Mediums & surfaces
With the right type of paint flowing through the airbrush, it is possible to paint almost any surface.
These surfaces can range from paper, to people, to tree bark.
This is one of the strongest advantages of this modern art tool.
Papers & cardboards
The most common mediums for airbrushing are thick papers and cardboards. The reason for this is that they require no effort to prepare and can last a very long time.
Below is a brief list of the most readily accessible/most highly recommended art papers and boards:
- High GSM paper
- Mat board
- Foam core board
GSM stands for grams per square metre. High gsm paper is anything above 110 GSM.
Mat board is simply compressed sheets of paper. It's similar to cardboard but a little denser and a bit nicer to work with because of this. It isn't as absorbant as paper but you can still smash thick paints onto it.
Foam core boards are cheap and present well. The only disadvantage to these is that they're fragile and warp easy. Be sure when purchasing foam core board to buy a variety that is cardboard/paper on the outside - as some foam core boards have a thin plastic layer making it very difficult for use with water based paints.
Clothing or any fabrics can be considered as textiles.
The main advantage to using these as a medium is that they're fun to paint on because you can seriously hammer down the paint. They are very absorbant.
The only preparation necessary would be to perhaps wash any textiles that may contain loose fibres. If these fibres fall off after painting then you will see the base color come through which can age the artwork prematurely.
Wood is also quite absorbant, but seems to be so after a bit of time. Anything painting on wood without the appropriate primer will come out with a very matte finish.
Be sure to clean the wood before use in order to remove any loose particles.
If the wood has been primed then be sure to lightly sand the primer in order to give adhesion to the overlying paintjob.
Automotive and color bond steels
Automotive surfaces are arguably the most fun to work on - unfortunately they are the most difficult surfaces to prepare.
They can range from thin steels to thick plastics.
Here is a quick insight for what is required in the correct surface preparation of bare steel surfaces for automotive applications:
- The steel must first be cleaned thoroughly with a wax and grease remover and any other materials should be removed from the steel.
- Machine sanding should be done with 80 grit sandpaper.
- The steel should be blown off and wiped once again with wax and grease remover to get rid of all particles.
- An etch primer needs to be applied.
- Before the etch primer cures another primer should be applied known as a primer filler.
- After the primer filler has dried and cured it should be sanded flat (finishing with an 800 - 1200 grit sandpaper) in preparation for the basecoat's application.
- Application of wax and grease remover once again.
- Apply basecoat and airbrush artwork using tack cloth between layers. avoid any sort of touching of the surface with bare skin and try not to paint in a room containing silicon products that could contaminate the artwork.
- Clear coat.
- Buff if required.
It is often difficult for beginners to start out by using automotive paints as correct surface prepartion is the most important of all factors.
Painting on automotive surfaces is best left to qualified professionals and not recommended for the beginner.
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