Sunday, 7 September 2014

Airbrushing Pt 1: Getting started.

Several months ago I bought my first Airbrush, a really cheap one which worked okey I suppose but I went and upgraded it shortly after to my new Harder & Steenbeck Evolution Airbrush.

Here's my first impressions of both the brushes and also how my first month trying to master to the Airbrush went. 

The first kit
For starters a I bought a quite cheap air compressor and airbrush, just to try it out and see if it's something for my. In the manual to the brush there's a tutorial on how to start learning how to use the brush. You should try different techniques doing dots and lines on a piece of cardboard to practice your skills. Blabla.... I did some dots and then went on to paint some miniatures instead. I started with doing black base coats with Vallejo Air Black Primer, this one just like the rest of the Air line from Vallejo are made for Airbrushing so you don't need to thin out your paints or anything. Great for a beginner.

And all worked out great, priming your miniatures is really easy and the cheap brush worked nice for this. I also learned more and more on how the brush behaves, and how to clean it.

I then started to paint other colours, and here I noticed something. Dropper bottles are so much better when it comes to airbrushing! Obvious I know, but it is something to think about when starting a new army project for sure if you are going to use an Airbrush much.

The second kit
I did have some mishaps with the first brush, but I think I would have with my new H&S as well. The H&S is much easier to clean though and that is a huge plus, because you will do a lot of cleaning on your airbrushes. The H&S is much easier to use as well, however I'm still very much a beginner I do feel a big difference in how the brushes behave. My 0,2 mm. nozzle on my H&S brush clog easy though but that is due the fact I haven't mixed the paint correctly.

So here are my impressions and thoughts about using an Airbrush as an newbie.

The facts

  • It wont speed things up much in the beginning
  • It requires a lot of practice
  • Cleaning and prepare your models, painting area etc. takes time.
  • So you need time when you paint with an airbrush, I won't touch it if I don't know I have at least an hour (but more is preferred)
  • It's not a miracle cure that will make everything easy to paint
  • Treat you airbrush as another great tool for painting your miniatures.
What an Airbrush will do for you
  • When you get better it does speeds up the initial painting steps.
  • Priming and paint on the first layers of paint is easy and you get a smooth result.
  • For larger stuff like building and scenery they are invaluable.
  • With practice you can do effects which is very hard and time consuming without an Airbrush
  • I recommend painting many models at a time (using the same colours) or larger models
That's what I have found so far, I'm still a beginner to this. I haven't actually found the time to paint with my airbrush that much at all (having a three year old and a 5 months old baby don't make it easy ) And my compressor is quite loud so I don't want to paint much when they are asleep. 

What I do is the first layers on monsters and larger batches of models at a time to speed things up. I haven't tried more advanced methods yet but I'm enjoying painting with my airbrush (as long as it does not clog up). I hope to find more time to practice and use it in the future and will post a part 2 of this in the future I hope.

Some of my first models where I did the first layers with the airbrush. 

Tanks and bigger models is a blast to do with an Airbrush.


  1. You might have better luck going to a 0.3 nozzle. 0.2 is going to have issues with any type of pre-mixed (vallejo air for example) type paints. Even the tiniest bit of paint fleck in that bottle can give you issues.

    I was having a similar issue, and then had a few classes with misterjustin from secret weapon. I watched how he mixed airbrush paints (used jello shot cups, p3 paints + some water till it had "legs like wine" then poured a bit in the top.

    And also watched how he would show how rapidly the premixed paints would clog (lack of consistency).

    Definitely said to start out with a 0.3 (especially if you like spraying metallics).

    I'm really new at airbrushing too, just thought I would pass that info along if you find the 0.2 keeps giving you issues.

    1. Thanks for the tips Greg, I will buy a 0.3 nozzle and try that out. I only have the 0.2 and 0.4 right now but haven't tried the 0.4 yet. I use a lot of Vallejo air and mixing my own paints as well but find it hard and time consuming to do. I'm sure it will get better when I have more experience though.

      Again, big thanks mate :)

    2. I wish I could have taken a vid of how fast he mixed and swapped paints. It was definitely something to see. The last time I swapped paints in my 15 dollar airbrush, it took me half an hour, and made a huge mess. misterjustin swapped paints like you'd swap them with a normal brush. It was pretty much that fast.

      Done with color, spray into paper towel over plate, squirting water in the brush till it's clear. Then squirt 91% alcohol into the airbrush while spraying. Then back to water again for a final rinse, then to the next color.


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