Monday 13 July 2015

Airbrushing 101 or "How I learned to love my new compressor..."

I would say that if you asked 10 hobbyists what their favorite technique for painting was, two would say airbrushing and eight would say that they wished it was airbrushing.

Airbrushing can lead to some amazing results
Especially with a new book by the amazing Angel Giraldez there has been a renewed interested in airbrushing, especially infantry figures in addition to vehicles.

I've had an airbrush compressor that I picked up from Harbor Freight a while back that didn't have a tank attached. It did the job admirably for being so cheap (~$60) but recently the regulator had broken (my fault completely, not a mechanical defect) and I had been spraying at approx 40 psi.

I will tell you now that you can't effectively airbrush when your PSI is so high, especially with the small areas we are trying to airbrush. In addition you go through paint too fast and it clogs and sputters constantly.

Great for modern art, not so much for wargaming figures.
So, I decided enough was enough (especially after a read through of Angel's new book and staring at my Anarchy Model stencils) and after some extensive research and asking around I settled on a Masters Airbrush Compressor from TCPGlobal (I went with this one with a tank as well: ).

I ordered the $119 kit from their Ebay Store that included a braided hose and airbrush with three nozzels.  I was amazed that for free shipping it arrived the day after I ordered it. It also came in a nice box (and the airbrush has a very nice case). I've read some reviews that the regulator wasn't attached and that it was a pain to get it on, but it was attached to the one I ordered and it literally worked right out of the box.

I do recommend taking it out of the box though.
I'm currently running ~19 psi and with the tank the compressor hardly turns on after it fills up.  I used it to spray a new set of buildings that GameCraft Miniatures and I (ClearHorizon Miniatures) have co-designed and it works great.

Some worn and burned out buildings, made easy with airbrushing
This weekend I'll be doing some more airbrushing (I have some awesome Hab Domes by to finish and a couple of vehicles. I also want to test out the technique on some 15mm scale power armor) and I'll post up my results and any lessons learned.

If you have any questions, please ask in the comments.


  1. I know where you're coming from with that intro. I love my airbrush for when I have a spare 45 minutes and want to do five minutes of painting.

  2. Yup, setup, cleaning and ventilation all make me a very bad airbrush owner :( nice article

  3. I'm in the 'I wish I could airbrush' camp. The results are usually amazing.
    I tried it a few times myself but couldn't get the hang of it.
    Perhaps I can learn a bit from your experience.

    1. I'm going to use this purchase as an opportunity to show how easy it really is. I hope I can take away some of the mystery :)

    2. Show away! I'm clearly doing something wrong. My airbrush worked great for a larger craft project that I did for my daughter, but I haven't even come close to getting it to work with miniature vehicles -- much less infantry! Looking forward to this series!

  4. I started air brushing a few years ago.. its a step learning curve, but once you get the basics its so fast and easy to paint with..

    Biggest problem I face is finding the right types and mixtures of paint to use. Great Article!

  5. "The 45 minutes to get 5 minutes of painting done" sums up my experience nicely. Mine sits on a shelf and probably shall until i expire.