Airbrush equipement and supplies covers airbrush equipment and supplies for those new to airbrushing; an over view of airbrushes and compressors. My whole goal with this web site is to help you step in to the world of airbrushing and have a positive and fun experience. Please at least give airbrushing a fair chance by buying the best equipment you can afford. Check out my new Airbrush Magazine it’s packed full of useful airbrushing tips , tricks and technique How To Articles.
Airbrush Compressor’s / Air Sources
My personal feelings on this is to purchase a good air source, one that supplies steady , dry air. You need at least 10 to 30 psi for airbrushing models , fine art , illustrations , finger nail art, bike and car murals, 5 to 12 psi for body art, 40 to 60 psi for t-shirts, textile art and large wall murals. For a spray gun like a Sata or RG 3 you need a 3 to 5 horse power compressor . If your are on a limited budget spend your cash on a good airbrush , as a fancy air compressor will not improve your airbrushing results, a good airbrush will.
CO2 tanks might be the best choice for the artist on a limited budget. It will supply a steady supply of dry air depending on pressure you’re running 20 to 30 hours. For fine art, models, helmets, auto murals, body art, finger nails would work great .Check with your local welding supplier or beverage supplier for rental rates.
Piston driven commercial compressors like you buy at Home Depot, Eagle Hardware etc. work just fine. Usually you can get a good 1 or 2 horse power commercial type compressor for under $200.0 . As long as this type of compressor has a pressure regulator on it, moisture trap it should work just fine . Before buying ask to hear the compressor run, hear for yourself how loud it might be. You can always build a plywood box to fit over the compressor and insult the inside with stro foam to provide sound dampening. Cut two holes one each end for air flow .This type of compressor is the best way to go if airbrushing t-shirts.
Silent compressors: are nice if you have the coin to buy on . Good for just about all airbrush applications. Make sure the silent compressor is rated for the type of airbrushing you will be doing before you buy it. Most use a refrigerator compressor with air storage tank, pressure regulator and moisture trap. Most are oil lubricated with piston driven motors which eliminate friction and noise. An attached air tank allows the compressor to store air which than shut’s off when the tank is full.
Diaphragm compressors: try before you buy. These are small airbrush compressors marketed toward the start-up airbrush artist. Make sure they supply a steady flow of air. Best if you can find one with air supply or storage tank attached. For about the same amount of money you can get a mini oil less piston compressor, much better off with this type compressor than small diaphragm compressor like a Paache D500.
Cans of Air: If this is what you have put the can in pan of hot or warm water when using will work better. You will never understand what Airbrushing is really like using these. A waste of money in most case’s.
Oil less piston compressor’s like Spar Max TC 2000 , Stealth 5000, Medea Smart Jet, Intruder 100. These are made in Taiwan and are very good compressors. Most are a great buy for the money. Great for just about any airbrush application, just make sure the one you buy is rated for the type of airbrushing you intend to do . Smart Jet, Intruder 100, Spar Max Gold, work great for fingernail art, models, crafts, illustrations, fine art where you need 30 PSI or less. For Textile, T-Shirt art you would want the TC 2000 or Stealth 5000
Compressor terms what they mean:
High Viscosity or thick paints (createx, Aqua Flow, Auto Air) require a high pressure compressor.
Low Viscosity or thin paints (com-art, water colors) require less pressure than the above.
High Volume Airbrush’s (VL, BCS) require high pressure (30 to 60) compressors.
Low Volume Airbrushes like gravity feed HP-B or HP-C require lower pressure compressors.
PSI means pounds of air per square inch.
Max PSI means maximum air pressure.
Auto Shut-off usually means compressor turns off with the airbrush or when air tank is full.
Cooling fan cools the compressor
Airbrush Single action airbrush, looks good price wise but of very limited use. Amount of paint to be sprayed is adjusted separately from the trigger, usually by turning fluid cap front of the airbrush.
Double action airbrush is the way to go for airbrushing just about anything. Again there are many different models, types. In a nut shell by pushing down on the trigger you get air and by pulling back on the trigger you get paint ( on independent double action). The further back you pull the trigger the more paint you get. So pushing down on the trigger and pulling back on the trigger at the same time gives you both air and paint. Most will produce spray pattern from pencil line size to 2 inches. How big a spray pattern you get is determined by how far you are from the spraying surface. Two main types of double action airbrush’s are the siphon feed (either bottom or side color cup. container) and the gravity feed (color cup on top of the airbrush) Generally speaking you can get better detail from a gravity feed airbrush than a siphon feed airbrush.
There are two basic kinds of fluid tips or nozzles use by just about all airbrush’s. The floating tip, nozzle being one such as the Vega 2000 airbrushes. With this style tip the nozzle just sits in the end of your airbrush held in place by air cap or nozzle cap. Screw in tip is the other type used and these actually screw into the body of the airbrush, like Iwata HP-B. You can general get better detail from this style tip nozzle than with a floating style. For t-shirts, textile art, wall murals, background fine art, bottom siphon feed Airbrush works best. Fine art detail, finger nail art, models, bike and automotive murals gravity feed Airbrush works best (Iwata HP-B , HP-C) Above is a very fast overview there many good books on the subject if you need further info.
Above example of a double action gravity feed airbrush. Paint would go in small cup on top of airbrush, hose connects to bottom by screwing it on. Behind the color cup is the trigger.
Above example of a double action bottom feed, siphon feed airbrush, paint or color goes in bottle on bottom, hose screws on post next to color bottle.
Example of a double action side feed, siphon feed airbrush, you can see color cup, paint container on the other side of the airbrush, plugs in usually friction fit, hose connects to bottom and screws on the post.
Please don’t let what other people say about a particular airbrush determine what you yourself can do with that airbrush. I can take one of my $49.00 airbrush’s and get just as fine a line as I can with $500.00 airbrush. And that is not to say a $49.00 airbrush is as good as a $500.00 airbrush its not. But it is how you have trained your finger and mind to use and control the airbrush. Just like most things in life your going to get out of it what you put into it. Take the time to learn the basic airbrush strokes no matter what you want to airbrush, finger nails, , models, Harley you will get better results.
This can’t be stressed enough if you are just learning to airbrush use a good AIRBRUSH specific paint. Paints made for use in the airbrush in other words . Golden Airbrush Colors or Doc Martins, Com-art are colors that are very easy to use. They are inexpensive paints that will make your learning experience a lot more enjoyable. Airbrush textile paints, hobby paints or model paints, most of which are fine products probably, but not what you want to use while trying to learn how to airbrush. Use the one of the above mentioned products on paper until you are comfortable using your airbrush. You will find you get less tip drying and clogging with these so instead of messing around trying to get your airbrush to work you can actually be using it. After you have become comfortable with how the airbrush works you can use just about any kind of paint you want.
Airbrush Paint terms what they mean:
Opaque is impervious to the passage of light. To enhance airbrush colors use white first as its very opaque , like when airbrushing on any dark surface, black t-shirt. for example
Transparent will transmit light so that the colors beneath can be seen. Combined with opaques will create beautiful pastels.
Fluorescent colors will fully cover any white or light colored surface. Gives you that neon look or hot look.
Pearlescent covers both dark and light colored surfaces , creates satin-like sheen and shimmer.
Metallic covers both light and dark colored surfaces,creates metallic like sheen, reflective properties.
Iridescent is permanent, light fast capable of producing an array of rainbow colors, covers dark surfaces without base coating white first.
Chameleon magically changes color with reflected light for maximum effects use it on dark surfaces.