Airbrush Lesson 4 - Using Dagger Strokes - Airbrush Guru

Airbrush Lesson 4 – Using Dagger Strokes

The dagger or rat tail stroke is a very important technique to master in helping you reach your goal of controlling your airbrush so paint goes where you want, when you want and with the desired affect. Written by Don Johnson.

Here are all 5 Airbrush Basic Lessons

How to Practice Dagger Stroke

You’ll find the dagger stroke to be a very useful skill, rendering hair for example or in lettering or the palm tree we are going to airbrush below.

The dagger stroke goes from wide to a very thin point. At the widest part of this stroke you want to have your airbrush back away from the surface and as you travel down the paper, move your airbrush closer while reducing the amount of color you are applying.

This is done with your whole arm and upper body not just your wrist, keep your wrist locked. Dagger strokes should look like the 4 on the right below and not like those on the left. Once you have mastered the dagger stroke in a down ward motion practice them going right to left and than left to right.

How to Create Palm Tree using Dagger Strokes

In this airbrush lesson, we are going to render a palm tree using the dagger strokes you have been practicing.

You will need:

  • pad of news print,
  • double action airbrush,
  • compressor and
  • color of your choice (black is what I use here).

To start we will render the two palm trees. In the middle of your paper put a dagger stroke going from fat on the bottom to thin at the top. Make the stroke 4 or 5 inches long.

Now to the left of the first dagger stroke let’s put another one. These will serve as our palm tree trunks.

Now at the top of each of those dagger strokes add small dagger stokes going both right and left of the palm tree trunk.

At this point your painting should look similar to mine above with the small dagger strokes at the top of the palm tree.

Now at the bottom of the palm tree put a dagger stroke going from fat at the base of the tree to thin away from the tree. This will serve as our ground or top of our Island.

Now do the same going to the left.

Pictured above we will add small dagger strokes going from fat at ground level to thin in the sky. These of course will serve as our grass on the island.

You might want to add a few mounds of grass else where on your island as I’m doing above.

Now we can add our water line where the waves will be breaking on the beach.

With the water line in place we can now add some waves by using big fuzzy lines going across the page.

Above add a shadow for your trees going down the island and out into the water.

To render a sun or moon which ever you prefer to call yours we will use the top from a can of spray paint.

Hold the can top in between the two palm tress add a little color all the way around the can top.

Pull the can top off and your painting should now look like mine above or better.

Now within your sun or moon using small dagger strokes add some birds. Start at the center fat and go out thin on the right side. Come back to the middle and do the same now going left. Add a little curve to the birds wings makes it look more like a bird in the distance.

And there you have it your first completed painting in less than 5 minutes. Please continue to play around with this lesson adding different colors more trees maybe even a boat. I hope you enjoyed this. It’s accomplishing simple little paintings like this that will give you the confidence to move on and try more complicated paintings.

Here is a video of this lesson