Airbrushing Chrome Letters - Airbrush Guru

Airbrushing Chrome Letters

Airbrushing chrome letters tutorial will introduce you to airbrushing a chrome look, as the airbrush techniques used on this letter can be used on any object. Written by Don Johnson airbrush artist.

Pictured below is the ‘chrome font A’ we will be trying to render. I have to warn you I don’t believe the original A font was done with an airbrush so just getting as close as you can is the object of this lesson. You can make it easier on yourself by taking the original and using a photo copy machine to blow the image up to a larger size. For this how to I used the size as it appears below

Airbrush Supplies, equipment used:

  • Gravity feed airbrush,
  • illustration board,
  • erasers ( Pink Pearl 400 and Faber-Castell Perfection 7058 B are the ones I use all the time),
  • Com-Art Art Transparent Smoke and Coblot Blue paints. You can use use black and whatever light color blue you have on hand as long as it’s illustration type paint (Com Art, Dr Ph Martins, Golden Airbrush colors).
  • One sheet of Frisk Film and X-acto knife,
  • business card or some other object to use as a straight edge

Because doing this type of painting requires very low PSI you will find it much easier to accomplish with gravity feed airbrush such as an Iwata HP-B, Badger 100, Micron, etc.

This entire painting should take about three or four DROPS (from an eye dropper) of paint.

You will notice in my supply list there is no white paint listed, we are going to use the white of the illustration board and will not be adding white to this painting.

Design transfer

To start this painting we need to transfer the out line of our image onto our painting surface, the illustration board. I used the Graphite transfer technique which is simply placing a piece of tracing paper over the original image (the A) and tracking the image. With the entire out line traced now flip the tracing paper over and trace it onto the back side of the tracing paper. Now place your tracing paper original side up onto your painting surface and secure in place with tape, now once again trace the A.

Once you pull the tracing paper up you should see a faint out line of the A on the illustration board. Cover you’re A with the Frisk film and carefully using your X -acto knife cut the design out, pull the A out away from the rest of the frisk film and you are now ready for paint.

Pictured above: Top is my tracing paper out line, in the middle is the original A from which I traced the A onto the tracing paper, bottom is the A transferred onto the illustration board and frisk applied with the A cut out and pulled out away from the rest of the Frisk film.

Always keep your reference very close at hand and check it often; paint what you see, not what you think you remember about the image.

Cut design out of frisket

The A pulled out away from the rest of the frisk film, we are now ready for paint.

Start airbrushing the design

Now as we begin the painting process please keep in mind this whole painting is only going to require 3 or 4 drops of paint, this is key to accomplishing this painting.

Using your straight edge we’ll add the darkest shadows first as pictured above. Even though we are placing the darkest shadow areas first I still want you to keep them very faint, a very thin layer of color. It is always easier to darken an area, almost impossible to lighten an area so I rather you use to little paint than to much here. Keeping the paint thin is a must, doing so will enable you to erase and use your X-acto knife later on in this how to.

Airbrushing shadow area’s

Going back to your reference often use your eraser and X-acto knife in those shadow areas we just applied to bring highlighted areas back out in your painting. In some areas this will require simply easing some color, in other areas it might require using the X-acto to carefully scrape away color.

Next we will add the darker lines which help give our A shape. If your lines turn out too wide, no worries just take your X-acto knife and scrape some of the line away until it’s a nice thin line as in the reference A. You will notice these lines help trick the eye into believing the A is 3D letter more than just a flat A on paper, take the time to place these correctly.

Using tracing paper

To create the dark area in the wide part of our A, we go back to the original A with a small piece if tracing paper, secure it in place with tape. Now as I did above trace that darker area onto your tracing paper , including the out side outline which will be used to line this piece of tracing paper up on your painting in the next step.Airbrushing shadow area

With your X-acto knife cut that area out, line it up on your painting and secure in place with tape. We will be using this as a flying mask as Patrick refers to these or a free hand mask. Now as you paint this area be sure to keep your airbrush square to the mask, this helps cut down under spray (paint getting under the mask in areas you don’t want paint). Refer back to the original A often while working on this area to get the shading correct.

Shadow area of design

At this point your painting should look something like the one pictured above.

Airbrushing blue

Lastly we’ll add our light blue, again doing so slowly, bring the color on slowly. Use your straight edge along the top and then go back with your easer to bring high lighted areas back out.

Bring out highlights

Go back now with your easer and X-acto knife to bring out high lights in other areas of the A and our painting is complete. Pull all the Frisk film and you are done.

Comparing the two designs

Picture above is our original A and my A, you can see I used a little too much blue but this could easily be eased to lighten that area up a little.

Completed design

Pictured above is a bigger version of my A. Amazing what can be done with just three or four drops of paint isn’t it? I hope you have fun with this painting and hope to see you posting your finished painting on the forum.

This same technique can be and is used by some of the best custom painters out there so don’t think this technique is limited to illustration board.