In this article you will learn how to airbrush detailed water droplets. The effects that you learn here will allow you to add additional depth to your airbrush paintings. Water Droplets make ordinary objects like flowers and leaves pop! If you don't have much experience with an airbrush don't worry water droplets are a relatively easy effect to pull off. With that being said lets jump right in!
The panel I am using is finished composite board. I buy sheets of it at Lowes for about $12.00 and then cut it down into smaller panels. It works very well for demos and practice panels. It is also the same material sold in art stores as wood art board. I created boarders on the panel using low tack painters tape from 3M.
I then based the panel in a medium grey base coat. This effect does not work well on a white base.
This is my second attempt at writing this article. Unfortunately I lost a few of the process images and was not able to complete it the first time around. Above you can see the final result of the first panel though. The panel you are about to paint now should come out looking similar.
You will need to apply masking film to the entire panel. The brand and type of making film that you use is up to you. I am using Oracal's Oramask 810 film which is one my favorite masking films. You can use Frisket, or application tape as well. The material that I am using is sold in 50 yard rolls and sells for close to $80.00. A roll of this masking film in a small studio setting should last a very, very long time.
Here I spritzed some water in a scrap piece of masking film for reference. Having a in your face reference is much better than trying to pull details from a photo.
Now I am going to draw in some droplets and cut them out using a fresh Xacto blade. When drawing your droplets in remember to keep their placement completely random.
There are a few techniques that can help make a project like this allot easier. It is a good idea to number your droplets, so that when you go to put them back in place you know exactly where each piece is going. You also will want to run a line through each droplet using a pen. These reference points will allow you to put each droplet back in place quickly and easily!
I am going to remove all of the droplets and place them on some of the backing from the masking film I am using. I will be reusing these so it is important for me to take care of them. Otherwise I am going to run into problems further on down the line.
with some heavily reduced white base coat I airbrush in the secondary highlights. I am paying close attention to where and how I am airbrushing! I want most of the spray to end up on the masking film this will create a very soft edge. I also want to correctly position each highlight.
I am going to start airbrushing in the shadowed sides now. I am basically duplicating what I did with the white, but on the opposite side using an over reduced black. You want the same soft edge and you want the shadow to correspond with the highlight on the reverse side.
Now I remove the masking film. At this point I am just about done with these droplets. Two more critical steps left!
I reapply the positive cut outs that I put safely aside earlier. I made a mistake in pulling the negative masking before reapplying the positive sections. This would be where your register marks and numbers come into play. I just did this the difficult way. Regardless the droplets need to be placed perfectly back in place.
With the droplets back in place I hit the secondary highlight side of the water droplets with the same over reduced black I used in the previous step. You want to keep the shadow kind of thin. Applying to much, or to soft of a shadow will make the final product look disproportionate.
Once I have the primary shadowing done I remove the masking film. At this point I have no film at all left on my painting. By now your droplets should be looking pretty decent. Just one more step to go!
This is the part of this project that requires the most skill. It's time to airbrush in the primary highlights. I placed small highlights on the bottom side of the drops as you can see from the images above. I also touched up the secondary highlights of the water droplets giving the drops a glowing feel. The image below points out the areas that I applied highlights and touch up work to.
You can clearly see the highlight on the bottom edge as well as the additional highlight. Then if you look closely you can see the work that I did to the secondary highlights. At this point I am done. If you have any questions, or comments on this project please use the comment form below!