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There has been a bit of Interest recently in Air brushes, so I thought that I would start a thread on what they are about, what you need to get started, and some suggestions on what I consider a 'Good quality" airbrush.


Disclaimer- I am NOT an expert airbrush painter, and I certainly don't know everything My posts will contain MY opinions.


So what does one need to get started using an airbrush?


There are 4 basic components:


1. The airbrush itself.

2. A source of air.

3. A Regulator, to adjust the air pressure.

4. Hoses to connect these things together.


1. The Airbrush.

There are many different brands and styles of airbrushes on the market, but they all fall into a couple of Categories.

They are Action and Feed


Feed is how the paint go from the storage container to the item being painted. 3 Main Types:

A. Top Feed- The paint container, commonly called the 'cup' sits on top of the air brush. As in this example.


B. Side Feed- The cup is off to one side or the other, instead of being on top. Another example.



C. Bottom Feed- The paint comes up from a bottle underneath the airbrush.



Action is how the paint and air mix to form the spray. There are 2 main types of Action, Single and Dual.

A. Single Action- There is little or no control of how much paint is coming out while spraying, except, by controlling the amount of air.

In other words, the Single Action trigger only allows you to control the volume of air being released to push the paint.


If you look at the above airbrush, and compare it to the 3 above, you will notice 2 separate 'Nozzles' One pointing up, one pointing sideways. The nozzle pointing up is the 'paint feed' line, siphoning the paint from the jar. The Horizontal nozzle is the 'air feed'. The airbrush works by the venturi effect, in that the air from the air nozzle passing over the paint nozzle lowers the local air pressure so that the paint is drawn up the tube and sprayed. The Paint-Air mix occurs Outside the airbrush.

(My opinion here- These are very basic airbrushes, good only for base coats and doing terrain. Detail work is impossible)


B. Dual Action- The airbrush trigger allows control of both the volume of air released, as well as the volume of paint released.

All 3 of the airbrushes show in the Feed section are Dual Action.

The trigger is the 'T' shaped object on the top of the brush over where the air hose connects.

Pushing 'Down" on the trigger controls the volume of air released, Pulling 'Back' on the trigger controls the volume of paint released.

This allows the very fine detail work some of these things can produce.

(My opinion here- If you are reading this forum, you are painting things where you need to be able to do a degree of detail work. You NEED a dual action brush)


2. The source of Air

The 2 main sources of air used in our hobby are Compressors, and 'Canned Air'.

A. Canned Air- Basically a can of spray paint with no paint and the ability to be connected to an airbrush.


The problem with this is that it runs out, usually at the most inconvenient time. It can be inconsistent. A it gets used, the can gets cold, pressure drops, and paint flow suffers.

(My opinion- Don't bother! If you are going to use an air brush in our hobby, you need a compressor!)


B. Compressors- There are many kinds of air compressors out there, fro tiny little ones that will fit in the palm of your hand, to huge ones like you would see in a Garage that fixes lots of cars!

There are really 2 types of air compressors used in our hobby, 'Tanked' and 'Tank-less'.

What this means is that a compressor with a 'tank' has a storage area for compressed air. The compressor runs to fill the tank to a certain PSI (Pounds per Square Inch), then shuts off until the pressure drops to a certain level, it then runs until the required pressure is met.

A 'Tank-less' compressor runs constantly to provide air.

(Disclaimer- I have no experience with this type of compressor)


3. A Regulator- The means of adjusting the pressure of air going to and through the airbrush. Different paints require different psi to push them through the airbrush, and these are the means to control that. There will be a gauge of some type, marked in PSI, and a knob to raise or lower the amount going through.

(Note, All compressors will have a regulator to adjust the outgoing air pressure, I just feel that this is not the best way to control the air to my airbrush, so I have a second regulator that I use to adjust the PSI)


There are many different types of regulators available...


4.  Hoses- You need to connect the airbrush to the regulator and the regulator to the compressor. They come in different sizes, so be sure that the hose you get fits not only the airbrush, but also the air source! There are many different adapters available as well.


Here ends my discussion of the "what you need" to airbrush.


There are many facets to still discuss about airbrushes and compressors...


Please feel free to add, contradict, and generally comment on what YOU feel is needed! We are all after information, and what works for me might not work for you! Or someone else...




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Oh oh. Okay question: Needle sizes. What's good for what? I've seen them range from .2 to .5, average brushes typically carry a .3.


Then what's this about a water reservoir on the tanks?


How much work should I typically expect to be able to do with a compressor with a tank? Some say fifeteen minutes I've heard hours from others but don't really know what to expect lengthwise for our hobby.


What else.......

Edited by MissMelons
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Knarthex, I love you. This threads perfect. It took quite a bit of trial and error, YouTube, multiple blogs for me to figure this stuff out. Thanks.

Some of this stuff is distilled from another forum that I am a member of. I started a thread about "airbrushes what to buy?" in 2009.... The thread is still active and pinned there. Many awesome painters put in their opinions about what was good, what wasn't, and cheerfully rebutted each other!

If you would like to read that, PM me and I will send you a link. Warning, you must sign up on that forum, no guesting like here at Reaper....




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Tankless seems to work pretty well.


I used to run a industrial-sized one to fill up an alternate 5-ga tank, which was pretty loud when filling but basically silent when using. I'd always worry about running out of air for long brushing sessions.


Got a cheap tankless, it's fairly quiet (usable indoors without much fuss), and provides nice air on demand, the only thing is that it can get hot for extended use.

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But its nice to have this detail of information in one thread and not ten different ones. The compendium is awesome but it took reading each of them to learn all that he's just posted I'm this one thread. Also, there's no thread on airbrush needles, moisture traps, noise control of compressors, calibrating a compressor for our use, and how to use an airvent.

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Oh oh. Okay question: Needle sizes. What's good for what? I've seen them range from .2 to .5, average brushes typically carry a .3.


Then what's this about a water reservoir on the tanks?


How much work should I typically expect to be able to do with a compressor with a tank? Some say fifeteen minutes I've heard hours from others but don't really know what to expect lengthwise for our hobby.


What else.......

My airbrush has a .3mm nozzle, it does everything I need it to do. If you look at my WIP on Takhisis, at the end (pg8) you can see where I used my airbrush to do the belly scales and wing undersides.


When air is compressed, it gets heated, when it cools, water vapor will condense out, and needs to be removed. Tanks on compressors will have a blow down near / at the bottom of the tank to let you do this. It can be messy! Do it outside if you can. (See pics below)

I have a moisture trap in front of my regulator, as you don't want water in you air line either. Imagine painting with a brush that has a bead of water on the ferrule. Just as you touch the brush tip to the mini, that bead rolls down and onto the tip, totally messing up your paint dilution....


The line in from the right is from the compressor, it goes through the moisture trap, through the regulator and out to the airbrush.


The amount of time you get from a tank depends on the tank size, and what PSI you are using. It also depends on what you mean by that statement. I have never depleted my tank to the point that I had to stop airbrushing, because the compressor will come on when it gets below a certain pressure.

My compressor has a 3 gallon tank, that stops pressurizing at 110psi. It starts again at about 70 psi and runs for  few minutes until its 'full' again. The time depends on how much I deplete it. If I am filling the tires on a car for example it takes longer.

When I am actively using my airbrush, I am spraying at about 10 psi, and it will usually last for quite a bit before the compressor comes on. When I am cleaning my airbrush, I change to about 30 psi, and the compressor comes on more often.


One thing I didn't talk about was noise level. I use a Campbell Hausfeld compressor that is designed to be used for 'light household use'. Small nail guns, tire inflation, etc It was under $100, and is the 2nd on I have bought from that company. The first I used for over 5 years, before something happened, and I have taken it apart, and may be able to fix it...


It isn't quiet!

My painting room is such that it really can't be heard on the upper floors of the house.(By me anyway, I went upstairs to the rooms over my paint area when I knew the compressor was running) When the compressor is running, I don't hear the music playing to well... 

I don't airbrush much after 10pm though....


Some of the 'dedicated compressors' are almost silent, from my understanding. Looking at some Iawata compressor stats, they give a Noise level in db... Can be important if you live in an apartment.

Most of the 'Dedicated' compressors that I have seen do not have tanks, and usually start at $200+....


Hope some of that helps!


My compressor:



The valve on the tank for the water purge. The pencil is pointing at it.

post-14271-0-25756100-1442104146_thumb.jpg post-14271-0-78005900-1442104150_thumb.jpg


My airbrush is a Grex Genesis XS side feed. The same one I used for the example side feed in the first post.

Mine has an ergonomic grip added, and a regulator with a quick disconnect at the end of the hose. I have removed the green barrel at the end of the brush so that I can more easily clean it. The little silver knob at the end of the green barrel is a set screw to keep you from pulling the trigger to far back and spraying more paint than you want to. See first post to see what I am talking bout.

post-14271-0-86207600-1442104155_thumb.jpg post-14271-0-85041400-1442104160_thumb.jpg




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