Airbrush Equipment Before You Buy

Airbrush equipment before you buy provides those new to airbrushing some insight into which airbrush equipment, supplies you might consider buying.One of the reason’s I started this web site over ten years ago is to try and help those new to airbrushing make their first experiences airbrushing a fun and positive experience. Far too often people interested  learning how to airbrush buy equipment that does more to hamper their efforts to learn how to airbrush than help. They buy the wrong equipment; try airbrushing with it and have a horrible experience, that equipment gets thrown in a closet and they give up on learning how to airbrush; the whole art form loses when this happens. By Don Johnson


With a little of research you can make purchasing your first airbrush and compressor a positive experience and end up with equipment that will serve you well for years. To jump right in and buy the cheapest equipment you can find might well end up ruining your first experiences airbrushing.


First off what is it you want to airbrush? That will determine what equipment will be required to accomplish what you wish to airbrush. Every reputable airbrush manufacture publishes suggested uses for every airbrush they market; that information should be posted with the airbrush listing. A good quality airbrush is going to cost you any where from $60.00 to $140.00; a good compressor several hundred dollars.


Purchasing airbrush equipment is like purchasing any tool it always pays in the long run to invest in quality equipment from the start. Doing business with a retailer that is in it for the long haul rather than some person on an auction web site generally will generate better results for you.


Saving money by buying used equipment is certainly a option that you should look at to save money just take into account to the cost of a new nozzle and needle to ensure the airbrush functions at its best, as it was designed to do.


No matter what you want to airbrush you’ll need the following:
airbrush air hose from the air source
air source
airbrush holder

Do your research now instead of regretting your which airbrush equipment you purchased later.

Airbrush Detail Trick

Airbrush Detail Trick

Airbrush detail trick tutorial covers an old trick making it easier to airbrush fine detail, there are no short cuts the basics of airbrushing are still required to airbrush fine detail.

There is no short cut your ability to airbrush fine lines; detail will come only thru PRACTICE, PRACTICE the basics of airbrushing. The ability to airbrush fine detail calls for working very close to your painting surface at the correct PSI for your situation.

Below is not for the faith of heart, mess up and you could bend the tip of your needle or worse. Below is nothing someone new to airbrushing should try until they are very comfortable using their airbrush. Should you bend the tip of the needle getting the needle out with damaging the inter seals of the airbrush will be hard so only use this technique if you are very familiar and comfortable using your airbrush.

There are many airbrush artist who can render fine lines, great detail work with the needle cap on please take this into consideration when thinking about using this technique.

When all is said and done it’s not the airbrush that creates the fine lines, detail work it’s the artist operating the airbrush. The airbrush is just a tool learn to operate it with a great deal of proficiency and airbrushing fine lines, detail work will not be a problem.

This is an old airbrush trick that I’m not sure anyone can take credit for its been around forever. For those of you new to airbrushing and for those with experiance who haven’t tried it I thought it would be worth posting again. It’s a very simple little trick as you can see below.



airbrush needle cap

In most case’s by simple removing the needle cap from your airbrush while tring to render nice clean detail you’ll find it alot easier to accomplish. Just remember to put it back on after you use it.

airbrush needle tip

Pictured above my airbrush with the needle cap removed. Give it a try I’m sure you will find it works just as well for you as it has for me over the years.I will add more to How To Airbrush.Com as often as I can so please book mark this web site and stop back often.

Airbrush Changing Colors

Airbrush changing colors will cover changing colors in your gravity feed or bottom feed airbrush covering both water based paint and solvent based paint. To those experienced with airbrushing technique this might be old hat but for those new it can be a perplexing situation when it comes to changing colors in your airbrush. This just becomes second nature after you have been airbrushing for awhile, no airbrushing tricks here just solid info for those new to airbrushing.


paper towel


First we’ll start off with where do you spray the color you are not going to use and or the cleaning solution. The most obvious way is to just spray the extra color or cleaning solution out into a paper towel. This solution can be pretty messy and not very healthy way to go about ridding of the color or solution.

 Airbrush Table Top Cleaning Station

Iwata cleaning station


A far better solution is to purchase a airbrush cleaning station like the one pictured above made by Iwata. This cleaning station not only keeps that spray off contained within an easy to clean vessel but also acts as an airbrush holder. Using a cleaning station should help you keep your studio area clean and is a healthier situation by keeping that over spray from floating around your studio. Cost about $20.00 as of 11/08 for this Iwata cleaning station.


airbrush cleaning station


airbrush cleaning station


For those of you on a real tight budget you can make your own cleaning station from an old Clorox type plastic jar like the one pictured above very easy.


airbrush cleaning station 3

Pop the top off, stuff some paper towels inside, put the top back on and there you have your cleaning station.


cleaning water based paint


Ok now we know where we are going to be spraying all that unused paint and cleaning solution so let’s move onto checking out the fastest way to change colors. In a bottom feed airbrush like this Iwata Eclipse BCS the most efficient way is to have Fast Blast bottles are set up containing different colors.

This can be done with both water based paint and solvent based paint as long as the Fast Blast bottle is solvent proof. Ideally for airbrushing T Shirts it’s best to have at least three airbrushes one for black, one for white and one for all the colors you will be using.

Get done with one color simple unplug the color and flush the airbrush and plug your next color into the airbrush.


cleaning water based paint


With a bottom feed airbrush like this Iwata Eclipse BCS airbrush you would unplug your fast blast bottle of color and simply plug a fast blast bottle full of Airbrush Cleaner into your airbrush. Iwata and EZ Air both make excellent airbrush cleaning products that are best to use in your airbrush for cleaning. With your fast blast bottle plugged in spray your cleaning solution into your cleaning station until it sprays clear.


airbrush water based paint


With gravity feed airbrush like this Iwata HP-CS airbrush and water based paints you’d spray the remaining color into your cleaning station. Add some airbrush cleaning solution into your color cup than using a small paint brush clean the sides of your color cup and spray the cleaning solution into the cleaning station.


solvent based paint


If you are using solvent based paints instead of airbrush cleaning solution you would use reducer or lacquer thinner to clean your airbrush of the old color when changing colors. With a bottom feed airbrush like this Iwata Eclipse BCS you’d have a fast blast bottle containing reducer or lacquer thinner, plug it in and spray into your cleaning station until you spray a clear solution.

With a gravity feed airbrush like this Iwata HP-CS airbrush and solvent based paints you clean your color cup out with reducer or lacquer thinner much the same way you would with water based paints but use reducer or lacquer thinner instead of airbrush cleaner.

I hope you found this helpful, Don Johnson


Below is m short video on making your own airbrush cleaning station.

Airbrush Basics

Airbrush basics for those new to airbrushing here is some essential information to help you get started in the right direction making your experiance a lot less frustrating.

by Kevin Mayes

For some time now, airbrush artists have had to gather their knowledge from any source available. Fortunately, there have been a number of very good books published in recent years. One that I highly recommend is by Radu Vero, titled “Airbrush: The Complete Studio Guide”. This is an excellent book for all levels of study. It is my hope that this newsletter will also be, or at least become, that kind of source for helpful, intelligent information on the art of airbrushing.

What I hope to achieve with this newsletter is to impart the knowledge and experiences that I have had and to relate the experiences of those who wish to share the same by writing me. This is intended to be a platform for the exchange of knowledge, experiences and practical information concerning the airbrush. It is in this context that I encourage you to participate in this exchange and thereby enhance the growth and enjoyment of this art form.

When I first began my work with the airbrush, there was literally no one from whom to to learn the ins and outs of the medium. I learned from trial and error (often there was more error than trial) and from studying samples from magazines and posters. Trying to imitate the work in those samples was frustrating at best. Fortunately, I was able to find an air brush illustrator years later who was kind enough to share his knowledge and skills with me. Thanks to him, I was able to achieve my goals and reach the level that I now enjoy. Thank you, Dave Willardson, for your honesty, direction and inspiration. I am very grateful.


self portrait by kevin

Above is a ‘self portrait’ by airbrush artist, artist Kevin Mayers. I would like to thank Kevin for letting me reprint this news letter series here on How To Airbrush. I think you find them very informative.

My advice…………..don’t hesitate to contact an illustrator artist you admire for advice or infor- mation. Most, I have found, are more than willing to help new talent. You can do so on our airbrush artist forum at Airbrush Technique.Com


Airbrush Basic Maintenance 

Proper care of the airbrush is essential to insure a positive experience

First of all, clean your airbrush often! It’s a good idea to rinse the brush with clear water frequently during your work sessions. This will help reduce the build-up of pigment around the needle at the head assembly. Some build-up of pigment is bound to happen regardless and the easiest solution to this is to clense the brush with a cleaning solution. You can use a cleaner purchased from your local art store or you can make your own using the following formula.




Although this is an effective formula, it is moderate in strength. I do not reccomend using more than a 30% ammonia/ 70% water mix. Anything stonger could damage your airbrush!


A number of people have asked what to do to keep the paint flowing instead of clogging and spattering. Often it is simply a matter of keeping the tip of the needle moist. Periodically, during your work, it is helpful to simply apply a drop of water to the tip of your needle. Remember that you are blowing air along with the paint! Air dries paint, and under the right atmospheric conditions, it can dry it as it comes out of the nozzle!



All too often, people will be intimidated by an airbrush to the point that it ceases to be fun.

Remember, the airbrush is only a tool! It is not the be-all and end-all in art! This simple tool can, when used on its own or in combination with any other medium, be pleasurable and just plain fun to work with.

Everyone, including me, gets frustrated with this darn contraption from time to time. When this happens, take a moment and let patience be your guide. Patience is one virtue that is needed when airbrushing. Sometimes it tests your patience, but you can win out over it. Ask yourself where you went wrong, or if the instrument is acting up; ask yourself what is it doing and where could it be coming from? Do a little trouble-shooting and calmly remedy the situation. If needed, set the project aside for an hour then go back and start again with a fresh out look. Should that not work, and then set it aside over night before trying again. If you are still puzzled then contact someone with airbrush experience and enlist their help with the problem. The trick is to not let the medium defeat you.

No matter what medium you work in, such as airbrush or watercolor or oils, there will be days that are problematic and you learn to work through them. Look at it this way: With every problem or glitch you encounter, you gain knowledge. Knowledge is what we seek. And with knowledge comes skill. Your work will only improve with each thing you learn.

So, don’t take things too seriously and HAVE FUN


Airbrush Fundamentals  

To be or become proficient with any art form, there are certain fundamental things you must do to achieve your goals. First and foremost,you should draw as often as possible. As I learned early in my career, you will never be able to paint better than you can draw. So, draw whenever you can. Secondly, practice the elementary exercises found in most airbrush books. Those annoying little circles, squares, dots and gradations are invaluable to improving your skills. These exercises are also a great way to ‘warm up’ before painting. Third, be observant. Observing things and people around you can be a great source for inspiration and reference.

I hope that you have enjoyed this premier issue and that you will look forward to the next.

Kevin has a great DVD series on airbrushing pin up art be sure to check it out on his web site

Air Sources for Airbrushing

Air source’s for airbrushing tutorial covers overview of the different types of airbrush source’s you can use in airbrushing.  Paint is propelled through and out the airbrush tip in a controlled manner by compressed air, your air source. The higher the viscosity of the paint (the thicker in simple terms) the higher PSI will be required to get the job done. An illustration type airbrush paint like Doc PH Martins or Golden Airbrush Colors, Createx Illustration paint all of which we would call low viscosity paints would require 10 to 30 PSI with a 0.18 to 0.35 nozzle / needle to give you good results. Where as Createx (a textile paint) being a higher viscosity paint would require 40 to 60 PSI to give you good results.

Any compressor or CO2 tank will work for airbrushing. Pictures below is the typical set up for compressor and airbrush. (pictured provided by KB Kustoms, thanks Kevin).


airbrush compressor
airbrush compressor set up


CANNED AIR (Propellants) — Most expensive type of air source and not very effective. I do not recommend buying this as it will not give you a good feel for what airbrushing is all about.

ELECTRIC COMPRESSORS –Come in all shapes and sizes. Please research what will be required as far as PSI for the type of airbrushing you will be doing. Will you be using a high viscosity paint for airbrushing t-shirts or will you be doing illustrations with a low viscosity paint? These are some of the things you should consider before buying a compressor.

Electric compressors can be piston driven or diaphragm , oil lubricated or non- oil lubricated, have a air storage tank or none. I suggest staying away from diaphragm type compressors for anything other than using very low viscosity type airbrush paints.

Diaphragm Compressors – Very inexpensive type compressor. For about the same amount of money these days you can buy an oil less mini piston compressor like the Phantom 100, much better deal for the money. Diaphragm compressors use a reciprocating diaphragm to pump air to your airbrush. One of the big draw backs to this type of compressor is pulsing effect created by these types of compressors. One airbrush at a time can be used.

Piston Driven Compressors – Pretty simple an electric motor turns a piston that pumps air usually into a storage tank than to the airbrush. With a large enough storage tank several airbrushes can generally be used at one time with this type compressor. Well suited in most cases for spraying high viscosity type paints. These compressors are often pretty loud so try and hear it while it runs before you buy one. There are silent compressors made for airbrushing but are general much more expensive than a compressor like you can buy at Home Depot, hard ware stores.

Air pressure regulators, moisture traps / filters should be used on any type compressor used for airbrushing. An air pressure regulator controls the air pressure at which the paint is sprayed. Moisture trap / filter captures the moisture created by the flow of the hot air cooling in the air storage tank or airbrush hose.** For oil lubricated compressors a oil filter should be used to capture any oil from the compressor before it gets into your airbrush.

COMPRESSED CO2 TANKS – Perfect for airbrushing in many cases if the size of your projects are not huge. No need for a moisture trap or oil filter are needed for CO2, just a regulator. For a regulator you should use a welding type regulator which screws on top of the tank.

Air Lines / Hoses– The best kind is rubber covered by braided nylon which generally comes in 10 ft. lengths. The compressor end of the hose will screw right on to the out let side connection of your regulator.

Learning How To Airbrush

Learning how to airbrush will show just how important the simple dot is, airbrushing is all about the dot in fact. 🙂

No doubt you found your way here to this article because you are interested in learning how to airbrush, kustom paint. I hear most often from folks who are brand to airbrushing or those who at some point bought airbrush equipment found it to frustrating trying to learn and the equipment was stuff into the closet. Either way I’m here to provide you with a bit of guidance to finding your way thru what can be the maze of information about airbrushing. I’m sure I can get you up and airbrushing, kustom painting just like the thousands of others I have helped over the last fifteen plus years.

No matter what it is you want to airbrush, custom paint the steps you must go thru to learn how to use your airbrush are the same. No matter the type of paint you are using water based, solvent based, no matter the type of airbrush; single action or double action learning the basic fundamentals of how to get your airbrush and mind (creative side) in sync are the same.


dots and lines


I’m not going to try and mislead you here learning the fundamentals can be a bit on the boring side but as I’m about to show you it’s a chance to let your creative side take over.

I have to give a big thank you to T Shirt guru Rene Romero for providing the images for this article. Rene is one of the best T Shirt airbrush artist on the planet in my book and I’m honored to have his help for this article.

Other tutorials on this web site cover airbrush equipment and basic airbrush lessons #1 thru #5 so here I want to cover the some examples of what could be referred to as the most basic of all airbrush strokes; dots, lines and dagger strokes. In lesson #1 will go thru in detail just how to go about getting your airbrush to create these airbrush strokes here I want to try and convey just how important they are and why you need to take the time to practice, learn them.


airbrush dots


not like this

Pictured above you see a picture of airbrushed dots and lines; the top picture is of the simple dot done correctly the bottom picture is of course the dot not done correctly. In the bottom picture too much paint was applied causing the paint to spider web which is cool if that’s the effect we where looking to create but in this case we where looking to make perfect dots. The dot as simple as it might look is the beginning of most of the basic airbrush strokes you’ll need to learn in order to master the airbrush. If you where to magnify any airbrush painting you’d see it actually is made of thousands and thousands of tiny, tiny dots which are produced as the paint is atomized via your airbrush. For that matter if you where to magnify the dot you just airbrushed you’d see the same thing tiny, tiny dots of paint making up your dot. So as you can see the dot is fundamental in rendering any and all airbrush art work taking the time to learn how to create perfect dots is fundamental to your learning to unleash your creativity using your airbrush.

When I asked Rene to provide you with an example of just how powerful the dot can be and how you can turn practicing airbrushing a simple dot into some fun below is what he came up with. I think you’ll agree from the simple dot some very amazing art work can be created. (click on small image to see bigger view).

clint eastwood painting


clint eastwood 2


eastwood painting step 3


clint eastwood step 4

Hopefully you now have a new appreciation for the simple dot and how important it is to your mastering the airbrush. by Don Johnson with art work by Rene Romero