Surfboard-coloring method using water-soluble acrylic paints sprayed in a mist through a handheld, air-pressurized nozzle. Airbrushing—also known as airspraying—is usually done directly onto the board's foam core, prior to fiberglassing; it can also be applied in between the sanding coat of resin and the gloss coat. Airbrush designs range from clean and simple to wildly extravagant; the process adds between $35 and $200 to the board's retail cost. Some airbrush work is done freehand, but generally it begins by marking off the targeted colored areas with masking tape.
Airbrushed surfboards were introduced in the late '60s; by the early '80s airbrushing had become the most popular form of board decoration—ahead of resin-based tints, opaques, and pinlines—partly because the colors were more vivid, and could be faded, blended, and otherwise played with, and partly because airbrushing added no extra weight to the board. Early surf-world airbrush masters included California's Jim Phillips and Martyn Worthington of Australia; Florida's Drew Brophy came to the fore in the '90s.
Airbrush designs have always served as a cultural barometer for surfing, with the galactic interplanetary space scenes of the mid-'70s giving way to New Wave checkerboard designs in the early '80s, followed by the streamlined single-color accent of the mid- and late '80s, the neopunk anarchy and Pacific Islander tattoo-pattern styles of the '90s, and the neon-bright color splashes of the 2010s.