Blending and depth


Needle-chuck Ninja
I am having an issue with grasping the blending tones thing. I don't want to just lay down one color on something, and call it a day, its too flat and lifeless. Like for instance, a black gas mask, i don't want to just throw down black on it, i want it to have depth but i am not sure how to go about this process with an airbrush. This is the cause for a lot of my trouble, so i tend to just use one color for an entire piece. But I really want to understand how to layer colors so its not blotchy and weird. Any help, comments, or advice would be helpful... thank you guys
From what I understand… and I haven’t tried this yet but it does work…

When creating a mostly monotone piece, I’ve seen people lay down and map out the darker values, then add a blend of a sepia type colour between the shadows and highlights, then go over the black again where the values are around 100% and blend. If you can do it subtle enough you’ll get a great sense of depth compared to just black and white
I'll pick a small detailed piece of a reference, match the colors, then paint the same piece with different techniques of layering and erasing. In most cases, start with the lightest colors and go darker. Since you have the colors matched already, paint it a few times, you will learn something new on every one you paint.
For starter don't use black straight out of the bottle. Nothing is black. It will always have a shift to to either cold or warm but mostly cold. SO you can do the black and then go over it with blue especially around the edges.
Nice to keep in mind, if you want to create depth, blending with cold colors will make it feel deeper/ further away, while blending with warm colors will make it feel closer by. If you're really going far away (like near a horizon) colors are less saturated and more greyish. Hope this helps.
If I were doing something like a gasmask using black on a white surface, I would reduce the black until it becomes more grey, and let the white of the surface be my highlights, Let the edges of the black fade towards where you want your highlights to be and as the colour saturation gets less it will give a seamless blend, Darken up the shadows towards a truer black, again letting them fade out naturally where possible, then you'll have black white, and many, many different shades of grey in between. A few white highlights to finish, and you'll have a shed load of depth. It is easier to do this withaout stencilos or frisket etc, as you won't have to worry about crating hard lines. I am not a colour expert, but think I am getting better with it, and I apply the same technique up to a point. I usually start from light to dark, (if you start to dark, then you can't develop natural tones and contrast as you will have nowhere to go) letting any edges fade out naturally where necessary, and again use the white from the paper.. You just have to bear in mind that if using transparents, then when you start adding the next layer it will blend colour with the layer below. So for example spraying red over yellow will become orange (you can use an intercoat to protect the colour below if you don't want it to blend, or use an opaque as that will cover the layer below.) If you spray the yellow close to the red, the two areas where the fades meet will become orange, and suddenly you have an area of colour that seamlessly blends from yellow to orange to red. If you spray the beginning of the yellow lightly, and the end of the red lightly that can be extended to pale yellow, yellow, orange, red, pink. You can also get a lot of colour variation with a single colour, the same way you do with monotone, by the density of colour you use. So it can look like you have used 30 colours, but a lot of the time it's just varying how you blend, and how you build the colour up, as well as mixing colour in the cup. I only use the 3 primary colours in transparents (called detail in Wicked paints) and opaque black and white. I mix everything I need from this, gradually getting darker in more shadowed areas. I have oversimplified it, but that is basically what I do, although as I say I am no expert Lol! The best way to learn is to just try and see what works, you soon see what doesn't work Lol. If you mess up, just paint it all white and start again. Annoying, but not the end of the world. Just have fun and give it a try.
Thanks guys for the help! Since i don't have my airbrush back yet, I am trying to read and get things right in my mind before i do stuff.
Blending isn't the only thing that creates the illusion of depth, perspective, layering of objects and focus also play a big role.

But as this is specificly about blending :). A few tricks I use when doing monochrome stuff are:
-Work in thin layers and gradualy build up to your darkest colors using thin layers will automaticly make for a more gradual transition from light to dark and gives you more control. This also makes it easier to use erazors as you can touch up your highlights between layers.
-Reduce the amount of pigment you are applying (makes it a lot easier to work in thin layers). For the first few layers I normaly go 1 paint, 2 water, 2 clearbase (colorless version of your paint) as you gradualy go to the darker colors you can use less diluted paint.
-When working realy close to the paper reduce the airpressure for more control (less presure=lesspaint=more control over you transitions)
I like to use opaque (buffered) colors, and work from the lightest values to the darkest. If I was going to do a monochrome piece using black, I would mix it with white to make different, progressively darker shades of grey.

But, as has been mentioned, nothing is really black. Even when painting "black" objects, I really very rarely use black paint. If you look closely, the real colors are almost never actually black. Most often, they tend to be a slightly blueish gray (not always, but they tend to lean towards the cooler colors).

To darken a color, don't add black. Add it's complimentary color (the color directly across from it on the color wheel. Like green and red, blue and orange, and yellow and purple/violet). This not only darkens the color in a more natural way, but also decreases the saturation and "kills" the color a bit. In other words, if you want a red thats not such a pure red, add a bit of green to tone down the "redness".

Also, if you want to do monochrome work, try using colors other than black. Use a transparent grey if you want it to "look" like it's black. But, even trying something in shades of any color can teach you a lot quickly about working with and mixing colors.
airbrushes, like horsepower, are something you can never have too many of