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The airbrush is one of the 20th century's contributions to cool pre-digital graphic tools. Using air to propel atomized ink or paint creates a mark making tool that is capable of producing smooth even gradations of density and color. Because of this ability, the airbrush has long been identified with specialty areas like photographic retouching and automotive detailing. Painter could produce perfectly smooth digital airbrush strokes, but it can additionally utilize a bit of tilt and bearing to add some analog glow as well.
Let's take a look at airbrushes. I am going to go up to Brush Selector Bar and we are going to go up here at the very top two airbrushes and I am going to start by showing you the Digital Airbrush. This is the 21st century equivalent of airbrushes, and because it's digital it can be very perfect and very smooth which is useful for many things. Let's just draw a couple of strokes here, and you'll see that it does have a nice smooth rolloff of density and by overlapping just like you would with a traditional airbrush, you can start to build up a wide range of density.
And it's because of this that it's so good for going into photographic art which is also continuous tone, density, and color, and enables you to go in and retouch areas very invisibly because it matches the same kind of tonal characteristics that you find in the photograph. So that's one of the reasons it's so popular amongst the photo retouching folks. Now let's take a look in the Size palette, and I just want to point out to you that the profiles that you find in the upper-right are the various profiles that can be used with the airbrush, and I'm going to Select All, Delete, and what I want to show you is probably with a sample stroke here.
I am just going to draw that, so I can play that stroke back, and I am going to change the profile, so you can see how it's different for various media. I may turn up Opacity over here too, just to give it a little bit more oomph on the screen. So let's start over here and as I have described earlier, what these profiles represent are side profiles of density. So at the outer edges the density is very low, but as we move in towards the center on this cross-section profile of density, it comes up to a point of complete density, and then it drops back off, so that's why you get this shading from no density up to a high density and then back down.
So that is what each of these cross-section profiles represent. So let's go ahead and try this one now, and you'll see that this one has the most density in the center. As it gets up to more-and-more pressure, it's going to fill in that area. But watch how each one of these has a different kind of weighting to the way the strokes are made. See now this one is much heavier. This one is going to have a linear rolloff of density and then we get into one where it's much more rounded. And then the last two actually are used for other types of profiling.
For this one, this is actually used for watercolor, where you want a dark edge. You can do some interesting things with it. You'll notice that because airbrushes tend to use the overlapping density in the manner that they do, you don't have to worry as much about spacing very closely together, so whereas with these profiles it's no problem. You'll see in another profile that really isn't intended for airbrush, you will see how there is a definite lack of tight spacing in airbrush strokes, but that is part and parcel of the way these profiles work.
So these profiles in the Size palette do let you adjust the character of the airbrush strokes. Of all of them identifying that the linear dropoff is the best one, but depending on the kind of airbrush work you are doing you do have an option to change these profiles. Now, let's take a look at Painter's more advanced airbrushes and compared to what we had here where this airbrush is always as if I'm pointing straight down with my pen. There is no tilt and bearing going on here. It's always straight ahead, representing that profile.
But in the more advanced airbrushes, let's take a look at Fine Spray and we can go ahead and close this. We are going to open up the actual Airbrush palette. Let's just see what happens with this one. This one does use tilt and spray, because I have my enhanced cursor on, you'll be able to see what happens as I adjust my tilt and bearing. Right now I'm pressing straight down. Another thing we might want to look at here is, that we've noticed before, is in Spacing you'll see that Continuous Time Deposition is turned on. So this is a case of a brush where as long as I'm pressing it's going to continue to fill that dab area up and that's part of the way that the airbrush works in the real world.
As long as you are pressing or depressing the button on the airbrush, it's going to continue to deliver media. So that's the first thing. I am going to just do a Select All, Delete here. The other thing is that this is tilt and bearing aware. So as I move and adjust my tilt and bearing, this is almost akin to a flashlight where instead of shooting light out based on the angle I am holding the flashlight, it's dispensing media based on the angle I'm doing it. It's not so perfectly fine like the Digital Airbrush.
As you can see, it's made up of very fine droplets that represent each of the little droplets that would be the ink or paint that is being sprayed out of the airbrush. And as such it's definitely a noisy tool. However, just like continuous tonality is great in photographic retouching for example, the ability to have this grainy tonality actually makes for a very good brush with a lot of energy because in the real-world gradations are not perfectly smooth.
There's always some kind of visual noise or texture generally associated with it. So to have this ability to have some texture in the airbrush actually could be a desirable feature. I am just going to draw a little bit just to make some dark tonality, and then just by switching to a lighter color, you could go and move back and forth within your tonality, so that you can find out or adjust exactly what you want to happen within an area of the brush. But you can see how just-- I am not even tying to make anything here but as I kind of really just go back and forth between black and white, very quickly you start to get the kind of complex tonal variations going on here that are not dissimilar from a photograph.
So once again that's why you get the combination of tonality, but in this case, it's actually made up of tiny little dots that are fooling the eye into thinking it's seeing a wide range of tones. That visual complexity of using actual little elements to create the illusion of tonality is something that the eye and the brain pick up on as a lot of detail. So the adjustments that you can do in the Airbrush palette are, you can play with the spread. Let's once again Select All, Delete, and I will just do a little sample here.
You can see that there is a definite angle here. It's got a spread of 40 degrees. So I can adjust the spread. If I want a narrower spread, I will get it. If I want a wider spread, I can get that as well. So playing around with spread for minimum and maximum amount of spread based on pressure is something you can do. The other thing you control is Flow, and that's how much media is coming through the airbrush. So if I turn this up, I am going to get much more media coming through the brush.
If I turn it down, I can get it to where it's a very weak flow. And just depending again on the kind of work you are doing, you may find that a very minimal flow allows you to build up tonality very slowly, as opposed to the default setting where it's up here and it's fairly quickly moving all the way to black. So being able to adjust the flow is something that you can do and when you are in the Brush tool with an airbrush, you have flow available in the Property Bar. And Feature size finally, you may remember,we talked about brushes that use Feature size all the way from the camel hair and all these different dab models here rely on Feature size.
So if I increase Feature size, well, I am going to get correspondingly larger droplet elements within the airbrush. So this allows me to very finely tune how fine the droplets are. I get down to a very fine spray. If I take it all the way down to even 0, you will get just the minimum smallest spray. However, because they are covering less surface area it's going to take longer to build up an area, but it is a finer spray. So like many tools in Painter you can play around and find the sweet spot for the exact density of spray and size of droplets that you want to work with.
So the digital airbrushes in Painter offer interesting control that is much closer to the analog version where tilt and bearing of the airbrush in the artist's hand makes a great deal of impact on how the strokes are constructed. So airbrushes with noise in them is not a bad thing.
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