Airbrushing Essentials

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Vinny
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Airbrushing Essentials

Postby Vinny » Fri Sep 14, 2012 6:10 pm

OK, you've bought a shiny new airbrush and hopefully you have a source of compressed air... so what next? In this topic we'll discuss the essential tools and techniques to airbrushing and hopefully answer any questions to make the most out of your airbrushing experience and make it as easy and as comfortable as possible. Let's begin!


Compressors

The first thing you will need is a stable source of compressed air feeding the airbrush. There are many ways to do this from rubber tyre rings, CO2 canisters and those pricey (and pretty useless) aerosol type refills. The best option is to buy a compressor... and it's best to invest well. Compressors, like airbrushes, come in all shapes and sizes. Some with air tanks, some without. Some need oil, others are oil-free. Some are quiet while others are quite noisy. Ideally, a modeller using one of these in a house should aim for a compressor with a tank that is relatively quiet (about the level of a fridge). The compressors with oil (the internal mechanism sits in oil) tend to be quieter but a little more messy with oil changes etc. Compressors with a tank will give the user a stored reservoir of air which therefore gives a nice smooth, constant flow of air to the airbrush. Some compressors will fill their tanks and automatically shut off supplying the airbrush with air and doesn't disturb the modeller with noise. When the pressure lowers, as the air is used, the compressor will top it up again.

Compressor without a tank
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Compressor with a tank
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Pressure Regulators

Normal airbrushing requires a pressure level of about 15PSI. In order to attain and maintain this, a pressure regulator should be attached to the compressor at the point where the air line exits. Most compressors have these as standard but they can be purchased separately.

Regulator with PSI Gauge
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Moisture Trap

An essential part of the airbrushing setup in Ireland is a Moisture Trap. Compressors suck in surrounding air and supply it to the airbrush. If the air has moisture in it, then this too will be sucked in and fed to the airbrush. If a build-up of moisture occurs, the droplets will travel up the air line, through the airbrush and mix with the paint. Not good! A moisture trap will collect any droplets and it can then be emptied at a later stage. Again, a moisture trap comes with may compressors but they can be bought to connect in-line with the air hose.

Moisture Trap
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Moisture Trap with Air Regulator and PSI Gauge.
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Respirators

It's a hobby that damages the wallet but we don't want it damaging our lungs so it's vital to buy a good respirator. Invest well and buy one that's designed for spraying paints... dust masks will not protect you from solvents. Respirators should be used at all times no matter what type of paint is being used. With a proper respirator you should be able to breath comfortably and not be able to smell any paint fumes.

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Spray Booths & Extractors

Not essential but very useful for removing paint fumes from hobby areas with little ventilation and confined spaces. They also filter the paint particles that don't land on the model but would otherwise settle on everything else in the room. These are available from about €80 to a few hundred euros. Many modellers opt to build their own extractors from plans available on the internet.

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Airbrush Holders

What do you do in the middle of a paint job with an loaded airbrush in hand and you need to adjust something? Airbrushes aren't designed to stand upright on their own, so an airbrush holder, which attaches securely to your workbench, is a worthy purchase.

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Cleaning Stations/Pot

After a paint job it's a good idea to get in the habit of thoroughly cleaning the airbrush. Part of this task is to flush the paint out using a branded airbrush cleaner or something like cellulose (lacquer) thinner. The flushing process will involve simply spraying the cleaner through the airbrush as if painting. It's a good idea to do this at a higher PSI to really get the cleaner/thinners through the airbrush and removing the paint. Where to spray the cleaners? Many make homemade devices like pots or jars with tissue paper but a useful item is a Cleaning Station. These have heavy glass jars (for good stability) that are partly filled with water. They also have filters for removing paint from the air that exits them. They also double as airbrush holders.

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Small Part Holders

There are many ways to hold small parts during an airbrushing session... pegs, cocktail sticks stuck in aeroboard/styrofoam, stretched sprue with a tiny drop of superglue, and so on. One product available off the shelf for this exact purpose is the Almighty Clips stand by Mr Hobby. There are similar products available from other manufacturers that do the same job.

Mr Hobby Alighty Clips
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Turntables & Stands

Turntables and paint stands allow the modeller to rotate the model with out touching it while airbrushing. A DIY solution would be a cake decorating stand but there are many generic model spray turntables available on the market at reasonable prices.

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An excellent solution is a twin pack produced by Tamiya. This is the Tamiya Spray Work Stand Set that includes a body stand, elevated turntable and 4 spring clips. Available from Marks Models for €25.99.

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Vinny
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Re: Airbrushing Essentials

Postby Vinny » Fri Sep 14, 2012 6:31 pm

Cleaning Tools

To keep your airbrush in tip-top condition and good working order it is important to keep it clean and free from dried-on paint that will limit paint flow or entirely stop it. After flushing your airbrush through with cleaners/thinners it's a good idea to get into the nooks and crannies with some products available in high street stores.

Inter-dental Brushes available in supermarkets are great for removing clogged paint inside the airbrush.
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Pipe Cleaners (from tobacconists and art shops) are excellent, dipped in cleaners/thinners, for getting into those hard to reach places.

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stevie
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Re: Airbrushing Essentials

Postby stevie » Fri Sep 14, 2012 10:28 pm

Wow Vinny what a class post, first rate really.Alot of info i needed to know.
Can i ask, is it okay to leave cleaners or thinners in your airbrush overnight, would
that damage the airbrush?

I think anyone coming to ISM will be greatly appreciative of your post Vinny, is a must for beginners :DX

Stevie

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martay
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Re: Airbrushing Essentials

Postby martay » Fri Sep 14, 2012 10:56 pm

Thank you so much for the info vinny, this is going to be a well used topic i feel, top marks for the post its a very concise bit of info, one small question, is it possible to retro fit my badger compressor with a tank??.
thanks again bro for the effort [smilie=thumbsup02.gif]
Man with hand in pocket, feel cocky all day
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Vinny
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Re: Airbrushing Essentials

Postby Vinny » Fri Sep 14, 2012 11:31 pm

Thanks Stevie! With regards to leaving cleaners/thinners in your airbrush over night I don't see how they would harm it as long as the airbrush is metal. On the other hand I don't see why you would leave them in over night and they might start gumming up the moving parts. It's best to clean and dry up straight away. I used to use the Badger aerosol airbrush cleaner but stopped as I noticed that if any was left in the airbrush over night, the trigger would become sticky and wouldn't be very reactive... I'd take my finger off it and it would keep on spraying. I now only use cellulose thinners the flush out my airbrush and dry it out with pipe cleaners and kitchen towel immediately afterwards. It only takes a minute or so. Every now and then I will remove the paint tip and nozzle and leave them in a jar of clean cellulose over night with no ill effects. I also often leave the colour cup in a jar of white spirits over night. Always remove the needle during cleaning too and give it a whip down. I use Badger airbrushes and the cleaning process entirely takes about two minutes or less if I rush it. It saves a lot of paint clogging frustration in the future.

@Marty: Cheers dude! I think you're out of luck with the retrofit. I'm not saying it's impossible, I've just never seen it done before and I reckon it wouldn't be an easy task.

We'll have to cover paint thinners and ratios next.

Glad ye lads found it useful.
Vinny [smilie=thumb.gif]

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martay
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Re: Airbrushing Essentials

Postby martay » Fri Sep 14, 2012 11:48 pm

very usefull man and the thinning ratios would be a good help to hear another point of view, espech from one who's work is as good as yours. no big deal on the retro fit was just wondering if it was a possibility, thanks again
Man with hand in pocket, feel cocky all day
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Vinny
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Re: Airbrushing Essentials

Postby Vinny » Fri Sep 14, 2012 11:56 pm

Thinking about you question again Stevie, some airbrushes have rubber o-rings inside them, and if left over night, cleaners/thinners may seep down to them and corrode them over time. Best advice is to clean the airbrush and then dry internally and externally... it's then ready to go for your next painting session :o)b

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Spud
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Re: Airbrushing Essentials

Postby Spud » Sat Sep 15, 2012 12:28 am

something that is needed when you get a new ab is lube.
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take the the Ab apart and lube all moving parts. also after you clean the ab this will help keep it in good working order

When the AB is not in use, use its protective cover, A bent needle is a pain in the ass and pricy to replace, I just replaced my 0.3mm on my Krome and it cost me the best part of €30

Also a good place for Airbrush supplies is http://www.airbrushes.com/

Vinny 10/10 mate fantastic post. [smilie=first.gif] maybe the different cleaners and thinners might be handy along with the mix ratio/s
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martay
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Re: Airbrushing Essentials

Postby martay » Sat Sep 15, 2012 1:09 am

thanks for that spud, i wasnt aware of the lube is it an oil base and do you have to clean the brush after using it or leave it in and work away?
Man with hand in pocket, feel cocky all day
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Spud
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Re: Airbrushing Essentials

Postby Spud » Sat Sep 15, 2012 4:24 am

When you the ab strip it down and put a bit on all the moving parts, needle too, also on the needle before you begin your paint session, this will give you a nice smooth action on the trigger
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