October 21st, 2013
When the airbrush landed on Planet Make-up it was heralded as a revolution in application. While it’s worth bearing in mind that an airbrush is just a tool, a very clever one, but a tool none the less, there’s no getting over that the devil is very much in the detail.
You put the most expensive Mercedes-Benz of an airbrush in the hands of a novice and the results would no doubt be disappointing. Conversely hand a World Champion body artist the most basic of student kits and they’d probably paint a masterpiece.
No-one can argue that airbrushing as a technique has made an incredible difference to how some make-up artists work. The fine finish coupled with the advent of HD and the sheer speed of the application in the hands of an expert has revolutionised film and TV make-up as well as editorial and bridal work.
Laura Glass, Marketing Director at market-leading airbrush manufacturer Iwata, explains the rise in popularity, “As MUA’s become more familiar with airbrush as a tool, and their use of them has grown. A one-size-fits-all airbrush approach has given way to MUA’s expanding their kits with multiple airbrush models that suit specific types of work and environments. In kind, Iwata is expanding its wide variety of airbrushes and compressors to include models with quality that lasts and MUA’s specific needs in mind.
The uncompromising clarity of HD has changed make-up as we know it. Traditional cream and liquid foundations can look heavy and obvious under HD, while hiding tiny flaws and brush strokes became more difficult. MUA are able to achieve a more natural-looking, HD-ready finish by implementing airbrushes into their practices. Over the last few years the fastest growing segments have been in beauty and bridal because of the impeccable finish that a good quality airbrush can deliver.”
While airbrushing is by no means a new kid on the block, as Lloyd Naake from Brit-based company Airbase explains, HD catapulted the technique into the mainstream, “Airbrushing was actually around prior to HD TV and film, yet it is this that has really pushed the growth of the technique. It first came to prominence in the 1990s when Jennifer Anniston had airbrush make-up for her wedding with Brad Pitt, which whet the appetite of the consumer for airbrushing. Technology in airbrushing since the advent of HD film hasn’t really changed. The problem of none perfect make-up showing up on HD film had been solved before HD film arrived. One major change over the past 10 years is that small compressors have been introduced to the market, meaning that airbrushing is now easier for make-up artists to carry out on the move. This has opened it up to brides on their wedding day.
The science behind airbrushing is that the particles of make-up are atomised as they pass through an airbrush. Therefore when they come out of the airbrush they are miniscule in size and invisible to the naked eye. With a silicone-based product you get excellent coverage of skin complaints with just a light application meaning that the finish looks smooth and natural. The product sits on the skin, not penetrating the pores, and allows the skin to breathe.”
So how do you decide which machine, and why.
Firstly is fairly safe to say you need to learn how to use an airbrush. The most talented will find that at the very least, practice makes perfect. All of the major manufacturers offer short and specialist courses to learn to use their machines as well as how to maintain them, key to the longevity of the equipment. Specialist make-up schools and colleges will also run airbrushing as part of the curriculum. So whether you’re a student starting out or a seasoned pro, there’ll be a course for you.
Airbase offers two courses starting with an Introductory Course in the art of Airbrush Make-Up, a one day course is suitable for both complete beginners and seasoned make-up artists who want to learn airbrush make-up. Run throughout the UK from Aberdeen to Cornwall, they are priced from £50. For those that want further tuition, the Masterclass Airbrushing Course goes into more depth on blending colours, corrective techniques and tattoo coverage.
Iwata-Medea has partnered with MAC Cosmetics, to offer beginner and advanced Airbrush Workshops with a focus on Iwata-specific technical training, concept and design through MAC PRO Programs. They also partner with many cosmetic companies, artists, and schools to offer airbrush training.
Dinair offers a two day programme covering every aspect of what you could possibly use your airbrush for including contouring, tattoo coverage, spray on jewellery, camouflage and paramedical as well the more traditional airbrush uses.
Kett Cosmetics has workshops for both beginners and pros as well as tattoo camouflage and SFX.
Charles Fox’s two day airbrushing course runs at their Covent Garden location for £280.
Once trained, MUAs are then presented with a plethora of different machines, with different abilities at wildly varying prices. The Airbrush Guru, an info site packed full of airbrush tips from Adam Rice, who began his understanding of airbrushing as part of Iwata’s technical support team, is worth visiting. Airbrushes come with different feeds, mixes and actions and Adam’s site will be able to explain the nuances of each, but safe to say if you are looking for your very first airbrush he recommends you “choose a gravity feed, dual action, internal mix airbrush from a name brand manufacturer.”
So whether you’re looking for a student start up or the latest in high tech technology, here are some of Warpaint’s recommendations.
Iwata Revolution BR & CR delivers the ultra-fine atomisation needed for beauty & bridal make-up at a value price of £115.
Iwata Hi-Line CH gives Micro Air Technology right at the nozzle which allows MUA’s to work at extremely low air pressures. Great for working around eyes and doing fine detailing.
Iwata Eclipse CS is versatile in its ability to spray a pattern of fine to large and its ability to handle pre-mixed and heavier products. With a drop-in nozzle that is easy to clean, Eclipse is generally regarded by MUA as the workhorse of airbrushes.
Iwata Kustom TH is a SFX and body artist’s dream with its unique characteristics. Academy Award Winning MUA Barney Burman loves this airbrush, “It’s a very versatile airbrush. It allows me to dial in and out the pressure on the brush. It can also go from a fine mist to a spatter texture”.
Airbase Compressor and Airbrush is designed for the application of Airbase silicone based make-up. Using a dual action airbrush for greater control, this is a bit like having a manual car instead of an automatic and enables the user to easily adjust the pressure sprayed with the airbrush trigger. The compressor is light weight weighing less than a bag of sugar. At 10cm square it fits easily into any case, is easy to carry and also has an option of a battery pack making it usable on sites where power isn’t available. It is also quiet when in use.
Kett sells both starter and pro kits, the difference being the amount of make-up included The Kett Pro Airbrush Make up Kit was designed with the experienced airbrush artist in mind as the price reflects.
Temptu began life creating tattoos for the film industry and is one of the leading airbrush manufacturers. Its machines are affordable and range from starter to deluxe, complexion to bridal.
Many of the leading manufacturers have also developed silicone based make-up for their machines.
Airbase has a range of seven foundation shades, two blush shades and a bronzer, all of which can be mixed together to get any shade from light Caucasian to black skin tones. Packed full of vitamins A and E, Airbase is more than just a make-up. The Foundations are simply numbered 0-6 for ease at professional level with 0 being the lightest and ideal for a light English skin, while 6 is the darkest. Mix and match these shades to devise your perfect match for example, when 5 and 1 are mixed together they are perfect for an Asian skin. Foundations 00 and 01 are recommended as mixing colours only. If you’re working with light/fair skin and wish to use the product directly out of the bottle, Foundation 02 is the most suitable shade due to Airbase’s sheer finish.
Temptu’s AIRPod foundations and blushes deliver a seamlessly blended and absolutely luminous complexion. Formulated with colour-correcting pigments to diffuse the look of imperfections and are transfer- and sweat-resistant, designed to last all day delivering a flawless finish to the face and body. SILKsphere technology provides maximum coverage with a feather-light feel and its oil-free, non-comedogenic, and hypoallergenic formula means it’s great for all skin types.
Kett offer high quality paints: foundations, blushes, shimmers, metals and FX to name but a few. Their Hydro Foundation is a waterbased, odourless, flawlessly blendable foundation that can be applied with an airbrush, fingertips, sponge or brush and is available in Olive Tone (H-O) and Ruby Tone (H-R).
Other useful accessories for budding and seasoned airbrushers include stencils. Iwata recommends Zazzo Makeup Templates design by Emmy Award winner Bradley M. Look, these templates help MUA’s create consistency and continuity throughout a design, and over extended days of shooting or filming.