Weekend Workshop Airbrush Class

Yes.. Airbrushing. A technique that is shrouded in mystery more often than not. One that many do not attempt for all the costs, tools, and work involved to just muck it all up in the end and cry hopelessly into your lap as paint continues to drip down from your now ruined model.

But fear not! Fellow Blogger and 5th-dimension member John aka Darkmessiah was on hand this past weekend to teach us noobs of the airbrush order how to de-mystify the secrets of the airbrush.

And John has set up quite the agenda for us to tackle, along with some contingencies for those that were needing more time to learn the basics ( cough Gus cough ) and others who might be thinking they are a bit too advanced and moving quite quickly. No idea who that might be.. but I am sure they are cool dudes :)

First up though was to achieve the basics. Taking apart the airbrush, re-assembling it, and then knowing how to run the consistencies in the colors themselves. Some pretty basic stuff, but things that would carry throughout the class and for some they would get a lot of experience with taking apart their airbrushes due to not listening to the topic of color consistencies. :) You know who you are.. no need to beat a dead horse about it..

Once the very basics of an airbrush was thrown down, we moved onto our first assignment. Blending. And this was done on a custom made resin piece of scenery bits made by Darkmessiah Supa Miniatures Extraordinary Result Company of Excellence, aka John.

The goal here was to start with a basic color and get a nice smooth layer laid down. Not to rush it, and to just go layer by layer until there was a full coverage thrown down on the resin board.

Now for me this was a quick switch from my normal way of painting. As we were running the paint very thin, and on a very low bar setting ( 2 bars? ) to get full control on the airbrush and model. Normally I just jack my compressor up to 4-6 bars, and make that thing propel paint at a speed and force akin to firing a paintball gun. Of course my method allows for a quicker coverage on the model, but reduces the control that I can achieve with it. So I did struggle a bit on this to begin with, but it was nice to see how thinning the paint down ( considerably I must say! ) and then reducing the air pressure can have such results! Only thing I was really frustrated with at the end was the waiting for the paint to then dry! Something a hair dryer would help with I think.

But once I got through the base coating of the plank I could then move to the shadows and highlights. This was quite simply us taking the plank, turning it to a new angle, and shooting either white or black at it :) After this it was all about the misting the original color back onto the overall section to get a nice smooth transition from dark to light.

You can see that I have adopted one of the many techniques created/found within the workshop.. names the Strongbow technique. No relation to the beer that we drank each night ( or when John wasn't looking )...

From the plank you can see my progression going from the blue, to the yellow and finally the green boxes in practicing this misting and blending techniques ( strongbow or otherwise ) on the plank.

Something I need to mention as I seemed to not mention it in other workshop reviews I have done in the past. The location we airbrushed in had a place for food, and the cost of entry to the event provided a voucher to get some food throughout the event. And I can say that after all the morning work on the first day I was famished to the point of attacking the food with all my might with little thought of what the consequences would be for my personal safety! rue Kamikaze style here!!

But for the most part, we worked on the blending throughout the whole of the first day. To ensure that we all had a good grasp on this before we proceeded onto the actual models.

What was good on this was that even if there were people not yet mastering the blending and color consistencies, then they could get more time with John on Sunday morning before tackling their miniatures.

Saturday night we enjoyed a nice meal out at the Philharmonic Dining Halls. The only reference I can make for this place was it was like the Original Cheers that was copied from 'Murica.. And I say it this way instead of them copying Cheers cause well.. they were here first! And John would never let me live it down if I said otherwise ;)

From here it was the traditional head to a pub, grab a pint and talk about miniatures, the industry, and life. Oh and make fun of each other for one thing or another.. typical guy stuff. We of course followed this up with walking through the ever so upscale bar section of Liverpool complete with all the classy ladies dressed up.. OK.. not so much dressed up but at least covering MOST of their goodies.. gotta love the bootyshorts ;)

But we didn't come here for the girls ( or at least I didn't.. I think? ).. we came here to paint and day 2 was where we began to put the practice into motion..

First up was the mighty Savage Orc.. something that "most" got assembled Friday or Saturday night depending on when they arrived to the city.

For me, I went the traditional color here. Green. With red shadows and yellow highlights. I really messed up the face section by putting too much white on it for top highlight, but I think I can fix that in the future.

It was really similar to what we did on the planks though. Main color.. shadows.. highlights.. mist overall.

You can see one of the participants misting his Orc with the now famous Strongbow technique. To get that just right level of color blending over the upper most sections of the Orc. It also has the added bonus when used on a 4-6 bar setting to also paint your neighbours model, lamp, shirt, and burger also! Combo-kill here!

The toughest part here was getting the consistency right with the distance set up properly. So that you would not be just pooling all the paint onto the model and into the recesses. Something that I struggled with.. Drying times and small needles make for one heck of a burst when it comes undone. Not fun and a pain to fix as well afterwards.

John showed us on his model while most were listening and watching. Don't know who wouldn't be watching and just go forth and paint theirs up at the same time.. :D Awesome people I guess? :)

Once we felt that we had tackled this part well enough ( and some Golden Demon winner has thrown my Orc to the ground in jealousy ) some of us moved onto the Grey Knight Space Marine model.

For this we used the new Scale75 metal set. All I can say is that I am in love with this set!!! Volomir has put up an article on his experiences via the brush, but I can say through the airbrush this set is nothing but a dream! So smooth, such a great coverage, and no clogging in the airbrush after a few passes! And the end result was just sublime!

I can say that after doing the Orc in greens and reds and yellows.. the Grey Knight was a breeze and was a walk in the park. Either it was because of the advice and techniques shown by John, or just that it became easier with practice.. but the end result was a great result. One that I now might think about a grey knight army??? Dammmmmmn..

Only downside to the weekend overall that I can honestly say is that due to being a bit north and finishing on a Sunday I had to leave early to get home before it got too late. So with most of the techniques under my belt ( including the 2 airbrush technique as you can see Gus mastering below ) I did head home. But not without having that 4 hr drive back thinking on all the projects that will benefit from the work and practice that we did throughout the weekend.

Thanks again for the workshop John and everyone else who attended. Looking forward to seeing the upcoming projects from everyone.. and seeing where this takes myself in the future for progress! Now time for some much needed rest before jumping back onto the road for another workshop adventure soon!


  1. Mr. Lee, I am quite convinced that you're Bane in disguise.

    Jokes aside, nice article showing progress for all participants!

    1. “Oh, so you think the airbrush is your ally? But you merely adopted the airbrush. I was born with it, molded by it. I didn’t see the transitions until I was already a man, by then to me it was only blinding. The airbrush betray you because they belong to me.” :)

  2. Looks like much fun! Really cool miniatures :-)

  3. Thanks for the review!!!
    Is there a chance to have a airbrush workshop in South Germany??