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Start Airbrushing – part 9


Part 9: Airbrushing T-Shirts

At this point you may feel confident with the mechanics of airbrushing, but you’re not sure how to go about doing T-shirts.

Materials List:


Piston-operated compressor (1/2HP)

Braided hose

Medea Professional Textile Colours (Sample Kit)

Medea Airbrush Holder

Medea Fabric Stencils

T-shirt boards

100% cotton T-shirts


Medea Airbrush Holder

Medea Airbrush Cleaner

Assortment of paint jars

Stencil knife

Acetate, 5mil

—To begin, go to a local fabric store and purchase a few yards of white 100% cotton or Pilon. Practice on this instead of the more expensive T-shirts. You must practice on actual fabric, since it has a different feel from paper.

—Practice the “dagger stroke” on fabric. This is a stroke that goes from a wide line to a fine line in a short space and is that used most often by T-shirt artists.

—It’s important to master airbrushing an alphabet. All your customers will want a name airbrushed on their T-shirts. The most popular lettering styles are script, which is simply a controlled handwriting; block or bubble are solid letters with a bulbous appearance; and punk or graffiti is a straight, stick-type lettering. Remember to keep your letters consistent.

—As you will see after spraying your alphabet, free-hand airbrushing results in a soft look. To achieve a hard edge, you must use a stencil. Cut a stencil out of 5 mil acetate and airbrush through it; see how the spray captures the edge. Most airbrush work is a combination of free-hand airbrushing and stencil airbrushing.

—Work with a limited palette of colors. This should consist of red, yellow, blue, purple, aqua, brown, medium gray, black, white and hot pink.

Tips for Airbrushing T-Shirts

—Work on 100% cotton T-shirts, which do not require prewashing.

—You will need T-shirt boards to stretch the shirts over so the fabric is taut with no folds or dimples. These can be made from quarter-inch tempered masonite or foam board.

—A sturdy easel is required?one that will hold your airbrush and paint jars in a tray about 32″ off the floor

—A multiple airbrush system will simplify your operation. Many T-shirt airbrushers work with one airbrush per color for ease of operation. All the airbrush hoses are hooked up to one compressor. Since you can use only one airbrush at a time, this system will not overload your compressor. A multi-hose adapter?the Medea Multiple Valve Assemblies?will be required to hook the hoses to the compressor, one hook-up per hose.

—Use a 1/2HP piston compressor that will deliver 65psi (pounds per square inch), the suggested working pressure for T-shirt painting. Be sure the compressor you choose can run ample time without overheating.

—Work with pre-reduced airbrush textile paints?Medea Professional Textile Colours.

—Wear a protective mask while spraying and have a ventilation fan if you work inside.

—Heat-set your painted T-shirts to insure their permanency and washability. (See Part 3 or Medea paint label.) Do not iron directly on the painted surface; iron on the reverse side of the T-shirt or cover the painted area with butcher paper and then iron on the paper.

—Assemble an attractive display of samples.

In conclusion, airbrushing T-shirts can be lucrative and has been a great summer job for many aspiring artists. Pricing is determined by the complexity of design and the competition. Don’t limit yourself, however, to painting only T-shirts; baseball caps, license plate tags and children’s clothing are also popular airbrushed items.

Click to go to Part 10.

Reprinted with permission of ARTtalk.com


Why are there no prices on your website?

Iwata Medea is the wholesale distributor of Iwata, Medea and Artool products in North and South America, and the UK, and does not sell directly to customers at this time. To purchase Iwata Medea or Artool products, please check our dealer pages for a reseller near you. Or call our customer service team at 503-253-7308 ext. 2000, and we’ll help you find a local reseller.