Friday, August 1, 2014

Airbrush 101: looking for an airbrush

Hello my friends and newcomers,

Today I want to tell you about airbrushes. I personally currently own two airbrushes and I have worked with four different models. In this article I would like to show you and explain some general aspects and features of the airbrush itself, as well as personal preferences. I will cover things like compressors, techniques and cleaning in future articles.

Let's start by answering the the most general question when people talk about airbrushes.
'What is the best airbrush?'
I can answer that really easy, there is none! There might be the best airbrush for a specific paintjob, but then again, 99% of this is personal preference.

My two airbrushes

The airbrush I use the most is the Badger Krome. The reason for this is that is has a really wide cup and it's really easy to access the needle through the cup making it super easy to clean for me. For the really fine details (eyes, subtle OSL or glow effects a.o.) I prefer to use my Harder&Steenbeck Ultra. This is their most basic dual-action, gravity fed airbrush. the craftsmanship is more refined resulting in better control and smoother handling. (in my opinion ofcourse) I also really like the ball-jointed trigger on the Harder&Steenbeck. This all comes at a price though as Harder&Steenbeck is more expensive, especially if you don't live in Europe.

So you want to buy your first airbrush. What to look for. Well if it is for anything more then just basecoating entire armies at a time, make sure to get a gravity-fed, dual-action airbrush. The bottom and side fed airbrushes need higher pressure to spray the paint so you won't be able to use it for single models or details as well. Other then that all the extra features are just that, extra's. Both of my airbrushes have a distinct feature. The Krome has a nut on the back of the handle that can be set to restrict how far you can pull the needle back, limiting the amount of paint coming out of the airbrush. This can be useful when painting super small details like a subtle glow on a miniature's eyes.
My H&S Ultra has a removable cup. This can be useful when I want to preserve some of the paint still in the cup. It can also be useful when cleaning.

My Krome with the handle removed.
Note the little nut on the end of the handle as described above.

The removable cup of the Harder&Steenbeck Ultra

Other things you need to consider when getting an airbrush are things like nozzle and needle size. Both my airbrushes are around 0.2mm in size. For priming or basecoating I would personally recommend something a little bigger like 0.3 or 0.4mm. On a side note, when cleaning your airbrush, handle the needle and nozzle with care, if you bend or break them, you can't just fix them.

The needle from my Badger Renegade: Krome airbrush

The last thing I will talk about you might want to consider when looking for what airbrush to buy is how easy you can pull it apart en put it together again. Airbrushes like the ones Iwata produces and some cheaper brands usually require a little wrench to remove some parts like the nozzle. These parts are often very small and either damage or get lost easy. My Krome and Ultra don't require tools to get disassemble. The Krome does have a very small nozzle that can fall out if you remove the nozzle cap. Be sure not to drop it because standing on it can damage it!
The Ultra I selected because it has a very large nozzle. This makes handling and cleaning easier for me. It also doesn't require tools to dis- or reassemble. You can chuck the nozzle into the nozzle cap and it will seal when you screw the cap to the body.

Nozzle of the Badger Krome

nozzle of the Harder&Steenbeck Ultra

As you can hopefully see, I don't believe in the best airbrush. What works for me might not work for you. You might have bigger or smaller hands, making these airbrushes uncomfortable to work with.

My advice, don't buy an airbrush because some guy on the internet says it is the best, no matter how good he paints with his airbrush. Buying that airbrush won't make you paint like that. Making sure you have an airbrush you an work with and practice with it a lot does!

See you all next time! 

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