View Full Version : OT Pinging Air Brush Artists

06-30-2009, 05:10 PM
I know there's a couple of you on this forum who are exceptional artists with the air brush or, at the very least, had a lot of expierence air brushing models and such.

I'd like to learn the basics. I own a Gast oil free compressor that was used in a Cloud and Aersol laboratory. It is regulated to 30 psi but has a pretty high volume output. I think the manual mentions using it for dental tools and such. Anyhow, I was wondering if anyone could point me towards a basic "starters set" for an air brush. I don't want to spend a lot of money, so a cheap brush will do for now. Like I said, I think I've got a compressor that will work for an air source.

Mostly, I'd be painting prosthetics and halloween props. It wouldn't be anything hi-tech so there is no need for a fancy brush. It will probably not be used very often, either... :) <edit> I would like a dual-action one, however. Not sure if they sell any "cheap" versions with the dual action trigger, though ...


Jim Shaper
06-30-2009, 05:13 PM
If you knock the valve off a propane tank, the threads are regular 3/4" npt - turn that into a receiver and you'll be good to go without running the compressor all the time.

06-30-2009, 05:18 PM
Thanks for the tip! The compressor is supposed to be rated for continous duty and is "whisper" quiet. That, however, just means there is a continous drone in the background. A tank is probably a good idea!

06-30-2009, 06:58 PM
definately go with the dual action. I personally like the badger 150, but there is others out there. the 150 seems to go for a little over $100 depending on where you look.

I also like the paint cup for doing small parts, so i dont have to load a bunch of paint into a jar and then clean it out every time i want to change colours.

I have a pasche airbrush compressor and its quiet. it definatley makes noise but its easy to have a conversation a few feet from it. and if i use it in the basement, no one can hear it running upstairs.

Doc Nickel
06-30-2009, 07:55 PM
Okay (cracks knuckles) ...

The propane tank isn't so much for capacity, but as a buffer- you want to smooth out the pulses from the compressor, as well as the pressure variations.

30 psi is marginal- it'll work for most typical art paints, but it'll be a bit low for industrial and automotive stuff. Also, if it's only 30 psi out, the compressor will have to run full time- it'd be better to have a small oilless that goes to a higher pressure, to charge a reservoir, then run off the reservoir for however long, in blissful silence.

Trust me on this one. :)

I have a Badger 200, which is a typical bottom/siphon feed single-action. They're reliable as an anvil, dirt-simple and parts are inexpensive and usually available in any decent local hobby shop. It was my main "workhorse", since I never really developed the dexterity to properly use a double-action.

I also have a 200 gravity feed- same brush, but it has a small conical cup at the top. This, again, is my primary detail gun. It's easy to put a few drops of color into the cup, pop the details, dump, rinse, go on to the next color.

I used to have the same thing in a double-action, which was a 100-series, but I found myself never using it, so Sold it.

I also have two Paasches- the classic siphon-feed, double-action VL, and the even more classic external-mix H. Again, standard-issue of any decent hobby shop, parts are widely available, and they're solid, reliable designs. My VL is some thirty years old- I bought it used over twenty years ago- and it's never needed a thing except a good cleaning at times.

The H is a basic model, I use it for large color swaths. It's basically just a small spray gun. The VL is a double action, and I use it for, well, smaller color swaths- I'm not precise enough to use the DA for detail work, so I use it for gross variations, like area shading or the classic "drop shadow" for a large element.

For a complete beginner, if you're not doing large work (like car or truck murals) I'd recommend the Badger 200 with the siphon feed. Pick up a dozen or more extra bottles, and at least three caps with drawtubes. Spring for the braided-cover hose (it's not that much more, but far more durable) and you might grab one of the little side cups. I used to use those 'til i got the brush with the built-in cup.

If you think you want a double-action, go with the VL. It's a very good brush- there's a reason almost every T-shirt artist and even most "airbrush tanning" and custom-nail salons use the VL.

And same game, get a handful of bottles and siphon caps, the good hose, and maybe the color cup.


06-30-2009, 08:33 PM
Here are some basic airbrush guidence points I have accumalated over the years.

For someone starting out and with the price of airbrushes at an all time low then I
would advise someone to get both a single action and a double action with a
medium sized tips. (Generally are numbered 1 thru 5 with 3 being a good avg. to
start out and learn with.)A double action airbrush is one that you push the control
down for amount of air and pull back for the amount of material for anyone not
familiar with the term.

You can push anything through these that will fit through the size of the hole in
the nozzle, water based stuff, inks, paint and so on. The biggest issue it seems
with airbrushes is that people don't take the time to actually see how they work
and don't take the time to clean them properly. Everyone has probably knew
someone who purchased an airbrush, had it clog up the first time they used it and
then put it away somewhere on a back shelf or cabinet never to be tried again.
If one does clog up on me usually I can clear it by taking the head cap and nozzel
parts off and the needle out and then clean.

So some of the first things to check and do are to make sure that the fluid that
you are using is thin enough with no lumps or anything. Now then, the basic
siphon style of airbrush has to have an air vent hole in the cap of the bottle to work
correctly. For some reason these always seem too small for me and as soon as
they get plugged up with paint then your airbrush will start to spit and sputter. So
the first thing I do is make the vent hole in the bottle cap bigger. Of course if you
tilt the airbrush too much the ink will seep out of the vent hole. Also I should
mention that if the vent hole on any bottles are clogged up and have liquid in
them while they are stored the liquid will come out of the spout when the
barometric pressure changes, makes quite a mess.

Air pressure varies with the job and material that you are using, 25 PSI would
be a good starting point, then it's just trial and air, oops, error.. An airbrush is
mostly just a scaled down version of a spray can as far as the actual spraying
and pointing part of it goes.

One note is that if you use water based materials it's not a good idea to
clean the airbrush out with Windex cause it causes the plating to fall off over time.

I've see that Harbor Freight has the dual action now for $20 and I've seen
some of the single action ones for $8 and $10 at the department stores. The
ones at Harbor Freight are without a hose, so make sure you get one of
those also. I also noticed that they had a kit of about 6 for about $120.

As far as air pressure you will just have to put a regulator on the air compressor
so that you can control it. An air line filter or moisture trap is a good idea too.

The actual use of an airbrush really just comes down to practice. Paper is cheap
to practice on or you could put some oil in a bottle and just go around your shop
spraying oil on stuff that needs it for practice.

I do use Paasche models mostly.

Hope this helps,

06-30-2009, 08:33 PM
I say the "badger" brand it good also. Its common and you can get or make parts for it. The brand has been around a long time.

06-30-2009, 09:27 PM
Thanks for all the help! I was looking on ebay and almost bought one, but decided to check here first. This one caught my eye because it has free UPS shipping, which makes me smile :)

http://cgi.ebay.com/NEW-Gravity-Side-Feed-DUAL-ACTION-AIRBRUSH-Hobby-Craft_W0QQitemZ190318377243QQcmdZViewItemQQptZLH_D efaultDomain_0?hash=item2c4fdbf91b&_trksid=p3911.c0.m14&_trkparms=65%3A12%7C66%3A2%7C39%3A1%7C72%3A1205%7C 240%3A1318%7C301%3A0%7C293%3A1%7C294%3A50

I'm not looking for anything too good at the moment. I want one that is useable, but I don't really want to spend 100 bucks on one brush until I know how often I'll use it. If I just pull it out once every ten years, well its hard to justify spending a lot on it. BUT I don't want to waste my money on junk, either!

What do you guys think of the one above? I'll go and look some more for the "Badger" line. I think I saw a Paasche brush from this same seller for 60 or so. That's not horrible since it came with a hose and I think it had two cups with it...

Thanks again!

Jim Shaper
06-30-2009, 09:58 PM
HF's blue handled DA gun "kit" is surprisingly decent quality for $20. I just saw it today in their mailer that it's now on sale for $10. I picked one up for a lubricator project last summer and was surprised how consistent the spray pattern was and how smooth the controls were. Whatever they knocked off, they did it well on that gun. The hose barb they include has rounded barbs, so don't expect it to hold whatever you slip over it. That's the only flaw I found with it, and a minor one at that.

My "real" air brush is a Badger 150 DA. I got it in the mid 80's when I was a pre-teen for painting RC car bodies and have yet to replace anything in it. Same advice - clean `em good after using. I did make the mistake of not tearing it down once and let it sit with some crud in it for a number of weeks. No harm done, just more fuss later.

Doc Nickel
06-30-2009, 10:18 PM
While I haven't tried them myself, I'm told Master is a decent brand- though they're basically knockoffs of Iwata models.

While that's probably not a bad price, I still strongly suggest going with Badger or Paasche- parts are far easier to get, things like hose connections are common, and they have a solid, long-established name behind them.


06-30-2009, 11:54 PM
DeVilbiss & Binks both make a small "detail gun" that may meet your needs.
I don't remember what the pressure requirements are offhand, but they will cover a pretty large area if needed, and still crank down fine enough to do some shading & other detail work.
You can get the Binks knockoff at HF for $15.00 or so ,if you can catch it on sale.
I prefer the DeVilbiss. I like the way that it cradles between my thumb & forefinger. Unfortunately, I don't think anyone makes a clone. They ain't cheep. (I buy the Binks clones on sale for $9.99 & use the cups on my DeVilbiss) The DeVilbiss comes with a screw on cup that is harder to clean than the Binks clamp on cup.
You can get the Binks clones for dirt cheap. If it don't suit you, your not out much.
Good luck on your search.......John

07-01-2009, 03:03 AM
I fooled around with a Paasche some 20+ years ago. Not top of the line, but a good middlin cheap airbrush. I used it for some models, tried some "art stuff", not my thing. Later got into motorcycle and then automotive restoration and customizing. Touchup, minor highlights, accentuating body lines, shading, primitive masking effects (classic flames and such). Not really very good at that ether, it takes a certain "touch" I think. Ultimately I did as Johnny suggests. I moved on to onto a Devilbis JGA and EGA (which with the right needle/cap/hand can do surprisingly delicate work) setup that I was very good with (or so I was told by the folks who had cars hauled from Tupelo to N AL for me to paint at near twice the going rate). An airbrush is something like a Sherline (or more like one of those tiny watch maker lathes), I've got a feeling you won't find it to your liking ;), but you never know...

07-01-2009, 05:15 AM
I have two of them, one is an Aztek. Works well, the interchangeable tips work great. Its very light since the body is composite. Only bad thing about it is the valve action is a little soft.

My other one is an Iwata Eclipse. Great brush. No complaints. I did make an adapter that allows me to use the Aztek tips in the Iwata. Best of both worlds.

07-01-2009, 05:40 AM
I also have a Paasche VL-1. I have a compressor that puts out a steady 30 psi using a 1 lb propane bottle as the receiver. For hose I use clear aquarium tubing because it lets you see if a drop of water is sneaking up on the gun ready to ruin your model paint job. I recommend the Paasche, I have been using mine for 25 years.

Incidentally, for painting models I mostly use the Tamiya line of acrylic paints. They are water cleanup and they do a very nice job on models. If I need enamels the best is the Humbrol and there is always Testors.

07-01-2009, 05:45 AM
For paints I like lacquers. But you cant get them here in the states any more. Lucky for me there is a hobby shop in Japan that ships! I use the Gunze Sangyo Mr. Color series.

07-01-2009, 05:59 AM
Do you have a link to that shop? We no longer have any sort of local shop so I have to order in everything.

07-01-2009, 06:48 AM
99% certain this is the place, its been years:


The Mr. Color series are great paints. Their Mr. Surfacer (filler/primer) works well and The leveling thinner is a must have for the paint.

Even with shipping I found the prices cheaper than local hobby stores. Now may not be so good with the strong Yen.

07-01-2009, 06:57 AM
I used to be able to buy those products here many years ago so I am familiar with some of that brand. Thanks for the link. I love the Macross transformers. My son and I used to watch the cartoon series when he was a child.

07-01-2009, 07:05 AM
Not wanting to pull the thread further off, but...

This year was the 25th Anniversary of the Original Macross. There was a 26 episode series called Macross Frontier that Ran at the beginning of the year. It was a really good series! Expanded on the previous Macross series universe (Macross 7, Macross Plus, Macross Zero) One of my favorites of this year. I watched the Robotech version of the series as a kid as well...

07-01-2009, 09:16 AM

I might just have a look for that on DVD.

I used to do quite a bit of model building before my shop was well equipped. I especially like the various mechs and other related ideas. I don't have too many examples left as the kids were a bit hard on my small collection and I am not so good at taking care of them either but here is one that is left. I pretty much only built Japanese made models as they are of the best quality.


Speaking of transformers I have a Hasegawa kit that is NOS. Never been unbagged, all parts on the trees and as new. I will never get around to building it so if you want it it's yours. I will cover shipping as usual and it doesn't weigh much anyway. It would be nice to see somebody build it.

If you don't want it then Fasttrack gets next choice as this is his thread we are hijacking and if he doesn't want it it will go to anybody that does.



07-01-2009, 02:20 PM
Thanks for the offer. I have so many things on the burner right now I don't think I would ever get around to building it.

Did you see the full size gundam they recently built in Japan?

07-01-2009, 02:37 PM
An airbrush is something like a Sherline (or more like one of those tiny watch maker lathes), I've got a feeling you won't find it to your liking ;), but you never know...

Whaddya mean? I like little machines - they're so quaint and cute :D

Actually I do quite a bit of HO train models and I got into making latex prosthetics in middle school. You won't believe how much cash you can roll in making fake wounds and selling them to a bunch of middle school kids. Anyhow, I decided an airbrush could really help when it came to painting these creations - mostly they are props for Halloween. I'm a real stickler for detail when it comes to my props, even though most people will never notice them.

That being said - you are probably right. I don't see myself spending a lot of time or money on air brushing projects. That's why I don't want or need one of the really nice brushes that most of you use.

Evan and Macona - you guys cracked me up. I wouldn't have pegged you as the sort to go for sci-fi models/shows. I'll pass on the model, although that is very generous of you. I still owe Evan for the bearing he sent me and Macona for the vacuum feedthrough. Actually, completely off topic, as a result of last years experiment, I convinced our department to fund a new turbo pumped system with conflat flanges. We now have a vacuum system that is pseudo-contemporary. Our other system was primarily ASA flanges. It was old enough I half expected to see some glass joints filled with bees wax... :)

07-01-2009, 03:34 PM
Ready to geek out? Here are the models I used the airbrush for. Sorry for the poor quality. Taken about 8 years ago with bad lighting.




07-01-2009, 03:47 PM
I am going to bet that one of your favorite movies is Akira. It's one of mine.

07-01-2009, 06:35 PM
Not really, there has been MUCH better stuff since it came out. I will really have to think about that one though.

07-01-2009, 11:08 PM
Well I ended up buying two brushes - one is a DA "Master" (think Iwata clone) airbrush that cost something like 25 bucks from ebay. It sprays from "hairline" to 2" with the supplied tips. Brush number two is a really cheap "Economy" airbrush that cost me a whopping 10 dollars. I bought it because it used the same paint cups that the "Master" does and it came with two, plus it came with 6' of braided hose. It is a single action and sprays a wide pattern; 1/4" up to 3"

So I'll give these a go and see how I do. Someday I might upgrade to one of the nicer ones, but for a starter set, I'm pretty happy. Now I just have to rig up my compressor... :)

07-01-2009, 11:20 PM
Ready to geek out? Here are the models I used the airbrush for. Sorry for the poor quality. Taken about 8 years ago with bad lighting.




holy hell redtube has that style of porn, you will love it.

07-01-2009, 11:41 PM
Seen it but I prefer 3D girls.