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Completely new to airbrushing....

Discussion in 'Introductions!' started by mejmea, Feb 19, 2019.


  1. mejmea

    mejmea Triple Actioner

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    Hopefully the level of detail in the following is not out of place in this "Introductions" forum. If there is a better place I'd be happy to move this thread there.

    As the title implies, I have never picked up an airbrush in my life. I've been trying to educate myself through various sources but am at a bit of a wall in terms of what the best starting point is for an actual airbrush. I'm an engineer in real life so while I'm comfortable with the technical side of an air brushing system, I lack the insight to know how to pick the initial set-up that will be most likely to translate to my own success.

    My journey started recently when I was working on an RC aircraft model, which is my main hobby. I used rattle cans to spray a base color but had to deal with the lack of a spray booth and being restricted to indoor settings due to it being winter. I got it done but, as I contemplated future work on this and other models I started thinking "there has to be a better way". In addition to base coating the entire air frame I intend to paint some level of detail such as various striping, canopy windows and framing, some panels, maybe some weathering etc. None of this is particularly small scale. We are talking an aircraft approximately 38ish inches long and the things I'm talking about COULD be painted by brush but it occurred to me that an airbrush might be better and, if I can learn how to use one, might give better results as well as developing a skill that I can use in the future and for smaller scale details. I don't ever expect to be able to paint at a competition grade (I don't think I have enough artistic genes), but I do enjoy developing new skills and simply want to have some fun trying to improve the looks of my models.

    So, in my ideal world I would want to be able to apply a base coat and then add some level of details and accents. I recognize that those two things may require two different tools, perhaps the base coating isn't even a practical job for an airbrush (although I'm not usually in a hurry), but those are the kinds of things I'm hoping to learn from you all. I'd probably prefer to use water based paints simply because clean up up and odor is easier to deal with but I'm not locked into that. Often for this kind of thing people use latex exterior paints because they can get custom colors mixed at the local box store relatively inexpensively. Again, that might be ideal if it's possible, but I recognize that such paints may impossible to spray well through an airbrush no matter how you thin/prepare them because of pigment size or some other such issue.

    Based on my research to date I was starting to think I was serious about an Iwata Eclipse HP-SBS Autographics with the thought that since it can be used as both a gravity feed and bottom feed it could perhaps serve dual roles in terms of base coating as well as detailing. I figured I would get a 0.5mm needle/nozzle set in addition to the stock 0.35mm size. Then I stumbled across this forum and saw the positive reviews of the Mr Airbrush line from Spraygunner so I started to wonder if getting two different airbrushes (perhaps a 0.5 such as a PS-290 or PS-266 plus a 0.3 PS-289) would be better than a single unit like the Iwata (for about the same money). Then, I watched the video in the "Beginners Airbrush Questions" forum here, thought "Maybe I should take a look at Badger.", and so found the BADGER 105-155BGF Two Airbrush Set at Spraygunner for slightly more than half the cost of either of the previous options. Now, I'm just confused....again... Would any of these do what I want? Do they handle various paints equally? Would any be significantly easier or harder to learn with, to maintain, etc...?

    I am in a fortunate position where, while I'm not interested in being stupidly extravagant, I am able to spend what I'd like on a tool such as an airbrush. My personal experience is that I'm better off buying a quality tool rather than a cheap one even if it exceeds my current needs as long as it is something that I plan to keep/use long term because it allows me to improve my skills and it just makes life easier in the meantime. I don't need to own the best "just because" but I do prefer to own something that has practical value beyond simply the initial cost.

    So, any thoughts, suggestions, pointing towards relevant resources etc. would be much appreciated . I am distinctly and consciously at a "I don't know what I don't know" part of the learning curve and the sooner I get past this one, the sooner I'll be able to, ummm, run headfirst into the next one.....:eek:
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  2. J000seph

    J000seph Detail Decepticon! Very Likeable!

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    Hello from Texas! You sound like you know what you're getting into. I will share my opinion based on your requirements. I'm an Iwata Eclipe fan myself. They can spray a wider variety of paints, including thicker paints, versus some of the other options. If you wanted to start with only one airbrush I would suggest the Eclipse HP-CS gravity feed (.35). It can do almost anything. The Eclipse HP-BCS suction feed (.5) would do better for base coat but a PS-290 with the fan cap sounds much cooler as a second brush. I use water base paints also for the same reasons. Latex paint from the hardware store won't spray through an airbrush. You live in the US? Wicked paint (by Createx) may be a good option for you. Durable and lots of color options. And places like hobby lobby carry it in stores locally.
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  3. Jurien72

    Jurien72 Have Airbrush - Will Travel! Very Likeable!

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    Hi and welcome to the forum! I have dabbled in RC airplanes over the years, although I mostly do RC cars. So I kinda know what you're up against here.
    What exact type of surface do you have on your models? Most of the ones I dealt with seemed to use Monokote, and I don't know much about painting that.
    As far as basecoating goes, yeah I think an airbrush may be a bit small- a detail sized spray gun may be a better choice really. But an airbrush would probably be great for doing canopy trims, striping, things like that.
    I do know that you are probably going to go through mass quantities of paint, so I would recommend a siphon-fed airbrush. That Badger setup you mentioned would probably be a good starting point. You can find out how well it's going to work for you without investing a lot of money, and if I remember correctly that set has one siphon feed and one gravity feed. The gravity feed will be useful for small details or possibly touch ups.
    Yeah I got no clue on a paint to recommend. Ill have to do a little research and see if I can find anything. Hope this helps a bit!
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  4. Franc Kaiser

    Franc Kaiser Detail Decepticon! Very Likeable!

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    Welcome to the forum from China!
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  5. mejmea

    mejmea Triple Actioner

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    Thanks for the greetings and replies! Despite it being commonplace these days it's still cool to connect globally in places like this. You ask good questions about things I forgot to include in my original post.

    I am located in the US (Illinois, greater Chicago area) so I will take a look at our local Hobby Lobby for the Createx/Wicked paints. All of my aircraft are electric so I don't have to worry about chemical resistance to fuel (as it turns out, terra firma tends to be the most likely hazard, does anyone have any recommendations for air brushable "Flubber" paints?:)). I kind of figured standard latex was a long shot. Given that, it sounds like I'll need to find some resources for learning to custom mix colors on my own, my eye is definitely not calibrated.

    The surfaces I will be painting for the time being include fiberglass bodies/wings as well as foam, and a few plastic trim bits. Good question about painting monokote. I don't know the answer but I currently only have one aircraft with a covered wing and it's not at the top of the list for modification.

    I had to chuckle when I read the different opinions on which way to go airbrush-wise, there's never a simple, definitive answer is there? You both (J000seph and Jurien72) do seem to agree that my "application" points in the direction of two separate tools, one for base coating and one for detailing, with the former perhaps not even being an airbrush. I probably knew this in my heart but you helped crystallize that point so thank you. The Badger kit does include both a bottle feed and a gravity feed brush as well as 3 nozzle needle sizes ("general purpose", "detail", and "super detail") but I'm not sure how those sizes compare in actual dimension or verstatility of paint handling compared to something like the Iwata CS at 0.35mm? J000seph, do you believe that the Iwata would handle more paints than the Badger(s) based on your experience/knowledge? Jurien72, do you have any specific thoughts on a detail size spray gun that I might look at/consider?

    As a side question, I thought I put my location in when I originally registered but apparently not. When I go to my profile page I don't see an "edit" button. How to I get back to that point?

    Thanks again!
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  6. Jurien72

    Jurien72 Have Airbrush - Will Travel! Very Likeable!

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    I checked on Youtube and found quite a few videos on how to paint foam airplane bodies. They show what kinds of paint are safe for foam and yes, some people used a detail gun and some used an airbrush. Harbor Freight sells a great little detail gun for $20-$30. I'd try the airbrush out first and see if that is going to work for you.
    The needle/nozzle sizes on the Badger will be comparable to an Iwata. Im sure that any hobby-type paints are going to flow thru an airbrush nozzle. Ill have to go back and watch the video on spraying latex lol.
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  7. mejmea

    mejmea Triple Actioner

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    Great suggestions Jurien, thanks!
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  8. markjthomson

    markjthomson AKA QuickDraw and very happy #nobrushleftbehind Staff Member Admin

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    Welcome from New Zealand... the eclipse is a great brush for all round work, many long timers and experienced airbrushers include them in the arsenal!
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  9. mejmea

    mejmea Triple Actioner

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    Thanks Mark. For someone who is completely new like myself, do you think there would be value in getting a 0.5 needle set for an eclipse (for ease of learning technique and/or more forgiving of ignorance about various paints/thinning etc.)? How about getting the optional pre-set handle (which I wouldn't want to be a crutch to prevent me from learning to properly control an airbrush, but it also sounds like it could be handy at times)?
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  10. J000seph

    J000seph Detail Decepticon! Very Likeable!

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    Click on your icon at the top of page. Select “personal settings”

    We knew that would happen as soon as you said Chevy or Ford :)
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  11. SiRoxx

    SiRoxx Party Boy UK Style Very Likeable!

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    Welcome from the U.K. I have both an Eclipse CS and the Mr Hobby 290. They both serve their purposes very well. It’s amazing how much more coverage I get from the 290 with a .5 setup particularly when used with the fan cap. Personally I like the Fan for wider coverage, the CS covers middle and small ground fantastically well too. The CS is probably the more versatile of the 2, but both are superb tools that will serve you well for many years.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
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  12. mejmea

    mejmea Triple Actioner

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    @ J000seph - LOL. very true. Thanks for pointing me in the right direction on editing my profile. I thought I had tried that last night but obviously not!

    @SiRoxx - Thanks for the great feedback. It's nice to have the benefit of a first hand view from someone with both specific tools. What size surfaces do you paint with the 290 (curious how much can be covered before a refill)? I'm just mentally debating the pros and cons of Jurien's previous suggestion of a detail spray gun for base coating vs. the 290. I'm guessing that a spray gun might be able to handle "rougher" paints such as latexes whereas the 290 might not? I'm guessing the 290 might have a bit more control, less overspray...?

    Man, it's like drinking through a firehose whenever I first try to learn something....
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  13. SiRoxx

    SiRoxx Party Boy UK Style Very Likeable!

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    I can do a reasonably wet coat over 1 side of A4 with half a cup of paint, hopefully that makes sense. Juries does have a point, just be aware that the detail spray gun will require much more air in terms of “CFM” from your compressor than an airbrush. Apologies if you’ve listed your compressor somewhere and I’ve missed it. I don’t have any experience painting models with airbrushes as I haven’t gotten round to it yet lol.


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  14. John O'Brien

    John O'Brien Elite Member! Elite Member!

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    Welcome from the SW burbs
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  15. J000seph

    J000seph Detail Decepticon! Very Likeable!

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    Now that's funny. I can relate.
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  16. JackEb

    JackEb The Dragon Hunter Staff Member Admin

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    Welcome from Australia,
    looks like the team have you heading in the right direction so I wont bore you with my suggestions as they will only repeat what has been said....
    I will however add a few other things.
    Spraying anything you should consider your lungs. even water based paints dont belong in there ! Given the size of project you are considering then I'd suggest a mask / respirator of some kind. The larger the project the quicker you are likely to cover it with paint as you arent aiming at small details for the majority of it. In order to facilitate rapid coverage you would have the PSI reasonable high which equates to more overspray.... protect those lungs. A dust mask at a pinch but if you are really blasting paint the a proper respirator would be my suggestion. the RZ masks with the hepa filters work well for most airbrush work but the 3m paint respirators are easily found at your local hardware store too.

    Its very true that you dont know what you dont know and just when you think you have it figured out you find something else that makes you scratch your head lol

    I've always had the belief of 'buy right, buy once' and thats worked really well with everything else I have bought until it came to airbrushes. I thought I only needed two, one for coverage and one for detail, and now I've said that its probably true that I only NEED two, but I now have more Iwata's than I probably need but I justify it by telling myself its a case of 'the right tool for the job' :D
  17. J000seph

    J000seph Detail Decepticon! Very Likeable!

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    There’s 17 colors in the Createx Illustration color wheel set if you include Payne’s gray. That’s one brush per color for easy color changes. Then there’s candies, pearls, :)
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  18. JackEb

    JackEb The Dragon Hunter Staff Member Admin

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    I will whisper this so nobody else hears me.....
    I have double ups on many of my brushes, one dedicated to pearls/metalics and one for non pearl.... I use to have one multipurpose brush until one day i was spraying black and a random patch of glitter appeared, yes I'd cleaned it and cleaned it well after using the pearl but obviously not well enough
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  19. mejmea

    mejmea Triple Actioner

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    You guys are killing me, now I need at least 17 brushes?!

    Jack, you make great points. I do actually own a half mask respirator and it was very necessary during my rattle can escapade a few weeks ago. I'm with you on "buy right buy once" at least until you "need" to buy twice, or three times, or.....:) I have a friend who enjoys bicycling. How many bikes do you need? his wife asks..... "Just one more."

    SiRoxx, thanks for the compressor reminder. I understand and I do have a couple of oiled compressors that I could use for the bigger jobs with appropriate traps/filters (and no, I haven't listed them, another oversight on my part). For smaller jobs I'd probably get a small oiless one that I could use down the basement since I suspect my wife, as understanding as she is, might not appreciate 75 feet of hose dragged through the house from the garage and down the stairs. Thanks for the info about the paint coverage you get with the 290 too, I understand (at least I think I understand!).

    John
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  20. Jurien72

    Jurien72 Have Airbrush - Will Travel! Very Likeable!

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    I was thinking that the right airbrush with a fan cap would also do a great job on a model airplane. You will probably be amazed at how capable an airbrush truly is. The reason I suggested a spray gun is just in case you get spraying and think "geez I'd really like something bigger."
    Oh by the way, JackEb is a girl ;)
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