Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Choosing an Airbrush

It is important to note that an airbrush should be used in a well ventilated area (for instance outside, in a garage or in a well ventilated studio) and that you, the user, wear a breathing mask when using and operating an airbrush. Fine paint particles when inhaled can harm or kill you, so cover up. 

For quite some time I have wanted to purchase an airbrush and now I'm finally going to take the plunge. Having little to no prior first-hand experience with this tool, I started with the fundamentals: What does an airbrush do? I found a great starting place to be the Airbrush Wiki. After pushing through the fundamentals, I quickly discovered there were three airbrush characteristics that are very important to consider when purchasing an airbrush. They are;

  1. Trigger- There are two types of airbrush triggers:

    • Single Action- air and paint flow are controlled by one trigger function.
    • Dual Action- air volume and paint concentration are controlled by separate mechanisms in an airbrush.

  2. Feed Mechanism- There are three unique ways in which paint is fed into an airbrush:

    • Gravity Feed (gravity)- A reservoir set on top of the airbrush which relies on gravity to move paint into the airbrush, as a result less air pressure is required. Gravity feed airbrushes are typical with finer atomization of paint particles and are usually relegated to finer detail work
    • Bottom Feed (suction)- A sealed container attached to the bottom of an airbrush which relies on air pressure to pull paint into the airbrush for atomization. Bottom feed airbrushes typically hold more paint than a gravity fed airbrush and are typically used for surfaces such as t-shirts or automotive detail.
    • Side Feed (suction)- A sealed container attached to the left or right side of an airbrush. This paint delivery system shares much in common with bottom fed airbrushes- the difference being the placement of the paint container.

  3. Mixing Point- Paint is mixed with air and atomized in two unique ways;

    • Internal Mix- Paint is mixed with air in the tip of the airbrush which results in a very fine atomization. 
    • External Mix- Air mixes with paint after it has left the airbrush tip. This results in a very course atomization.
              Based on my research I determined that a dual-action airbrush is worth the money. I've read artists and modelers' suggest a single-action airbrush for beginners, to lessen the learning curve and save money. However, giving up that amount of control because I'm new to airbrushing seems silly. I'd rather pay a little extra now, and risk the discomfort of learning how to control a dual-action mechanism. Lets be realistic- in this "video game generation" a dual-action mechanism doesn't sound that imposing.Next up, feed mechanism. I've decided I want a gravity fed airbrush as my first purchase. The surfaces and models I plan to paint will not require the capacity of paint that a bottom-fed airbrush would provide. Likewise, it sounds like detail work is better accomplished with a gravity fed airbrush. One such artist and modeler that I greatly admire, Brandon Palmer, uses a gravity fed airbrush.
              Mixing point is obvious: I want an airbrush that mixes the paint internally. Working with models, I want that level of fine atomization of paint and air.
              So to recap (in other words TL;DR version):
              To paint models and light graphic design applications I want:
              • dual-action 
              • gravity fed  
              • internal mixing airbrush. 
              Cool! Now that I have figured out what type of airbrush I want, it was time to look at the different brands of airbrushes. Within each brand, I discovered a wide variety of airbrushes. Needless to say I felt overwhelmed.
               In my internet travels I discovered a very informative and helpful guide to airbrushes for beginners, like me. The website is called "The Airbrush Guru"- check it out.
              Next I'm going to cover a few of the more popular brands and models of airbrushes currently available.  Check it out!


              1. DampfpanzerwagonJune 24, 2010 at 5:15 AM

                I have three airbrushes. A deVillbiss, double action, a Paasche single action (a H model) a cheap Revel painting airbrush.

                The De Vilbiss is superb, but I rarely use it as it takes too long to clean and is fiddly - the paint reservoir is too small. The Revel paint iarbrush is ideal for terrain, but my favourite and by far is the Paasche H model. I can abuse it and paint terrain or paint tiny details with the alternative nozzle.

                My advice would be use the double action, but remember that cheaper and simpler does not always mean not as good!


              2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

              3. That is good advice, Panzer. Paasche produces a solid line of product at very competitive prices (I almost purchased a Paasche brush).

                I noticed the Devilbiss brush boasts three unique paint cups in different sizes and offers a 5 year warranty two enticing selling points. Couple that with the fact that the airbrush itself is sold on Amazon for 129.00, makes the Devilbiss a very powerful contender. Thanks for the info Tony!



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