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 Post subject: artists: airbrush tips?
PostPosted: Sun Nov 24, 2013 9:22 pm 
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Seagull of the PPK
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Hey artists, the kid is asking about an airbrush for Xmas to add to her artistic skills. She will likely use it for makeup as well as for painting.
I want to get a basic setup for her (nothing super special, just to learn on and then upgrade later if necessary) and wonder if y'all have any suggestions or if any old cheap set will do for a starter. i know my way around most art supplies but airbrush is one technique I never learned so i'm lost.
(we have a compressor in the shop and i assume I can splice a line from our main compressor to the airbrush, so i think i'm off the hook for that, thankfully. i hope....)
thanks!

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 Post subject: Re: artists: airbrush tips?
PostPosted: Sun Nov 24, 2013 11:15 pm 
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Dr Bronners, MD
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Ah HA! An art thing I can answer!

I've been messing with airbrushes for a couple of years now, and I _love_ airbrushing. It's weird, because I was never really an art person...

Currently I have two airbrushes. Here they are:

Image

The top one is a Badger 350: It's a VERY basic airbrush. External mix, single-action, siphon fed. It cost under $50 for the airbrush. It is functional, but very limited.

The bottom one is a Badger Anthem 155. It's a good, solid, higher-mid-range airbrush. Double action, internal mix, still siphon fed. It cost about $80, and runs from $75-100 depending on what's packed in. This is what I'd recommend, with one reservation.

Airbrush term time:

single action -- you have one button that turns the air on and off. you have no control over the amount of paint as you go. It's good for base coats, but not good for detail stuff.
(the opposite is)
double action -- you push in the button to turn the air on, and then you can pull the button back to control the amount of paint. This gives you a lot of control-- with a good airbrush you can draw almost pencil-like lines.

Internal mix -- the airbrush is designed so that the paint is sucked into the middle of the airflow. this gives a nice round paint pattern
(the opposite is)
external mix -- the paint is sucked up into one side of the airflow. this gives a wider, (-shaped paint pattern.

Siphon fed -- paint feeds into the bottom of the airbrush. It has to be sucked up into the airbrush to mix, so it requires more air pressure to paint
(the opposite is)
Gravity fed -- paint feeds into the top of the airbrush from a cup on top. this requires less air pressure and less paint and can give you more control.

So now you can be an informed consumer!

Personally, I really like Badger airbrushes, although I haven't tried others. They're solid, reliable mid-range airbrushes. Parts are readily available and they're very easy to break down for cleaning. For example:

Image

And you DO need to clean them. EVERY TIME YOU USE THEM. Make SURE she understands this. They aren't just brushes like paintbrushes, they're tools, and are designed pretty precisely-- if you let paint dry in them they become useless (and much harder to clean). I can always tell when I didn't clean mine well enough because I start getting spitting and weird issues like paint not coming out with just a little pressure, requiring a LOT of pressure, with problems and stuff. I usually clean mine with q-tips and rubbing alcohol-- if she only paints with acrylic, clean-up can be very easy. If she decides to use enamel for some reason, she'll need paint thinner. Stick with acrylic, I do.

So, my Badger 155 lets me do stuff like this:

Image

That's pretty much all airbrushed-- it's about the size of the palm of my hand. For a good feel for the detail you can get, I initally painted the wheels all black and then airbrushed the middle parts with green and brown, without touching the tires. The camo is freehand airbrushing with some 20/0 brushwork for the tools and some details. And that's with a midrange airbrush with a mid-size spray tip and needle...

So, with all that in mind, here is what I would recommend:

A Badger Anthem 155 airbrush. A set like this: http://www.amazon.com/Badger-Air-Brush- ... B000BRH58C

That includes a cup, a couple of bottles, a hose, and some cleaner. (You don't NEED official airbrush cleaner-- get a bottle of rubbing alcohol at your local drug store. If you're using acrylics, that and water and q-tips will take care of it.) It's a pretty good deal. You will need one other thing:

-- a regulator with a moisture trap. this is pretty vital, depending on what your shop compressor has. If it already has a regulator and a moisture trap, you're good-- you just may need an adapter to hook the airbrush hose to it. The regulator should be able to provide between 10 and 30psi-- higher pressure does weird things like "spidering" and can be very hard to paint with. I usually paint at 15-20psi.

That's going to be something like this: http://www.amazon.com/Airbrush-Compress ... B00171BFKK

A second option for a gravity-fed airbrush would be this:

http://www.amazon.com/Badger-Air-Brush- ... B002W84GTO

Or if you feel like spoiling her, this: http://www.amazon.com/Badger-Air-Brush- ... B0078MEXX8

...but if you get her that don't tell me or I'll get all jealous. That's my Christmas present for me if I get a good bonus for work this year... 8)

There are other useful things-- depending on what she wants to paint, art stores often have basic sets of acrylic paints. It may be helpful to get a bottle of retarder or airbrush paint medium, but that gets into some more complicated mixing and stuff. I kinda love it, but I'm not the target audience here. (I can recommend paint for plastic models-- Vallejo Air Color is very nice and premixed to the right consistency for airbrushing-- but I suspect that's not what she wants to paint.)

Avoid at all cost cheapo airbrushes-- Testors Model Master are really bad, cheap plastic junk. Iwata is pretty fancy. Paasche is good, but I think a step down from Badger. There are also very inexpensive clones of big-name airbrushes, mostly Chinese and mostly under $30. I have heard such mixed things about them that I wouldn't recommend them at all. Airbrushes are also often deeply discounted. If you find something you're looking for, shop around and see what you can find. These guys: http://shop.webairbrushes.com/ -- have very good customer service, but their prices are slightly higher than people who sell on Amazon. (They're the retail end for Badger, I think.)

I think that probably covers more than you wanted to know... If you have specific questions, ask! I can either answer or I can find out. I seriously love airbrushing. It's weird, because I'm not much of a brush painter and I'm really not a visual artist at all, but give me an airbrush and a plastic tank and I can be happy for hours. I even enjoy the breakdown and cleaning part, which is probably really weird. 8)

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 Post subject: Re: artists: airbrush tips?
PostPosted: Sun Nov 24, 2013 11:31 pm 
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Dr Bronners, MD
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Oh, the Badger 360 might be a good starter, too. A little less expensive, and more flexible. Good for figuring out what you want to do...

http://www.amazon.com/Badger-Air-Brush- ... 000BRMZ9G/

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 Post subject: Re: artists: airbrush tips?
PostPosted: Sun Nov 24, 2013 11:33 pm 
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Saggy Butt
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ooh i enjoyed reading this, because airbrushes are the one art tool i have no idea about! now i want one, hah.


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 Post subject: Re: artists: airbrush tips?
PostPosted: Mon Nov 25, 2013 7:29 am 
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Seagull of the PPK
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SN, thank you *so much* for taking the time to write all that out. your explanation really does help a lot and i had no idea about half of the functionalities. good to know about brands as well because i am totally flying blind here. i know for my work i wouldn't purchase software that wasn't well rated by my peers, for example, and certain "makes" i would just discount immediately, so it's nice to have this perspective.
the good thing about the kid is that she's a maker, so she is anal retentive about her fabrication stuff (she's been making costume parts lately) and even better, all fabrication will take place in my husband's shop, where she can clean everything in alcohol and kerosene and all that. So basically, she'll be building her own studio.
awesome!! thanks!!

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 Post subject: Re: artists: airbrush tips?
PostPosted: Mon Nov 25, 2013 8:15 am 
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Dr Bronners, MD
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Cool! Glad to help, and I hope she enjoys it. 8)

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 Post subject: Re: artists: airbrush tips?
PostPosted: Mon Nov 25, 2013 9:25 pm 
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Making Threats to Punks Again
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torque wrote:
all fabrication will take place in my husband's shop, where she can clean everything in alcohol and kerosene and all that. So basically, she'll be building her own studio.
awesome!! thanks!!

Oh, I know it's pretty basic but remember that spraying paint around can make quite a mess and you need a well ventilated space or even some kind of extraction fan! (maybe not so important for smaller paint jobs)

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 Post subject: Re: artists: airbrush tips?
PostPosted: Mon Nov 25, 2013 11:16 pm 
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Dr Bronners, MD
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Oh yeah! I have a homemade spray booth for indoors and light painting, and I go in the back yard for spraycan painting (like primer).

When I'm doing a lot of spraying, I wear a respirator, Breaking Bad style. (Well, the cheaper version without the faceplate...)

Image

But yeah. Good ventilation is required for anything but the tiniest paint jobs.

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 Post subject: Re: artists: airbrush tips?
PostPosted: Mon Nov 25, 2013 11:47 pm 
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Making Threats to Punks Again
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I haven't done airbrushing since I was a teenager. All I remember is that it was fun and multi-coloured snot.

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 Post subject: Re: artists: airbrush tips?
PostPosted: Tue Nov 26, 2013 7:22 am 
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Seagull of the PPK
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caterpillar wrote:
multi-coloured snot.

ha, that is exactly what we'll be trying to avoid.
the entire shop is basically a biohazard but we can easily enough kit up a corner with a fume hood.

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