. They were used to create the old movie and film advertisement and promotional posters. The airbrush maintains a very distinctive and desirable style and effect. Airbrushes have been used over the years to retouch photos and art, restore old photographs, alter wedding portraits; do interior textile design (curtains/upholstery fabric); paint portraits on airplanes as tail & nose art, decorative graphics and murals on trucks, cars and funny cars, on mirrors and walls; The airbrush is even used to create: airbrushed fingernail art for clients in the beauty industry. And more recently there is airbrushing on the body to cover tattoos, and spray tanning solvents on the body.

 ? Artist have used the airbrush to create commercial art, fine art and murals, and provide commercial airbrush services, such as repairing digital prints for Airbrush Images, a billboard printing company.

 ? With the appropriate paint, the airbrush can virtually, paint, on any surface:

 ? On the Process: The airbrush is powered by an air source, i.e. an air compressor or compressed air in the form of nitrogen with an air regulator to control the air pressure and paint flow. Compressed nitrogen, as an air source is also used by some artist. The air pressure varies from 30 - 60 PSI, depending on the types of paint, and is adjusted to achieve either a grainy or smooth final effect. The air passes through an air chamber inside the airbrush's handle and out the air nozzle tip which in turn, siphons the paint out of paint cups and jars, and sprays it directly onto the work surface. Unlike painting with traditional brushes, the airbrush never touches the panting surface.

 ? Airbrushes come in a single action, or double action triggers. The single- action guns spray the paint by pressing the trigger down in one action. In the double action guns you first - press the finger down to open the air chamber and, second ? you pulled back (double action) to pull the needle away from the tip which opens the orifice to allow the paint to get siphoned out the color cups and sprayed out of the tip, on to the surface. The latter guns allow more versatility, and precision. 

 ? Airbrushes come in either gravity feed or siphon feed. The gravity feed guns have a paint reservoir on top of the gun, that hold the paints being sprayed to the work surface and make for quick color changes by using a few cups and jars with assorted colors. In the siphon guns, paints and colors are contained in removable color cups and 1 Oz. glass jars and larger that attach and detach with friction, to the side of the airbrush - to facilitate color changes.

 ?  By using the appropriate kind of paints you can spray just about anything, including, acrylics, latexes, and urethane and poly-urethane paints. By using the rights paints, one can airbrush on to any surface, including glass, canvas, clothing and textiles, and assorted metal. Today, there are an array of acrylics paints, that are specifically mixed and formulated specifically for airbrushing.

 ? Being an imprecise tool, a process of cutting templates and positive areas called friskets is needed to control the over-spray leaving the airbrush, to be contained to a desired/specific area for a sharp, crisp image while creating art or retouching photos or posters, etc. Generally friskets are cut from prepared frisket film, cellophane, acetate, vinyl or tracing paper or sign application tape, which comes with a low-tack adhesive and is sold at art supply stores especially for this purpose.

Friskets: The frisket process entails laying a piece of transparent frisket over the working surface to the size needed then with an Exacto knife the desired shape is cut. Using the friskets eliminates over-spray on to the work surface, which if not controlled, will make the final product appear fuzzy and out of focus, messy and amateurish. It usually takes a series of overlaying cuts and painting to attain the three-dimensional desired effect

Shields:  Just like friskets are also used to control over spray and get the paint right to where you want it to keep a clean crisp edge. You can also cut shields out of  thick acetate or cardboard.  Shields also save time because they can be reused over,  unlike friskets that are cut out of frisket material they normally can't be reused. Of course if you have experience in working with the frisket material you can reuse them sometimes.

 ?Airbrush artist, Ray Gatica has been creating with the airbrush for over 20 years. He uses the Paasche line of airbrushes like the VL, the VJR, and the Paasche AB (right handed) airbrushes. Ovr the course of a few years of teaching airbrushing he has experience with other airbrush brands like Iwata, Binks, and Badger airbrushes.

 ? Airbrush Lessons are also provided by or by calling Ray Gatica at 281-441-9714 or email

 Go to see > Working with Friskets and Shields for Airbrushing         < Back to Airbrush Lessons   



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