Airbrushing Basics (A Thread for Beginners and Returners)

Discussion in 'General Modeling' started by CB2001, Dec 31, 2011.

  1. CB2001

    CB2001 Master Member

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    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?
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2016
  2. cylon75

    cylon75 Well-Known Member

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    Re: Airbrushing Basics?

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

    DaddyfromNaboo Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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  4. CB2001

    CB2001 Master Member

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    Re: Airbrushing Basics?

    Thanks ManfromNaboo. I tried using YouTube to see if anything came up, but I kept getting "previews", basically summarized videos for full length DVDs you have to purchase in order to get the full lesson.
     
  5. jasonw2112

    jasonw2112 Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    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!
     
  6. Robiwon

    Robiwon Master Member Gone but not forgotten.

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    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.
     
  7. T2SF

    T2SF Well-Known Member

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    Re: Airbrushing Basics?

    See if there are any airbrush workshops in your area. Youtube, smartflix.
     
  8. CB2001

    CB2001 Master Member

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    Re: Airbrushing Basics?

    Well, I'm going for free information for now, but I may do the DVD thing later.

    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.

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

    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.

    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).

    Thanks. I'll definitely do that.

    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).

    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.
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2012
  9. zorg

    zorg Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    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
     
  10. jasonw2112

    jasonw2112 Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    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!
     
  11. Jesse

    Jesse New Member

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    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.
     
  12. Nataku

    Nataku Sr Member

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    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?
     
  13. CB2001

    CB2001 Master Member

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    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. :)
     
  14. Jesse

    Jesse New Member

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    Re: Airbrushing Basics?

    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.
     
  15. Gigatron

    Gigatron Sr Member

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    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
     
  16. CB2001

    CB2001 Master Member

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    Re: Airbrushing Basics?

    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.
     
  17. tictoc

    tictoc Well-Known Member

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    Re: Airbrushing Basics?

    Any opinion on the Testor airbrush yet?
     
  18. CB2001

    CB2001 Master Member

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    Re: Airbrushing Basics?

    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.
     
  19. Spitcrazy

    Spitcrazy New Member

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    Re: Airbrushing Basics?

    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.
     
  20. trooper

    trooper Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    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
     
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2012
  21. robn1

    robn1 Master Member

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    Re: Airbrushing Basics?

    If it's the MM enamels, acetone will do. For the Acryl, isopropyl alcohol or distilled water.
     
  22. trooper

    trooper Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Re: Airbrushing Basics?

    wont acetone eat the plastic or dull gloss finishes?
    i tried lacquer thinner and had this result.otherwise i will defiantly try it
     
  23. Ronan87

    Ronan87 Sr Member

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    Re: Airbrushing Basics?

    I'm currently using a $300 Iwata with a generic compressor attached to an air tank. I replaced the valves, filters, tubing, etc with better quality parts.

    First, don't cheap out on your airbrush. Get a good one, double action (push down on trigger = air, pull back = paint, FULL control), cup with cap (or you will spill at first and waste paint... lets not talk about the mess) and available replacement parts (needles get bent easily, nozzle opening can also be damaged easily). I recommend Iwata since it's the only brand that worked and kept working with very little issues (keep it clean!). You can go cheaper of course, but don't get those Chinese/generic brand airbrushes, you'll spend more time fiddling with them than doing any airbrushing, and when a part break you are SOL.

    Badger, Mr Hobby and Paasche are good cheap airbrush brands.

    Compressor with a tank or you won't get a constant air feed. Don't bother with the 'stealth' compressors, they just make a LITTLE bit less noise, and cost 2x more.

    Stick to one type of paint, learn how that paint reacts with its thinner. Every paint is different (brand, type, color) and weather can affect it. Practice makes perfect, aim for a milky constituency.

    Work in multiple layers, don't try to cover a part with one coat, and keep the airbrush moving! NEVER let the airbrush stand still when operating or you will have a run/drip.

    Practice, practice, and practice.

    Always clean your airbrush after EVERY usage. You don't need a sonic cleaner, but you'll need lint free rags/paper towels. Use the same thinner as the paint you just used to clean your airbrush. For acrylics you can cheap out and use Windex (blue one).

    After a couple good usage, let the parts soak overnight in a cleaning bath. Careful with the orings, i personally clean them but don't let them soak in anything too long.

    It takes time and practice, but the results are second to none :)
     
  24. robn1

    robn1 Master Member

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    Re: Airbrushing Basics?

    I've never had trouble with gloss, acetone is a recommended thinner for some enamel brands. Mineral spirits is also good, but it's a little heavy and oily. I prefer acetone for spraying. It can eat plastic, but most of it will evaporate in the spray before it hits the model. Test to be sure. Even Testors' enamel thinner can eat plastic applied full strength.
     
  25. Spitcrazy

    Spitcrazy New Member

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    Re: Airbrushing Basics?

    I would actually advise the opposite. When someone is first starting out with airbrush I would recomend a cheap throw away brush (under $40) so that they can play with it a little and get a feel for it and if they do something wrong they arn't out a lot of money.

    The expensive airbrushes are good when you want to get to the point of drawing very fine lines, but for anything less than 1/8th of an inch then you may as well use a regular brush on a stick.

    Double action is more precise, but if you set your pain/airflow with your compressor and playing with sheets of paper/cardboard, then it's all set and you just push on/off and don't need to be thinking about paint/air flow while trying to make your motions.

    You can cheat not having a tank by using extra long lines. The air in longer lines absorbs the pulses. The volume is personal preference (or roommate/spouse), but you can cheat by putting under a desk or cutting a half box around it so the sound is dampened, just be careful of heat and to not restrict the air going into the machine.

    :thumbsup This times 10. Even use cardboard or scrap plastic. I'd recommend finding a model or something that you aren't concerned with and painting it a few different ways different times.

    Acrylic is the way to go for the most part IMO since clean up is as simple as soap and water or windex. That said, you will need to prime most plastics with enamel to make them work. I tell everyone that you can use model primers for very thin primers, but when you are first starting out just use rattle cans from a hardware store. They are cheap and good for starting/practice models.

    Lance (my manager) is the source for most of my info. Here is a link to his site :) Airbrush Art by Lance Russwurm
     
  26. mvmagic

    mvmagic Active Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Re: Airbrushing Basics?

    There really is one thing that cannot be repeated enough: practice, practice, practice as many have pointed out!

    The two most common mistakes I've seen are not thinning the paint enough and not being patient, in other words painting too thick layers. Usually just one heavy layer.

    And you really can't be too * about cleaning the brush. Do it after every use like Ronan87 points out. You can get sonic cleaners cheap, but its up to you whether you wanna use one or not. I've read somewhere windex corrodes something, but cant remember whether it was the chrome or the o-rings... I use Iwata's own airbrush cleaner myself.

    This is merely a tip... I've airbrushed with every paint I can find and as a result of that, I stick to Auto-Air Colors and Wicked Colors even when doing models. Wicked Colors have great spraying qualities, though they separate if mixed so I use them "as is". For custom colors I use Auto-Air sealer white which I tint with their transparent colors. It is a bit more work, but results are really great. For brush work (weathering etc) I still use normal Tamiya or Vallejo acrylics.
     
  27. trooper

    trooper Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Re: Airbrushing Basics?

    i spoke the other day to a guy who owns a hobby shop, he uses some very nice guns, for acrylics that's all he uses is windex fro clean up, but NOT with ammonia as it will eat the protective chrome.
    the acetone worked great! as did another recommendation from elsewhere...xylene. i found a combination of the two slows things down a bit and shoots very nice. i've got a new paasche coming, i cant wait to try out. up to this point all i've ever used is a single action badger....time to step up.

    thanks for the advice :)
     
  28. CB2001

    CB2001 Master Member

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    I'm making this post because I've gotten back to wanting to try out air brushing yet again. I have to give thanks to my Mom. It's because she's interested in taking up painting that got me thinking about getting into air brushing once more. So, I broke out my Testors single-action air brush gun and air compressor, and actually figured out why I didn't succeed the first time around when I had the air brush gun and the aerosal can (basically, it was primarily my mixing of paint and thinner, which didn't work).

    Anyways, I figured I'd start with resurrecting this thread with something interesting: a tutorial on using craft acrylic paint thinned down for airbrush and how it compares with Testors air brush acrylic. Let me know what you guys think about this concept (seriously, I would think that using windshield wiper fluid in acrylic paint would taint the paint color). It's in three parts:


     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 8, 2018
  29. Automaton

    Automaton Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for sharing those! I'll have my old airbrush back in a few weeks and intend to get a compressor soon. I can't comment on the techniques, but these are really useful nonetheless
     
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  30. CB2001

    CB2001 Master Member

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    You're welcome. I myself haven't tried this yet (though I do have the paint, same brand and all, and the windshield wiper fluid), but it seems to be something that might work.
     
  31. Vacformedhero

    Vacformedhero Sr Member

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