Friday, April 30, 2010

Airbrushists Unit! Support The Troops With Your Airbrush Skills

I found something interesting while wondering around my favorite airbrush forum site ( It looks like the buys and girls over there have gotten together to create a banner for the troops. The idea is pretty simple: a canvas banner was made and is sent to the next airbrushist on the list. You get 3 days to work on it and it comes with some supplies to help out (but the leftovers are passed on to the next person as well).
It all started with a simple idea that turned into a real event, as most things do over there, and now the banner is making it's rounds one more time. The final stop on it's list will be the hands of Tony D, the main guy behind and those YouTube videos with the same name. He's serving overseas and will make sure the banner ends up in the right hands. At this time the airbrushing part of things is only available to those who have signed up on the forum and have at least 20 posts. But support comes in all shapes and sizes, so I imagine there will other things like this in the future. This isn't about politics, it's about supporting the troops - very much different things.
If you are interested in finding out more about this great event, go to:

Todays Video of the Post is brought to you by:

Monday, April 26, 2010

Try Before You Buy

I have the idea in my head that everyone should airbrush. At the very least, everyone should try and airbrush. This is, of course, my own opinion, but it's one that I feel strongly about. Here are some of my reasons:
The more people that continue to explore this incredible tool, the more exposure the art gets over all.
The more exposure it gets, the more credibility it builds.
The more credibility it builds, the larger the over all community gets.
Rinse, wash, repeat.
I'm not too worried about the airbrush becoming considered fine art because then there would be a lot more rules and a lot more ego, but I do enjoy the idea of more people becoming interested in the airbrush.
To that end, I have decided to take airbrushing to the greater public. I started with my YouTube videos. I am on the forums, helping and learning. But I realized that there are still a lot of people that want to try this airbrush thing out but are a little scared by the amount of money required to give it a shot, not knowing if they will like it. Sure, there are introductory classes in some places, by not my places. So I thought, why not pack up my airbrush equipment and offer to bring it to people who are interested? I put up a little Craigslist post and sure enough, someone was interested.
Granted it's just one person, but then I got to thinking, how many airbrush artist are out there that could do the same thing? What I'm offering is pretty simple. I'll bring my equipment, set it up, show them how it works, and leave them with a list of things they will need if they want to get the stuff themselves. I'll even let them give it a shot so they can have an idea of just how this whole airbrush thing works. Sounds pretty simple. I'm charging $40 to cover over all supplies, gas, and a little extra for my time (I'm offering between an hour and two hours). If they live too far away, I ask for a little extra gas money. Seems pretty fair to me, and to the person that was interested.
So I guess the only question now is to all those airbrushists that might be reading this. Why haven't you posted something on Craigslist? How are we going to paint the planet if there aren't more people painting said planet? You're still reading this?

Todays Video of the Post comes from Daniel Powers:

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Waterborne Automotive Paint

I have only a glimpse at the moment, but it's looking like the future of paint is in waterborne paint. PPG seems to be on the American forefront in this evolution towards a cleaner paint system for automotives. Though not the first company to come out with a system of paint that is waterborne (waterborne = small amount of solvent, waterbase = pure waterbase like acrylic), they seem to be the first to really follow through with the use in collision repair. Their dedication to waterborne paint doesn't stop with collision repair because they are extending their expertise into custom paint.
Nothing new, waterborne paints have been scoffed at for years in custom paint circles as being: too hard to spray, too expensive, not lightfast, etc. PPG seems ready to change that. Some of the benefits of working with water: Their paint comes ready to mix without the need of a mixing machine. They have been working with gun manufacturers to create the best equipment to handle working with water. Super fast dry times that can dry even faster with simple forced air, rather than the need for UV lights or bake booths. Working with water means no harmful solvents or dangerous chemicals (since they also have waterborne clearcoats, primers, and sealers). Lower VOC means less regulations to worry about when starting your own shop.
Lowrider magazine recently featured PPG in one of their latest issues showcasing what their candy paint's are capable of. The custom paint forums are all a buzz over the eventual change.
Custom airbrush artists have been using waterborne and waterbased paint for quite some time. It's low VOC's work well with many set ups and don't require any special equipment. Auto Air has set the standard in how waterbased paint should be handled but still struggles to gain proper respect in the automotive paint circles. It's seen as an amateur paint system, something for beginners or the less than serious airbrush artist. Createx heard this and came out with their Wicked line of airbrush paint called Wicked.
With PPG and other companies perfecting this same method of delivering paint, it is only a matter of time before waterborne is going to take over the industry. Stricter guidelines, more environmentally conscious customers, and higher demand in custom paint leads this airbrush artist to believe that it would be a good idea to get on board now. Stay tuned for more information about waterborne paints.

Today's Video of the Post brought to you from these guys: Charley Hutton and PPG

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Trompe L'oeil (or Faux, or FX, or Whatever)

Trompe L'oeil (pronounced nothing like it is spelled, truh-ohmp low-ee) is a French word that means something close to "trick the eye". Though most people may not know what it is, they have probably seen it. Most airbrush artists, or even the artists to be, have actually done this type of art and didn't know it. Ever airbrush a drop shadow? How about some fake metal or some faux rust? What about that pop rivet? That's trompe l'oeil. See, you're a sophisticated artist and you didn't even know it.
I have always been a huge fan of this type of hard to spell artwork and it was actually one of the first things I tried with an airbrush. Sure wish I had THAT picture. In any event, I loved the idea of painting something so real that when someone walked up to it, they tried to touch it. I've done this with nails, even a whole, full sized clip board. There is just something close to a magic trick involved in it and to this day I work at perfecting it.
Most artists use paint brushes and a wide range of paints and mediums to get the effects that I feel a single, simple squirt of an airbrush can achieve. What makes this difficult to master is the fact that, in a lot of ways, our eyes are hard to trick. It takes quite a bit of mastery to get those shadows to look just right. To get that blend to be just so. To get that color to be perfect. I admit, there are some instances where the brush works a little better than the airbrush. What I personally think is that these two tools should work together to make the perfect trompe l'oeil.
Now the next time you are preparing some drop shadows under some metal tears on a motorcycle tank, you can sound all Zima drinker like by calling it trompe l'oeil. Tell them I said it was ok.

Todays Video of the Post comes from this guy:

Monday, April 12, 2010

Busy Week

It's been a busy week for me. I finally got Shane's bike done. Here are some pictures:

It was my first time ever working this extensively on a mural and I am really happy with how it turned out. I was able to come up with a large portion of it out of my head (like the work done on the front fender just above this) and that tells me that my abilities are growing. I was worried about the clear coat, since he wanted it to be more flat than gloss, but this turned out to actually make it easier to see the art work. I really can't wait to see this thing together.

I had some people interested in some trompe l'oeil, or faux, or FX or whatever you choose to call them, so I decided to do a quick test panel of some simple and fast FX that I can do to sort of showcase what is possible. I thought it would be a good idea to make a video but here are some pictures as well:

And last but not least, here is a little something I like to call Zombie Girl. I actually got this picture off of Deviant Art from this guy. I did this because I wanted to and that felt great. There wasn't any end purpose for it, only to paint it and that just doesn't really happen all that often. This piece took about 8 hours all together. I hand drew the initial sketch, which is why the eyes are a little off, but I fixed that by making her eye so tasty. I have some projects in the works and figure as long as I keep my thumb on the trigger, I am bound to make this thing happen.
Today's Video of the Post is from Me

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Starting a Shop

I am working on the basics of starting my own shop. Working with someone else is great and I am learning a lot. It's better than school because I'm sort of thrown in, sink or swim and I don't have any debt or school grades to worry about. What I am noticing is that I have some major choices to make. I can start a shop from scratch, get the booth, offer full custom paint on motorcycles etc, or I can just focus on airbrushing.
Starting the shop sounds great. I would be my own boss, sort of do my own thing, and not have to rely on many people to get my product out. If I need body work I can do it my self or, if demand demands it, hire someone on the side. I would be in charge of my deadlines and not have to worry about someone else giving me a good product that I could airbrush on. The downside is that it's freaking expensive. At best, I can get away with starting a shop with around $10,000. That's with a half assed, open faced booth that I would rig up to be fully enclosed and fire safe. At worse, I'm looking at something closer to $20,000 with a full sized booth and all the fixings. That is not really including rent and the upstart materials needed to offer onsite airbrush supplies. The lottery is out of the question and I'm a ways off from winning the lottery, so that brings me to my other option:
Focusing on the airbrush. This is what I love to do. This is the part I actually want to do. You can save all that other stuff about the primer and bondo and filler and sanding and sanding. What this would mean though is that I would have to work with an existing shop, rely on their ability to fit in my projects as they come, and consistently turn out a good product. That makes my hair stand up on end. Right now, I paint and prep all my work, I then transport it to my apartment where I airbrush it. I have already experienced the deep, gut wrenching pain of seeing something wrong happen during transport and can only imagine what it would be like to worry about each and every project. One benefit is, I wouldn't have to worry about VOC levels or having the paint mix room or having the government check my shop for fire regulatory conditions. Plus, there wouldn't be a need for a $4,000 paint booth because I could just properly ventilate the room I paint in. Sounds great, but it would be less of a guarantee to my customers, which I really don't like the sound of.
There really isn't much of a choice of which one I want to do. But, there is a choice as to which one is actually possible. There is still a lot I need to learn to operate my own spray shop, but I am learning it. There is also quite a bit of money to be found, though I am finding places that sell certain things for less. At the moment I am looking at the best equipment I can find but I am also looking at what would work just as good. I'm finding out a lot about what I need and I am testing my fortitude and willingness to go forward with this. This will happen, though I am seeing that it will take a little longer than tomorrow. Sucks, but I'll deal with it.

Todays Video of The Post is from Ed Hubbs and his airbrush tutoring:

Monday, April 5, 2010

Airbrush Forums: A Directory of Sorts

As a busy artist, I don't really get much time for human interaction. If I'm lucky, I'll get a chance to watch some TV with my wife before heading to bed. So, how do I interact with other airbrush artists? Why, I go to the forums! Which is handy, since that what this post is about. Below I talk about the different airbrush related forums I have been to, and the ones I keep going back to. Keep in mind, these are airbrush forums, but for the most part they lean towards custom paint.

This is the forum page to the informative Airbrush Tricks website that Tony D spear heads. I found this forum while watching some of the videos he's put on YouTube and haven't looked back. I frequent this one the most as it seems to have the largest group of active members and has a real sense of community. Tony D is off in Afghanistan but the forum is in good hands with SgtM, Jason Jones, and Primo Customs.
Sign up is free and the site offers some gallery space. It's hosted by vBulletin and offers easy to use coding. The admin's are fair and the people are great. Almost instant feedback to all new artists. They also have airbrush contests!

This forum doesn't really come up with the searches and was another one I found on accident. It has some talent in there, if they show up. Another site that uses vBulletin, it's only real failing is that it doesn't seem to have many active members. I guess they come and go in waves. Free sign up, easy to use, decent admin's, and a weekly artshow.

This site has a really odd way of signing you up. It takes you to a separate portal that can be a bit confusing. After the initial set up, the site is semi-easy to use. Because it has a different forum hosting, those that are used to vBulletin might have some trouble here. Also, the main admin is very exact in how things should be posted and those that are new should definitely follow the rules for new users. I think that the picky admin may be hurting the site because it also has a lack of active members. They also have contests though and are worth checking out.

Not to be confused with the Airbrush Tech above, this forum is the baby of Don Johnson who runs Airbrush Technique magazine. I've only had the chance to take a look at a few issues of the magazine and found it to be a decent rag (with a lot, LOT, less ads than Airbrush Action). The forum is great, if it can stay on the same website (there is another forum that is similar called How To Airbrush which is their sister site and offers articles and tutorials not seen on the Airbrush Technique site) and there is a lot of information on there. I have had some problems logging in and at one point they mentioned only being able to use the site if you subscribe to the magazine, but I just logged in and posted, so this much not be the case. They offer contests, but more than that, they offer artists the chance to enter work into either their online or physical magazine.

This was the first forum I heard about before I heard about anything airbrush related on the web. It's Craig Farser's little baby and offers a great group of pro artists. I felt that as a new comer to the website, I was sort of left in the dust. I go back once in a while, and have found that it has a huge selection of active members, but there is just something off to me. I went into a post about starting a custom shop and ran into some political rants that I really didn't need. For the most part though, folks are welcome and again, the site uses the vBulletin system that seems to be the most popular way of running a forum.

The new guys on the block, this site is put together by Daniel Powers with the help of some other incredible artists such as Dennis Mathewson and Mike Lavallee. This is a two part site, with the main part focusing on gallery submissions and videos. Gallery inclusion is difficult because you can only include one, resized photo at a time, but these photos go into a pool you can then use in any project (what actually gets posted for the world to see). These projects are super easy to navigate and look great though. The forum side is the same as any vBulletin forum and though there aren't many people populating it as of now, it is really very new. There is a lot of potential for the site to really take off.

This site is similar to Airbrush Hub in that it is mostly a gallery posting with user interface, it also has a forum. The forum is pretty well dead (I saw some postings that were from 2008 on the main page of the thread), but the gallery seems to have some serious life. One of my photo postings got 387 views in about a month. It's an interesting site with little life, but a good place to get your name added to search optimization.

I have been on this forum site only a few times and found that there was a lot petty drama on it. That could explain why it got the nickname Airbrush.comedy. BearAir, however, is a great company to order products from and I can say I have never had a problem with their service.

I have just discovered this site and it seems that it is mostly devoted to paint, rather than straight airbrushing. Though there seems to be room for airbrushing in there, it is not a focus of the site.

So that's my list. There might be some other forums out there, but these seem to be the ones that show up the most. If you have questions, there be the places that you might find the answers. If you have answers, don't be a douche - share that knowledge! More than that, get your name out there. There are some great people to be met and some great people to give you honest feedback on your stuff.

Paint the planet, one forum at a time.

Today's Video of the Post comes from Tuff City Styles

Saturday, April 3, 2010

True Fire And Why It's So Popular

My wife was telling me a story about how she was talking to someone about how I was an airbrush artist. She told this lady, who was at least into her 60's, that I painted on bikes and helmets. What she asked was "does he do fire?" This blew me away! People who aren't even into cars know about True Fire and that made me do some thinking. Why is it so popular and is it just a fad?
Mike Lavallee owns True Fire. He should, he's worked his little hunter's ass off to get there. I recently did a nice trek through the internet looking for any information I could find about the man behind the fire and really didn't find anything too detailed. I remember seeing his special on TLC or Discovery, where he painted a Ford coupe with his then, unique style. What I remember the most from that show was that he talked about the helicopter he'd flamed out. The neighbors thought it was on fire and called the fire department.
Then he was on Monster Garage. Then he got in good with Chip Foose. Then EVERYONE wanted something to do with True Fire. What that meant was Mike couldn't keep up with demand so he started putting out DVD's to teach people how to create his True Fire for themselves. He even got some stencils made by stencil God's Artool to go along with them.
What is odd is that there are some guys out there that do them better, but you'd never know there name. Why? Because Mike Lavallee was smart about it and attached his name to it while he could. He may have stumbled upon it while airbrushing something else, but he knew it wsa going to be hot (seriously, did you not see that coming?). Even when someone mimics his style, people still refer to it as Mike Lavallee True Fire. People still want his fire, because it's HIS fire.
What makes it so unique as custom paint is that, for the most part, it doesn't take any prep. I don't mean that you don't have to prep the surface. What I mean is that you don't have to do any special paint layouts. There is now pounce wheel to get them perfect on both sides like old school flames. You can sketch some basics out, but you don't really have to. After a while, you get a good feel for how they should go and because it's all freehand and shield work, it goes quick. Which makes it a viable technique to master.
I recently read on a Forum site that True Fire is going to die out. The interest hit its peak due to over saturation in the media. But that leads to the main point of this post. True Fire is so popular because it goes with just about anything. Make it green, make it blue, make it hot freaking pink, and it's still True Fire. Have some coming out of a skull's mouth, off a skull's head, put the skull in the fire, it's all gravy. Much likes skulls, they will always be popular. Much like old school flames, they will endure. These are OUR old school flames. When people look back on custom painting they will look at Mike in the same light that people look at Van Dutch. They will see the flames he made popular and the people who were able to make a living with this art technique and say, much like me, "Thanks Mike".

Here is a nice showcase of some True Fire (and some mimics):