Working with Stencils (Airbrush)

There are allot of techniques that are used on much larger canvas that can equally be applied to miniatures. When working on cars or larger vehicles you can get good use out of stencils. These allow you to create an effect that you would struggle to do by hand.

It’s important to remember that a stencil can create many different effects by using layers. In this guide I will show you how you can create a multi-layer stencil effect using on a single stencil.

For my canvas I have a Warhammer 40,000 Imperial Guard Valkyrie Gunship. I have had this model for a few years now and it was used as a tester for various airbrush techniques when I first picked it up.

Also you will note the paints I am using in this tutorial; Yellow, Red, Orange, White and Satin Varnish. You do not have to follow my paints exactly but as I am doing a fire effect the transition of colours is important.

Other than my trusty airbrush I have made a stencil from a piece of thin plastic (I used a blister pack). To make this I drew the shape with a marker pen and cut it out with scissors. You can also sand the edges down to make sure there nice and smooth. The airbrush will pick up any small error in the stencil so its worth making the effort at this stage. On its own you cannot see how this will affect the model, but read on and be amazed at how such a thing can create an eye catching effect!

By placing the stencil against the canvas and spraying white directly around the edges you leave the outline of the stencil behind. Repeating this in a semi random pattern creates the the basic effect.

When the first layer is done we switch over to red and apply our first colour layer. I have used Model Air Light Red and a drop of a darker red, thinned down 1:1 Paint:Vallejo Thinner. Its important to use thin layers as I build up the stencil layers so that those underneath show through.

When our first colour layer is dry we go back to the white and add another stencil layer over the top. The pattern is semi random to allow the previous layer to show through.

Again we add more colour, this time I use orange.

This process repeats itself for three colours to create the fire effect.

Yellow colour layer.

Finally we add a layer of Satin Varnish to complete the effect and protect our work.

You can try this out for yourself, if you don’t have a test model to use it on you can experiment on a piece of paper. With practice and the right stencil you can create many different effects that will make your miniatures stand out in a crowd.