You might have been forgiven for thinking that the good old airbrush had been pensioned off by advances in computing, but there are adherents just as there are those who promote the advantages of photographing on film. It’s all true, but both those techniques are now much more the field of the specialist than the occasional practitioner or, perhaps even, the amateur. Airbrushing, of course, was always a niche field.
So, is this a book that’s missed its moment? Well, the chief users of the airbrush were graphic designers and they’re more interested in the result than the method. If they still use an airbrush, it’s a strong statement and done to achieve a particular effect. In the field of fine art, the tool was both the medium and the message, of course, and that remains valid.
So, having established that this is more about a vintage classic than a family runabout or a supercar, is the book any good, I hear you ask? Well, it’s only 112 pages and that’s not much for something as tricky as this but, at the same time, not so much as to put you off. Do I think you could master this tool in five chapters and not many more lessons? No, but then again, some of the other books I’ve seen would put you off on page one. They can get very technical very quickly.
The big problem for newcomers to airbrushing is illustrated (in full colour) on page 10. There’s a lot of it and it takes no prisoners. A decent compressor is essential if you’re going to avoid spatters or running out of puff and they ain’t cheap. The author, probably rightly, doesn’t mention the canned option.
There’s some amazing stuff here, but the instruction can be a trifle breathless. It’s all a bit like one of those annoying people* who say, “you open this page, drop down the menu, click here … it’s simple” at great speed when showing you how to use a computer. The problem is, for me, summed up in this caption: “Daniela acted as my model. I painted her to look like a traditional harlequin and photographed her posing as a tightrope walker.” Hang on, you did what? Not many of us can do that, or have access to a model so accommodating. Said Daniela doesn’t even look slightly miffed.
I apologise, I’m having a bit of fun here, but the truth is that this is a book you really need to have a look at. If you like the results and, more importantly, you think, yes, I could give that a go, it may well be the book for you. It’s certainly one of the most accessible guides to airbrushing that I’ve seen. The thing is, though, there’s no way of getting round the page 10 conundrum. The book may be not much more than a tenner, but you can easily add another ton for equipment and you could drop a monkey just to end up feeling like one.
* ie, me.
Click the picture to view on Amazon