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How to Make Light Airbrush Colors Work For You

How to Make Light Airbrush Colors Work For You

My light airbrush color is coming out dark and watery—what do I do?

Airbrushing can be a funny thing. A technique that seems to work really well for one of your colors may not work as well with another. This can be due to the composition of the liquid, what the intended result color is meant to be, and the nature of the human eye. Let’s break it down.

light color airbrush cookies
The light colors shown here (Oh La Lavendar and Beachy Blue) are obtainable with the right technique.

Airbrush Color is Water-Based, and Needs a Light Touch

Airbrush colors tend to be thin and watery in general, and those that are intended to produce a very light result (without adding white or anything else to change the color itself) can be more finicky to work with than darker colors, for a couple of reasons.

Achieving the right result from these colors is very dependent on using a light trigger finger, and many airbrushers have the tendency to open up their triggers full blast, resulting in too much color hitting the cookie at one time. This can result in dark pools of color sitting on top of the icing.

Oftentimes, the actual airbrush liquid in the bottles is very dark, even though it is intended to result in beautiful light colors, so if you spray these colors full-blast onto your cookie, the dark color in the bottle is what is going to land and show up on the cookie, instead of the lighter shade.

airbrush color layering guide

So How Do I Get Light Airbrush Colors?

The key to achieving light colors is using very light trigger pressure to start the flow of color—even if you can’t see it flowing at first! With red or black (or any other dark color, for example), when you pull the trigger lightly, you immediately see color flowing, and you can adjust accordingly.

With lighter colors, your eye doesn’t necessarily see that color landing on the cookie, even though it is, so the tendency is to overcompensate and add more color flow immediately.

Your best results will come from holding your gun vertically about 6-8” above the cookie, pulling the trigger very lightly, and moving your gun slowly and steadily back and forth across the cookie; allow that first layer to dry for a moment, then add another layer.

Building light layers will result in the lovely light and airy airbrush shades you just can’t get by dumping too much color on the cookie too quickly.

All Colors Should be Built Up with Light Coats

This technique is the best way to build all colors, but it simply is more necessary with any color that is intended to be a light shade (for colors like Beachy Blue, and Pinch of Pink in particular).

If you get in the habit of using this technique with all colors, even the darker ones, you will be more likely to see better airbrushing results across the board, no matter the color.

Previous article Royal Icing Consistencies: What’s the Difference?


Lisa perez - January 12, 2023

Good afternoon,

Can I airbrush the stencil for PYO cookies or is using the royal better?
The Cookie Countess replied:
No, we don’t recommend airbrushing for PYO cookies because the airbrushed lines would start to bleed once the cookie was painted.

Jane Bourscheidt - January 6, 2023
Very helpful information. Thx!

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