Airbrush Lesson 2 - Dots and Lines - Airbrush Guru

Airbrush Lesson 2 – Dots and Lines

Airbrush lesson two covers mastering basic airbrush lessons for dots, lines; essential airbrushing skills you’ll need to learn no matter what it is you plan on airbrushing. Written by Don Johnson

In the first airbrush Lesson, we went over what material and equipment you’ll need for this lesson, how to hold your airbrush and how the distance away from you painting surface effects the paint you spray. In this lesson, we’ll be going over the first basic strokes you’ll need to master, lines and dots. At the end of this article, there is video version of this lesson.

Here are all 5 Airbrush Basic Lessons

Airbrush Supplies Required

How to airbrush simple line

First thing we will do is airbrush a simple line across the page. Keeping your wrist locked move the airbrush with your hand and whole upper body keeping your wrist locked. Use both hands to steady the airbrush as you move slowly across the paper.


You apply color by pulling gently back on the trigger while keeping the trigger of the airbrush fully depressed.

Refer to diagram above:

  1. air on
  2. start motion
  3. pull back on trigger for paint
  4. push forward on trigger to reduce paint flow
  5. follow through with air on off edge of paper

I believe its best to learn to leave air on, finger fully depressed on trigger all the time even between strokes. Please do not form bad habits now by pushing up and down on the trigger continually while doing these exercises.

You will notice that the size, width of the line you are airbrushing is directly affected by the distance that the tip of your airbrush is from the paper. The closer you are to the paper the smaller and thinner the line will be. The further away from the paper you are the larger the line will be.

How to airbrush multiple lines

Now airbrush small lines straight across the page about 3 or 4 inches in length. Air on, start moving your airbrush than apply paint as you near the end of the line start forward with trigger shutting the paint flow off and follow through with the air still on. As you go from making one line to the next keep the air on.
Do several pages of just these lines trying to keep them as straight as possible all the way across the page.

How to airbrush DOTS

Now that you have mastered straight lines lets move onto DOTS. Again going across the paper make nice round dots not spats but nice round uniform dots.

With airbrush square to the paper:

(1) air on
(2) pull back on trigger just a little making a nice round dot
(3) push trigger forward paint off
(4) air still on move to the right a little make your next dot.

Keep going all the way across the paper slowly. Do several pages of these until you feel comfortable with rendering nice round dots.

Putting them together 

So you have now mastered dots and lines, let’s put the dots and lines together. Airbrush nice round dots all over your page, in no order just all over the place. Now connect all the dots with nice straight lines. With the air on all the time, even between lines airbrush a line from one dot to the next dot, stop on that dot before going on to the next dot. Nice straight lines from one dot to the next, do not change the shape of the dots as you go.

Again notice how the distance of the tip of your airbrush from your paper affects the line you are airbrushing. Close – small tight line, far away – big fuzzy line.

Shading Techniques

Next we will work on shading techniques with the airbrush. We will start on the left side of your paper with the tip of your airbrush several inches back from the surface. Start moving your airbrush straight across the page and lightly apply color as you go.

Remember to start moving your airbrush with the air on, then gently pull back on airbrush trigger to apply color. As you near the opposite edge of the paper, start pushing the airbrush trigger forward shutting the color off and follow through with air on only. Now with the air still on go back to the left side of the page and start all over again. Your goal is to have nice shading (color) all the way across and down the paper with no signs of starting or stopping. Nice even tone all the way across and down the page.

Now put your airbrush shading skills to work with this circle. First consider which direction your light source will be coming from than apply shading as the light source would indicate it to be.

By pointing the tip of your airbrush in towards the center of the object you can contain most of the over spray within the circle. Make sure to follow the shape of the object, in this case the circle.

Do not try shading the circle by going straight across the circle but around with the shape of the circle. Going straight across the circle will produce a flat round dot on the page not a nice round looking circle. Imagine it to be a ball and try to bring it to life with your airbrush. Put your shading skills to work on other objects as well, a child’s coloring book is the perfect place to test your shading skills.

Here is a video covering this airbrush lesson