Saturday, 25 January 2014

Airbrushing Adventures: Part One

It’s finally happened; I am now the proud owner of an airbrush. It has been a long-time coming. I said last year that I would get one, though due to various financial and time issues, I couldn’t. But with the New Year, and fresh income, I have been able to get myself a starting set-up.

I bought this set, retailing at £70. For that low-low price you get two dual-action airbrushes (side-cup and under-jar types) and a compressor (with water trap, very important!), with a hose to add two and two together. I bought it after a recommendation from a fellow gamer. It turned up with no damage, and after initial tests, the set-up works.

As a note to anyone getting this particular set-up; the instructions are appalling. I don’t know if it’s a bad translation or just terrible grammar, but half of it is indecipherable. You are much better off either working it out for yourself or asking a passing tree. But in all seriousness, ask fellow air-brushers when it comes to queries.

My buying spree wasn’t over after this. I needed a few more items, as follows:

-Airbrush cleaner. This is an essential piece of equipment if you want to save both time and money. Proper maintenance of your airbrush ensures it works each time and lasts longer, saving you money in replacement parts.
-Water. Another given when it comes to airbrushing. But the type of water you need is important. Some say you need de-ionised or distilled water to rinse and clean your airbrush. Others claim normal tap water will do. Truth be told, it depends on how hard your water is: that’s how many minerals and other bits are in your water, not if it is frozen. Harder water is bad for airbrushing. I went the safe route and just bought de-ionised.
-Cotton buds. Essential for getting into the nooks and crannies whilst cleaning. Super cheap, I got 300 for 52 pence.
-Paint thinner. This is important when it comes to flow of paint. Normal paint is far too thick to pass through an airbrush, so this stuff is essential. Make sure you are buying acrylic thinner for GW, Vallejo and P3 paints. -Stay away from enamel thinner unless you do actually paint with enamel. I can’t comment on consistency with confidence, as I’m still working it out myself. But a general guideline is that paint should be thinned to the consistency of milk.
-Spray mask. This will not only prevent you breathing in your paints, it will make you live longer…probably. A mix of paint and thinner vaporised is not something you want to be inhaling. Whilst you can get 20 masks at the pound-shop, I strongly recommend you buy something a bit better. At the end of the day, it is your health. I bought a disposable one designed for paint fumes and relatively high humidity. £2.50 a go; expensive for what it is, but you can’t go cheap with this.

I’ve conducted a small test, using various bits of junk (i.e. one of those terrible free magazines you get in the post and an empty crisp tube). Initial tests turned out well. I’m slowly getting the hang of flow and pressure.
I also had a go on some models. The first was just a few old fences that I base-coated brown. 

The main guinea pig was this wreck of a Rhino APC. It is fairly un-salvageable, so I’m going to make it a burned out rusted wreck, some line-of-sight blocking terrain. I sprayed the tank with a patchy coat of brown, followed by some patchy coats of orange, to get a worn rusted look. Still a long way to go, but considering It’s my first “airbrushed model” I’m happy with the outcome thus far.

Next up is some more practice, before I actually paint something for use in gaming. Wish me luck


  1. Thanks for posting this! Which mask did you get, and where from?

  2. great post sir. i can honestly agree with everything you have said here. good luck on your airbrushing journey. next for a gravity fed airbrush with the overhead cup.