Thoughts on My Livestream How to Learn to Airbrush Detail.

  1. Distance
  2. Air pressure
  3. Angle
  4. Practice
  5. Conclusion

Distance is Closer to Perfection

Many who know will not let the cat out of the bag; however, distance is one of the most important elements to understanding and mastering the airbrush. Without a thorough understanding of distance’s key role that how far your airbrush is from your painting, you are throwing darts at a board. There is no way out of it, if you want to become a better airbrush artist, understand the spray pattern of the airbrush. That spray pattern is a cone. The origin is your needle. The closer your needle is to your surface, the smaller the cone. You can not effectively paint details without this knowledge.

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Air Pressure is What Makes it Go

water pressure control equipment

If you are doing tight detail you are going to need to lower the air pressure to avoid spidering. I am not talking about lowering the air pressure at the compressor but using a MAC or PAC valve that is on a detail-oriented airbrush, such as my Customized Badger Xtreme Patriot Arrow.

When you get closer to the surface, you are effectively increasing the airflow relative to the surface. To combat this increase of power, lower the air pressure at your airbrush. This will allow you to paint super close to your surface while lowering the incidence of spidering.

Angle, How You Approach It Makes All The Difference

You can not expect to apply your medium smoothly onto your surface if you are spraying at a direct hit. Remember a “glancing blow” is softer and has less pressure per square inch. The same is true with your airbrush application. If you spray at a more oblique angle, you will have more control when applying those beautiful details. Subtlety is often achieved with finesse a lot more than a straight-on guns blazing cowboy mentality.


Remember that this only works if you do. There is no substitute for practice. Put in the work using these elements of gaining control of your airbrush, your compressor, and your painting medium. Practice makes perfect but more importantly, perfect practice makes you a much better airbrush artist. Years ago, one of my favorite artists, Cass Fuller, said to me after I asked him, “How can I get better as an airbrush artist?” What he said to me changed my approach forever:

“Play with the paint and the air pressure, distance, and dilutions.”

~Cass Fuller


Details come with following the principles that I outlined here in this article and my livestream video below. Along with practice and adhering to these fundamentals, you will get better and better with your airbrush control to achieve excellent detail.

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