Learn how to airbrush wood in such a realistic way that it’s indistinguishable to the human eye!
This is one of the simplest airbrush textures.
It is extremely effective as it is so detailed and realistic that the human eye can’t distinguish that it’s fake!
You need barely any experience to be able to create this texture effectively, you only need to know how to control an airbrush.
Extra items you will need for this airbrush tutorial:
Masking tape (if this is being painted on an automotive surface then we recommend using either application tape, calmask or azlan).
A kitchen sponge.
Unleash your creativity by masking out a rectangular shape that is to be your panel of wood as pictured.
Next you can mix the airbrush colors required for this tutorial. The shades of color that you mix will depend on the types of wood that you are trying to airbrush – the method is the same for each type of wood, only the colors will differ.
You will need:
A base – this is the color that you will flat tone your wood panel with.
A mid tone – this is the color that you will add the majority of your detail with, such as lines, knots and speckles.
A shadow tone – this is the color that you will add only very intricate detail with.
Load your airbrush gun up with your base color and flat tone the panel that you masked out before mixing your colors.
Go ahead and change the color in your airbrush to the mid tone color.
Now this is where we grab the moist kitchen sponge!
You are about to do the speckled effect over this piece of wood but with a slight variation to enhance the realism and texture.
As soon as you have covered the wood panel with the speckled effect – immediately wipe it in one direction lengthways and observe the effect that you get.
You have created 100’s of tiny woodgrain textures.
Doing this once is enough for the effect, however for a deeper appearance feel free to repeat the effect multiple times and using different sized speckles.
Now grab a magazine cover or equivalent (perhaps a piece of transparency paper – something that won’t absorb the paint) and pour a little of the color onto it.
Lightly dab an edge of your sponge in the paint and (before applying this to your artwork be sure to ‘palette’ the sponge to avoid excess paint ruining the effect) beginning from one side of the wood panel, wipe the entire excess from the sponge onto the artwork.
The desired effect is pictured right.
Do this with multiple passes but be sure to palette the sponge each time as over use of the paint will create large flat tones that will cover textures you have already created and ruin the realism of your wood.
Keep in mind here that less is more. you want to cover approx 60% of the panel.
With the same color in the airbrush, go ahead and add a few airbrushed lines.
The best results come when you emphasize the lines that you have already created using your kitchen sponge.
At this stage you could even unleash your creativity a little more and airbrush a knot!
When your are satisfied with the extent of coverage of your mid brown color – go ahead and put your shadow tone airbrush paint into the airbrush.
At this point you are going to airbrush the finer details of the wood texture.
The rule of thumb when airbrushing this color onto your wood is that you can only spray where you have 100% coverage of the mid brown color.
If you spray directly over your base then the wood may begin to look dirty (although this can also create an interesting effect when dusted on).
Go ahead and affirm the areas of the wood that you want to stand out – especially the ends, where you can add several small lines and small blends to show deep cracks in the wood.
If you added a knot, then go ahead and add some minor detail here also.
When adding the shadow tone, only cover a maximum of 20% for effective results – this is portrayed in the photos displayed.
Congratulations – you’ve just learnt how to create wood texture!
As a little extra practise, while you’re doing the exercise you could practise doing 2 wood panels and observe the different results you get by covering more of the wood with the shadow tone. Good luck!
A wooden knot is generally circular in shape, but it is irregular and normally missing part of the circle.
Whilst freehand airbrushing, airbrush an outer circle going around approx 270degrees and slightly offset an inner circle going around 270degrees also.
From here you can add the growth lines stemming from the knot.
For best effect there are three rules to remember with these growth lines:
- Always have them coming coming 90 degrees off the wood knot as shown.
- Always use a sharper edge on the inside of the line.
- Blend the arching end out substantially more than any other part of the wood.