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Air Brushes And Reaper Paint


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Given that the Bones express will be reaching my door step on the sooner side now, I've been thinking about the many LARGE models that I will be getting and how to handle them. And it seems like perhaps stepping into using an air brush for them could make good sense. But this leads me to a few questions for people who are doing this before I would invest in something like this. I'm not looking for any recommendations on equipment, there are MANY good videos and posts out there about that.


First off is simply, how well does the reaper paint (MSP and MSP HD) work in a air brush? Do you need to thin out the paint from the bottle to use it? If so, what sort of ratios?


And secondly, I've been able to find videos on "general" usage of the air brush and usage on non-fantasy minis (tanks, etc). Does anyone have any advice or pointers to anything that would show someone using a air brush on a large figure like a dragon? I'd like to use the air brush for more than just the base coating given the size of the figure (highlighting, etc). So any pointers on how to approach this would be great. And I do realize that brush work will still be needed.


Thanks in advance!

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Reaper Masters and HD paints will both work through an airbrush. Ratios tend to vary based on brand and the color you are using. In general I start at 1:1 and then work from there. Typically I end up at something closer to 40:60 (paint to water), again it depends on brand and color and its not an exact science by any means. I have used Reaper Master, Reaper HD, Vallejo Model Color and even craft paint through my airbrush. I actually prefer Reaper HD through the airbrush over the Master series.


Vallejo Model Air is designed for airbrushes and in theory will work straight from the bottle but I usually still end up thinning it a bit. Badger Airbrush paint is pretty good straight from the bottle as well at least I have never had to thin any of my Badger paints.


You really do have a lot of control with an airbrush especially true if you get a compressor that allows you to adjust the air pressure. The large miniatures that I have painted I have primed black first, if you want the final colors to pop more then you can hit it with a white primer over the black primer from the direction of the light you are envisioning (zenithal). If you want a morally ambiguous light source then come in from directly above.


I work from darkest to lightest with the my colors. I spray from a steep angle coming up from below the model with the darkest color, with each added color I reduce the angle, so if I'm at the midtone spot then I'm pretty much perpendicular to my model, my highest highlight will be from the same direction as my light source.


Then its time to go in and pick out the details with a brush. You can see a rough approximation of this on my blog:



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You will need to thin the Reaper paint a bit to work in an airbrush. If you use just water, you will likely find that you get some clogging. I have used Golden airbrush medium (sometimes straight, sometimes with a bit of water) and it helped a lot with that. However, it does make the paint dry more slowly, and this becomes more noticeable the more medium you add. A lot the people using the airbrush regularly use a solution of 1 part 90% alcohol to 9 parts water, and that should dry pretty quickly. I've been meaning to try this, just haven't airbrushed in a while.


Whichever method you use, I recommend mixing the paint and thinner in a little cup and then pouring the mixture into the airbrush rather than trying to mix in your airbrush reservoir.


You will also find it handy to have a stiff brush handy to wipe drying paint off the tip of your needle as you brush. Some paints seem to dry faster there than others, and it eventually builds up and hampers your spray.


I have primarily used my airbrush to paint fairly small figures, so I don't have any tips on the larger ones. There are different sizes of nozzle. While a .2 or 3. mm is pretty nice for the smaller guys and detail work on the larger figures, you might find a .5 or even bigger handy for doing the initial steps on the big figures. Some airbrushes can swap out nozzles, some can't. (I can buy kits for different nozzle sizes for my Grex, I don't know how common it is.)

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