Airbrushing Basics (A Thread for Beginners and Returners)

CB2001

Master Member
Before I begin to ask the full question, I'll give you a little background in relation to the topic. A while ago, back in 2003, I bought myself an airbrush kit. This basic airbrush kit was from Testors, and involved a can of propellant that you attached the airhose to (which is connected to the airgun). Now, I did have some problems, I made some mistakes (like I didn't know that you had to thin down the paint for it to spray) and I could never get the hang of it. So, I figured that using automotive spray paints were better because they went on smooth and dried fast, I put the airbrush kit away, only to never think about it again. I did think about the airbrush kit while I was in film school, as when I discussed it with an indie art supply store customer service rep, she explained that airbrushing with a can of propellant wasn't good because of how you'd end up losing pressure with each press. With that in mind, I decided to file it away.

Well, the week before Christmas, my Dad and I went over to the Goodwill Good Cents store in Tallahassee (we love hitting as many of the Goodwills over there). For those not familiar with it, basically the Good Cents store is a "last chance" store for merchandise that they have an overabundance on or didn't cell at the regular stores at a very discounted price. When I was there, I came across an airbrush compressor. But not just any airbrush compressor, I came across the Testors Model 9169 Air Compressor. I recognized this airbrush compressor not because of the "Testors - 75 Years" sticker on the top, but I remembered seeing a picture of the compressor kit back in 2003, which utilized the same airbrush gun that came with the basic kit I had purchased. So, without knowing if it ran or not, I bought it (only paid about $1.50 for it). After getting home, I plugged it in to test it out, and it worked. I began to wonder if I was right about the connection on the end of the air hose, which I had though would connect. I fished out the old airbrush kit, and pulled the air hose and air gun out. To my surprised, the connection fit. I tested out the compressor and the airgun, both work fine. So, now, I'm beginning to think about airbrushing again, and I know I want to attempt to try it sometime. But, I realize that I really don't know all of the basics.

So, are there any tutorials that any of you guys know that covers the basics of airbrushing (be it a model or a prop)? Which tutorials are the best ones?
 
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cylon75

Well-Known Member
Re: Airbrushing Basics?

I got one for xmas so make that 2 people who would like to no.
 

jasonw2112

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Re: Airbrushing Basics?

Coast Airbrush has alot of different Dvd's to help you get started.

I could help you with more answers, but it can get pretty complex!

Is your airbrush single, or double action? Depending on what make and model you have, it can effect what you can do with the airbrush.

If you want to do Illistration, you will need a double action airbrush, and a air compressor, with a tank. You may also needto invest in a good moisture trap.If you plan to do model work, than a simple airbrush, and compressor should work fine.

When you use a air copressor, with no tank, you might notice a stipple, effect. It is where the air compressor is pumping the air through the line. Not a good option for illistraion work! Your details will look horrible! If you have a compressor with a tank, the compressor runs until it fills the tank. Than the air you use is a steady flow of air coming from the tank ( not the compressor ) so you have nice even flow, and nice detail!

Paint reduction is a different subject, when it comes to the paint you are using, the airbrush, and the air pressure. So you just have to do some experimenting!

That's about the tip of the ice burg! Just stick with it, and check out the air brush forum over at Coast Airbrush. You can find a lot of info over on that site!
 

Robiwon

Master Member
Gone but not forgotten.
Re: Airbrushing Basics?

Probably the first thing to do is soak that airbrush in thinner. If it has sat for this long it may well be gunked up with old paint, depending on how well you cleaned it before you put it away.
 

T2SF

Well-Known Member
Re: Airbrushing Basics?

See if there are any airbrush workshops in your area. Youtube, smartflix.
 

CB2001

Master Member
Re: Airbrushing Basics?

Coast Airbrush has alot of different Dvd's to help you get started.
Well, I'm going for free information for now, but I may do the DVD thing later.

I could help you with more answers, but it can get pretty complex!

Is your airbrush single, or double action? Depending on what make and model you have, it can effect what you can do with the airbrush.
It's a single action. The brush I got is called a Broad Stroke EZ Airbrush (it came as a part of the Broad Stroke EZ Airbrush Set with Propellant) made by Testors. It's primarily used for painting models. The compressor I picked up from the Good Cents store that still works is from a Mighty Mini Starter Airbrush Set, which was released in 2004, also by Testors.

If you want to do Illistration, you will need a double action airbrush, and a air compressor, with a tank. You may also needto invest in a good moisture trap. If you plan to do model work, than a simple airbrush, and compressor should work fine.
Thanks for that info. I'm primarily going to use it for modeling as well as possibly adding minor detailing to props.

When you use a air compressor, with no tank, you might notice a stipple, effect. It is where the air compressor is pumping the air through the line. Not a good option for illustration work! Your details will look horrible! If you have a compressor with a tank, the compressor runs until it fills the tank. Than the air you use is a steady flow of air coming from the tank (not the compressor) so you have nice even flow, and nice detail!
I don't know if the compressor I have has a tank (as you can see in the photo, it's like one small box), but I'm assuming its tankless. But thanks for that info too. But its primarily for painting models and props.

Paint reduction is a different subject, when it comes to the paint you are using, the airbrush, and the air pressure. So you just have to do some experimenting!
Okay. I know that I have to thin down when it comes to the normal Testors enamel paint, but I think Hobby Lobby sells the pre-thinned. I'm also planning on using acrylic paints too, though I don't know if they're useful in airbrushing (then again, I don't know if using enamel paint in an airbrush is a good idea).

That's about the tip of the ice burg! Just stick with it, and check out the air brush forum over at Coast Airbrush. You can find a lot of info over on that site!
Thanks. I'll definitely do that.

Probably the first thing to do is soak that airbrush in thinner. If it has sat for this long it may well be gunked up with old paint, depending on how well you cleaned it before you put it away.
The airbrush, as you see in the above link, doesn't have the container for the airbrushing paint to go into. It's designed to allow for interchangeable quick jars in two different sizes available. I think Hobby Lobby still sells them (but I'll have to check again to see if its the same ones). But I know that one of them still had paint in it, so I may have to do the soaking thing anyway (or at least replace the tubing on the inside that syphons the paint).

See if there are any airbrush workshops in your area. Youtube, smartflix.
I'll check. But like I said earlier, YouTube has more of those "quick previews" of the Tutorial DVDs than they do of actual tutorials.
 
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zorg

Master Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Re: Airbrushing Basics?

i would never use a single action brush, it is just too "on or off" for me.

for all the double actions cost now i would just bite the bullet and get one of those instead.

-z
 

jasonw2112

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Re: Airbrushing Basics?

It's a single action. The brush I got is called a Broad Stroke EZ Airbrush (it came as a part of the Broad Stroke EZ Airbrush Set with Propellant) made by Testors. It's primarily used for painting models. The compressor I picked up from the Good Cents store that still works is from a Mighty Mini Starter Airbrush Set, which was released in 2004, also by Testors.

Well the airbrush you have is a external mix airbrush. It's o.k for overall paint work, but not good for detail work


Thanks for that info. I'm primarily going to use it for modeling as well as possibly adding minor detailing to props.

I would suggest a double action airbrush. It will give you a lot more control, and better detail


I don't know if the compressor I have has a tank (as you can see in the photo, it's like one small box), but I'm assuming its tankless. But thanks for that info too. But its primarily for painting models and props.

No it does'nt appear to have a tank, but some of the smaller air compresser's for airbrushing, are'nt too bad. I think it would work fine for your needs.

The only thing you have to watch out for is the hose. If you purchase a different airbrush, you want to make sure the hose is compatible. All airbrush companies make different parts, so they can make you buy extra crap! Also you will need to get a air regulator (if the air compressor does not have one built in) to adjust your air pressure


Okay. I know that I have to thin down when it comes to the normal Testors enamel paint, but I think Hobby Lobby sells the pre-thinned. I'm also planning on using acrylic paints too, though I don't know if they're useful in airbrushing (then again, I don't know if using enamel paint in an airbrush is a good idea).

Technically, you can spray just about any medium through an airbrush, it just depends on how you reduce it!

Createx makes automotive, and t-shirt paints. The t-shirt paint is very thick (to soak into fabric), so I would not use that for your needs. I have not used their automotive line, but it should spray pretty good.

Testors paint can be a little weird to work with. The Model Masters stuff (ready to spray) is not to bad. You just have to watch how much you put on, because it takes a little while to fully cure. Which means it can finger print easily!
That's not to say you can't use it, you just have to know how to reduce it properly, and dial in your airbrush correctly,while giving it proper time to dry

I use automotive paints, because they are so easy to use. It's not the cheapest route, but it's what works for me


If anything you would be better off just buying a new airbrush, just don't go to Hobby Lobby to buy one! They are rather exspensive on this stuff. Check with Coast Airbrush, or even Dixie art supplies, they are about Half the cost in airbrushes, and supplies. Mainly because that's all they sell! Not to mention, they can answer a lot of your question's

You could start out with a Iwata Eclipse, in either siphon (so you can use your jars), or a gravity feed (which lets you get really good detail, while working with lower air pressure).

One of the cheapest siphon feed double action airbrush's you could get is a Paasche VL Pro. It's cheaper in cost and parts.

Either way, both these airbrushe's use different hose's! so you need to check and make sure if you can make it work, with your setup



I'll check. But like I said earlier, YouTube has more of those "quick previews" of the Tutorial DVDs than they do of actual tutorials.[/QUOTE]


They love to tease you with those dvd clips! There is a large selection though, and they are very helpful!

You also need to watch out about soaking airbrush's in Laquer thinner. In some it could ruin the inner seals. For acrlic paint's alcohol works pretty good for clean up, so does laquer thinner. Just make sure to clean your airbrush after each use! Period!
 

Jesse

New Member
Re: Airbrushing Basics?

Try changing your search terms, "how to airbrush" turns up many results on youtube, as does terms like, "airbrush basics" and "airbrush techniques." Asking for an airbrush tutorial is pretty general, as airbrushes can do a lot of things, it's like asking how to paint. OK paint what? a car? a house? a painting? impressionist? watercolor? acrylic? you get the idea. Try taking an effect or technique you want, like airbrush weathering.

Best thing to do after that is just go at it and where you fail, look up why that could be and as a last resort post your work on forums asking for tips on how to avoid whatever problem you've run into, drips, runs, orange peel, etc. This way you'll get very specific and helpful advice.
 

Nataku

Sr Member
Re: Airbrushing Basics?

Good thread. I was just thinking about trying my hand at airbrushing. I mainly want it for props and I'm thinking about getting back into modeling (I quit drinking a couple months ago and I've been hitting the props pretty hard to stay busy.)
What would be a good priced starter kit for props and models?
 

CB2001

Master Member
Re: Airbrushing Basics?

I'm glad I've started this thread, as we're getting a lot of information and it's useful for those who are also interested in airbrushing and looking into it.

Again, thank you to those who have contributed so far to this topic. :)
 

Jesse

New Member
Re: Airbrushing Basics?

Good thread. I was just thinking about trying my hand at airbrushing. I mainly want it for props and I'm thinking about getting back into modeling (I quit drinking a couple months ago and I've been hitting the props pretty hard to stay busy.)
What would be a good priced starter kit for props and models?
Aztek is a good starter kit, not too expensive, quick and easy to use so not so frustrating for beginners. You can start on those cheap Testors or Badger kits as well, but you'll outgrow the single actions if you find yourself airbrushing lots. Most places it's pretty trivial to pick up a used Iwata or Paasche dual action set off craiglist or similar.
 

Gigatron

Sr Member
Re: Airbrushing Basics?

Before running out and buying new airbrushes and compressors, regardless of how inexpensive, use this brush to learn the basics of technique. You don't learn to drive in a lamborghini and you don't need to learn to airbrush with a $200 Iwata.

Go back to the goodwill store, or flea markets or even ebay and pick up a few, dirt cheap model kits that you don't care about - half-builts, missing parts - whatever.

First, realize that an external mix, single action brush, is only good for spraying the widest of patterns. You can spray the body of a model car, or the fuselage of a plane. Details are almost out of the question, without heavy masking.

You need to learn how to properly thin the paint, how close to the model you should be spraying (depending on the output psi of the compressor) - too close and you'll get runs, too far and the finish will be gritty. Learn to start the flow before you hit the model and and stop after you've passed it. Long sweeping motions that start and stop, off the model.

You can look at youtube videos, but don't rely on them for anything more than guidelines. Everyone's experience is going to be different. The only way you're going to get good, is practice, practice and more practice.

Once you're comfortable with technique, and you're still interested in airbrushing, start considering a mid-level brush, like a Paasche or Badger. Depending on how much you're willing to spend, you can go for a single-action, internal mix, or a dual-action, internal mix - the dual-action being the more expensive of the two. With the right adapter, you should be able to use your current compressor with a different brush.

If you get really serious about airbrushing, look into a multi-gallon compressor with a built-in regulator. I have a craftsman 3 gallon tank, that I got for $99 a few years back, and it has served me well. And if you really like it, you can move up to high-end Badgers or Iwatas. I wouldn't trade my Iwata HP-C for anything.

If you can get a hold of it, February's issue of Finescale Modeler has a great article on using craft acrylics for painting models.


Remember, don't get sucked into the hype of expensive brushes or expensive dvd tutorials - many people have learned to airbrush with the cheapest of brushes, an old innertube and practice.

Good luck and welcome to a whole new world of modeling :cool.

-Fred
 

CB2001

Master Member
Re: Airbrushing Basics?

Before running out and buying new airbrushes and compressors, regardless of how inexpensive, use this brush to learn the basics of technique. You don't learn to drive in a lamborghini and you don't need to learn to airbrush with a $200 Iwata.

Go back to the goodwill store, or flea markets or even ebay and pick up a few, dirt cheap model kits that you don't care about - half-builts, missing parts - whatever.

First, realize that an external mix, single action brush, is only good for spraying the widest of patterns. You can spray the body of a model car, or the fuselage of a plane. Details are almost out of the question, without heavy masking.

You need to learn how to properly thin the paint, how close to the model you should be spraying (depending on the output psi of the compressor) - too close and you'll get runs, too far and the finish will be gritty. Learn to start the flow before you hit the model and and stop after you've passed it. Long sweeping motions that start and stop, off the model.

You can look at youtube videos, but don't rely on them for anything more than guidelines. Everyone's experience is going to be different. The only way you're going to get good, is practice, practice and more practice.

Once you're comfortable with technique, and you're still interested in airbrushing, start considering a mid-level brush, like a Paasche or Badger. Depending on how much you're willing to spend, you can go for a single-action, internal mix, or a dual-action, internal mix - the dual-action being the more expensive of the two. With the right adapter, you should be able to use your current compressor with a different brush.

If you get really serious about airbrushing, look into a multi-gallon compressor with a built-in regulator. I have a craftsman 3 gallon tank, that I got for $99 a few years back, and it has served me well. And if you really like it, you can move up to high-end Badgers or Iwatas. I wouldn't trade my Iwata HP-C for anything.

If you can get a hold of it, February's issue of Finescale Modeler has a great article on using craft acrylics for painting models.


Remember, don't get sucked into the hype of expensive brushes or expensive dvd tutorials - many people have learned to airbrush with the cheapest of brushes, an old innertube and practice.

Good luck and welcome to a whole new world of modeling :cool.

-Fred
Thanks for the info, Fred. Like I said, I'm trying to start off with basics, which is why I'm going with an airbrush gun I already had and an air compressor for that gun I got for under $1 that still runs. I'm trying to get the baby steps done so I can get used to doing it.
 

CB2001

Master Member
Re: Airbrushing Basics?

Any opinion on the Testor airbrush yet?
For me, I haven't gotten any paint to test it out with yet, so I can't really say anything.

Amazon has three reviews (all of them at 5 stars). I haven't been able to find any other reviews independently of Amazon.
 

Spitcrazy

New Member
Re: Airbrushing Basics?

When you use a air copressor, with no tank, you might notice a stipple, effect. It is where the air compressor is pumping the air through the line. Not a good option for illistraion work! Your details will look horrible! If you have a compressor with a tank, the compressor runs until it fills the tank. Than the air you use is a steady flow of air coming from the tank ( not the compressor ) so you have nice even flow, and nice detail!
An easy way you can cheat this is by getting an extra long hose. The volume of the hose dampens the pulses from the compressor.

Lance (the manager at the store) does a lot of the artwork we have and says single action vs. double action is much more personal preference as opposed to what you intend to do with it. He prefers the single action because you can just set the paint flow/air pressure and then it's more on/off than trying to balance air pressure and flow on the fly. Again, personal preference.

Lance is also the one that taught me about the long hose trick.
 

trooper

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Re: Airbrushing Basics?

what about thinners? is ther a better or cheeper way to thin the mm paint, there thinner is sooo darn expensive. a pint of this stuff is around $9, thats $72 gallon....i want in on this gig. holy crap
i had one guy tell me the body shop enamel thinner would be good...i think it would be to hot and melt the plastic????

excuse me, those are 1/2 pints so its $144 a gallon
 
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