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Jordyn Collier
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Airbrush Ideas

January 10, 2020 · in Uncategorized · 30 Comments

Hey yall. I've been considering saving up for an airbrush so I can make my painting easier and better. Do any of you know of a trustworthy and well made one?

Reader reactions:

30 responses

  1. The Iwata Eclipse CS is my personal favorite and current airbrush

    Also recommend the Badger 150 which is a good double action airbrush to learn on. Don't expect immediately perfect results as there is a slight learning curve on using an airbrush. Problems will happen, but once you get the hang of the airbrush those problems won't be a big obstacle.

    Properly mixing paint in the proper ratio with the manufacturer's thinner helps.

    If the LHS has an airbrush class then I recommend go to it. It will save a lot headaches later.

    • Agreed. After wasting time with two cheap airbrushes, the Iwata Eclipse CS is very good.

      • Thank you both. I'm really looking forward to testing one. I hope I get the hang of it very soon, because one of my Christmas presents was the Revell 1/32 He 111, and that would be a nightmare to paint free hand. Its HUGE.

        • I have that very same kit... It's a very cool kit and a monster for size ! You will do a fine job with it I'm sure.

          • Not only do I have that monster kit, I also have the 1/32 Corsiar. And I have a few things I want to try winter camo on tank wise. And I want to learn how to actually preshade, and not attempt to use sharpie again lol.

  2. Hey Jordyn,
    I have an Iwata HP-C plus and I am happy with it. However, it doesn't do fine mottling work as nice as I would like it to. I have tried all the tricks, thinning the paint, adjusting the air pressure etc. But I still can't get it to spray very fine Luftwaffe mottling very easy... I can do it though.

    The trick here for fine detail work, is to use an air brush with a smaller needle / nozzle assembly. My current airbrush has a needle that is a .035 diameter. They have some with a smaller sized nozzle tip. On some air brushes you can swap out the needle and tip and this will allow you to paint what you want with a simple parts swap. All it would cost to do this is the purchase price of an additional needle and tip, depending on the type of airbrush you get.

    Generally speaking, the smaller the diameter of the nozzle / needle, the finer the work you can do. The larger the diameter of the tip and needle size, the better it is to spray something larger, such as your 1/32 scale He-111.

    On the downside, it is harder to spray a single color, (such as the F4U you posted a picture of), using an airbrush with a smaller sized setup. This can create excessive overspray lines. To spray paint something big like that, you would want something with a .035 to .040 size (or larger), if you were spraying a single color camouflage, such as that you find on the Corsair in overall Glossy Sea Blue.

    I am looking into eventually purchasing a Harder and Steenbeck "ultra" or "evolution" gravity feed double action air brush, with a .020 needle and nozzle. I still have to do some more research of my own, and then I have to start saving up too... For something like this, you might be able to find a new one in the $100-$150 range if you do some shopping around. You can find some bargains.

    Please keep in mind that you will also need an air compressor of some kind.

    I use a regular Sears Craftsman shop compressor and have it setup with a mounted regulator that I can dial down to reduce the excess air pressure. It would be ideal for you to get a water / moisture filter too. Otherwise, it can spray out a big glob of water just as you are finishing up the final coat of paint on your otherwise flawless model... Yep, that has happened to me on several occasions.

    If storage or work space is a problem, you can find a small hobby style compressor and it should work just fine for you. A few years ago, I gave one away to a friend, since I no longer needed it. You can find deals on these little hobby compressors too... occasionally. Just look around and do your homework.

    For me, a gravity feed airbrush is better to use, since you don't have to worry about the paint being drawn into the air brush, like you do with one that has a paint jar and siphon tube mounted underneath it. Then there are other considerations to, such as internal or external mix. For me I like the internal mix better. It all depends on your preferences, and how much you want to spend.

    The dual action airbrushes are also better to in my opinion.

    These are things that will increase the initial price, but it will be better for you in the long run.

    Hopefully others will add their comments about what they use or like...and I hope this information helps you to decide on what you want.

    I personally like the Iwata airbrushes. Now I am looking into the Harder and Steenbeck airbrushes too.

    Dual action, gravity feed, internal mix... These are the better things to have, to go along with a good reputable company such as the ones that have been mentioned so far. I'm sure there are other good air brush companies out there, but so far this is what I have made my preferences at. It's something that is best to ask around about before you make a purchase on... just as you have.

    • Thank you so much. Alot to consider here, lol. I'm glad you wrote as much as you did, though, because it gave me some ideas on what I should be looking for.

      • You're welcome. I hope that others respond and give you even more information. That way you can make your own informed decision. Knowledge is the key here.

        You also want one that has replacement parts that are easily available. You will most likely accidentally damage a needle / seat assembly, or an "O-ring" might wear out or crack. You want to be able to fix your own rather than to spend even more money on it.

        • I'm fairly good at fixing things, so I'd be way ahead of the curve when it comes to spares, lol.

          • Sounds like we have a lot in common. I rebuilt my very first engine when I was 7 years old ! It was a little Yamaha dirt bike...a 100 CC Enduro. I like to tinker with stuff like that too. Fixing Air brushes or swapping out the needle and tip shouldn't be a problem for you.

  3. I have a Paache internal mix double action. I like it and have used it since getting it in '91. It came with coarse, medium and fine needles/nozzles. Unfortunately I still run the same compressor with no storage tank. From what I've heard that's what will affect you output more than the gun. (The air on mine pulses as it's a single pot diaphragm compressor. Probably makes fine work harder than it needs to be.) I leave the lock screw on mine loose so I can control airflow and paint flow freely. You will also want a moisture trap. It's frustrating to be near the end of a camp session only to have water deposited on your model because it has been building up in your line!

    What ever you get just don't be intimidated. Load it up, grab a few sheets of paper and experiment. Draw straight lines, curves, squiggles of varying widths. You'll be amazed how quickly you will catch on.

    This is the very first model I used the airbrush on in '91 and it was after about a half hour of practice on paper. (I still do all my camo freehand, although for my Stuka & Ju-52 I ma use a sheet of paper to get the splinters straight!)

  4. Jordyn, I use a Badger 150 for priming and large area coverage. It's perfect for that application and not extremely expensive. I also have a Badger Patriot Extreme that requires a lot more finesse. I recently purchased an RK-1 Krome Airbrush 2-in-1 Ultra Fine Airbrush with Additional Fine Tip, Spray Regulator and Needle. I've used it a few times and am extremely happy with it.

    My biggest advice, don't skimp. The weakest link is the tool, not your ability. You don't have to buy the most expensive, just don't buy bargain brands.

    Two brands I would look at are Iwata and Badger. Everyone has a "This is THE Best" claim on the internet...don't believe them. Like Louis said, 'Knowledge is the key'.

    Here is a link to the compressor set up I have, it's not too loud and works like a champ.

    You might be able to find it a lower price, but be wary of deals.

    • Because of what I told Jordyn about finding a compressor with a tank I am utilizing your link right now for myself! Thank you!

      • Do some homework. This is a single tank and there are others that have larger or dual tanks. Most Compressors are from over seas, but this one was a hit on Amazon and I'm pleased with it. There are quieter alternatives, but at 10 times the price. Kind of like, Do you need a Mercedes Benz or could you get by with a trusty Chevrolet?

        I've always been a believer of 'Find the Weakest Link', you fix that and a majority of your problems are solved.

  5. There's a lot of people will say the Paashe-H is "passe," old, etc. I've never used anything else in 49 years of airbrushing, and I think my work speaks as well for the airbrush as the airbrusher.

    Plus, it's cheap, virtually indestructible (built like a tank), easy to clean and maintain. Also i d i o t-proof in operation.

    The one thing you need with an air brush is an air compressor. The Passche D-500 is pretty close to silent, comes with a pressure regulator (essential!), and won't break the piggy bank.

  6. Hi Jordyn, in the end the choice will be yours as you learn the techniques in using an airbrush. I was 18 when I got my first one. It was at a hobby shop in La Habra, Ca. A shop that was on the way home from my days in college. And as I kept coming by and meeting other modelers you soon start to become friends with the owner and his GM who ran the shop. You get on the call list, (this is 1978 there is no internet, no cell phone, what is a text?) Hobby Johns was the name of the shop and it was my hang out for a good 2 years. The owner had set up a little workshop in the back where modelers can sit down and work on a model, use the shop airbrush to learn how to use one. Check out new kits and products. At was at this time a met a rep from Monogram models and was about the time they were about to introduce a higher end of models which became the "Pro Modeler line" of Monogram kits. And I would get test products as well. Kind of neat. Any way I bought a Paasche "H" model single action air brush, which is a bottle feed style airbrush, very simple and easy to use. You can change tips #1, #3 and #5 tips. And of course the compressed air cans that you ran your air brush, which is quite limiting as they don't last long.

    Which I don't think you can get anymore. But these I used for awhile before I saved up for a little compressor.

    I have tried other brushes still have them, another Paasche Double action "VL" airbrush, a Badger single action, a Binks single action over the years. I have always come back and stuck to H model. I learned to freehand pretty early, as I don't like to mask.

    Paasche VL

    Since 78 (1978), I used the original airbrush up to when I joined the Navy. While in A school in NAS Meridian Mississippi, I built at the time the new Hasegawa 1/48 F-4B, bought a new Paasche H and a compressor. And left it in the display case at the air station lobby. That airbrush I still have, and added another since that time. It is this airbrush I learned to mottle Luftwaffe aircraft. When I find the pics. I will show you my first attempt on a BF-109 E3, you can tell, the next time I tried it was on a DML Fw-190A5 slight improvement. But each time you build a plane using a difficult scheme to replicate such as the mottling on the side of a WWII era German plane or an Italian smoke ring scheme, some of the early Japanese twin engine light bombers had some interesting ones as well. Just practice, the closer to the surface you get the sharper the edge will be, as you pull away the spray will get broader and cover more, but not to heavy, light coverage at the start. In the end it will be up to you once you get the hang of it. The other choices mentioned are from those that have experience with those airbrushes. I have never tried either one of their choice of weapon. I stick to what I know. And as you can see their results, Louis's planes are excellent , Dan Lee's builds as well. So they are good at their craft. Start with a decent brush. In Arizona you don't have to worry about humidity, but I do recomment to get a water trap anyway. Here in California some days can get humid, and trust me you will just hate it when moisture builds in your lines and splat right on a wing. In New England, where it is quite humid in the late Spring through summer months, it's a must. I spent a year there and the modelers up their strongly suggested a water trap for your airbrush. Any way weigh your options check out some you tube how to's and get a feel before you decide. And feel free to ask questions... Louis the floor is yours...


    Fly Navy

    • The compressor you show is the one I've been using since '91! It is noisy but I'm not a renter so whatevz! I should also mention the last airbrush you show is the one I have. Internal mix, bottle feed. Tom is correct, the Paasche in nearly bulletproof. Just make sure to clean it and don't drop your fine needle. Ask me how I know!

      • I have exclusively use the H since 78. Yes I know what your talking about the needle. The first one is long gone, but since 1984 I still have the 2nd "H" and have since picked up a 2nd one for Lacquers and enamels. The VL and Badger 150 are in their boxes. That compressor is the one I have as well, and just as old. And noise what noise. I can still hear the music when I work.

  7. jordyn i love the iwata revolution airbrush

    as louis said you want the gravity feed cup [on top] as the siphon feed [bottom] is more apt to clog...the trouble with the pashce is it's hard to clean and bottom have to pull the cup off clean it out with a paper towel then go up the spout with a pipe cleaner...then you have to remove the two piece needle and clean both parts with a pipe cleaner getting it all over your hands...and don't even think your gonna get those glass jars clean...with this iwata you simply pull the needle ...shoot a little lacquer thinner into the cup and spray it out...far less want a big cup so you can wrap a tissue around your finger and get it down into the cup...i've had the badger 150...badger sotar...iwata hp-c and a couple pasche h's but i love this little revolution as it cleans up like a dream, and your hands don't get messy and you can switch colors fast and easy...the cheap chinese on ebay aren't bad either and you can get the brush and compressor for around $60.00... just make sure it has the large cup on top, this one needs the hose and they are different...double action is not necessary for modelling...and they can trick you till you master them

  8. My two cent advice is if you are a rookie at airbrushing don’t buy high end product. I would go for a single action gravity feed airbrush, and you have several that can help you mastering this tool quite well without breaking the piggy bank. Here in Europe these average between 40 to 100 euros.

  9. I have several double action airbrushes but my go to brush is the Passche H single action model using tips 3 and 1. I’ve been using it since 1975 as a hobbyist and professional graphic artist. As Tom says, it’s built like a tank. You can drop it on the floor, step on it and it will still work. The body will last forever. You just need to replace the tips as they get dinged after a while. Easy to use, clean, repair and parts are plentiful. Big Bang for the money.

  10. For an air compressor, I highly recommend this …

    it truly is whisper quiet, and delivers a smooth, steady supply of air.

    As far as an airbrush, any double action brush can give excellent results - but only after you practice, practice, practice!

    I'm still using the same Aztek brush I've had for 30 years! (yes, they can last that long if you clean them properly)

  11. Trouble with the question is all the "right" replies one has to sort through... 😉

    First time I tried an airbrush it was an H&S Evolution: double action, gravity fed, silent compressor. A few minutes of tuition and all went like a dance. Decided to get myself one of those and the best compressor I could afford. Never looked back.

    I suggest you try a few if you can and then get the best you can afford. Overbuy is seldom a problem as you will get more proficient as you practice more. It probably wont be too long until you get good enough and want to get more action out of your equipment.

    Availability and spare parts may be something to consider also.

    One must not forget the airbrush is just one part in a painting system. Paints and thinners are also parts in this system and can change the function greatly. Add the user in the mix and there are a wide number of variations.

    In the end there will always be the ones swearing by "their" equipment and only paint "worth" using. We are all different and need a personal solution. Im still using my Evolution but have also a bunch of Infinity and a few more of Evolutions. It is a tool among others.

  12. Something no one has mentioned is extraction or a face mask. Some think because it's acrylic you don't need either of these, but when you spray you release small particles of paint into the air, breathing them in long term isn't good for you, so it's best to wear a face mask, I use the 3M twin filter type with vapour and dust filters. I also have a bench vent extractor (£300 a lot of money, this is a very good extractor clearing my room of any fumes in minutes) but I use lacquers and laquer thinners (Mr Color levelling thinners) even with Tamiya, Gunze and AK real colors (no blockage due to paint drying on needle when doing close up work, with this thinner you can turn pressure right down <10psi and get really close in without spidering)

    Tamiya, gunze and AK real colors aren't true acrylics, in UK they have a flammable symbol on them. Ak even describe their real colors as an Acrylic lacquer paint.

    Just a thought for you, I'd at least get a face mask, the professional 3M mask I use is about £20 UK with filters, it comes with a bag you store it in when not using, this extends the life of the filters.

    As for Airbrush I use H&S infinity and evolution both bought as in 2 in 1 option so have 0.2 and 0.4 needles and nozzles, I purchased the pinch tip for both making needle end cleaning very easy. Compressor is a Sparmax TC5000 which came with telephone type coiled hose to bench mouted regulator, water trap and AB holders with option for two outlets, flexible hose with quick release fittings and a 0.35 sparmax airbrush that is a suprisingly good dual action tool (a tank is best on compressor or you get pulsating pressure at airbrush). I also have a Mr Hobby pro con SP250 with 0.2 setup, this is a very good Airbrush that atomizes paint finer than the H&S, but is half the price (Its an Iawata type design nozzle). I have the H&S Ultra but not keen on the push fit cup, it leeks if not fully seated, and paint can make its way to the nozzle giving a nasty splat on your model 🙁


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