Best Airbrush Buying Guide, Things You Should Already Know
You should already know what you’re going to do.
Like models, miniature painting, cake decorating, tattoos, tanning and list goes on…
You should already know what kind of paint you’re going to shoot through the airbrush.
Coverage vs. Detail
Do you want lots of coverage?
If you do, you need to look at spray guns. Remember this rule. The bigger the spray pattern the easier it is to blend and cover. Your goal is to spray an area in as few passes as possible without getting hideously expensive. Conversely you don’t want to get too big else your material waste (sprayed paint that never sticks to the surface) will chew up your cash.
Do you want lots of detail?
If you do you’ll need something with a long pointy needle. That usually, but not always, translates into an airbrush.
Beginners vs. Veterans
Are you a beginner?
Beginners need an airbrush that “forgives” their mistakes more so than professionals do. The biggest problem most people encounter with their airbrushes are user problems. i.e. cleaning, paint consistency, lack of fine motor control, instead of product issues. This means it’s better to have equipment that teaches you these things but doesn’t require you to know them inside and out.
I’m getting at super detail airbrushes. Beginners should STAY AWAY from super duper, amazingly amazing, ultra-micro-nanometer line producing airbrushes that solve all your detail problems.
These are amazing airbrushes, but let me break it to you. They’re too much airbrush for you to handle. These airbrushes are actually too amazing for beginners simply because they offer you your worst nightmare. Control. Control over every possible airbrushing variable. The more variables you face the harder it is to learn, and the learning curve for airbrushes is steep enough already.
I use this analogy. Did you learn how to drive in a Formula 1 Racer? No. You probably learned how to drive in something street legal.
I assume you know how to clean your airbrush and change your paint consistency (straining, reducing, etc.).
Because you know a little or a lot about airbrushing you’ll need to do a bit more research to find the kinds of brushes you’re after. There’re
three ways to go about this.
Experimental research – This is actually what most people do. They buy a new airbrush and try it out. This is actually a good way to find the type of airbrush you want, but there are a couple drawbacks. It’s expensive and time consuming.
Read reviews – Basically, take other people’s experience into consideration.
Mixture of both – Ultimately it does come down to this. You hear about a product and you try it out. The cost will be a bit lower but you should still be prepared to occasionally find tools you’re not interested in ever picking up again.
Internal Mix vs. External Mix
The way the paint hits the air stream is important simply because it changes the way the spray looks when it hits the surface.
Unless you have a good reason to choose external mix you should choose internal mix simply because you get more consistent, more even spray.
The paint gets introduced into the center of the air stream.
The paint gets introduced into the air stream’s side producing a squished O or D shaped spray pattern.
Reasons to choose external over internal mix.
You don’t mind the grainies, less consistent spray
You don’t need fine details just a small coverage area
Dual Action vs. Single Action vs. Trigger Action
This is about how you physically manipulate the airbrush controls. Again, unless you have a good reason to choose something else choose dual action.
Dual Action (aka Double Action)
Press down for air. Pull back for paint. Most people use dual action airbrushes, most techniques are built upon how they work and function. Also, the manufacturers have accessories to duplicate many of the benefits other gun types offer without sacrificing the benefits dual action offers.
Press down for air which usually starts the paint too. Twist a knob to adjust the paint-flow.
Reasons to choose single action over dual action.
You always spray the same amount of fluid all the time.
The airbrush passes through many untrained hands to do the same repeatable thing all the time.
If you’re looking into some kind of research application I generally recommend single action airbrushes, simply because they’re a little bit easier for you ordered, logical science types. You can take some measurements and they’ll stay generally the same. You don’t have to worry about that silly, artistic, relative measurement junk!
This setup is for people who want to use their airbrushes as if they were spray