From Academic Kids

The airbrush is a small, highly precise spray gun for applying paint. It was invented in 1879 by Abner Peeler, in Iowa, USA. This first airbrush used a hand-operated compressor, and the inventor patented it "for the painting of watercolors and other artistic purposes". However this first device was rather crude and it took a number of years of further development before a practical device was developed, which was marketed by Liberty Walkup. The first modern type airbrush came along in 1893, presented by Thayer and Chandler art materials company at the World Columbian Exposition in Chicago, invented by Charles Burdick. This device looked like a pen and worked in a different manner to Peeler's device, being essentially the same as a modern airbrush. The most modern airbrushes today are ironically manufactured in Japan, one of the most popular brands is Iwata.

An airbrush works by passing a stream of fast moving air through a venturi, which creates a local reduction in pressure (suction) that allows paint to be pushed up from a reservoir at normal atmospheric pressure. The paint is mixed with the air and blown through a very fine nozzle, which atomises it into tiny droplets. The paint is carried onto the paper or other medium. The operator controls the amount of paint using a variable trigger which opens more or less of the nozzle using a very fine tapered needle. This extremely fine degree of control is what allows an artist to create such smooth blending effects using the device.

The technique allows for the meshing of two or more colors in a seamless way, with one color slowly becoming another color. The images have a floating quality, with undefined edges between colors, and between foreground and background colors.

Airbrushing for photo retouching

Airbrushing has long been used to alter photographs in the pre-digital era. In skilled hands it can be used to help hide signs that an image has been extensively retouched or "doctored". Many photographs of officials from the Stalinist regime show extensive airbrushing, often entire people have been removed. The term "airbrushed out" has come to mean rewriting history to pretend that something was never there.

Using today's digital imgaging technology, this kind of picture editing is now usually done with a bitmap graphics editor, which is capable of even more subtle work in the hands of a skilled touch-up artist.

Spray guns

The airbrush led to the development of the spray gun, a larger, more industrial type of paint applicator used for larger areas. Airbrushing itself started being used on cars in the 1940s to make hot rods, specialty cars and then spread to the general car repainting industry.

See also:

Many street artists use airbrushing to create names and pictures for tourists, such as around Jackson Square in New ja:エアブラシ pl:Aerograf sl:Airbrush


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