This airbrushing tutorial covers using a skull stencil to airbrush a simple skull design. Using these templates, just about anyone can airbrush a skull on just about any surface. The idea is to have your skull end up looking as though it was not done using a stencil, so don’t set too many hard lines, build your color and shape up slowly. Written by airbrush artist Don Johnson.
This flaming skull stencil measures 5 ¾ by 3 ¾ inches and is actually marketed for body art use but can be used on any number of other surfaces such as helmets, bikes, t -shirts, models etc.; its use is only limited by your imagination.
In this example which took me about 2 minutes at the most, I pretty much stayed with the basic design as out lined by the stencil but do not let this stop you from making your own changes to the design. Add more flames, change the eyes, add a cool back ground the possibilities are endless and best of all NO drawing skills are required on your part.
Pictured above: is the Flaming Skull stencil; laser cut and made of a plastic like material, durable enough to last for years. As you will find out many of the stencils marketed for airbrushing today are made of very thin material and do not last very long, not so with this stencil, these are quality stencils which you will get years of use out of.
Secure Skull Stencil – To help control over-spray while using a stencil of this type, you will want to form a frame around the stencil using masking tape. Doubling the tape over after you attach it to the stencil will ensure no glue backing is exposed to cause problems.
You want the masking tape frame to be just off your painting surface to deflect over spray from the surrounding surface as you airbrush.
Taping the stencil in place on all four sides will in most cases just expands the border and you will get noticeable over spray on your surface; leave the tape lifted just off the surface to avoid this.
Adding color to bring our stencil design to life
You can at this point position the stencil where need be on your painting surface and using several small pieces of tape secure it in place. In this example the surface being airbrushed is just news print. If it was metal, you could use small magnets to hold the stencil in place.
The first color I will airbrush is yellow into the flames; when using a stencil like this use the least amount of air pressure as necessary to give you good paint atomization and spray square into the stencil. Spraying from either the right or left side will in most cases lift the stencil and cause paint to get under the stencil cut out. So be sure to spray square at the stencil; by square I mean straight at the stencil not angled to either the right or left side.
My next color will be red which I will spray selectively into the flame licks concentrating or directing most of the red towards the bottom of the flames letting it fade up into the yellow producing an orange color.
At this point you can add some color to the eyes and teeth if you like also. Moving onto the skull, black will be the next color airbrush but in just a small amount so it actually produces a gray on the surface. I out line the skull, nose and eyes with a light shade of gray produced by the black I’m spraying very lightly. I think it will make the eyes more interesting if we do not fill them in completely with black so leave yourself some of the surface color in the eyes.
When I secured the stencil to my surface, I did so just at the top so it became hinged onto my painting surface which would make realigning it easy if I had to. Flipping my stencil up you can see we have a pretty good start on the design; never once where we called upon to use any drawing skills.
Now it just a matter of free hand airbrushing to finish up the design; remember to keep your airbrush pointed into the design to help contain the paint within the design. That’s a long winded way of telling you to control your over spray.
At this point you can really make the design your own by adding to the skull whatever you like. You will find free hand airbrush much easier on hard surfaces if you use a gravity feed airbrush like the Iwata HP-CS, HP-B, HP-C or Sata 3 airbrushes and fairly low air pressure setting.
I kept my design quick and simple, just adding some shading using black, a few cracks in the skull and wisps of smoke coming out each side drifting off toward the top.
Here you have my finished piece nothing fancy but as you can see its child’s play to accomplish and can be dressed up any number of ways to make the design unique and truly yours.
Airbrushing Skull Using Two Part Skull Stencil