what do you need to start airbrushing?
If you want to start airbrushing, you will obviously need an airbrush to start with, but not only. Here I am going to list the list of material that you will need to consider:
Double action, single action, gravity feed or siphon feed, there is plenty of airbrushes to choose from out there, each of them would have different characteristics that would suit different application better than others. The airbrush is a fantastic tool can be used in numerous different arts going from model making or fashion design, to cake decorating, illustration or even make up.
I personally think that rather than buying a low end airbrush model, you should invest a bit more money and buy a quality airbrush from reputable brand. Thant way, if you have an issue with a part (needle bent, damaged nozzle…) you will be able to order spare parts. Something you won’t be able to do if you buy a low end airbrush.
Well-known airbrush brand are for instance IWATA (Iwata-Medea Eclipse HP CS), Badger (Badger patriot 105) or even Paashe and Hannsa. Those brand offer a wide catalogue of quality products and an equally wide price range.
The Air Source
For your airbrush to work, you will need an air source to be able to spray. An adequate supply of air is a crucial factor to the performance of your airbrush. So before you start airbrushing, consider those different types of air source,
Air propellant cans:
They are compact and silent but of limited capacity, so if you plan to spray quite often with your airbrush, this solution will become a very expensive one. I would rather advice to invest a bit more money in a compressor.
Those are thanks that you can be refilled. They can operate at higher pressure than air propellant cans so an air regulator is essential. Good things about them is that they don’t require electric power and they are very silent. They are portable, can be used if you need to work at an outside event for instance where electricity or noise could be an issue. But because of their size and weight, they wouldn’t really be an option for you if you want to work home.
This is probably the air supply you should consider if you are planning to get started with an airbrush.
You can find compressor with tank, without tanks, some of them silent other rather noisy. Low-pressure air compressors (less than 150 or less), Medium-pressure air compressors (151 psi to 1000 psi) or even high-pressure air compressors (more than 1000 psi)
Like the choice for an airbrush, the choice the compressor will depend really on the type of work you are going to do with it. Different artist would have different needs.
They are few questions you should ask yourself before buying a compressor:
Do you need to paint large area? Then you will probably be better with a compressor with a tank. Small area? Paint on body? (You are going to need a compressor with very low air pressure, a regulator)Nails? Spray cars? Or even spray food coloring?
What about the noise?
Are you planning to spray on plastic models in the evening time when your kids are in the room next to you trying to go asleep? Is your wife watching TV in the next room? In that case, believe me, you should consider buying a silent compressor.
How long are you going to spray continuously for your project?
20 0r 30 minutes?, in that case a compressor with a large tank will be required. Or are you only going to spray for a minute or 2?
Have a look at my compressor buyer guide if you want to know more about compressors.
The medium would be the type of color liquid material that can be sprayed with the airbrush.
Typically, the medium would be paints, which could be watercolor paints, acrylic paints, oiled based paint, gouache, inks , urethane or even food coloring.
They key point here when you start airbrushing is the use the correct combination of medium for the specific surface you are going to spray onto. You can spray on anything really: wood, on skin, on paper on canvas, but you need to ensure that the medium you use is compatible with the surface.
All paints will have to be thinned to the proper consistency before going through the airbrush or else you might clog your airbrush. But thankfully, most paint manufacturers have a range of airbrush ready paints that won’t need to be thinned.
You can really paint on all kind of support with an airbrush. You will just need to make sure that you use the right paint for that specific support. Some example of support can be:
- Paper or cardboard
- Automotive surfaces
There are also other accessories that you should consider when you start airbrushing.
Air filter and moisture trap:
It is essential that clean and dry air goes through your airbrush in order to protect your project work. You can buy them cheap enough. Some moisture trap can be connected to the compressor, other can be connected directly to the hose.
An air regulator:
Ideally you will want to be able to set up the air pressure exactly the way you want. Can be very important for instance if you are a make-up artist as you will spray directly onto someone face.
In airbrushing, when using a stencils you call this frisketing. You use stencils or frisket film for masking certain area of your work while airbrushing. If most of your work is going to be freehand, it is always nice to have some generic stencils for circle or curved shapes for instance.
you might want to inverts in a set of hobby knife or cutting knife, a cutting mat maybe, always useful.
Keeping your airbrush clean is essential and they are some basic equipment that you should put on you shopping list. From the basic Q-tips , pipes cleaners, cleaning brush set to the appropriate cleaning agent that correspond to the type of paint you are using, there are quite a few things you need to think about.
If you are using water based or acrylic paints you might use the Iwata-Medea Airbrush Cleaner. I recommend that you use this along with the Iwata-Medea Cleaning or the station or the Iwata-Medea Universal Spay Out Pot. The cleaning station is basically a closed container with a little rubber hole in which you insert the airbrush nozzle to spray. It also has handle to hold the airbrush. So you can spray in this container and avoid
If you are using oil based paint, you could use a paint thinner to clean your brush.
Check out my guide “How to clean your Airbrush” to have more information about this subject.
A face mask:
Like it is in most companies nowadays, health and safety is an important thing to consider especially when it is your health you are talking about!
When spraying paints you might inhale particles that can be harmful.
Airbrush Booth Kit:
Ideal to avoid messing up the area where you are planning to spray with your airbrush. Although you could make one yourself with cardboard, you might be interested by some ready to buy Spay boot Kit that not only with avoid messing up but have other features like their own ability to extract and control the mist , turn table etc…
There you go, I think I have cover more or less everything that you need to know to get started.
Hopefully you have a better idea now and all I can say to you now is : Let’s start airbrushing!