Author Topic: Airbrush Questions  (Read 3366 times)

Offline Vermis

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Airbrush Questions
« on: August 25, 2012, 10:44:50 PM BST GMT »
A topic for asking and answering questions about airbrush types and use.

Offline Vermis

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Re: Airbrush Questions
« Reply #1 on: August 25, 2012, 10:56:04 PM BST GMT »
I'll start.  Following on from the Montana Cans topic, Mati's responses:

Have you tryed using an airbrush ? Many of the big mini painters work a lot with the airbrush. It might seem expensive at first to buy the whole set up but it's so worth it since you can also use it for other stuff. Like Graffitti on model trains for that slight little extra of realism :P

No seriously, an airbrush is a great tool and it is quite fun to use, the cleaning is a bit of a disadvantage compared to a brush but still.

Badger airbrushes are great from what I hear from the painting monkeys. I only own a very cheap knockoff version, but its good enough for bigger models like 54mm and vehicles ( priming minis is no problem of course ). I would recommend not getting a revell one, get a cheapo noname double action airbrush from ebay and see how you like it, If you like it buy a Badger later on.

I hope you've got a few more tips for this thread. :)

So, there are quite a few airbrushes on ebay, even when you limit yourself to cheapo noname double action brushes.  After a quick look at the Wikipedia airbrush page, I guess I should plump for gravity-fed and internal mix too?
Gravity-fed airbrushes usually have a cup reservoir on the top or side.  I've also seen a couple with a removable 'underslung' cup, that can be swapped out with a suction feed jar.  It's sometimes still called a gravity feed cup - is this right?
Most of the brushes I've seen don't have any mentions of whether they're internal or external mix.  Is it possible to tell just by looking, or do I need to go ask?  Does it affect the price much?

Offline Thrasym

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Re: Airbrush Questions
« Reply #2 on: August 25, 2012, 11:25:10 PM BST GMT »
If the paint is introduced to the air "inside" the gun, it's internal mix. If there's a little tube dripping paint in front of where the air comes out of the gun, it's external mix. Should be easy to tell by looking %99 of the time. Internal or external isn't what affects the price, but externals are made cheaply, unrefined, to do low quality work, and this lack of quality and finish on the externals is where the money is saved. Generally speaking anyway.

Gravity fed is the small cup on top (only on the top). Siphon/suction feed is the cup or bottle attached from below (physics are the same, the paint is sucked upwards to the airbrush). The side feed brushes are kind of a mix of the two, depending how you use it and what you use to hold the paint, etc.

What you should get is NOT a knock-off. Period. Never ever. You can get a very nice airbrush for relatively cheap. Any of the decent name brands have entry level brushes. I could drone on for hours about why you don't want to buy a china knock-off no matter how poor and desperate you are, but I'll just give this one reason, buy a name brand and if you don't like it, you KNOW why and you can sell it and get most of your money back. Buy a knock-off and you don't know if it's manufactured wrong, if you're doing something wrong, you're clueless, then you get fed up and nobody will want to buy your airbrush if you can't even get it to work right.

Internal, yes. Gravity versus siphon, depends on what you're doing. Doesn't really matter for anything you'd do on a miniature, painting one at a time, gravity, priming and basing whole armies, siphon. But either would get the job done in either situation. Have a cruddy "airbrush" or "hobby" compressor? Gravity! Cause the siphon takes too much PSI for those.

Offline Caerban

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Re: Airbrush Questions
« Reply #3 on: August 26, 2012, 11:47:31 AM BST GMT »
I've got an old siphon feed Badger and a small Badger compressor that cost me about £150 in total back in the day 20 years ago when I bought them. Both still work brilliantly, a little extra is worth the investment if you like using them.

Offline Vermis

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Re: Airbrush Questions
« Reply #4 on: August 26, 2012, 02:12:28 PM BST GMT »
If there's a little tube dripping paint in front of where the air comes out of the gun, it's external mix.  Should be easy to tell by looking %99 of the time.

I guess something like this?

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Any of the decent name brands have entry level brushes.

Most of 'em seem to be external mix, single actions, though!  The price of internal doubles takes a leap up from those.  It looks like the Iwata Neo brushes are the only exceptions.

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What you should get is NOT a knock-off... I could drone on for hours about why you don't want to buy a china knock-off no matter how poor and desperate you are...

I've seen some chinese brushes going for a couple of pounds on ebay!  But I've been looking at <£20 examples from a few different sellers, including the types sold by Everything Airbrush.  What's your opinion - the same?

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Internal, yes. Gravity versus siphon, depends on what you're doing. Doesn't really matter for anything you'd do on a miniature, painting one at a time, gravity, priming and basing whole armies, siphon. But either would get the job done in either situation.  Have a cruddy "airbrush" or "hobby" compressor? Gravity! Cause the siphon takes too much PSI for those.

The compressors available to me go beyond what I gather are the usual PSI ranges used for airbrushes, so I don't think I need to worry about siphon feed problems.  And I think I'll be basecoating units and large models most of the time, anyway.

Thanks Thrasym!  And Caerban too.

Offline Thrasym

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Re: Airbrush Questions
« Reply #5 on: August 26, 2012, 06:36:48 PM BST GMT »
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I've got an old siphon feed Badger and a small Badger compressor that cost me about £150 in total back in the day 20 years ago when I bought them. Both still work brilliantly, a little extra is worth the investment if you like using them.

Indeed sir! Exactly!

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I guess something like this?

Yes sir, exactly.

Iwata Neo's I'm not sure about. The reviews are hit or miss. I'd say, at the very least, they're unreliable as a whole but your chances are good, probably way better than the other knock-offs.

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I've seen some chinese brushes going for a couple of pounds on ebay!  But I've been looking at <£20 examples from a few different sellers, including the types sold by Everything Airbrush.  What's your opinion - the same?

They seem to have needles/nozzles/o-rings available at reasonable prices, so that's good, because you'll need them. They're hard to find much of the time with the cheapies, if they can be found at all, you don't want to have to buy a whole new brush if you bend the needle or crack the nozzle. See, the problem with the cheap brushes is quality control and warranties. There's none! So, you might get a cracked nozzle, bent needle, faulty threads that don't seal, or who knows what all else. Then you're stuck trying to figure out what you're doing wrong, when you aren't doing anything wrong. If you do go for one of these options, just be prepared, you may need to put in some extra time figuring it out or fixing some minor issues. If you're willing to do that, you'll probably be happy.

The price difference seems to be much smaller over the pond here in North America, at least for the few I've looked at the reviews for. Generally I'd suggest (and most everyone else I've seen typing online) something like a Badger Patriot, Iwata Eclipse/HP, Paasche Talon, etc, but they are several times the price of those others you're looking at. Another option I might suggest, wait for a (used) quality name brand airbrush, in good condition, to show up on eBay, Craig'sList or the local classifieds. Of course, that could take forever and a day to find something at the right price.

You'd want a "working/running" PSI of 20 to 40 for painting models and doing fine art, 60+ PSI for doing T-shirts. The CFM is important but that's a whole other issue and not worth getting into as it's always enough for airbrushing...but you need to consider it for spray guns and larger scale painting.

You'd also want a .3mm nozzle (or larger). Smaller tends to be problematic, mainly with clogging and the larger pigments in "miniature" and "craft" paint lines, even with fine pigmented "airbrush" paints (or even inks!) if you don't know what you're doing, so as a general rule, .3'ish is a good starter.

The last thing I'd like to point out, is the cost versus effect. Considering the cost of the airbrush, compressor (for the love of god don't use the cans of air) and the paint/primer you'll be spraying plus shipping, if applicable VERSUS the rattle cans of good old cheap automotive primer...it may seem like quite an expense to do the exact same thing.

Sorry, I don't mean to be so negative. I certainly don't want to push anyone away from getting into the world of airbrushing. I'm no expert, opinions will vary, hopefully some others will chime in. I just want to help folks make informed decisions, trying to point out a few things that might not be considered otherwise.

Offline Vermis

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Re: Airbrush Questions
« Reply #6 on: August 27, 2012, 08:05:09 PM BST GMT »
The price difference seems to be much smaller over the pond here in North America, at least for the few I've looked at the reviews for. Generally I'd suggest (and most everyone else I've seen typing online) something like a Badger Patriot, Iwata Eclipse/HP, Paasche Talon, etc, but they are several times the price of those others you're looking at.

I've been trawling through ebay, and I've noticed american sellers offer new Iwata Eclipses and Badger Patriots for pretty low prices - about £60 + reasonable UK shipping.  Compared to the £120+ of british sellers.  But I'm wondering if there's a reason for that difference, and would Her Madge's Revenue and Customs bump the price back up on me?  Can anyone say?

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Another option I might suggest, wait for a (used) quality name brand airbrush, in good condition, to show up on eBay, Craig'sList or the local classifieds. Of course, that could take forever and a day to find something at the right price.

Had my eye on one, before I read that!  It went for over £60.

I don't want to seem like I'm trying to skimp too much, though!  I'm not opposed to paying the full price, but it just might take a wee while to set aside the pennies.  Or at least psyche myself up.

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Considering the cost of the airbrush, compressor (for the love of god don't use the cans of air) and the paint/primer you'll be spraying plus shipping, if applicable VERSUS the rattle cans of good old cheap automotive primer...it may seem like quite an expense to do the exact same thing.

It might not be exactly the same thing!  I don't have much problem using aerosol primers, and I'll probably stick with them, but here they're usually pretty limited in colour - black, white, grey.  Maybe a rust red too.  My problem starts when I want to spray basecoat colours over those, and then I'm limited by too many gloss colours and poor-quality finishes (grit and detail-clogging etc.)  See the Montana Black thread.  The benefit of an airbrush for me will be the colour variety offered by one instrument; and if I have to tinker and practise to get the paint mixes and brush use just right, that's immediately more than what aerosols offer. :)  I can see it being used other mini-painting and arty uses too.

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Sorry, I don't mean to be so negative. I certainly don't want to push anyone away from getting into the world of airbrushing. I'm no expert, opinions will vary, hopefully some others will chime in. I just want to help folks make informed decisions, trying to point out a few things that might not be considered otherwise.

I understand completely. :)  And don't worry, it's helped me get a better handle on what's out there, and what to look at.

I guess I need a moisture trap too...?

Offline Thrasym

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Re: Airbrush Questions
« Reply #7 on: August 28, 2012, 05:26:57 AM BST GMT »
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I've been trawling through ebay, and I've noticed american sellers offer new Iwata Eclipses and Badger Patriots for pretty low prices - about £60 + reasonable UK shipping.  Compared to the £120+ of british sellers.  But I'm wondering if there's a reason for that difference, and would Her Madge's Revenue and Customs bump the price back up on me?  Can anyone say?

Reason is probably due to population, they sell more in the US so they get the brushes cheaper buying in greater bulk, pay less shipping per, need to make less money on each as they sell more, etc. There's also a big difference between retailers, the cheapest are mainly online dealers, the brick and mortar prices tend to be higher. No idea about UK customs, most eBay sellers will mark packages as gifts or whatever you'd ask them to. Some retailers will too. Here in Canada, customs is hit or miss, they often don't catch a whole lot of packages that should be charged. And the faster you get it shipped, the less chance you'll pay cross border duties on the package, like overnight and 3 day deliveries almost never come with a bill from customs. I'd imagine it'd be the same in the UK, it's a bit of a game. Is the UK customs and duties very high? They should have a website to look it up. Canadian duties are pretty cheap, basically $5 plus tax (%13) last I checked, so we can still save lots ordering from the US most of the time, for expensive stuff. Although, if the delivery is done by UPS they charge you the duties for the gov't and charge you several times as much for their effort, so, be mindful of that if it works the same over there.

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I guess I need a moisture trap too...?

As a general rule, you'll need one. Most compressors have one, even the shop compressors. You'll want a moisture trap and a pressure regulator and you may need an adapter for the air hose, depending, they're different sizes for different airbrushes and compressors. Again, many compressors come with all of that, many airbrushes come with adapters, but, you'll need to consider it. It's not too expensive to get a moisture trap/regulator 2 in 1 attachment, compared to the compressor anyway.

If you have a trap on the compressor, you can still have water condense in the air hose, if that's the case you'll want to get a pistol grip moisture trap to attach to the intake of your airbrush. This is generally only needed for very hot and humid environments (double traps). I wouldn't say a second one is needed but many people like the extra bulk to hold onto and if there isn't one on the compressor, it might be a better idea to just get the water out right before the gun (so there's no chance to have hose condensation issues).

Having said all that, it's something you don't really NEED to start practicing. If you spray indoors, in the air conditioning, you won't use the moisture trap either, as long as your compressor doesn't heat up too much. So it is totally something you can put off getting...but if you get a drop of water splatting the paint on your artwork, you may really regret not having one.

A tank on the compressor is also a big plus. The bigger the better. It reduces the work the compressor must do (so the engine lasts longer), it ensures the air doesn't pulse, it is a huge tank (obviously...a tank is a tank) where the water can condense (just a nice additional safety measure) and it separates the air from the compressor, gives it a chance to cool (less condensation). It is just "better"...in every way. Not "needed" but it's the best and cheapest option in the long run.

Also, if you get a second airbrush, quick-connects are highly recommended, for one gun I'd only highly recommend them once you "get into it". If you don't use the airbrush much, it's probably not worth it. But I digress...

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It went for over £60.

Haha, yeah, it's weird, how many people end up paying as much as or MORE than the price to get something new from a place that can be held accountable...nobody ever considers the extra high shipping and even though they're online bidding, they seem to never have a clue about the better priced shops online, they bid like the items are worth the highest retail prices to be found.

Offline Vermis

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Re: Airbrush Questions
« Reply #8 on: August 31, 2012, 09:46:50 PM BST GMT »
Thanks again, Thrasym.

More complications: my Dad works in a hardware store, and got a Sealey catalogue to show me.

Some fairly cheap airbrushes there, even without the summer sale prices.  The compressors don't look too bad either, with sale prices and free airbrushes!  I'd assume the brushes wouldn't measure up to an Iwata or Badger - I can't find too many reviews online - but they're tempting.

Offline Thrasym

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Re: Airbrush Questions
« Reply #9 on: September 01, 2012, 04:43:31 AM BST GMT »
No problem.

I can't find any replacement parts for the airbrushes on that site. Are they available elsewhere? You can often find parts, made by other companies, to fit just about any airbrush there is on eBay, but, I don't trust them. If you can't find replacement parts, it's best to avoid that particular airbrush, unless you want to buy a whole new one every time the needle gets bent or the o-ring drops down the drain or melts.

I'm not a fan of compressors labelled as "hobby" or "airbrush"...construction, automotive, tool compressors are so much better for so much less. Do they have GMC and/or CAT compressors over the pond there? Check out the Syclone line, the 4610 or the 6310 sell for $270 and $230 US, respectively, which, with the exchange rate, would be pretty cheap by comparison if you can find it locally and avoid shipping, and they're only 60 DB.

http://www.gmcgenerators.com/?page_id=46