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Thursday, 21 November 2013

Getting Started with Airbrushing Part 1. Airbrushes

Some of you may know me as Deadlift over on the fantastic site, Bells of the Lost Souls. I originally wrote this series of articles to help my friends on the forums. It then made it to the front page and I guess this gave me the kick to actually start a blog. Here's the 1st part.

With this series I'm going to post my experiences of painting with an airbrush over the last 18 months. I hope I'm able to pass on a little bit of help to those who are thinking about giving airbrushing a go, and give a little confidence to anyone who (like I was) maybe a little daunted about having a stab at an alternative way to paint our models


1st off let me stress, whilst some armies and models really lend themselves to being airbrushed not all do. You can get some really nice results but I find a mix of airbrushing and painting by hand is what gives me the best results I can achieve at the moment. Also before I go any further I would like to stress I'm no expert either. I'm a novice but just decided to give airbrushing a go.

Right then, 1st thing we need to start airbrushing is of course an Airbrush and an air source. 1st the airbrush.
I have tried 2 types of airbrush. Gravity feed and bottle feed. A gravity fed airbrush has a little pot on the top or side of the airbrush where you pour your paint directly into.

This one as you can see is also a double action airbrush. I will explain later what this means and why it's best for us in our hobby.

The second type of airbrush you generally see is a bottle feed airbrush. You place the paint your going to use in a glass jar that's then attached to the airbrush underneath. As you pull back the trigger the airbrush sucks paint fron the jar.
They generally look like this one.

Now I have tried both and I can honestly say for us a gravity fed airbrush is the best choice. The cup in the top is easy to fill and there is much less wastage of paint. Also I have found this type of brush doesn't clog up as easily. Also having an underslung bottle is a pain and can really get in the way when your painting. However some airbrush starter kits do come with one of each type of airbrush. I used to use the bottle fed one for priming and the gravity fed one for actual painting. Me now I use just a gravity one for everything.

Another thing to look for when choosing an airbrush is needle size, most are either 0.4mm (great for priming or large stuff) of 0.2mm (better for more detailed painting). Starting out I suggest sticking with a 0.4mm. Sure your not going to get anything fancy done but you will be able to do some blending and get a few overspray effects. I will explain more as I go along. The reason I say go for a 0.4mm 1st is to practice with the larger size.This won't clog as much and it will give you a "feel" for how the paints you use and your airbrush work. Some airbrushes actually allow to switch sizes of needle very easily. Whatever you choose though, please go out and buy some cheap paper or card to practice on before you start on any expensive models. Take your time and get a feel for your airbrush.

Earlier I mentioned 2 other options to our airbrushes. Single action and Double action (sometimes called dual action). Single action is basically you push down the button, pull back and paint comes out. Basically it's the same result you would get from a can of spray paint. Ok for priming but not enough control for what we want. The second and better option is a double action airbrush. What this means is more control. The further back you pull the trigger on these types of airbrush, the more paint will come out. This is great for extra control and allows us to paint with more confidence, knowing we're less likely to accidentally cover our models with loads of paint.

So to recap on what kind of airbrush I think is best for us. Gravity feed double action. That gives us an airbrush with nice control, no jars getting in the way and easy to clean.

That's it for now, don't rush out and buy anything yet though because in my next post I'm going to talk about my experiences with different air sources and what deals we can find thst give us the best flexibility. 

One last thing, those of you who have the GW air gun thingy. That's not an airbrush, it's ok for priming and base coats. But that's about it really. It's got its uses but it's not an airbrush.

If anybody has anything to ask or add (I'm no expert so please if you spot a mistake don't be afraid to jump in) fire away.

I would also like to add, I'm not looking to plug my blog (I don't have one) or a painting service (I'm far to busy). 

Until next time.