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Old 01-11-2017, 11:53 AM
forrie forrie is offline
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Join Date: Apr 2014
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Newbie question: painting a smooth sky

I'm not entirely new to airbrushing, but I do use it to complement some of my brush-based acrylic work.

I have a few airbrushes, one of which is an el cheapo Badger (with canister) used for ceramics that I felt would be good for painting larger swaths of sky. My surfaces tend to be on the large side > 22" up to 60" (rarely).

One problem I've had is in getting an evenly graded sky. That is, painting in a slightly transparent color evenly, so that the white creates a brighter color. I've had mixed luck with this.

At one point, I used my Iwata Spray Gun and that was a disaster. Clearly, I'm not doing this correctly.

With a normal brush, I've tried (with acrylic) stippling, etc. Wet into wet is not desirable, as using white mutes the color -- other techniques leave brush strokes behind.

If someone could point me in the right direction, I would appreciate this. This is clearly my needing to learn technique.


Thank you!
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Old 01-12-2017, 07:18 AM
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fedetony fedetony is offline
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Re: Newbie question: painting a smooth sky

My advice is make it on layers...
First step is to make the first background layer, start directly with the color. What you are trying to do is to use the same color evenly for the complete surface. Once you get this you can add some gradient effects easier.

You need to mix the color before you put it in the AB, such that is evenly sprayed. for big surfaces I use normal acrylics (see here how to mix) Keep the proportion of the mix for you to make more after if needed.
- Mask (cover/protect) what you don't want to be painted and cover everything that goes in another color or can be contaminated. Take special care on this.
- Use thicker paint for the first layers (less water), high pressure and more diluted second layer... put as many layers you need to make it even.
-Follow an order, keep the distance to the canvas always constant, and move at constant speed.
-Don't stay too much in a spot, overspray, or put too much paint that it drips. Wait a bit between layers, let them dry before you add the next.
-Do not use the AB too close or you'll make texture or damage/remove prior layers. Its better to be further than closer.
-Use as much paint as you need... You'll be surprised how many times you have to pass to make it look constant.
-have fun
This is an example: 1.5x0.5 m, the blue sky is airbrushed and is perfectly flat with 1 single color:
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Old 01-12-2017, 11:35 AM
JaPizzy JaPizzy is offline
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Re: Newbie question: painting a smooth sky

If you wanted to look online, you could do a search for airbrushing a fade. That's what it sounds like you're looking for.

Your key will be fluid control and distance. By this I mean that with the same amount of fluid being sprayed from the airbrush your spray will me more diffused the further away from the surface you get. So with a sky you can start closer at the top and saturate the color more, then as you make horizontal passes of color move farther and father away from the surface as you work your way down. With practice you should be able to establish a gradient of color. You could also make a few different shades of blue and after you finish the first lightest one, you can repeat with a darker tone, say a Prussian over the first gradient of pthlao, but start fading out faster so you finish the fade around the middle of your first fade.

I hope that makes sense
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Old 01-13-2017, 01:51 PM
forrie forrie is offline
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Re: Newbie question: painting a smooth sky

Thank you both, this is really helpful information that I can learn from
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Old 01-24-2017, 02:58 AM
airbrush_ken airbrush_ken is offline
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Re: Newbie question: painting a smooth sky

A quick trick sign writers use is to mix a base Blue (in this case). The mix 50/50 with white and then 50/50 with black. Spray or brush the mid blue you made and then use the dark mix for your deepest Blue and the light mix for the brightest Blue. This is a basic white-mid gray-black trick used by photographers using "Adobe Photoshop"
I would follow "fedetony" post and remember; spraying tonal graduations takes time and practice, so don't give up. You should consider a better air source... those cans cost a ton over time. Back in the 60's I used an 8 ply truck tire and with an adapter. The guy at the local gas station, hated me filling it up at 8 or 9 at night...lol
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Old 07-17-2017, 10:55 AM
tonbardee tonbardee is offline
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Join Date: Sep 2016
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Re: Newbie question: painting a smooth sky

I am trying to do a graded blue sky with no clouds in watercolor. What my problem is that I am getting small 'pimples' in the sky after wetting paper first than doing the brushing with a fairly large brush. When I apply the paint straight without wetting the paper it does not have the pimples. Can someone help with this?
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