How to Paint Ghost Skulls With an Airbrush

Written by rod kuster
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How to Paint Ghost Skulls With an Airbrush
An airbrush allows you to add countless shades of grey to create realistic depth. (Keith Brofsky/Photodisc/Getty Images)

An airbrush is a powerful painting tool that can allow you to paint the creepiest creatures and make them look real. Skulls can be made to look quite ghostly, even scary, using a simple technique. Painting ghost skulls in many shades is ideal for an airbrush. Careful use of the airbrush to create shading is the key to creating the depth. Depth creates realism. The more depth your painting has, the more realistic it appears. When painting skulls, realism equals creepiness, which in turn equals mission accomplished.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Stencil sheets (plastic)
  • Scalpel
  • Tape
  • Reference image
  • Black and white paint
  • Airbrush

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  1. 1

    Find a good reference image of a skull. Select several and choose the one you think will work best for your drawing. Use one that is the correct size for your painting. Place the sheet over the image and trace out all the black areas on the skull with a marker. Include the eye sockets, nose area and dark areas of the mouth, if it is open. Create an accurate outline around the outside of the skull as well.

  2. 2

    Place another sheet in the same position over the image to outline all the white and off-white areas of the skull, such as any white bone surface areas around the eyes, nose, jaw and each individual tooth. It is important so draw the teeth carefully. Make sure your lines are contained and don't overlap. In other words, draw them so you can easily cut them out later.

  3. 3

    Cut out the two stencils with a scalpel. Make accurate cuts along the lines you have drawn. Spend most of your time cutting out the teeth. The better they look, the better the stencil will work. Use smooth lines because a rough cut will show on the painting when you use the airbrush.

  4. 4

    Place the first sheet for all the black areas on your painting surface, such as a canvas, and secure it with tape. Load the airbrush with black paint and spray it on the stencil. Hold the stencil down to avoid paint from getting under the stencil as you work. Use just enough paint to blacken the areas in the stencil.

  5. 5

    Replace the stencil with the second stencil for the white paint, and make sure to place it exactly in the right spot. Move the stencil until it matches up with the black portions. Use the eye sockets to guide you. Spray white paint on the stencil to fill all the light areas of the skull. Make sure the white paint has come through the stencil when you lift it off. Clean the stencils before reusing them to make corrections.

  6. 6

    Remove the stencils and examine the skull. Look for areas that can be improved and paint detail using the airbrush. Place the white paint stencil back on and use black or grey to darken the outside of the skull. Shade the teeth and the jaw. Use the reference image for shading ideas if you get confused. Remove the stencil and examine the results.

  7. 7

    Keep shading and detailing to the skull, such as making crack lines in the skull, and blackening the spaces between the teeth. Use the white paint stencil again to redefine the teeth as needed to finish painting the skull.

Tips and warnings

  • Add another feature by blacking out some teeth.

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