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"Airbrush query" Topic

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3,207 hits since 27 Nov 2012
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TunnelRat Supporting Member of TMP27 Nov 2012 6:46 a.m. PST


I intend to buy myself an airbrush shortly but really have no idea what is good and what is not so I am after some sage advice. OK, I know TMP probably isn't the right place to go for that, but I have to start somewhere :).

The airbrush will be used for the following:

1. Painting resin, metal & plastic 15 & 20mm vehicles with an occasional foray into 28mm & this would involve camouflage for some of the vehicles.

2. Base coating figures 15-28mm.

3. 1/600 WW2 naval (MTB's, coasters etc), 1/1200 Napoleonic Naval (probably under coating & larger areas only)

4. Anything else I can use it for to get my unpainted lead mountain reduced.

Right, I am going to get the airbrush as a Christmas present & I haven't told the wife this is what she is buying me! This means that the airbrush realistically has to be available in the UK to ensure that it arrives in time for Santa to drop down my chimney.

Cost is £200.00 GBP for the airbrush. I am going to consider the option of buying a compressor at a later date but with my birthday in early Feb I won't have long to wait! My current thinking is for the Revell Masterclass after going through some of previous threads on this site.

I do not really know enough about what difference gravity fed or siphon/bottle fed varieties make – likewise single and double action. So guidance would be much appreciated.

Thanks in advance for your comments guys.

Striker27 Nov 2012 7:12 a.m. PST

Siphon feed will require more air pressure, and I find that I'm using more paint with shiphon feed airbrushes (I'm probably going to pick up a gravity feed also).

Muncehead27 Nov 2012 7:14 a.m. PST

Check the Gruntz! forum. link Robin recommends an Iwata and he gets some great results.

gweirda Inactive Member27 Nov 2012 7:16 a.m. PST

IMHO, add 'internal mix' to the description.

CraigH Inactive Member27 Nov 2012 7:57 a.m. PST

You will want a compressor immediately pressurized air cans are very expensive. I used a (loud) garage-tool compressor until I got a proper one.

Consider looking around for a course ask in your local hobby shop. From what I understand many airbrushes are bought with the best intentions then sit around unused for years. A course gets you started.

Now I suggest you start with a simple single action brush maybe the 'classic' Badger 350


It's easy to clean, you're not going to bend anything and it will get you started. Yes, in a few months you'll want a better one but at least then you'll have a better idea what you want.

And have fun ! You won't regret it ! grin

Heisler27 Nov 2012 8:02 a.m. PST

A lot of this is personal preference and should be taken with a grain of salt. Although you are a novice now it is best to start with a dual action airbrush based on what you are going to be painting. A single action is just fine if you only intend to base coat but I find my dual action a lot easier to work with when dealing with camouflage patterns and other picky detail. I definitely prefer gravity feed to a siphon feed and a little paint goes a long way. I have two airbrushes an Iwata Eclipse (HP-C) and Harder-Steenbeck Infinity. The Iwata tends to be my workhouse but the Infinity will take a smaller needle and is my detail brush. I only have two because I needed a new air compressor and got sucked in to a package deal (to good to pass up). I do like both airbrushes and when I have the same size needle in them they behave about the same, although I suppose I might give the Infinity and edge even then as far as the ability to paint a thin line goes.
Quality does make a difference in the long run! I have handled a Chinese knock-off of the Iwata and in the short run it produces almost the same results, however, because of the way its constructed it can't be broken down all the way to really clean it correctly and its good for about six months.
Get a good cleaning kit to go along with it, although pipe cleaners will do a set of properly sized bottle brushes will make your life a lot easier.
Like any tool you will only get good with it if you use it, so use it a lot! Even if you are just priming with it. If you use it frequently then setup and take down is quicker and you will learn all about the ways your airbrush can clog up and how to remedy it quickly.
There is a lot of advice out there on painting with an airbrush, so surf around and see what you can find while you are waiting!

ancientsgamer Inactive Member27 Nov 2012 8:06 a.m. PST

Siphon feed is from the Debil! Gravity feed is the way to go. Internal mix, double action. Yes, there is more of a learning curve but you will be a much better painter in the long run. Iwata is an extremely solid choice and I am assuming it is available in the UK? I am not into off brands, no matter how good they are as eventually you have to replace things. I have an Aztec as well as a Paasche. I wish I would have started with an Iwata. Search around the Web for what model railroaders and plastic modelers that do very detailed models use as well if you want to look for other brands. I know there are other good brushes out there. It's just that Iwata is a brand that consistently comes up as a good choice. Master gets good press but I am not sure about availability your way or spare parts either:

Here is a good link for someone that asked essentially the same question you did: link

Here is a good article on airbrushes in general: link
Note that he doesn't use very high end stuff which is probably fine in your case as well. He happens to like Badger brands. Badgers are great if you get the right model.

Not specific to modeling but a good resource: link

YouTube is your friend: YouTube link

Interesting series on doing fine details with water based paints. Applicable to modeling as you will be using acrylics.

Do a search on YouTube for more articles….

Garand27 Nov 2012 9:00 a.m. PST

Yes, I agree with skipping the single action and going straight for a dual action, internal mix airbrush. Gravity feeds are fine, but siphon feeds work as well; really dependent on what you prefer in an airbrush (FREX I use a siphon feed dual action internal mix airbrush, works well for me). The problem with single action airbrushes is as Heisler described…if you get comfortable with them but want to do anything more advanced, you'll end up investing in a double action anyway. So might as well start there.

For the record I use a Paasche VL double action with the Paasche 1/4hp compressor. I have my airbrush & compressor permanently setup at a painting station in my basement.


Personal logo elsyrsyn Supporting Member of TMP27 Nov 2012 9:04 a.m. PST

As mentioned on lots of these airbrush threads (and there are LOTS of them here on TMP), I really like the Aztek A4709 set. A lot of folks dislike the plastic body, but the thing just plain works and works very well. For the price, it's (in my opinion) nearly impossible to beat.


ming31 Inactive Member27 Nov 2012 10:57 a.m. PST

Gravity , internal mix , dual action as stated before . iwata , paashe , badger, all make good models . a compresser with a moisture trap and regulator are also a must . With a tank is preferred .
They take time to learn how to use and MUST be kept clean but results are well worth it . I got a single action after wards and use it for clear and base coating .

Goober27 Nov 2012 11:50 a.m. PST

I was given one of the AS18K airbrush starter sets – there's lots of differenet brands with the same kit. It's fairly cheap and cheerful, but it's a great starter set with a gravity and siphon feed brushes and a reasonable compressor. It's not the best in the world, but at just £60.00 GBP it's a great starter.



Jovian1 Inactive Member27 Nov 2012 12:39 p.m. PST

This is now my preferred airbrush: link

Amazingly simple to use, clean, and operate. There is no guess work and it can do siphon or gravity feed from the side port. Get a good compressor as stated above, you need one which will generate up to 40lbs of air pressure possibly higher depending on the pressure your brush can handle. Some paints need more pressure, siphoning take more pressure. Practice, practice, practice. Iwata's are very nice, but the MASTER series brushes are an almost identical match in design and quality and they are much cheaper.

Best of luck!

Stephens123 Inactive Member27 Nov 2012 3:43 p.m. PST

I have used badger and paasche airbrushes with good results. But, Last year I bought the Testor Aztek air brush and I am hooked. I bought the deluxe resin set: link
It comes with a nice assortment of easy switch nozzels (for differnt applications) and everything you will need to hook up to a compressor.I think a hobby compressor is a must have. Mine is an on demand so it only makes air when needed and keeps noise way down.

Mark S

Gary Flack28 Nov 2012 3:46 a.m. PST

I got bought the same one [or very similar] as Goober for my B/day in September on the advice of a friend who paints model aircraft
I've no idea how good it is personally [it's still in the box unused due to domestci chaos as usual] – but he rates it highly
It's about the size of a shoe box, very quite and compact, easy to use [well he made it look easy!] and seems to do everything a wargamer could want
Good luck

TunnelRat Supporting Member of TMP28 Nov 2012 4:16 a.m. PST

Gents – Many thanks for all of your comments. I have lots of info to go on, but a better idea of what I want.

The comment from CraigH regarding going on a course has hit a note & I am now looking into that. There is at least one place I can do this that I have found in the UK.

Again, many thanks to all.

Greenfield Games28 Nov 2012 4:48 a.m. PST

I have a few airbrushes that I bought from people who thought that they really wanted to get into it then decided it was too much work (or couldn't be bothered to learn to clean them).

For what you want to do the thing you're going to want most is the smallest tip you can afford.

I've used an Iwata eclipse for years. It was great for regular model kits and base coating but at .5mm the tip is just a bit large to do much more with it.

My Grex TG3 has a .3mm tip and is much better for doing fine work.

My latest brush – the Iwata Custom Micron SB has a .18mm tip and is the best brush that I've used for doing miniature work.

A Different Jim Inactive Member28 Nov 2012 6:22 a.m. PST

I wouldn't use brushes to clean the airbrush. They make microscopic scratches that affect the internal seals. That comes from the owner of Badger.

Colonel Bogey28 Nov 2012 3:30 p.m. PST

I found the staff at really helpful when I talked through what I wanted and what I was going to use it for.
Got a Neo for Iwata CN gravity feed airbrush for £50.00 GBP and an Iwata SilverJet compressor for £140.00 GBP.
You'll also need a mask / respirator and cleaning products (I was very happy with the foaming airbrush cleaner and the reamer airbrush cleaner – both by Premi Air – saves using brushes) and some lubricator for the needle.
And, following post here recently, I've used a 50:50 mix of Vallejo acrylics and Tamiya thinners with the above equipment to good effect – so far for priming 15mm minis and painting scenery.
There are also a couple of "getting started" books for free on their site.

A Different Jim Inactive Member28 Nov 2012 9:10 p.m. PST

I use the NEO as well and really like it. You got a good deal on the Silver Jet IMO. Thumbs up on the respirator. It is an absolute must. Also consider a moisture trap if there is not one built onto the compressor. You don't want moisture in your air. I didn't believe it until I had water going onto my project.

Colonel Bogey28 Nov 2012 11:37 p.m. PST

The Silver Jet comes with a free hose and moisture trap :-)

ArmiesArmy Sponsoring Member of TMP29 Nov 2012 6:00 a.m. PST

I had the same great service from Colonel Bogey, however at Everything airbrush. Told him how much I had, what I wanted and he came up with several options advantages and disadvantages and then came up with a very competitive complete package. They were quite excellent and I love my airbrush :)

A Different Jim Inactive Member29 Nov 2012 6:19 a.m. PST

CB- how's it going with the NEO making small lines? I can get mine down to about 1/8" but no further. I have seen UTube vids of people getting pencil thin lines, but I can not achieve that. If you get the small lines please tell how…

Colonel Bogey29 Nov 2012 2:20 p.m. PST

Thin lines – I've not quite cracked that one yet either…
I read somewhere that you need to crank the air pressure right down, but have not yet practised enough…

inrepose Inactive Member03 Dec 2012 6:16 a.m. PST

I use the Iwata HPC+. It is heralded as the airbrush of choice for many people in the military modelling market. When I first used it I found it blocked up a lot but I was doing a few things wrong and my biggest mistake was using airbrush cleaner fluid before getting all the paint out by blowing water through.

Just adding cleaner caused the remaining paint in the pot to curdle and then the chunks of paint goop would get further blocked into the mechanism. So I am a lot more sparing with my use of cleaning fluid and tend to spray a pot of water through before using cleaning fluid.

The other tip I use was "gargling" the airbrush. If you get a clog, you can put your finger over the end of brush and gargle water or cleaning fluid because the air will create back pressure past the needle and up into the pot.

Sorry no idea why I suddenly started talking tips!

Actually on the subject, I used to use an Aztek airbrush with the separate nibs. It was far less prone to clogging than the more delicate 0.3 needle on the Iwata. It was a great starting airbrush and I had five good years of use from it. I still use it as a backup or for large area surface prime work. It really is not as sensitive or accurate as the Iwata. So if you are a beginner and not thinking about superfine detail an Aztek (now made by testors) is a great starter. After using it you can drop the nibs into a pot of cleaner and leave them, after a day they come out like new – so the removable nature of the Aztek needles is perfect for a beginner that does not want to worry about paint blockages.

I can get down to pencil thin lines with the Iwata but I have to remove the protective ring to reveal just the needle, reduce the pressure to about 15psi and go in really really close to the model. I prefer super fine detail to be done by brush so I don't often go in really close.

I think it all depends on what you are airbrushing. If you have a massive tank to airbrush, you can get away without the fine details but if you are airbrushing individual 28mm models you will need finer detail.

Using canned air was a nightmare, it was expensive and they don't maintain good pressure. To really get a feel for an airbrush an entry level compressor would be better and if you can afford it stretch to a compressor that has a tank, it means quieter operation because it will fill the tank rather than pumping air directly to the airbrush.

Edit: I also use like Colonel Bogey. They are just down the road from me in Brighton and offer a great rapid delivery service.

Edit: A link to one of my airbrushing video guides which might be of use: YouTube link

tekhammer Inactive Member13 Dec 2012 2:30 p.m. PST

I know it might be a bit late for you, but I've just bought an airbrush in the last week and found the following really useful, not just in understanding how they work, but what sort of brush I need for my applications.

This is part 1 of a 4 part series (Airbrush 101):

YouTube link

That series is followed up by an update (Airbrushing Revisited):

YouTube link

And another which is 1.5hrs long is a talk made by Ken Schlotfeldt (the owner of Badger airbrush company). It's very good and is made at a miniatures convention, so is targeted at mini painters and knowing what brushes to use for what applications:

YouTube link

Archeopteryx Inactive Member16 Dec 2012 5:35 a.m. PST

Too late now I guess, but when I was in your shoes, I bought a compressor kit from Expo Tools, AB602, which is a nice little quiet compressor and a chinese copy duel action gravity fed airbrush – which worked just fine and got me going for less than £100.00 GBP On reflection a larger compressor with a tank is probably a good idea longer term.

I have upgraded to an IWATA Eclipse HP-Cs, which is just a lovely tool and does all I need… But for most stuff the Chinese copy is still good.

There are some great tutorials on you tube…

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