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Learning to airbrush with (mostly) CAV


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I recently received an airbrush and for some practice I thought I should put some paint on my CAV models. I am just playing around, but feel free to offer any tips as I don't really know what I am doing.


Here is my first one which was base coated with a pearl red from createx. I picked up a couple createx and wicked colors at hobby lobby on sale, but they don't seem to be working nicely with my liqutex thinner. I have never seen acrylic water based paint go bad (not dry up, but actually go bad), so I am imagining that the bases are incompatible with each other. It is just odd and this guy is still a bit tacky from 2 days ago. Hand washed and detailed. Can you wash with an airbrush without just getting streaks because the paint is too thin?


I tried to manually add some colors to the guns to make it look like they got a bit warm and discolored the metal. I was going by memory and don't think I got the colors correct. Not really happy with this guy, but I probably won't do any more than clear coat and base it then call it good.



Next guy will be green. This one and everything that follows (at least in this post) is completed with badgers model flex paint. This is the first basecoat, and it is a bit skimpy. I think I over sprayed the next layer. Learning!



I tried to do a two color tank next. I managed to pull some of the paint off trying to do a mask out of card stock. This particular model was very shiny despite washing, so it is uncertain weather is is due to paint or an anomaly in this model. Then, I clogged the brush and got brown paint everywhere, as seen by the spots...



Not a CAV, but a secret weapon base is next, just trying to work on brush control. This was primed with the green primer from my reaper swag bag. There is far to much overspray on the white rocks with the brown.



This next one was primed green like the base to see if it is more resilient than just the paint, then painted with an aircraft grey. I think I thinned the grey too much. Straight from the bottle, it seems a bit thick and clogs the brush by the time I have completed basecoating the model, but I haven't quite gotten the thinning down. I think it is coated rather well, just was a bit more difficult to work with then if it was a bit thicker.



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I believe the consensus is that the best primer on anything Bones is Brown Liner. Not that I've tried airbrushing with it...


I mostly use disposable plastic spoons as victims for my airbrushing attempts. 

(They're cheap! so no worry if the result is less than perfect. Just toss it and start messing up the next)


Consider adding Vallejo Airbrush Retarder to the mix. It's supposed to help delay the drying process. That should help with the clogging.

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Facepalm... See, I coat my hand painted bones minis with liner, but it never actually occured to me to spray it. A quick search of the forums showed it should be possible. Results will follow.


I just did a fingernail test with some mooks that were lined a while ago and never received paint. The model flex is not as robust as the liners, but still takes a bit of force. It doesn't just rub off, even on the bottom of the one that did show wear. I could pull off the reaper letters on the bottom, but did need to use the nail. I think the model just had too much mold release that I didn't get off. The stynylrez seems a bit more robust than liner and worked quite well on the resin base. I just ordered some more... So if the makers are reading this, your marketing strategy worked - thanks for the sample in the swag bag.


Spoons? That is actually a fantastic idea! Thanks for sharing. I started with CAV as I don't play and will probably not start it for various reasons. The kickstarter was very much a "ohhh, shiny" moment. I am not too concerned about screwing them up or getting ugly minis.


I thought the medium was mostly retarder and flow-aid which is why I was trying to thin the paint with that. Is that not the case? Is there a reason you recommend Vallejo's? I have some liqutex slow-dry which should be the same basic thing. I have a bunch of liqutex left over from painting canvas, and it is a brand that is sold near me. I have to order online most hobby items so I do like to go into stores and pretend that I am not a hermit occasionally.


My apologizes for the long block of text. More picture coming soon as I get some minitaire and game\model air paint in the mail tomorrow!

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An airbrush is an awesome idea for a chirstmas present.

Just remember to also ask for a decent compressor with moisture trap.


I mentioned Vallejo because that's the one I use.

Of course, as I use the smallest (2.5ml) cup on my airbrush, I don't really use the stuff that much.

(Gravity fed airbrush with 0.3mm nozle)

Also, I use small sample tubes for mixing paint. Just pour paint, thinner and whatever else you use into the tube, close cap and shake it like H!


A little bit of insanity;


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I'm vaguely debating asking for an airbrush for Christmas so I'll watch your experiments here with some interest.


I don't know if I can handle that kind of pressure. [This should be purple, but I don't know how to do that.]


Gadgetman! I am going to take the time to read all the way through that thread, but it is a bit too late right now.


I have an aztek that was given to me. I bought a 3cc cup and a .5 mm tip and a .4 mm tip for it. The stynylrez primer goes through the .5 tip just fine, but struggles a bit with .4 (which is likely why the badger recommends a .5 or larger at 20-30 psi).


It is confirmed! I sprayed grey liner neat through my airbrush on to a model. NO clogging or other problems. Take a peak (minis are still wet in photo):



I also sprayed some minitaire paint onto these kobolds. You can see that my spray pattern is not exactly even which is most likely user error. Minitaire paints are also thinner than the model flex that I was previously using, which resulted in me over thinning the paint at first. You can see where it pooled on the skirt of the left one.


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I put some brown color over the liner. I don't have a plan for this one.


It is from the minitaire range and I managed to clog my brush again. However, I have had thoughts! It is dangerous I know, but I live on the edge. Yesterday, I gave the recommended psi for the primer. I had turned to pressure up to 30 when I primed and then turned it back down to 20 because I was having issues with blowing paint into a web pattern with my first mini with the createx paint. What if I had turned it down too low? I did not see a recommended psi on the manufacturer's webpage, but I could have missed it. Google turned up that people who discuss psi and these paints are I. The range of 15 to 30 psi, some like it neat, others like it thinned. Well, I should be near the right pressure. Except I then ran across an article on air hose loss from Don's airbrush tips. He described a loss of between 20 and 35 percent due to the tiny hose he uses, that looks remarkably similar to mine for my aztek. Including this information, I am likely spraying between 13 and 16 psi, which is possibility to low for this paint. So I did the only sane thing to do at this point....


I promptly ignored all this crazy number stuff and began spraying a neat Secret Weapon wash on my other mini. The wash went through the brush well and turned out pretty good.


It did pool a little,and when I tried to clean it up with a Q-tip, badness occurred. As you can see the wash is incredibly uneven on the leg here.


Here is an example of what I was trying to clean. On the flat part of the top of the leg, the wash has beaded a bit.


The top was sprayed in two thin layers and is the best part of the mini.


I will likely highlight and detail and be done with this mini.


While reviewing this post, I have discovered that I am verbose.

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I tried to do some highlighting with the airbrush. I think I am too heavy in amount of paint and too light in color for the look I was going for. Overall not horrible.



I worked on the base some more. Lightened the sandy area a bit. I think I am going to wash it by hand, drybush and work some on the ruins. Then, I will come back to see if I can make them glow.



To revisit some of the above projects, the red mecha is still a little tacky. Not sure why. I pulled the paint off the one that had some removal. Left in isopropanol, which took most of it off, then airbrush cleaner took the rest off. After washing in soap and water, it is still significantly more shiny than it should be as seen below next to another bones peice just washed today. Wondering if I should sandpaper it slightly before lining it. Has anyone tried this or had this problem?


Edited: I am cursed by the gods of spelling.

Edited by Hershaddow
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I'd say hit them with the liner before sanding them and see how that works.  I missed what type of paint you used on the ones that were tacky, were they enamel or acrylic?  Chances are if it wasn't acrylic the vinyl plasticizers were probably reacting with the base materials of the paint to prevent the paint from curing.  Using an aerosol can sealer or primer can also have that effect.

Edited by Sergeant_Crunch
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I'd say hit them with the liner before sanding them and see how that works.  I missed what type of paint you used on the ones that were tacky, were they enamel or acrylic?  Chances are if it wasn't acrylic the vinyl plasticizers were probably reacting with the base materials of the paint to prevent the paint from curing.  Using an aerosol can sealer or primer can also have that effect.

Thanks, I will try that. That first one was painted with createx, I had not played close attention when buying them and assumed they were water based acrylics. They do say water based on the bottle, but not acrylic. The bottle does not mention the type of paint. I do know that they are NOT water based acrylics.


I made some beetles! Minitiare brass monkey on top of grey liner on the beetle swarm. Just needs a bit of wash and a light drybrush.



Next up, camouflage! I don't know the first thing about camouflage, so I may have broke every rule and put the spots in illogical places. I just put some silly putty on the figure, then sprayed a different green. Repeat without removing the first round of putty, only with brown. Here it is ready for the brown. Visible is the clean putty preserving this green and the putty with green on top that protected the other green.



Here it is with the putty removed. I wish there was more differences in the green as the tricolor pattern not really noticeable.


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The lines of your camo isn't following the lines on the mini, so that is good. 

I think a brown of some sort would have worked better for the third colour, though.


Try searching out a picture of real camo in a pattern you like, snag a picture and upload it to the 'Power Palette' here on the Reaper site. 

That should give you a good idea of which paints to use. 

Some companies also sell matched sets of paints for camo, even listing them with country and when/where it was used.


Anarchy models in England have lots of airbrush templates and stickers that you might want to look at, for just this type of work.

They also have some nice YouTube vids of how to use them. (You can substitute masking tape for some of the stickers, at least)

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Do you mean closer to a tan? I am looking at pictures online and don't really see any with 2 colors that I would term "brown". Granted generic brown is about a thosand colors that vary greatly in hue and value, so it is possible that you just meant a different brown. I was thinking something with a bit more yellow (which I had expected from one of the greens). From google pictures, usual tri-color schemes seem to be 2 greens and either brown, tan or black or some other combination of those colors.


On the colors themselves, I am using model flex military set, so the colors should be relatively close to actual military colors. The bottles are not entirely clear, so the colors are sometimes hard to tell. I have been painting the tops as I use them, but until it dries, the color is still not correct. I guess I should just open them all and hit the tops. I did expect one of the greens to be lighter, which would have vastly improved the appearance. I may mask a good 80 percent and get a lighter color on it. I have been eyeing a couple of different sets from Vallejo, but due to the time of year I need to consider social convention and start buying presents for other people.... In addition, I have noted the 12 days of reaper and my wallet burst into tears.


Some of those stencils are gorgeous! Looks like some are reusable (HS) and some are not (HD), do you know if they are planning more reusable ones? That is not something I want to keep shipping across the pond to the US. I tend to paint more fantasy than military so I may need to grab some of those like the dragon scale in addition. After Christmas....

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