Can't get fine detail with my HP-SB+



Hi Folks,
I've had my Iwata HP-SB+ for a while now and in general it sprays really well but I just can't seem to get it to do the really fine detail. I have an HP-SBS Eclipse which I love and use for general work so the HP-SB+ is my detail airbrush. Problem is I just can't get it to work when I go in close. The paint doesn't flow and I can't seem to get the paint reduction to psi ratio right.

I'm using Com-Art and Golden Transparent Extender 50/50 with 20% bottled water and spraying anywhere between 10 to 20 psi. If I go too low psi the atomization is bad, if I go up with psi the air dries the paint on the needle and the tip dry stops the paint flowing. I've had this trouble for a while and it's starting to annoy me because I prefer a side feed airbrush.

I get better results with my Sotar 20/20 and I could just use that BUT I hate having a €210 airbrush just sitting doing nothing cos I can't find the sweet spot. It's very frustrating.

Any advice would be well appreciated.
Cheers Mel
Hi Mel, I not really sure what to suggest to you that you don't already know! You should be getting decent detail from that brush and a 0.2 set up, com-art should really flow nice, are you sure there is not a blockage or a bet needle? I don't mean that to sound like teaching you to suck eggs because I know you know all that stuff:). Would be great if you could try another one like it to compare.
There may just be a problem with that brush, can you send it back and get a replacement ?
Hi Mel,
I read a post on here some time back by "IGNIS" and he recommended sitting your bottle of distilled water on top of a magnet to get your paintflow to improve, takes a couple of days for it to take effect, but helped my fine line performance alot.
He's got a website as well with loads of info on tuning airbrushes, paint atomization and all sorts.
Hope you find a solution!!
I've got a HP SB too and it's spraying just fine after i polished the needle. Had simular problems, looking through a strong magnifying glass turned out the needle was bended a little bit on the top.
in my case with comart i do reduced it up to 10 to 1 and 2 to 10 psi to get amazing detail,sure i know you know this,but don´t know what else to say to help you!!!

man hope this helps!!!!:angel:
Thanks peeps,
I check the needle under a magnifying glass after every cleaning session and it has been polished recently. However this needle was bent and I repaired it a while back, so I will try putting a new needle in and see if that helps. I'll give the nozzle a more serious examination but like the needle it looks fine and I have no cash to buy another one at the moment. But I'll put a new nozzle on my shopping list.

Cordyk, I can't send it back, I've had it too long. I will try a new needle and eventually a new nozzle if the needle alone doesn't help. I also can't try another one as I don't live anywhere near an airbrush shop.

Jacksparrow, The magnet under the bottle of distilled water is a new one on me, I'll check this IGNIS out for more tips.

DiToni, Yes I'm going to change the needle even though the one I'm using looks fine under a Loep.

Ulltraz, I stick with the "no more than 20%" reduction rule for water because of the loss of binding qualities. I don't want the paint coming off my artwork in the future. I know other people do it but I'd rather find another way to increase paint flow without the risk. I'm still experimenting with my Golden Mediums.

Thanks again everyone, it's good to get some feedback even though I know a lot of stuff, sometimes I just can't see the wood for the trees :)

I wish I could get the skill to use my HP-SBS for everything including fine detail because I love that airbrush. I see lots of practise with my HP-SBS in the future :) I also might abandon trying to get that really tight detail with my airbrush and revert to a hairy brush which is quicker, more controllable and generally easier to do. Actually I see no difference with a paint brush or using an eraser, ok it looks like I've just talked myself into more experimentation LOL! See how talking with you guys helps :)
Cheers Mel
Just to keep you updated;

I gave my nozzle a good extra cleaning.

I changed my needle for a new one and after trying it out with the same paint mix as yesterday I'd be hard pushed to say it was loads better but perhaps a little bit.

I then added Airbrush Medium to my Com-Art and Golden Transparent Extender mix (equal parts 1:1:1) and didn't add any water. This seemed to help the spray and although it didn't stop the tip dry it was at least flowing better and I could work at around 10 to 15 psi.

Basically this is an improvement on yesterday and I feel a bit more confident about using it at close quarters. I will buy a new nozzle as soon as I can afford it and hopefully that will also help.

I also took the crown cap off and that helped too. I don't like doing it cos I dinged my other needles that way but it does make the fine lines easier. I guess I'm gonna have to learn to be more careful or have a draw full of new needles :)

I'm happy with the work I could do today with the HP-SB+ and my new portrait is starting to look like a face LOL!

Many thanks, Mel
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I don't know where you stay in Holland, but if i can be of any help before you buy a new nozzle just ask. The nozlle is tiny and well hidden in this type of airbrush, so unless you had a realy worse bended needle maybe things aren't so bad.
Not sure what to tell you Mel, at least with a new needle and nozzle, you'll know you're starting off with a clean slate, and you can paint without getting distracted by wondering if the gun is performing properly. Is there any chance that because it's given you some issues, you are overthinking things, and just aren't as relaxed as usual when using it, and so you've lost your usual control??? It's happened to me before. I never use a crown cap except to store the AB at the end of the day, I find it much easier.
A new needle certainly never hurts, and a fresh, newly polished needle is even better, imo. A jewelers loupe from a hobby store can be a good investment for trouble-shooting issues like this. I have one that's 25x, and cost about $20 or so. The better-quality ones from hobby stores seem to work noticeably better than the cheap, "Harbor Freight" types. I'm not sure how you went about cleaning the nozzle, but what I usually do if one needs a good cleaning is to let it soak in Createx Restorer for a few hours, and send it through the ultra-sonic cleaner. If there's still some gunk in there, I'll take some round, wooden toothpicks, and set them in a glass of water and let them soak for a while. Once they're soft, I whittle an end down so it's small enough to set in the nozzle similar to how the needle does. Then I'll use that to work anything loose. The wood has just enough grain to grip any junk, but is soft enough that it won't scratch the inside of the nozzle or distort the tip. You can also put a dab of polish of the toothpick, and polish the inside of your nozzle, too. Just make sure to rinse ALL of the polish out before re-assembly. Lastly, you might want to try E'Tac Condition-air, or the poor-mans version, glycerin. Just add a SMALL amount to your paint. Too much can have all sorts of bad concequences.
Hi Ton, thanks for the offer of help but my airbrush seems to be working better generally. The nozzle seems to be ok but I was only thinking of getting a new one so, as Squishy said, I'll know for sure it's good. Like starting with a clean slate.

Squishy, you could definitely have something there, I was wondering myself if I was just tensing up. The only reason I felt it was more the airbrush than me was because I didn't have the same problems with my Sotar which is more fussy than the HP-SB+.

HCP, I do have a 18x loep but it's very small so I think I'll invest in a bigger one. Thanks for the toothpick tip, I'll give that a try. Yes, I have wanted to get some Condition Air from Etac, I need to put in an order soon from my supplier and I'll get a bottle.

I'm actually starting to think of getting a CM-SB because I think it will suit my style of painting better than the HP-SB+. I can't afford to just buy one so I'll have to sell some stuff first but just the idea of having one is very exciting.
Cheers everyone, your comments and help are well appreciated.
Mel, have you tried using more than just the distilled water? IE that 25% denatured alcohol, 75% water and a drop of glycerine per ounce/30ml I cnt say much on longevity but I am enjoying it :)
Hi Flycatchr, no I haven't tried a homemade mix yet! Do you use it with Com-Art paints?
I kind of worry about using a homemade mix with denatured alcohol in it but I have all the ingredients because I use them to make my own homemade cleaning solution so I could give it a try. There is not harm in trying eh? :)
Cheers Mel
I do, yes. But then I don't do nearly as much painting as you. I do find the paint flows very nicely though :)