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Airbrush noob questions


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Seeing that I'll be getting a couple of larger pieces over the next couple of months (and already having some), I'm thinking about getting a small airbrush.

What I want to do:

- I do not like priming with a spray can, so maybe the airbrush is the way to go for me ...

- base coat on larger pieces (terrain - or a dragon).

 

What do I need, what should I be careful about / pay attention to? I have never used one before ... I gather I do not just need the airbrush, but a compressor, too?

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Yes, you need a compressor. Also, a particulate mask. Look for an N95-rated mask. Unless you're spraying non-water-based paints / primers like enamels or lacquers. Then you'll need a P95 chemical respirator.

 

Cleaner, and some sort of cleaning station. You can buy purpose-made for both (what I do) or on the other end of the spectrum you can use Windex and a jar with a hole in the lid.

 

You'll likely want a gravity feed airbrush, one with a metal cup mounted above the brush. They waste less paint since you can spray almost all of it, and they also work at lower pressures, meaning you don't blow your minis all over the place as badly. Even a 1/4 oz cup goes quite a way; spraying paint is a lot more efficient than brushing it.

 

Single-action vs. double-action is your call. Single-action airbrushes are cheaper and simpler to get started with, but they're generally not good for painting with, other than stencils and some basic shading. Double-action airbrushes can do everything a single-action airbrush can do and more, but the action takes some getting used to. If you think you might do airbrush painting in the future, you probably want to grab a double-action. I ended up grabbing both so I could dedicate my single-action brush to priming and basecoating, and dedicate my double-action brush to painting. But I started with a double-action, and it primed and base-coated perfectly fine.

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I am far from an airbrush expert, but I did buy one last year.  I went with a kit from TCP global (I can't link but that shouldn't stop you).  They have a variety, and you can get a low-end brush and compressor for less than $100.  I went with an Iwata Eclipse, with a compressor that had a tank with it, for around $300.  It came with a bunch of paints, along with a cleaning station.  In addition, I purchased some cleaning fluid and some thinner.  The paints that came with the kit I use for getting practice with controlling the flow, air pressure, etc.  The cheap ones are just fine for priming and basecoating. 

 

If you wander over to You Tube, there's a painter who's got some good tips on using/cleaning an airbrush.  Vince Venturella. 

 

I never thought I'd want one, but I love using it.  I can get zenithal priming done quickly, it works great for the larger resin buildings I like to paint, and I can get glowing/OSL lighting effects pretty easy.  Maybe not enough to win awards yet, but I'm very happy I invested in one.

 

The most important thing to know is that there are lots of small, precision parts.  Don't try to take it apart without having a dedicated space.  Be very careful with the nozzle and the needle.  You will get clogs, so keep the instruction book and schematics around so you know how everything goes together. 

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I got one of the cheap sets for less than $100 for Christmas.  The compressor is great but the gun broke on me last week.  The gun was very cheap and after learning about airbrushing (well watching a few hours of videos on YouTube) I decided that I really didn't like how the brush was designed.  It didn't last long but it was good to learn with.

 

Last night I bought a new Harder & Steenbeck airbrush that has a completely different nozzle design from the cheap airbrush or even the Iwatas.  The nozzle on them can be very fragile and break easily but I think if you learn the proper cleaning technique you should be OK. 

 

Don't know if any of this helps or if it was just the ravings of a madman.

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1 hour ago, WolfLord said:

I just got an airbrush kit and a friend was saying that I should either buy a hood with a vent or make one.  Is this necessary for working on minis?  I was going to use my reaper paints for it.  Thanks.

 

At the very least, you'll want some kind of backdrop to catch what doesn't hit your mini.  For the same reason you will want to some kind of mask, without a booth/box/vented hood, the excess spray will start covering everything.

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You can make a spray booth by taking a large cardboard box and mounting a couple of PC chassis fans in the bottom, and putting some sort of filter in front of them. 

The spray booths you cn buy is just that; a  box with fans and filters , and usually a large, flexible hose attached to lead the exhaust air out an open window.

 

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6 hours ago, WolfLord said:

I just got an airbrush kit and a friend was saying that I should either buy a hood with a vent or make one.  Is this necessary for working on minis?  I was going to use my reaper paints for it.  Thanks.

 

FYI-  I bought my spray booth for like $75 and free shipping.  It has a large tube that can be used to direct the air outside or can be used without the the tube.  It also can fold up into a pretty small case that helps with storage and it came with some amazing LED lights that attach on the inside of the box but can be removed when its folded.  My only complaint is that I can't have just the light on without the fan.  

 

I highly recommend it.  It can be found very easy on Amazon.

 

I will try to post some pictures of mine this evening.

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I tried an airbrush from china ordered from Amazon and quickly clogged and destroyed it.  Then I took the basic airbrushing class at Reapercon and learned all the Do's and Don'ts quickly.  I bought the badger patriot at the Con with a compressor and love it.  Still use it now as my workhorse.  Its reasonably priced and its a solid brush.

 

I  now have two squirt bottles that I have filled, one with 97% iso alcohol and the other distilled water.  I use those to swap and clean between colors and at the end of the session.

 

My main uses are priming, using the Badger Stynlrez brand and big base coats on bases and larger models.  I have delved some into full airbrush on larger models, mostly dragons with some beginners success.

 

Most reaper MSP will spray through the brush without a problem.  Some of them need to be thinned with water or an airbrush medium but they work fine. The HD or Bones lines paint are hard to use in an airbrush with out a lot of thinning.  I actually prefer paints made for airbrushing in many cases (such as the badger line or the Vallejo Game Air or Model Air).  I also use Daler-Rowney inks in my airbrush with great success.

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8 hours ago, WolfLord said:

I just got an airbrush kit and a friend was saying that I should either buy a hood with a vent or make one.  Is this necessary for working on minis?  I was going to use my reaper paints for it.  Thanks.

 

Hey, WolfLord - I don't use a hood with mine, but I currently spray outdoors, and make sure the wind is blowing the right direction prior to spraying. 

Now, I am planning on getting a spray booth for using my airbrush in the garage, and it is a good idea to get a mask.  A cheap filter mask is better than nothing, but paint particles in my lungs isn't something I'm looking forward to!

 

Solvent-wise, I'm not worried about water, but the binders and pigment that dry and float around.  A fume hood meant for volatile chemicals isn't necessary for the painting we do (but would if you were using enamels, like plastic models usually use), but just something to suck the particles away and have them stick to a filter rather than your car, walls, table, carpet . . . .

 

I think there's a decent one on Amazon for ~$80, and comes with a turntable.  You can make your own, for less money but more time.  I'm fine with dropping the bills and saving the time!

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I use a spray booth from TCP Global.  It's a decent size, but not sure it would work for something the size of Ma'al Drakar.  Here's a shot of it open and folded up, as well as one on my worktable with the lights going.

 

 

AB Station 2.jpg

AB Station.jpeg

Edited by Bloodhowl
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Great thread everyone. I too am strongly considering an airbrush, primarily for priming and some basecoating and this helps a bunch. Now to figure out if I want to make the jump, or just spend the few hundred bucks on minis and paints. ;)

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On 7/30/2018 at 4:46 PM, Gadgetman! said:

You can make a spray booth by taking a large cardboard box and mounting a couple of PC chassis fans in the bottom, and putting some sort of filter in front of them. 

The spray booths you cn buy is just that; a  box with fans and filters , and usually a large, flexible hose attached to lead the exhaust air out an open window.

 

Your description was my first spray booth.  It lasted 3 years before being replaced with a TGP portable.  I made it from an Air conditioner filter box I bought with 1 filter remaining so the filter fit the box perfectly, cut 3 4 in square holes to fit PC chassis fans and used duct tape (woo hoo!) To keep the filter about 25% from the back of the box.  Worked great until it got wet in a basement flood.  After that I replaced it.

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