General information on Airbrush needed
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Thread: General information on Airbrush needed

  1. #1

    Default General information on Airbrush needed

    I know airbushing is discussed in severeal threads but I still open a new one, as I need some more genereal information.
    I didnt paint Minis for a while and now that Im back to the Hobby I discovered that Airbrushing seems to be state of the art these days. Now my questions on this:

    1) Which parts of a Mini can be airbrushed? Meaning how detailed can I work with it?

    2) Do I need a whole new set of paints if I want to start using an airbrush or can I somehow use the acrylics (mainly GW stuff) I have?

    3) Would you recommend buying Airbrush equipment or do you think its not really necessary?

    4) If so, what do I have to buy? Ive seen sets for sale on ebay etc, but of what do they have to consist?

    Please let me know about your experience using airbrush on Minis!

  2. #2

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    1) Depends on what airbrush you have and how skilled you are. With some airbrushes you can do amazing detail, but it takes skill to do so. When we're talking detail work, I doubt using an airbrush is any easier or quicker than using a regular brush. The way I use airbush is mainly to lay down a base coat on pieces that have a dominating colour, for example, the skin on a miniature with very little or no clothing on. On larger pieces it is also viable to mask off areas and put down several different base coats. Basic shadows and highlights on these areas are also usually a quite viable use for the airbrush. I do enjoy using a regular brush, so usually I just do the base coats with airbrush to speed the process up a bit and get as smooth a base coat as possible.

    2) No, you can use regular acrylic hobby paints, as long as you thin them down to the appropriate consistency for airbrushing.

    3-4) With equipment, what do you mean? I have some airbrush thinner, but haven't used it. I use a mild paint stripper for acrylics to clean it with, but there are good airbrush cleaners that can be handy if you don't already have anything suitable. Make sure what you use won't harm the metal coating of the airbrush. Buying a dedicated airbrush cleaner is a goo way to be sure, if you're uncertain. There are brushes designed for cleaning airbrushes, but so far I've made do with a regular paintbrush. My airbrush has a fairly simple construction, though.
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  3. #3

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    If you do decide to get an airbrush there are a few things I think might be helpful.

    -There's a range fo paints from Vallejo called "Model Air" that is pre diluted and ready for the airbrush. It's a time saver and all that but I reccomend you get one or two colors so you can see what the consistency of your paint should look like when it's ready for spraying.

    -If you're curious what can be done in our hobby with an airbursh there are probably some youtube videos that would apply. I have one of the Miniature Mentor DvD's. that shows a GW Dreadnaught getting base coated, first shade, and highlights all with an airbrush in real time. It's pretty good.

  4. #4
    Coffin Dodger / Keymaster airhead's Avatar
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    What level of detail do you want to paint with an airbrush?

    What size 'mini' are you working on?

    What's your budget?


    Those three questions will tell a lot about what gun would be best.

    $ Just priming and/or clearcoating? Weathering terrain? A simple single action bottom fed gun would work, maybe even external mix.

    $$ Fleshtones on 12" anime minis? Most decent dual action side or top feed guns should do the trick.

    $$$ Some detail or cammo patterns on armor? Flesh details on Sophie (54mm)? Fairly decent top feed dual action gun - or lots of masking.

    $$$$$ Want to paint the eyes with your airbrush on 28mm minis? You are now talking a level of detail that very few guns can achieve - as well as very few artists.

    ****

    Keep in mind that every time you change colors on an airbrush, you are going to have to stop and clean the gun, generally waste the paint that you have in the gun (those drop or twos add up in the small quantity that we buy anyway). Personally, I cannot imagine doing much more than the cammo-on-armor or weathering level with a gun. Much finer detail, and the airbrush is probably not the right tool for the job.

    ****
    I'm an airbrush hobbiest from way back. I'll shoot just about anything that will hold still and a few things that move: t-shirts, kids, cakes, helmates, fire extinguishers (flame jobs).
    I prime most of my minis with krylon spray paint.
    I will do armor or airplane models with lots of airbrush as well as paintbrush work.
    If I was into warjacks, I'd have to do some airbrush work on them for the base coats, paintbrush for the details, then airbrush the weathering.

    Hope that helps...
    Last edited by airhead; 11-18-2009 at 08:43 AM.
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  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by snipress View Post
    I didnt paint Minis for a while and now that Im back to the Hobby I discovered that Airbrushing seems to be state of the art these days.
    Lots of experienced painters don't have an airbrush. And many people who do have one don't use it for much more than basecoats and painting groundwork.

    Quote Originally Posted by snipress View Post
    4) If so, what do I have to buy? Ive seen sets for sale on ebay etc, but of what do they have to consist?
    I use an Aztek. I don't care for the design of traditional all-metal airbrushes (see here for one major reason why) and unless one needs an ability that only a brush of this design can provide I would recommend an Aztek every time. Particularly for the first-time user since they are very forgiving of heavy-handedness!

    The thread that post is from is worth a read through for more info too, with some other recommendations. Also see this thread for another brand worth considering.

    So in relation to higher-end airbrushes that can do fine dots and lines, you simply don't need one for painting detail on miniatures. Apart from anything it's just not feasible in many cases (hard or impossible to get the nozzle close enough) but beyond that it's often better - faster, superior results - to use a paintbrush.

    Quote Originally Posted by snipress View Post
    3) Would you recommend buying Airbrush equipment or do you think its not really necessary?
    For the things an airbrush is good at I think one is definitely worth it but the savings in labour have to be seriously balanced against the cost of the brush and the compressor; plus with traditional airbrushes the cost of replacement parts if needed (which can be significant).

    For work on larger pieces an airbrush becomes more and more a necessary tool rather than just a luxury - once you get to really large-scale modelling few people don't use an airbrush fairly extensively.

    Quote Originally Posted by snipress View Post
    1) Which parts of a Mini can be airbrushed? Meaning how detailed can I work with it?
    The answer to this isn't as straightforward as it seems. There's a lot of good info in the posts above but the way that sprayed paint works you can paint detail in a way without having to spray each bit individually, IF what you're spraying has the right sort of raised detail.

    The basics of the technique are that you begin with the midtone and spray light paint from above and it catches on upward-facing raised detail, ditto with dark paint from below catching downwards-facing detail. So you get a natural shading effect just from the direction of spray. There's a lot more to the technique but that's the essence and it honestly is enough info to get started with.

    This is sometimes called zenithal spraying if you want to do a little research on it.

    Spraying like this usually has to be combined with masking, which is touched on in some other threads that are well worth search for and reading through. The difficulty and effort in masking and unmasking shouldn't be overlooked - for some people it's the reason they use their airbrush less than they would like.

    Something else to bear in mind: one has to combine airbrushed work with brushwork, while not having the brushwork stand out as obviously different (less smooth). This is one of the major challenges that is often not mentioned; all I can say is that it is worth the effort if you stick with it.

    Einion

  6. #6

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    Sounds very interesting!
    Especially the bit about "zenithal spraying".
    I would want to go into some detail at least. I think I wouldnt buy an airbsuh just to spray on base coats.
    So I will look for a decent one and hopefully soon be able to show you my first results.
    Thanks to all!

  7. #7

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    Finally I got me an Aztek 470 with a variety of nozzles and a compressor.
    Yesterday I used it for the first time. First on paper, than to give a large base a first layer of colour.
    Im having trouble with the "thickness" of the paint though. I thinned regular acrylics down to the consistency of milk. Now the colour come shooting out so strong that its almost impossible to draw a line as the air blows the thin colour away on the sides.

    Do I have to adjust my compressor to a lower pressure?
    Do I need to keep the paint thicker?

    Help!

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by snipress
    Im having trouble with the "thickness" of the paint though. I thinned regular acrylics down to the consistency of milk. Now the colour come shooting out so strong that its almost impossible to draw a line as the air blows the thin colour away on the sides.
    Increase the distance between AB and subject. Or use a lower pressure setting on the compressor. Or use the double-action trigger to control pressure - that's what it's for.

    Or a bit of all three.

    Quote Originally Posted by snipress
    Do I need to keep the paint thicker?
    Some people thin just enough to help spraying, others go quite a bit thinner, relying on multiple coats for coverage. Either option has advantages and disadvantages.

    I prefer thinner paint and more coats, because it reduces the chance of clogging (although you have to keep cleaning off the tip of the nozzle during a long session regardless). If you're in a hurry - or just really impatient! - you can use a hairdryer to speed drying so you can progress to the next coat.

    Einion

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by snipress View Post
    Finally I got me an Aztek 470 with a variety of nozzles and a compressor.
    Yesterday I used it for the first time. First on paper, than to give a large base a first layer of colour.
    Im having trouble with the "thickness" of the paint though. I thinned regular acrylics down to the consistency of milk. Now the colour come shooting out so strong that its almost impossible to draw a line as the air blows the thin colour away on the sides.

    Do I have to adjust my compressor to a lower pressure?
    Do I need to keep the paint thicker?

    Help!
    What pressure do you work at? It is usually recommended to spray at 10-20 PSI. What from distance do you spray your paint? Around 15-20 cm usually does the trick for me. If you do as well, then your paint is probably over-thinned.

  10. #10
    Coffin Dodger / Keymaster airhead's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by snipress View Post
    Finally I got me an Aztek 470 with a variety of nozzles and a compressor.
    Yesterday I used it for the first time. First on paper, than to give a large base a first layer of colour.
    I'm having trouble with the "thickness" of the paint though. I thinned regular acrylics down to the consistency of milk. Now the colour come shooting out so strong that its almost impossible to draw a line as the air blows the thin colour away on the sides.

    Do I have to adjust my compressor to a lower pressure?
    Do I need to keep the paint thicker?

    Help!
    Set your regulator down to about 10-12 psi.

    The Aztec needs a minimum psi to suck paint and feed. Thin your paint a bit more for very fine lines. Keep adjusting your pressure to the minimum you can get and still feed constantly.

    The Aztec - even with the 'fine' nozzle - will only shoot a line about like a dull pencil (at least that is all I could get it to do). A good top feed can reduce the pressure to about 3 psi and shoot a line about like a fine pencil. Just the nature of the beasts. (has to do with top feed vs. side feed and nozzle / needle construction.).

    ***
    Dual action airbrushing:
    Push down on the trigger - releasing air. (don't try to regulate the air with your trigger, use the regulator on the compressor - simply push down)
    pull back on the trigger - increasing paint - the more you pull back, the more paint you get. (this is the mastery part.)
    push forward on the trigger - shutting off paint (leave the air on...)
    Then release the trigger and allow the air to shut off. This will reduce the amount of tip build (paint building up on the exposed tip of the needle.)
    Simply releasing the trigger - shutting off the air and paint all at once - may damage some of the high end guns as the cones are very fragile. Slamming a needle into the cone could damage it. Your Aztec with its nylon cone should not suffer from this, but it is a bad habit.

    Hope that helps.
    Last edited by airhead; 01-25-2010 at 09:00 AM.
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