Tuesday, 10 July 2012

O'Shashar's Misadventures With His Airbrush - Starting Out

Good evening and thank you for joining me once again in the Cupboard of Nurgle. Today I would like to talk to you about starting out with airbrushing and depending how much I learn as I go along this may become a regular series of tips. Now I am new to airbrushing so my tips will really only be good for people who have just started or are thinking about starting out.

Firstly I would recommend you ask yourself why you want an airbrush, it seems to be a bit of a stupid question but by asking myself this I had put this purchase off for a long time based on the knowledge that most of the painting I would do could be achieved with a paint brush. Personally I got an airbrush as I wanted to paint a large amount of terrain and vehicles as well as apply base coats in batches.

Once you have decided this is something you want to invest in it is time to either ask someone who knows about airbrushing miniatures at your local game club or search the internet for information. I went the internet route as I know a lot of people interested in airbrushing but like me have held off. The internet is full of useful information and differing points of view so try to read as much as you can to get an overall view of what's out there.

After my research I decided I would need the following:
  • Airbrush ( To start I got a cheap double action one to test with before I get the higher quality one I have my eye on purely so if this went badly I wouldn't have sunk too much money into it)
  • Compressor with an air tank ( to prevent pulsation in the air pressure and over heating )
  • Airbrush Holder ( I got a combined Airbrush holder & cleaning jar and has served me well )
  • Cleaning Tools
  • Cleaning Fluid
  • Moisture Trap
  • Respirator ( Acrylics are not toxic by nature and without the chemicals of propellant they are not as bad for you but I don't think breathing in something that is a nightmare to get off your hands is a good idea )
This is by no means a comprehensiveness list and if you find anything you feel will make your experience better go for it. You will also need to think of where you plan to spray as it will need to be well ventilated and spray booths to buy or build can be found online. A lot of people recommend buying a second needle for the brush as they are quite delicate and even a small bend can render them useless, I would like to add to this they are sharp enough so you won't feel them go stick in until you hit something solid.

So now you have your set up and are eager to get started you should stop and read the instructions for all the equipment you bought, now I know this goes against everyone's favourite method of trial and error but keep in mind that you have just spent a fair amount of money on equipment you haven't used before and there is a good chance something is going to go wrong.

Once you are familiar with the instructions you want to disassemble and reassemble your airbrush a few times to make yourself comfortable with doing this for cleaning. I did not do this and while using my airbrush I took the needle out to clean it causing me to flood it all with paint. Due to this I had to disassemble it, coated in paint and with no idea how it went back together I do not recommend that to anyone.

Next time I will be talking about using your Airbrush for the first time, paint choices and all the fun and failures I have experienced so far.

Until then keep spreading his gifts to all you encounter in your travels through the warp.



  1. Nice start to your air brush series of posts, I have to say from what you have said it put me off getting one a bit, as I dont like the idea of the extensive clean up it sounds like it needs.  I have the GW air brush thing which is obviously a crappy cheap version just for basecoating but I do recall how much I hated cleaning it.

  2. Looking good. Interested to see further guides in this area. Whats the difference in an air compressor and a aerosol can? Is the compressor option usable on sytrofoam and other such materials that get melted by spray cans?

  3. It definitely is strongly suggested to clean out the airbrush after each session, I've heard that using an ultrasonic cleaner does a pretty good job of cleaning one really well.  The only thing is you'll have to lubricate parts after an ultrasonic cleaning.
    What airbrush and compressor did you get for your first time?

  4. Nice one - I'll be following your post as I'm also looking into starting airbrushing and have absolutely no idea where to start...

  5. Hopefully you will find it useful as most likely will be a chronicling of my mistakes and few bits of advice I can find through trial and error that I think might be of use.

  6. Thanks should be a regular post for next couple of weeks I imagine so can get down all that I have learnt while it is fresh in my mind.

    It is a pain to clean I can't lie about that and hopefully will get quicker at it over time though I have been running to the rule of if I can do it in under 30 minutes with a brush don't get out the airbrush.

  7. From what I read online the cans lose pressure quite quickly so you end up using two cans to keep pressure up as well as being quite pricey and when they run out that is the end of your session for the day.

    With it being compressed air in a can I imagine it also has the problem of chemicals in the can like spray paints use for the propellent. The compressor just uses air so you need a moisture trap to prevent the odd bit of water slipping through at a bad time but should be safe for Styrofoam.

  8. After each session I have been giving the brush a clean and between each refill / colour change I have been cleaning the cup out to try and keep it lubricated and prevent build up when I have paint in it ( which I found out the hard way ). Might be worth looking into an ultrasonic cleaner thanks for the tip.

    Airbrush I have a generic no name one I got with my airbrush to use until I am confident I won't break the Badger Renegade Krome I plan to get shortly.

    For the compressor I picked up an "as186" compressor as for the price and size it got great reviews.

  9. Are you using any type of thinner for your acrylic paints?  It helps keep the flow smooth without gunking up the inside of the airbrush so quickly.  

    I've also got my eyes on the Badger Krome, it's highly recommended by Les Bursley.  So far I've been enjoying Iwata-Medea.

  10. So far I have only tried thinning the paints with water though this looks to be a bad idea for adhesion.

    I tried to use a 10:1 mix of airbrush cleaner I saw suggested on line but this stripped the colour to a grey water so I binned that idea off.

    I picked up some of the Vallejo Model Air colours to try next to see how these are as shouldn't require any thinning but any advice on mixing thinner and normal acrylics would be appreciated to let me use my normal paints for both so I know I can touch up with ease.


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