This airbrushing tutorial will help you use a skull stencil to airbrush a simple skull design. With these templates, you can airbrush a skull on just about any surface. The goal is to make the skull look like it wasn’t done using a stencil. To do this, don’t set too many hard lines and slowly build your color and shape. Written by airbrush artist Don Johnson.
This flaming skull stencil is 5 3/4 inches by 3 3/4 inches. It is marketed for body art, but you can use it on other surfaces such as helmets, bikes, and T-shirts. Its use is limited only by your imagination.
You can change the design of this picture however you want. You can add more flames, or change the eyes. You can also choose a different background. The possibilities are endless! And you don’t need any drawing skills to do it.
Pictured above: the Flaming Skull stencil. It is made of a durable plastic that will last for years. You will find that many of the stencils marketed for airbrushing today are made of very thin material and do not last very long. This stencil, however, is different. It is a quality product that you can use for many years.
If you are using a stencil like this, you will want to create a frame around it with masking tape. This will help control over-spray and make the job easier. Make sure to double the tape over after attaching it to the stencil so that no glue is exposed and causes problems.
To keep over spray from ruining the look of your painting, you should place the masking tape frame just off the surface of your painting.
If you tape the stencil in place on all four sides, it will usually just make the border bigger. But if you do this, you might get paint on the surface that you don’t want it on. So instead, leave the tape lifted just off the surface.
Adding color to bring our stencil design to life
Now you can position the stencil where it needs to be on your painting surface. You can do this by using small pieces of tape to 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.
I am using an Iwata HP-CS airbrush and Golden Airbrush Colors water based paint to do this project. I am spraying at around 12 PSI.
The first color I will airbrush is yellow into the flames. When using a stencil like this, use the least amount of air pressure necessary to give you good paint atomization. Spraying from either the right or left side will usually lift the stencil and cause paint to get under the stencil cut out. So be sure to spray straight at the stencil; by straight I mean square at the stencil, not angled to either the right or left side.
I will use red to color the flames. I will put most of the red near the bottom of the flames, and it will fade up into yellow to create orange.
At this point, you can add some color to the eyes and teeth if you like. You can also use black to outline the skull, nose, and eyes. Be careful not to use too much black because it might make the eyes look too dark.
I secured the stencil to my surface. I did this by attaching it just at the top. This way, it would be easy to realign it if needed. If you flip the stencil up, you can see that we have started on the design. We did not need to use any drawing skills.
Now you just need to finish the design with freehand airbrushing. Remember to keep your airbrush pointed into the design so that the paint stays within the boundaries of the design. That’s a long way of telling you to control your over spray.
You can personalize your skull design by adding whatever you like. To make it easier, use a gravity feed airbrush like the Iwata HP-CS, HP-B, HP-C or Sata 3 airbrushes with a low air pressure setting. This will make it easier to do free hand airbrush on hard surfaces.
I made my design quick and simple. I added shading with black, a few cracks in the skull, and some smoke coming out each side. The smoke drifted off toward the top.
This is my finished piece. It’s not fancy, but it’s easy to do and you can make it unique by dressing it up in different ways.