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Author Topic: Basic Airbrushing FAQs  (Read 876 times)

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Offline Colorscapesart

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Basic Airbrushing FAQs
« on: December 30, 2012, 12:47:00 AM »
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This guide is a comprehensive list of common questions and answers from the MLP Arena community.  I do NOT claim to have provided all of the information myself, rather from gleaming advice from many retired threads in an attempt to help new airbrush users or those having problems.

Should I Invest in an Airbrush?
What Kind of Airbrush should I buy?
How Do Compressors and Canned Aerosol Work?
What type of Paint Do I Use?
Should I Seal My After I Airbrush them?
How Do I Clean My Airbrush?
How Do I Do Gradients?
Common Issues/Problems (Paint consistency)



Should I invest in an airbrush?
It depends. Airbrushing provides smooth full body repaints and fun gradients.  It also requires a LOT of investment of time and money.  Depending on what you choose, a good airbrushing/compressor/paints can set you back from about $100-$500.  If ponies are a very occasional hobby, it might not be worth it. 

What kind of airbrush should I buy?
Airbrushes have many options.
There are many good brands of airbrushes with pros and cons.  Here are a few well known brands:
Badger
Iwata
Paasche
A quality airbrush is worth investing in when possible.  Cheaper airbrushes do not provide the tight level of precision and control.  If any seals in the airbrush are not tight, leaking can occur.

Excerpted from Golden Acrylics website:
"Single-Action vs. Double-Action Airbrushes
"Single-action" and "double-action" refer to the way the air and paint flow of the airbrush is controlled. Single-action means that it sprays much like an aerosol can: just push down the trigger to get it to spray. The amount of paint that comes out is controlled by twisting a knob or screw located near the tip. This type of airbrush is also referred to as an "external-mix," because the air and paint actually mix in front of the needle. There are fewer moving parts that need cleaning, therefore it is an easy airbrush to maintain. The single-action airbrush does not have the precise control offered by a double-action; however, a single action is a great beginner's brush that will always have uses no matter how advanced an artist becomes. Smooth gradations are easily accomplished, and for many artists, this will be the only airbrush they will ever need.


A double-action airbrush offers much greater control and is essential when producing fine lines and thick-thin strokes (the classic "dagger stroke"). These are also known as "internal-mix" airbrushes because the air and paint mix inside the nozzle. The double-action airbrush has two trigger movements. As with the single-action, airflow is controlled by pressing the trigger down; however, the amount of paint can also be controlled by pulling the trigger back. The farther the trigger is pulled back, the more paint comes out. T-shirt lettering is much easier with this type of airbrush. Experienced, "freehand" (painting without the aid of masking materials) airbrushers can control a double-action to produce photo-realistic artwork.


Siphon-feed Vs. Gravity-feed Airbrushes
These terms refer to how paint is supplied to an airbrush. Although this feature does not directly influence how an airbrush performs, it does indicate the paint capacity allowed before refilling.


Siphon-feed means that the color-cup attaches from underneath the body of the airbrush. Air suction pulls the paint from the cup to the nozzle area, where it comes in contact with the air. This type of airbrush is useful when spraying for extended periods of time because the color-cup (typically 1/4 ounce capacity) can be taken off and a bottle can be attached, normally with a capacity of 3 fluid ounces or less.


Gravity-feed essentially means that the color-cup is on top of the airbrush body. Most models have an immovable color-cup. Although larger models can have paint reservoirs of 2 ounces, gravity-fed airbrushes are made for detail, where small amounts of paint are applied at one time. Because the paint is in an open color-cup, some models offer a separate cap to keep paint from drying out in the color-cup. They have a tiny hole in the center of the cap to prevent a vacuum from developing. It is essential that this hole be open to maintain proper paint flow. Siphon-feed bottles also have this hole on the cap for the same purpose."


How do Compressors and Aerosol cans work?
Aerosol cans ($15ish a can) give a medium amount of airflow that is often enough to do one or two ponies at the max.  The airflow at the beginning of the can is much better than at the end.  There is no control.

Air compressors are machines that provide a constant airflow.  Not all compressors are created equal.  Ponies require a steady but fairly low psi (pressure measurement).  The most important feature is an air regulator:
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You can purchase these separately to convert a small garage compressor or purchase an artist's air compressor with a built in regulator.
Another great feature is a moisture trap, it prevents moisture from building up in the tube and wrecking a paint job with excessive random water drips.
Pic of compressor

Compressors can really vary in price.  Harbor Freight, Dick Blick, and Hobby Lobby are just a few examples of retailers. 

What Type of Paint Do I Use?
Any type of acrylic (water based) paint can be used in a paintbrush.  Paints need to be watered down the the consistency of milk for good flow.  Some airbrush colors are premixed, including Createx Airbrush Paints and Golden Acrylic Airbrush Paints.  If you notice your airbrush spitting and sputtering, it can be a sign of paint clogging due to the paint being too thick.  If you paint is too thin, it comes out watery and drips immediately. 
Regardless of whether you use premixed paints or mix your own, for a nice and smooth finish it's best to work in several light layers instead of going for full coverage on the first coat. 

Should I Seal My Airbrushed Ponies?
Airbrush creates a smooth, thin layer of paint on the plastic pony vinyl.  Sealing helps to protect the integrity of the paint and can prevent cracks and chips.  Testor's Dullcote spray is ideal for airbrushed pieces as it goes on smoothly.  You can seal with any normal sealant (such as modge podge) but the brush strokes from applying it will be visible on the finished project.

How Do I Clean My Airbrush?
Airbrush cleaning comes down to finding what works best for you.  Ideally, airbrushes should be taken apart and completely cleaned as often as possible to prevent dried paint clogging the brush or getting in the way of the airbrush seals.

A few methods:
Water Water is cheap and as acrylics are water based, it can be used to clean them.  Be careful, water can also cause rust, so make sure to let all pieces dry in the open completely before reassembling the brush.  Most airbrushes come with an insert showing the parts on the airbrush and how to disassemble it.

Windex Windex is made to clean smooth surfaces like glass.  (I have not tried this myself, so any hands on advice for windex cleaning is appreciated). 

Acetone Acetone is great for removing paint build up.  It has hazardous fumes and must be used with adequate ventilation.  Acetone can be used in hard to reach areas by soaking the parts then using a tiny brush or running water to clean the removed paint out.

Get creative on reaching the nooks and crannies of the brush.  Some people used tightly rolled tisses to clean the tiny nozzles.  There are also small and flexible dental brushes at most retailers that are great for this.

How Do I Do Gradients?

Common Problems/Issues (such as Paint Consistency)


Recommended links:
http://www.howtoairbrush.com/
http://airbrushtechnique.com/forum/
http://www.goldenpaints.com/technicaldata/airtips.php

« Last Edit: December 30, 2012, 01:08:16 AM by Colorscapesart »

Offline kaoskat

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Re: Basic Airbrushing FAQs
« Reply #1 on: December 30, 2012, 12:52:09 AM »
You rock!
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Offline Alatariel-Silimaure

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Re: Basic Airbrushing FAQs
« Reply #2 on: December 30, 2012, 12:53:32 AM »
this is awesome so far! I'm actually getting my very first air brush/compressor kit on the 2nd :3 a friend of mine bought it for me for christmas :3
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Offline Galactica

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Re: Basic Airbrushing FAQs
« Reply #3 on: December 30, 2012, 01:07:49 AM »
Great guide so far!  I am just getting started on this medium and am very excited...

Offline okiegurl1981

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Re: Basic Airbrushing FAQs
« Reply #4 on: December 30, 2012, 02:28:44 AM »
Awesome job! :D  I know I had a ton of questions when I took the plunge and bought my setup.  This is sure to come in handy for a lot of people!
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Offline MoonHawke

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Re: Basic Airbrushing FAQs
« Reply #5 on: December 30, 2012, 05:45:12 PM »
This is awesome. Thanks so much!

A couple notes:
-Reaper Miniatures makes a line of paint called Master Paint Series. Bottles are 1/2 oz and airbrush-friendly right out of the bottle. I think they run about $3-$4 a bottle.

-And Iwata-Medea makes as awesome cleaning station that doubles as an airbrush stand. I got one for Christmas, and I just love it. It makes emptying out colors to change colors, and clean up really easy.
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Offline LeighAnnApanites

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Re: Basic Airbrushing FAQs
« Reply #6 on: December 30, 2012, 10:04:35 PM »
Thank you! This is fantastic! I'm still waiting to get the parts I need so I can connect my airbrush to my compressor. In the meantime I'm studyin' up.

Offline PandaBerryInSpace

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Re: Basic Airbrushing FAQs
« Reply #7 on: December 30, 2012, 10:06:55 PM »
I've been wondering whether or not to get an airbrush, so this information was very interesting! Thank you!
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Offline BlackCurtains

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Re: Basic Airbrushing FAQs
« Reply #8 on: December 30, 2012, 11:32:31 PM »
Yay! Great work so far, CSA :D

-And Iwata-Medea makes as awesome cleaning station that doubles as an airbrush stand. I got one for Christmas, and I just love it. It makes emptying out colors to change colors, and clean up really easy.

That looks awesome! I spray into a plastic cup and it's not the best thing to use, lol. I knocked it over once and got grey water everywhere.
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