November 19, 2008
Buying Your First Airbrush
Like most boys of a certain generation a Saturday morning trip to my local toy shop to buy an Airfix model kit was a regular occurrence. This was when it wasn't how well you built the kit that mattered buy how quickly you could assemble it and add to your collection sitting on the carpet runway. As I became more competent and started to paint the models something that always frustrated me was brush painting the aircraft. I then bought my first airbrush and never looked back.
Selecting an airbrush to buy can be fairly confusing, should you get an external mix or internal mix airbrush should it be single or double action? Well it comes down to budget and what you want to achieve, you can pick up an external mix airbrush for under £20 brand new. External mix airbrushes combine the air and paint outside the main body of the airbrush, they are very easy to clean and maintain. The Badger 2503 Spray Gun set is an external mix airbrush and is similar to my first set which produced some excellent results. This type of spray gun is really ideal for the beginner taking their first steps in airbrushing model kits or someone with a limited budget.
The internal mix airbrushes mix the paint within the body of the spray gun and offer more control over the paint process. With single action airbrushes' such as the Badger 200-3 Precision Airbrush, pressing on the trigger controls only the airflow. The amount of paint released is adjusted by turning the paint nozzle before the trigger is pressed.
In the double action, the trigger can be moved down as well as back. Moving the trigger back controls the amount of paint released. A double action airbrush such as, Revell Professional Master Class Airbrush, can be harder to learn how to control, however once mastered a stunning range of effects can be produced, such as the mottling effect on WW2 Luftwaffe model kits. More experienced modellers will generally use a double action airbrush.
All these airbrushes do require one more thing, an air supply. For most people there will generally two choices available from their local model shop either a compressed gas can or an airbrush compressor. For most scale modellers starting out using spray guns, especially when using them infrequently, the compressed air can will be the first choice, Revell provide a jumbo size can that will suffice for a few model builds. However the more frequently the modeller starts to use their airbrush then this becomes very uneconomical, and becomes more and more apparent that a compressor will offer better value over time.
Airbrush compressors features will again depend on the price, these can start at a comparatively low price compared to long term compressed can use. A basic compressor like the Revell Starter Class will cost a little over £55. However a couple of additional feature I prefer to have are a water trap to remove any moisture from the air paint mix and a regulator so that air pressure can be reduced or increased, these features are all available on the Revell Standard Class compressor. Some modellers also prefer is the addition of an air tank to the compressor, this allows airbrushing the model while the compressor is switched off. This feature reduces noise and any pulse effect on the spray painting caused by the compressors piston action, neither of which bother me much; however the Revell Master Class compressor has such a tank.
So there you have it, if you are new to airbrushing model kits, have a limited budget and will use it infrequently go for an external mix airbrush and use compressed air cans. However if you are looking for more control over you paint work and intent to use the airbrush on a regular basis go for either a single or double action airbrush with a compressor.