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Airbrush Options


Sttufe
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So I have gotten into painting and do not currently own an airbrush (yet). My goal for next month is to get one and try using it, as I know it can help a lot when it some to bigger models like the Magmadroth, so what I am looking for is an airbrush that is cheap-ish, will last for a while, works, and would be good as a starter kit until I can get a more advanced thing done. Any and all recommendations are welcome, trying go for the $50 range however anything above that range I will also look at for the future.

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Well, personally I can't recommend going cheap with a clear conscience. I've used 3 airbrushes extensively and bought the Harder & Steenbeck Infinity a couple of weeks ago... now my other ABs are getting treated like unwanted stepchildren (and they were more expensive than what you aim for). That said, I think it's illusory to think there's a somewhat cheap solution to airbrushing (not just the gear is expensive... but also thinners, flow improvers, cleaners and the like) unless you really only want to lay down base colors. You really get what you pay for and even cheap stuff will add up so it might be wiser to get decent gear right from the start.

A good beginner's model is actually the Paasche Raptor IMO which I've mostly used so far - it lacks the sophistication of a better brush (especially the trigger is a bit unique in handling) but there are some very good deals for it around and it's extremely versatile (that's a huge plus, especially for learning) and will last you a long time - and you can get everything with it done, that can't be said for every airbrush in its price range. I've basically learned airbrushing with it and currently use it for more basic brushwork and priming as I switched over to the Infinity for detail work - that way I don't have to switch needles all the time.*

That said, I'm sure there are other great choices in that price range around (a bit above 100 bucks) and I seriously recommend going for something like this, even at the start. It'll last you a very long time, so make sure that whatever you go for, you've got a dealer near you in case you need a spare needle or o-ring, whatever.

* Although I'm still not a big fan of AB primers... they don't turn out durable enough for gaming pieces for me.

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53 minutes ago, MitGas said:

Well, personally I can't recommend going cheap with a clear conscience. I've used 3 airbrushes extensively and bought the Harder & Steenbeck Infinity a couple of weeks ago... now my other ABs are getting treated like unwanted stepchildren (and they were more expensive than what you aim for). That said, I think it's illusory to think there's a somewhat cheap solution to airbrushing (not just the gear is expensive... but also thinners, flow improvers, cleaners and the like) unless you really only want to lay down base colors. You really get what you pay for and even cheap stuff will add up so it might be wiser to get decent gear right from the start.

A good beginner's model is actually the Paasche Raptor IMO which I've mostly used so far - it lacks the sophistication of a better brush (especially the trigger is a bit unique in handling) but there are some very good deals for it around and it's extremely versatile (that's a huge plus, especially for learning) and will last you a long time - and you can get everything with it done, that can't be said for every airbrush in its price range. I've basically learned airbrushing with it and currently use it for more basic brushwork and priming as I switched over to the Infinity for detail work - that way I don't have to switch needles all the time.*

That said, I'm sure there are other great choices in that price range around (a bit above 100 bucks) and I seriously recommend going for something like this, even at the start. It'll last you a very long time, so make sure that whatever you go for, you've got a dealer near you in case you need a spare needle or o-ring, whatever.

* Although I'm still not a big fan of AB primers... they don't turn out durable enough for gaming pieces for me.

Thanks, the Raptor sounds like exactly what I need! I will most likely aim for that within an extended period of time, it's not like there is a time crunch with no games going on.

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Going to agree with @JackStreicher here, the compressor is the most important part of the whole set up.  Without consistent moisture free air flow, you're going to get poor results whatever brush you plug onto the end of the hose.

Airbrush model/make is very subjective and if you're looking for cheap you may as well go for an unbranded one - quite often you can buy a bundle on Amazon that contains a compressor (with reservoir tank) and "free" airbrush which is fine to kick off with (you will kill the brush after a while but better that than an expensive one).

I've an Iwata HP-C Plus which was my second brush (the first being a vacuum fed one that wasn't suitable for miniature painting) and more recently a H&S Infinity*.  Both are in the £150+ bracket.  The HP-C is between 10 and 15 years old now and is very much a workhorse brush - I'll happily spray varnish and all sorts of nasty stuff through it as it doesn't have any rubber seals.  The Infinity is significantly easier to clean, but because of the seals you want to avoid putting nasty acetone based cleaning products through it as you'll mess it up in very short order.

The HP-C has a 0.3mm nozzle and the Infinity has a 0.4mm nozzle.  If you go smaller than these you'll find you get a lot more blockages with acrylic paint.  Contrary to popular belief a smaller nozzle doesn't mean finer detail and a larger nozzle doesn't mean no detail.

 

 

* I actually pulled my finger out and did a YouTube review on this

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8 hours ago, RuneBrush said:

Going to agree with @JackStreicher here, the compressor is the most important part of the whole set up.  Without consistent moisture free air flow, you're going to get poor results whatever brush you plug onto the end of the hose.

Airbrush model/make is very subjective and if you're looking for cheap you may as well go for an unbranded one - quite often you can buy a bundle on Amazon that contains a compressor (with reservoir tank) and "free" airbrush which is fine to kick off with (you will kill the brush after a while but better that than an expensive one).

I've an Iwata HP-C Plus which was my second brush (the first being a vacuum fed one that wasn't suitable for miniature painting) and more recently a H&S Infinity*.  Both are in the £150+ bracket.  The HP-C is between 10 and 15 years old now and is very much a workhorse brush - I'll happily spray varnish and all sorts of nasty stuff through it as it doesn't have any rubber seals.  The Infinity is significantly easier to clean, but because of the seals you want to avoid putting nasty acetone based cleaning products through it as you'll mess it up in very short order.

The HP-C has a 0.3mm nozzle and the Infinity has a 0.4mm nozzle.  If you go smaller than these you'll find you get a lot more blockages with acrylic paint.  Contrary to popular belief a smaller nozzle doesn't mean finer detail and a larger nozzle doesn't mean no detail.

 

 

* I actually pulled my finger out and did a YouTube review on this

Well then, i suppose what am I looking for in terms of compressors? I have looked around on various site but I do not know what the various pressures and nozzle size mean.

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39 minutes ago, Sttufe said:

Well then, i suppose what am I looking for in terms of compressors? I have looked around on various site but I do not know what the various pressures and nozzle size mean.

Same here! ^^

can somebody recommend an air brush setup (brush + compressor) with a low price while being a solid choice for all things Miniature painting?

Edited by JackStreicher
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1 hour ago, MitGas said:

Can't give any recommendations for a good cheap compressor... I got a Sil Air 20 A right from the start and that thing works like a dream. But it was also expensive...

I heard that the compressor is gonna be the most expensive part, so I will go see what that one entails. Ouch, I will see what else I can find.

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4 minutes ago, Sttufe said:

I heard that the compressor is gonna be the most expensive part, so I will go see what that one entails. Ouch, I will see what else I can find.

Yeah, got for my birthday way back when....

The pro ones do usually begin at around 300 bucks. I'd seriously consider going to a dedicated dealer as they can help out so, so much when you're new to it all. Mine carries a very decent model called Sparmax TC-501N which is oil-free (never a bad thing, then again I got mine since years and didn't need to do anything other than fill in the oil once) and good for our needs as mini painters and can be found for around 150 bucks at times. They also have a very cheap model called DC-25 but that is only suitable for 0.2 to 0.25 (0.3 might work as well) of up to 30 PSI. (which should be enough). Perhaps you will find similar compressors in a store near you.

The good news is that if noise and lots of PSI is less of an issue for you, you should be able to find a pretty decent one for a somewhat tolerable price. 

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To chip in with my own experience...

I bought one of the Amazon bundles for Christmas. Not sure if I'm allowed to post links) but it was like this one:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Airbrush-Fengda-FD-186K-compressor-accessories/dp/B01984G4SU/ref=sr_1_13?dchild=1&keywords=airbrush+dual+action+compressor+kit&qid=1587666532&sr=8-13

Generic dual action gravity airbrush and generic compressor with moisture trap and tank.

5 months may not be much in the long run but I am very pleased with the results I've got with them both. The compressor is quiet and unobtrusive and while I have no experience with expensive airbrushes, the airbrush itself does what I want it to. I have primed lots of minis - big and small - usually with 2-3 colour zenethal highlighting. I also use it to lay down base colours and glow effects etc.

I've even committed the cardinal sin of airbrushing: I dropped it while the needle cap was off and completely bent the end of the needle. I thought it was time to buy a new one but the thing still works exactly the same as it did before.

I have no doubt that expensive airbrushes are way better in every regard and I plan on getting one sooner or later to see how it can improve my painting and, well, because I really enjoy airbrushing. Just thought I'd offer my tuppence worth that I think the cheap ones are perfectly adequate as a toe dipping exercise.

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No problems with posting links ūüėČ

There are two critical parts to a compressor for miniature painting (at least in my eyes).  You need a compressor with a reservoir tank and a water trap.

Just to explain what they are, a reservoir tank basically acts as a store for compressed air, so the compressor fills up the tank and the tank in turn powers your airbrush through a regulator.  As the tank drops in pressure the compressor fires up again and fills it up.  You can run compressors without a tank, in which case the compressor directly powers the airbrush.  The reason the tank is ideal for us is that the compressor isn't running non-stop so you get a much better flow of air and lower chance of the compressor overheating.

A water trap basically catches any moisture in the air before it gets to your airbrush (and you don't want random water droplets exploding out your tip).  The reason you get moisture is that when the compressor compresses air, and vapour that exists condenses into water

The compressor set that @Pagan has linked is very similar to the one I have (and has been going strong for well over a decade).  It's not the quietest, but certainly has seen me paint up quite a number of models over the years (that said my ex used to be able to sleep quite happily whilst I was using it in the room next door).  It's also a very sensible price.  If you have plenty of money to splash out the more expensive ones tend to run at a quieter sound level - however I'd never compromise on the reservoir tank.  I'd rather have something louder than lose that.

One tip I will give is to put a cutting mat or old carpet tile underneath your compressor as occasionally the moisture trap may drip - and generally it'll be rusty water (as the inside of the reservoir is bare metal).

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