View Full Version : I need some help

05-26-2004, 09:39 AM
Hi. I haven't been around much, but I need some help please.
I'm not sure where to start so I'll just start. Ok I've been practicing
dagger strokes and stuff, and can do them pretty well when they are
by them self. My problem is when I try to paint something and I need to
place some dagger strokes in my painting all hell brakes loose. I get splaters
or I just can't get a sharp point at the end. I looks like have never practice
them. Is this because I need more practice at going them or is it because
I'm thinking about I'm going to mess them up?
I have also been printing out some coloring pages I found on line and practice coloring them in with my AB. I've found this to be kind of hard to do myself.
Do any of you think this is good practice. Or what do any of you think one
should do to practice? Thanks for your time.


05-26-2004, 10:12 AM
Hey Shane!

When I first started airbrushing, I practiced until my hand went numb! I followed all practice suggestions that I could find (at the time) and worked hard. Practice makes perfect. A person must learn the fundamentals of airbrush control. How ever one chooses to learn this, is left to that individual. If the practice sheets help, then practice. If not, search for something that does. I have been heard, more than once, saying that the best practice is to just do it! Do practice paintings. Do them on good quality supports, you never know when a practice piece will turn out awesome!

You see, we are taught that once you discover, learn, and master a skill you will never forget. This is true. What they neglect to teach us is that if you don't practice that skill frequently you will become inept and clumsy.

I have the exact same problem you have! I don't use dagger strokes as often as I should! This is a two part problem for me! One is lack of practice and the other is "performance anxiety"! LOL!!! You think dagger strokes are bad, you should see me before I have to paint whiskers on my animals!

This works well for me. I keep a 8'' x 11'' piece of illustration board next to me at all times. This is my "try it here first" board! If I'm about to attempt a technique that I have not practiced in awhile, I try it on the illustration board first! You should see the one's with whiskers on them! LOL!!!

Hope this helps ya Shane!


05-26-2004, 11:00 AM
I have that problem too! Especially the highlights on lettering.I wish there was an easy answer,but I don't think there is.Practice seems to be the only way to get the confidence to do it.It's the same as golf.When I started to golf I could hit the ball pretty good,but then I started taking lessons.So then ,when I wanted to hit the ball I started thinking of all the things I was taught and forgot to hit the ball. I guess we have to keep practicing until it becomes second nature to us.Pretty boring stuff huh.I hope I made some sense.Oh,by the way ,I don't golf anymore.

05-26-2004, 12:18 PM
Sam hit on some really good points. I too keep a practice sheet around, before I go to do something I will spray the practice sheet to be sure it's going to work. Practice on a worthy support, etc etc.

Dagger strokes or anything that requires accuracy, try turning the pressure down, thin the paints if necessary but keep them as thick as possible. If we paint a little slower it tends to go easier.

Coloring in coloring pages, I'm with Sam, if it works for you then it's the right thing to do, if it's causing frustration or you find it very draining and boring then go on to something else.

I have NEVER done a single page of practice strokes. Join the polar bear club and dive right in. The water might be freezing cold at first but you will get use to it.

Once you reach the "zone" the paint falls where it's suppose to and you don't even think about it anymore. Zen like state, nuff said.

05-26-2004, 03:15 PM
"Andres Segovia, the classical guitarist, reputedly spent four to six hours per day (of his six-to-eight-hour practice day) playing scales. Think about it. The greatest classical guitarist of his generation did not spend the majority of his practice time learning new pieces or practicing his concert repertoire. He did just what beginning music students do. He played scales. He spent 75 percent of his practice time on basics, and he did it every day."

Now, ironically the quote above is from the book titled ""Hold 'Em Excellence" by Lou Krieger, which is a book on how to play poker well. What I get from this is that no matter what you want to do with excellence, practice is essential. We go a step further here and will often say to our workshop students... "Practice doesn't make perfect - only perfect practice makes perfect."

The basics are so essential in a tool with the delicate control of an airbrush.

Just food for thought if it helps: try to think of the airbrush trigger more like a gas pedal (accelerate slowly, rather than hitting the gas). Often I see airbrushers who think of the trigger like an on/off switch when in fact there are a lot variables in its movement.

To eliminate the spatter effect you're mentioning try moving the trigger down slowly (for air), back (for paint), forward (no paint) and up (no air) for each stroke. It sounds like a lot to think about at first, but after a while (more of that "practicing scales" again) it'll become a natural movement. Moving the needle forward before letting off the air blows any excess paint off the needle, so next time the air is released there won't be any spatter. The nice thing about this exercise is that you can do it without paint - you can do it while watching TV even. Just practice; Down, back, forward, up. Down, back, forward, up. Down, back, forward, up. After you get it down without spatter, try speeding up the process. Down, back, forward, up.

Now, I'm not necessarily suggesting that 3/4 of you day is spent practicing dagger strokes, but getting to the point where it feels natural is essential. Some people can do that in minutes, some take longer. Do what feels right for you - you'll know when you "have it".

I do like Sam mentioned as well. I keep a piece of scrap taped to my easel and always test my spray before approaching my art with paint.


05-26-2004, 09:36 PM
Thanks eveyone you all have helped allot. I will practice them more.
I will be posting some of my practice pic's tomorrow night. So you can tell me if I've improved or not. Thanks again.


Paul Corfield
05-27-2004, 04:24 AM
I may be different in my approach to painting in that I never practice and never have done. When I got my first airbrush I just got stuck in and started doing paintings and the only practice I had was from just painting. Admittedly it does take practice in as much that if you do something enough times you will be better at it than when you first started and I did throw a few paintings in the bin. There comes a time though when you don't think about mistakes and the painting becomes a methodical process of set steps that you carry out without really thinking.

I think my approach to art comes from the job I did before I painted full time. I had to learn or pick up skills in a very short space of time in a high pressure environment. I carried that over to my art. I found I can literally just watch, read about or listen to someone describe a technique and I could just go off and do it.

Last year I took up oil painting so I can divide my day between airbrush and oils. I had never used oils up until then and had only ever used the airbrush. I swapped a few emails with a photorealist who was well regarded in the style of photorealism which is what I like to paint and he described his technique etc. At that time I had an airbrush painting on ebay and a collector who saw it contacted me about doing a large 30" x 40" photorealist street scene in oils. At no point did I think that I wouldn't be able to do it and I just applied the techniques I had learned through emails. I think a lot of it is down to visualizing yourself doing the work before hand and seeing yourself doing it successfully and seeing the finished painting in your head. Before any painting I do I always have it all planned out in my head. Any potential problems are worked out and then when I actually come to paint I'm just doing what I've already rehearsed. It's a bit like when you see an athlete mentally going through their routine before they do the high jump or sprint 100m. You have to see yourself succeeding and beleive in it 110% :)


05-27-2004, 06:31 AM
So Paul, when are you going to take the plunge and airbrush with oils? :)

Paul Corfield
05-27-2004, 06:59 AM
So Paul, when are you going to take the plunge and airbrush with oils? :)

Hmmm, I tried it once and I got no pleasure from it at all. Wearing a mask all the time, the stinky fumes from cleaning the brush out with spirits etc, not a nice environment to work in. They take too long to dry and if you accidentally touch an area you just sprayed it makes a right mess. I can't see any benefits of running oils through an airbrush. Oils are so easy to blend and glaze etc without using an airbrush plus I like the challenge of using a brush. I work on my airbrush works in the mornings and work on my oils in the afternoons which is a great way to spend the day. :)


05-27-2004, 10:11 AM
I agree with Paul, make art and practice, you can make dots and dagger strokes all day if you what but if you don't enjoy it you may give it up. So why not do something you enjoy, make mistakes and learn. then you will have painting to see you improvements.


05-27-2004, 12:11 PM
Paul, I agree, you have a most wonderful way to spend your day. I've airbrushed oils before and I enjoyed it. I agree, it has many many downsides that make it less desirable but on occasion....then again, if we were all the same, what would be the point right?

Well, it seems we are split 50/50 on doing a practice sheet or just painting. Since I am one who says just paint and you seem bored at practicing, a painting of a chipmunk would give you lots of practice at dots and dagger, almost any furry creature will.

Paul Corfield
05-27-2004, 02:43 PM
Well, it seems we are split 50/50 on doing a practice sheet or just painting. Since I am one who says just paint and you seem bored at practicing, a painting of a chipmunk would give you lots of practice at dots and dagger, almost any furry creature will.

I do all my fur/hair by scraping it back with the point of a scalpal. I spray the first layer of paint, scratch out all the fur/hair and then do that same process for a further 4 or 5 layers. You end with an amazingly real looking animal or with a person it works great for their hair. It doesn't take as long as it sounds. A typical cat or dog portrait will take about 10 hours on 20" x 15" board. See attached a photo of a painting I did a while ago. The photo is a bit worse for wear though. :)


05-28-2004, 10:20 PM
Hi. I want to thank everyone so much for the info. Ok here is the practice
paintings I have been doing. I got these off the net and I made them bigger
and did them on Bristol board. I think I'm improving. I just need better
paints and AB. Do you see anything I could of done different? Thanks.


His Painter Airbrush
05-29-2004, 08:06 AM

The mickey mouses look great for a beginner. Can't find any overspray! I had alot of overspray when I first started ;). You'ld laugh if you could see my first t-shirt.

With lettering I noticed that I have to really get close to the t-shirt with the needle almost touching it to get nice tight lines. Sometimes I get so close I get a tiny hole in the shirt. (Crashing) :D I practice or warm up on newsprint, paper towels, paper, or even on my left hand and wrist if nothing else is available on the job site.