This lesson explains how to airbrush chrome letters like the ones shown above.
For this project you will need the following:
- your airbrush equipment
- burnt sienna (orangey-brown) and blue TRANSPARENT paints
- white OPAQUE paint
- exacto knife
- a surface to paint on
Scroll down when you are ready to start!
To start, you’ll need to find some letters… I traced these letters from a MS word document I made. Trace the letters with marker onto a sheet of frisket and place the frisket on your painting surface.
Next use the exacto knife to lightly cut around the letters so that the interior of each letter is exposed. Be sure to leave all the middle bits – like in “o’s”, “R’s”, etc.
The piece of frisket I used was pretty small and it left a whole bunch of my painting surface exposed around the edges of the frisket…. so…. to be safe I taped paper all the way around the frisket to protect it from overspray.
Alright… now to the painting!
Before I start to airbrush chrome letters…. we need to clear up some language issues. Chrome is simply a mirrored surface, and, because it is curved in places it tends to distort the mirrored image like a fun house mirror. For this chrome, all we are painting is a distorted horizon, with land and sky.
So here all we are going to do is paint the horizon line. The line was painted with burnt sienna and is fairly dark.
Now, with the same color paint, paint the land below the horizon line letting it fade to white at the bottom of the letters. I tend to like to like to keep my “land” centered in the middle of the letters (that is, I leave a little white space at the edge of the letters). It looks just as good if you go all the way across too though.
Clean the brown color out of your brush and load up with blue… this is your sky. Apply the blue paint fairly dark at the top of the letters and let it fade to white before you hit the horizon line.
Here I decided that the horizon line wasn’t dark enough – so I darkened the brown color with a touch of black and darkened it up a bit…
Now remove all the frisket – remember the middles of the “o” and “R” … looks pretty cool, huh?
I think it looks best outline in black …. real chrome wouldn’t necessarily have this – but I think it makes it POP. Also… I am WAY too lazy to do this with my airbrush so I just used a felt tip pen. Feel free to do it either way…
Lastly, you want to use some opaque white to add a few highlights… go easy on these though…. too many ruins it. What you want to do is imagine where the sun in your sky is and then put a highlight dot at each spot it would glint off your letters.
(note: if you are doing the airbrush chrome letters on a dark background it looks really cool if your glints have star bursts that flow over onto the dark background)
A little extra…
When you are thinking about how to airbrush chrome letters just remember that not all chrome is blue and brown…. remember you are painting a distorted horizon…. it could be reflecting anything. For that reason, you can use your imagination in coming up with color schemes. Below is one that is a sunset scene on grass…. pink and green. Still works, right?