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I'm hoping to get some help with why my airbrush looks like I under-sprayed after it has dried awhile, but it's perfect when I first spray it. I've had this happen a couple of times. The first time, I let my base dry overnight; the second time I only dried it a few hours. (I do dry in front of a fan and, after reading some other forum discussions, I'm thinking that may be some of my issues with it seeming to puddle up a bit or just not drying enough between light coats.) Anyway, I used a silkscreen over my stencil and got clean lines when I initially airbrushed. Then later, the cookies look like I under-sprayed them. Why is the color bleeding out after it dries or in the process of drying? I've never had any trouble with my icing bleeding so I'm stumped. Here's a picture of one of the instances.  When I had it happen with stripes, I took a slightly damp stiff brush and cleaned up the edges to make them look better and it did help, but that's time-consuming and hard to do on a pattern like this. What also seems weird to me is that I can clean it off which tells me it's on top. If it was bleeding into the icing, I would think it would be "in" the icing not on top where it can be wiped off.  (I live in Southern California, but not near the ocean so it's not humid. It's actually a more dry climate here in Riverside County.) Thanks for any help or suggestions.

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  • background stencil: airbrush seems to bleed while drying
Last edited by Julia M. Usher
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If the coloring is under the icing (which it looks like some is, in the uniformly hazy parts), then it has bled possibly because you over-applied the coloring and/or the underlying icing was not dry all the way through. It could be a heavy application of coloring dissolved the top layer of the icing and bled into it, or a not-so-heavy application of coloring softened the already somewhat soft icing and did the same thing. I'd suggest drying your icing even longer and being less heavy-handed with the coloring. There is a little spotting in some of the areas, which suggests the coloring got too heavy before it dried and started to pool and separate, which leaves behind spots.

Additionally, there is a speckled halo around some of the patterns, which might be actual under-spray, and thus something that would wipe off with a brush. In other words, you might have both bleeding and under-spray going on.

Thank you for taking the time to reply to me. The strange thing is that the haloing wasn't there right after I sprayed it.  Everything looked crisp and clean - especially since I used a piece of silk over the stencil. The haloing appeared later. Not sure how much later since I was working on other cookies, but when I went back to them a couple hours later, they looked like this. I guess I do need to let my base icing dry longer, although it happened even when I let it dry overnight. And I need to figure out how not to be heavy-handed. I hold my gun several inches away and feel like I'm only applying light coats, but I must not be. And I also think the fan is making the base too slick.

Thank you for taking the time to reply to me. The strange thing is that the haloing wasn't there right after I sprayed it.  Everything looked crisp and clean - especially since I used a piece of silk over the stencil. The haloing appeared later. Not sure how much later since I was working on other cookies, but when I went back to them a couple hours later, they looked like this. I guess I do need to let my base icing dry longer, although it happened even when I let it dry overnight. And I need to figure out how not to be heavy-handed. I hold my gun several inches away and feel like I'm only applying light coats, but I must not be. And I also think the fan is making the base too slick.

I see two halos - one that looks like fuzz under the icing (bleeding) and one that looks like under-sprayed speckles (from too low-pressure on the compressor), but if both appeared later, then both are bleeding, I suppose. Hard to say without being there. However, I airbrush and stencil a lot, and I've never had a dark color bleed into my icing, but I am always sure that my icing is set all the way through. I also quick-set my icing in front of a dehydrator, so it has a slick, satin sheen. That being said, I don't think drying in front of the fan is an issue, unless you're drying wet coloring on top of wet (partially dry) icing in front of the fan.

Ok, that is good to know. I was reading other posts from several years ago and it was mentioned that a fan may cause too slick of a finish causing pooling on the surface. I'm glad to learn that shouldn't be the case.

Well, it does make the surface a little more slick, so if you're too heavy-handed, you'll get pooling - but you would on a less shiny surface as well. I barely pull pack on the trigger to get into tight spots, and I always keep the airbrush moving, adding coloring gradually in layers to get the saturation I want without pooling.

I did have another question about black. It seemed to dry very dull. Is that normal or perhaps the brand I'm using?  I used Chefmaster.

Sorry, I haven't noticed that issue with any water-based coloring (both AmeriMist and Chefmaster are water-based, and I use both blacks, as well as Spectrum Flow alcohol-based black). Water-based colorings tend to go down somewhat glossy and stay that way for a little while, though all will ultimately dull. The only colorings where I see a noticeable difference in sheen is with alcohol-based ones. Because their base is alcohol, the coloring dries more quickly and more immediately with a matte finish. Maybe you were just airbrushing on a very dry day or put down a light coating of the black (the more water-based coloring you apply in an area, the shinier it will get due to moisture build-up).

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