Home Forums General General Airbrush advice

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    Avatar photoMattH

    I’m thinking of getting an airbrush, mostly for priming and varnishing, but also to experiment with.

    Any suggestions as to which brush, compressor etc to buy? Also any general tips for a n00b would be appreciated.

    Avatar photoDeleted User

    Interested in this also.

    I was told by a friend who gave up on it that there’s only one way to go airbrush and that’s to go for the best.

    Avatar photoNot Connard Sage

    What do you intend using it for? This is not a gormless question, you absolutely don’t need an airbrush just for priming and varnishing. A mini spray gun will do that for a lot less.  🙂

    Single or double action? Single action are much easier to use, double action give a finer control. Gravity or reservoir feed? Bottom or side reservoir?

    Badger/deVilbiss/Paasche/Iwata. Proper compressor with a vapour trap and a separate air tank.

    Practice. Lots of practice.

    Remember that every time you use the thing you will have to strip it and clean it.

    Remember too that compressors can be noisy, and compressed air and airborne particulates can be hazardous. Not a problem (except to the user) if you have a dedicated area to work in, but it might be a problem if you whip it out in the dining room 🙂





    Obvious contrarian and passive aggressive old prat, who is taken far too seriously by some and not seriously enough by others.

    Avatar photojeffers

    Just speaking from my own experience, I only prime using spray cans; everything else is done by hand, including varnishing. I found any time I saved airbrushing was taken up masking and cleaning the ruddy thing afterwards, so I dumped it. I can get similar effects with basic brush techniques without all the faff.

    More nonsense on my blog: http://battle77.blogspot.com/

    Avatar photoirishserb

    Between work an personal equipment, I’ve had opportunity to use  pretty much some of everything, so I’ll offer some thoughts, which will probably be utterly unhelpful.

    I started with double action brushes and found them easy to get the hang of, later when I had to use a single action, it seemed harder than double action.

    At work we had junk to absolutely fantastic quality brushes, but found that the my Paasche VL did as much as I really ever needed.  And to be honest, the cheaper Aztec brush was good enough most of the time for model work.

    Always preferred side or bottom load bottles, never open resoviors, I would always find a way to splash or drip paint.

    Hobby compressors are mostly jokes, not enough volume, not enough pressure. At work we had a 5 horse compressor with a 90 gallon tank, always use a tank, and a good regulator.

    at home I used a smaller compressor, and a smaller roll around tank, maybe 20 gallon(?), fill the tank, shoot paint for awhile, refill tank, repeat.

    Moisture trap is a must.

    Cant imagine using airbrush without a dedicated shop/studio/work place.  You will have overspray.

    A quiet compressor is really nice, but might cost a lot. That’s why I filled the tank in my the garage and moved the tank to where I painted(at home at least).

    Whatever the upper air pressure limit you are told to spray at, you will find a time when you need higher pressure, so beefier compressor was more important than a better brush.

    Find a brush that fits your hand, lot easier to control the action, that way.  Never found a Badger that fit my stubby fingers, so never liked them.

    Wear eye protection of some sort, if you use the brush a lot, at some point, something will happen and you will shoot yourself in the face.

    Now, I have been told by One person or another, and at one time or another, that everything I did or preferred was wrong, but it worked for me for thousands of trial, marketing and personal models and miniatures.

    In time you will probably find that everything I say, except for the moisture trap, is wrong. Best of luck.

    Avatar photoMattH

    Thanks all for your comments, and sorry for being so late to reply.

    I think you’ve probably talked me off the ledge, at least for now! I realise that perhaps my main reason for wanting an airbrush is much the same reason I thought I needed a 12 string guitar in my life: because I couldn’t afford one when I was younger. It’s not necessarily a bad reason, but on balance, given the cleaning hassles and space constraints you rightly mention, dropping £200 or so on airbrush stuff right now is probably not sensible.

    Avatar photodeephorse

    Over 40 years ago I bought a DeVilbiss double action airbrush and a compressor.  I used it once shortly afterwards and it’s been back in its box ever since.  Had I stuck to making 1/35th models I might have made more use of it, but I increased my stock of 20mm kits for wargaming and found that I could achieve any result I wanted with brushes.  Masking the model and cleaning the airbrush afterwards put me off the use of it I’m afraid.

    Play is what makes life bearable - Michael Rosen

    Avatar photoShahbahraz

    I use my cheap Chinese double-action top reservoir airbrush all the time – for terrain, buildings, vehicles, and figures. I purchased it from HobbyCo Japan, it came with a cheap compressor (fairly low pressure), and I have bought replacement needles. (I keep bending them..) I think it cost me about 25 quid.

    Cheap, cheerful, and purchasing decent airbrush cleaner works. Just make sure you don’t mix the different cleaners and acrylics. I find Tamiya works really well, using the Tamiya X20 thinner, but for Vallejo you have to use the Vallejo thinner.


    And I tend to wait till I have a decent amount of stuff to be sprayed before I use it, the cleaning up is a pain.

    --An occasional wargames blog: http://aleadodyssey.blogspot.co.uk/ --

    Avatar photoKatie L

    I’ve never found the cleaning to be that much hassle.

    Talk to Barwell Bodyworks. They’re at some of the UK shows and also run courses on starting airbrushing.

    I’ve found I get really good results. I started out just using it on terrain where you can get effects that would be tiresome to brush, but these days I’m also using it for things like the shading on Eldar body-armour. (With a tiny needle, really high pressure and microscopic amounts of paint!)

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