Airbrushing Picture Frames - Part 2

Read Part 1


Here is a way to turn an ordinary picture frame into one that resembles a piece of finely chiseled granite. Materials you’ll need: base coat color (a light shade of gray mixed with just a touch of brown, red or green), two or three top coat colors (they should be complementary to your base coat – I always include white as one of my top coat colors), a fine or medium brush for touch-ups, paper towels and clear coat (varnish, lacquer, or clear acrylic).

granite look

Step 1:

Outline the area that you wish to paint and suuround it with a barrier of masking tape. Then fill your color cup with your base coat color and regulate your compressor’s pressure to 50 psi. If you have a compressor wihtout a regulator that operates at 40 psi, that’s all right - you just might need a drop more than thinner.

Step 2:

Begin spraying, covering the entire area. Let dry and the recoat.

Step 3:

Change to one of the top coat colors. Turn down your compressor’s pressure to the point where the color just exits the airbrush in little specks. When you’have got this under control, spray a light, even layer oer the base coat. When it dries, spray another coat on, but this time unevenly. Repeat this procedure with one or more top coat colors. Don’t forget a few specks of white!

Step 4:

To finish, spray a glossy or matte clear coat for protection.



marble look

This method creates the illusion of richly carved marble on a frame’s molding. Materials you’ll need: a base coat color similar to the one described for the granite look; black, white, brown, green, and red paint; a rag or paper towel; a feather or fan brush; a few torn pieces of paper; a fine or medium brush for touch-ups; a small amount of talcum powder or comstarch; and a glossy clear coat.

Steps 1 and 2 are same as for the granite look.

Step 3:

Mix some white with one of the colors (just enough to cut down on its intensity), and fill your color cup with it. Grasp a torn sheet of paper in your other hand and lay its edge anywhere on the base-coated molding.

Step 4:

Lightly spray from the edge of the paper out. Ease your figure up on the airbrush lever until eventually the paint stops coming out, allowing the color to fade away gradually. Repeat this in other randomly chosen areas along the molding. Continue by changing color and applying it in the same manner. To prevent an unnatural look, swap your original torn paper for another piece that has a different edge.

Step 5:

With a dry feather or a fan brush, very lightly drag some white paint across the molding. Do this in just a few places. This will create the look of the “veins” that so often appear in the marble. You might also use your fine brush to apply smaller veins of either red or green. Don’t get carried away with this step, though!

Step 6:

This step is optional. Take a rag or towel and randomly smear or rub a tiny amount of color onto the frame. This is yet another way of giving the marble effect a “natural” look. Again, don’t forget to spray a few specks of white onto your “marble”.

Step 7:

Use a glossy clear coat. When the clear coat is dry, finger-rub some comstarch or talcum powder onto it and then blow off whatever doesn’t adhere.


modern art look

Here’s your chance to turn your frame into a real conversation piece! By simply using common objects, you can create endless combinations of the most interesting patterns. The only rule to follow is that you restrict your color to a group of complements tones. For example, purple is a lively, upbeat color. Yet the one color that really turns purple on is yellow. Why? Yellow is purple’s complement. It is opposite purple on the color wheel. You remember the color wheel – the circle that you were shown in art class that had all of the colors of rainbow on it. Well, It works!

Colors that lie adjacent to the complements will also go with parent colors. Adding a little white as a tint not only multiplies the range of the color, but its brightness also keeps everything upbeat. Colors work well when placed near other colors that reflect the same qualities.

Using bright, cheery combinations and interesting, unusual patterns will guarantee a smile form the person who receives your frame. Or you may opt for utter simplicity. When decorating a frame, it might take just one or two simple sweeps of airbrushed colors to accomplish your goal. For this project, spontaneity is paramount to success!

Materials you’ll need:

complementary and adjacent secondary colors, paper towels, clear coat, fine and medium brushes, and found objects or anything that you can spray on or through that you will create an interesting pattern. Base coat colors are optional here – remember, this technique calls for spontaneity!

Steps 1 and 2:

are again the same as before

Step 3:

place your first mask over a selected section of molding. Spray light the first time and observe the result. From here you can decide how much paint you’ll want and which color would look best next. Experiment by shifting your mask around. You might even try lowering the pressure to see how speckles look compared to a uniform spray.

Step 4:

continue with other colors and stencils until you feel that your combination has reached a satisfying point. Don’t let your design turn into a mess!

Step 5:

After all of the paint has dried, examine your results carefully. It’s here that you will have an opportunity to learn from your “deliberate accidents.” Also, there might be some spots that will require touch-ups. These can be done easily with either your brushes or a quick repeat of your stencil.

Step 6:

Cover with your choice of a matte or glossy clear coat.


expanded picture

This project is one of the most interesting. It will require you to re-create or match some or all of the colors among the outer edge of your picture and continue them onto the frame. In some cases, it might also require that you continue the image or shape of what is also along the outer edge of your picture.

In other words, you will create the illusion that the picture is flowing out onto your mat and frame. Materials that you’ll need: assorted colors that match or complement the art, fine and medium brushes, paper towels, pencil, masking tape or other stencil material and clear-coat.

Step 1:

Starting at any point along the outside edge of your artwork, draw guidelines that appear to continue the elements of the design. As you draw these guidelines, pause briefly and examine the work from a slight distance. You’ll probably notice that the extensions of your picture are creating a design all their own. Keep this in mind as you go along to help you decide at which point you wish to start filling it in with color. Remember, its necessary to fill up the whole mat or frame with color. A few key picture elements wandering across the mat or frame might be enough. Step 2: Mask off the areas you’ll be painting with masking tape (for frames) or acetate and paper (for mats),and begin filling with color. Do this until all areas drawn are filled. Step 3: When the paint is dry, erase stray pencil marks, and then complete your touch-ups with your fine brushes. Let this dry overnight before any further handling.


  1. Airbrushing Picture Frames By Lowell Shaw - Airbrush Action Magazine - June 4, 2014

    […] Continue on Part 2 […]

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