We need painting tools to help apply colour to our art work. Painting tools can refer to anything from fingers to palette knives, but in this guide we concentrate on the painting tools available at Jackson's! We have a separate section for the most common painting tool - the brush. Click here to learn more about brushes. For everything else read on...

Painting Knives (for oil, acrylic)

Painting Knives are also known as palette knives. A palette knife is very useful when colour mixing on a palette, as they can be wiped clean with a rag in a second, unlike a brush. This allows one to use the same knife to mix a number of colours cleanly and quickly.

Knives can also be used to apply colour to your painting.  The long edge of a knife can be used to achieve extremely flat swathes of colour, and these layers of flat colour can be builts up to create fleshy textures.  The tip of the knife could be used to draw fine lines or sharp dots of colour. 

Colour Shapers (for oil, acrylic, charcoal, pastel)

Are available in varying softnesses, and tend to be made of rubber or silicon.  These can also be used to draw lines, or they can be used to etch marks into wet oil colour that is already on your support. Great for oil, acrylic, charcoal and pastel.

Double Ended Blender or Wipe Out Tool (for oil, acrylic, charcoal, pastel)

A variety of Colour Shaper that has an angled flat rubber nib at one end and a round pointed nib at the other. Between the 2 nibs a wide variety of different marks and blending techniques can be achieved.

Tortillions (for pencil, charcoal, pastel)

A tortillion is a strip of paper that has been rolled to form a stick with a sharp point at one end. It looks like a pencil. Used to blend colour once it has already been applied to paper. Particularly good for belending very detailed areas without losing any of the detail.

Paper Stump (for pencil, charcoal, pastel)

A pencil shaped piece of compressed cotton rag. Excellent for even blending of charcoal, pencil or pastel. Generally the stump tends to be more effective than the tortillion but is less easy to use in very detailed areas.

Sofft Tools (for pastel)

For ultra smooth marks the Sofft Tools allow one to apply oil colour with 'make-up' style sponges which lend themselves to very soft (as the name suggests) blended marks. Manufactured by Pan Pastel. 

Catalyst Silicon Painting Tools (for oil, acrylic)

Hand held tools for applying paint in unusual textures. Each tool has one or 2 sides cut with a serrated or wavy edge, so that then you apply paint with it the paint adheres in stripes. Can also be used to remove paint in stripes from an already painted surface. 

Composition Tools


A simple visual aid for drawing and determining the angles found in oblique and parallel perspective. When held up to a subject it clearly shows the viewer how to create accurate perspective.

Colour Wheel

Help to understand the science behind colour and its behaviour, as well as colour in relation to tone.

Grey Scale and Value Finder

Hold the value finder up to your subject and it will help further your understanding of how to read tone. Compare the comparative lightness and darkness with the rectangles of grey to help evaluate whether the values are right in your work of art.

View Catcher

View catchers or view finders will help you select your composition when painting from life. It will help you decide what the field of vision should be for your composition. Simply hold the frame up in front of your subject and move closer/further away until what you see within the frame is what you want to paint or draw. Perspective finders will help you ensure your lines of perspective are drawn or painted at the right angle. Simply match up the horizon line of your subject with the grid on the clear plastic and compare the perspective guide lines with what is in front of you.


Tracedown is wax free carbon paper. It is the ideal solution for transferring an image from one source to another surface. Place the Tracedown on the surface you want to transfer to, and then place the image you are transferring on top of the Tracedown, and use a pointed implement such as a pencil to go around the lines of the image. The pressure will deposit carbon on to the surface in order to make the image on your new surface. Tracedown can be re-used a number of times.

Paint Making Tools

Paint is made by slowly applying ample pressure in a circular motion on to pigment and the binder of choice, be it oil acrylic, or gum arabic for watercolour. Glass Mullers are used to apply this pressure by hand on to a slab.

Masking Film and Tapes

Masking films include stencil films and frisket film, and are used for stencilling purposes. Masking tape is designed to stick temporarily. It is very versatile, and one of its many popular uses is for securing paper on to a drawing board, ready for work. Masking tapes are available in a range of thicknesses as well as level of tack.

Sponges (acrylic, watercolour)

Sponges can be used to make marks that provide texture and pattern, delete brush strokes and mix colours on the paint surface. Most typically used with watercolour paint.

Rollers (acrylic, ink)

Sponge and foam rollers are used for an even application of paint on to a surface. Rubber rollers are used to evenly spread ink across a matrix when relief printing. All rollers are washable with soap and warm water.

Airbrushes and Compressors

Airbrushes are a distinctive way of applying very thin colour to a multitude of surfaces.  Inks and dyes can both be used in airbrushing, but most popular is very fluid acrylic colour. Many acrylic paint manufacturers produce fluid particular of the optimum viscosity for airbrushing, including AV and Golden.

Airbrushes work by passing a stream of fast moving compressed air through a venture (chamber).  This creates a reduction in the local air pressure that allows paint to be pulled from an interconnected reservoir at normal atmospheric pressure.  The high speed causes the paint to travel in tiny droplets.  This is known at atomization.  The airbrushes can control the amount of paint being applied by varying the amount of pressure applied on the trigger of the airbrush.  All the airbrushes available from Simair are double action.  A double-action airbrush offers much greater control and is essential when producing fine lines and thick-thin strokes (the classic "dagger stroke"). These are also known as "internal-mix" airbrushes because the air and paint mix inside the nozzle. The double-action airbrush has two trigger movements. As with the single-action, airflow is controlled by pressing the trigger down; however, the amount of paint can also be controlled by pulling the trigger back. The farther the trigger is pulled back, the more paint comes out. T-shirt lettering is much easier with this type of airbrush. Experienced, "freehand" (painting without the aid of masking materials) airbrushers can control a double-action to produce photo-realistic artwork.

The finer the atomization of the paint the greater the ability to create the smoothest blending effects.  Airbrushing is particularly good for the following:

  • Blending of 2 or more colours seamlessly
  • Photo realist painting
  • Bold shapes using stencils and masking (Frisket film)
  • Colouring and decorating 3D models
  • Painting Murals
  • Decorating and colouring cars, motorcycles, helmets and other vehicles

Airbrushing was once the preferred method for correcting photos, before digital photography and imaging software.

What Do I Need to Start Airbrushing??

Below is a list of the airbrushing equipment we offer at Jackson’s Art Supplies, at what the function is of each piece of equipment.


The part of that the paint is dispensed from. It has the trigger which the user will apply pressure to in order to dispense the colour. It connects to the paint source and the compressor.


A source of compressed air that forces the paint through the airbrush.  Looks like a canister or an aerosol.


Connects the airbrush to a hose and its compressor.  An adaptor must have the correct diameter and length for compatibility for your equipment, so please check before you purchase or order.

Needle Caps and Nozzles

The needle is required for fine line spraying.  It fits into the nozzle which attached to the airbrush, reducing the hole that the paint passes through in order to leave the brush.  The nozzle is the part that the needle fits into.  The nozzle and the needle should be tapered in the same way.


A valve acts as an aerosol can regulator.  The higher the air pressure the finer the ‘mist’ of paint, also known as atomization.  In an airbrush with a fine needle, less pressure is required to produce good atomisation.  The valve can regulate the air pressure supplied by the compressor.

Spray Away Exhaust Filters

These filters are for use in the Simair spraying booths.  They help to protect the user from harmful fine paint particles, that could otherwise be easily inhaled and caused damage to lungs.


Uni-Booths are a studio extraction system for safe spraying indoors.  They let light in from the top, so that your view of your work is not compromised and you can maintain accuracy when spraying.  They possess a powerful centrifugal blower/motor with polyester intake filter and duel activated charcoal impregnated filter for the greatest possible solvent and odour removal.

Simair Double Airbrush Stand

By using an airbrush stand you can avoid damaging your sirbrush and prevent it from clogging, as it may do if kept on its side when not in use.  It also keeps your workspace tidy and organised.  The double airbrush stand will clamp on to any surface with a maximum thickness of 2.5 inches.

Simair Face Masks

Another important piece of equipment, these face masks are as good for protecting your lungs from fine paint particles as well as for dust.  They each have a little nose pincher to help stop particles getting through any gaps between your mask and your face.  They are available in packs of 3.

Airbrush Colour

Viscosity is measured in centipoise. 1cP describes the viscosity of water.  Airbrush colour has all been made to have the optimum viscosity for airbrushing techniques, primarily suited to illustration and fine art application, which is 40-60cPs.  We sell airbrush colour by Golden and AV. Acrylic ink and watercolour dyes can also be used for airbrushing, but you may need to experiment with how much pressure you apply with these as they may have a finer viscosity.

Airbrush Mediums

Allow you to achieve the right consistency colour for airbrushing.  You can mix these mediums with regular acrylic colour, even heavy body colour, and providing the ratios are right you will be able to create your own airbrush colour mixes.  Ensure that you follow the advice of the manfufacturers.

Frisket Film

Frisket Film is a fantastic tool for any airbrush artist for masking off areas of work in order to achieve crisp, clean lines and sharp edges in your work.


Acrylicos Vallejo offer a range of airbrush varnishes. This is a great way of evenly applying a protective cover that can unify or alter the surface sheen to gloss, matte or satin.

Airbrush Sundries

Zest It Airbrush Reviver

The Zest It Airbrush Reviver is ideal for cleaning and releasing an Airbrush clogged with Acrylic paint or a water based media.

If your Airbrush is clogged and has dried paint blocking it, then a soak in the Airbrush Reviver will restore it back to full working order. Put a small amount of the Zest It Airbrush Reviver into a shallow tray. Having disconnected the airline, disassemble the airbrush and place in the fluid. Once the airbrush parts are clean, wash with water, dry and re-assemble the airbrush.

The Reviver will make your fingers slippery, so it is best to use Nitrile gloves for grip and hand protection or a bowl of water and hand-towel to clean and dry your hands as you work. You may otherwise find the small parts of the airbrush slipping out of your grip. Working with a paper cloth or a towel also helps.

Most acrylic, gouache, watercolour and ink products can be cleaned and released from the airbrush after a 10 minute. Different products may require a longer soak.

The Reviver can be re-used by allowing to stand and then filtered (using cloth or paper) into a clean container. Label and store the used Zest-it Airbrush Reviver for re-use.

Grafix 'Edge' Bandana Masks in Black and White

A lightweight fabric mask that protects the face and neck from overspray. Easy to take on and off

Airbrush Propellant

For economy and occasional use the simplest route is our disposable aerosol propellant cans – MAXIMAIR.
Containing 750ml of ozone friendly airbrush propellant, the only other items you require are a control valve and airline – you can then spray anywhere.