How to Start Airbrushing? What to Get?

First of all, today’s article is for true airbrush beginners. If you are just thinking to start airbrushing and maybe just looking for some more info then please continue reading. Those of you with some experience may read on and maybe leave a comment with additional, useful info. For a long time I’ve been thinking that I am still missing something here. But I could not find out what it is. Maybe because of  the amount of information and all those advises I had to go through in past two weeks about getting into airbrushing. I have extended some of my old articles that have been extensive already and I’ve totally forgotten about basic airbrush needs. Just to sum up the whole story about getting into airbrushing, there is more tools you need to begin. Some of them are optional but some are a “MUST HAVE“, according to my own experience.

One of the most important things besides airbrush gun, air compressor and paint is a hose. Yes just a hose. Every airbrushist needs the hose to connect airbrush and compressor into working system. The important part in this case is the fitting. You can always use some adapters but I would be much happier to have only one fitting on each side of the hose. The most common fitting is 1/8 inch thread.

Hoses can be made of rubber, plastic; shaped as straight, coil (twisted), then braided and not, whatever you want. Frankly, there is not a big difference because it will work with either of choice. A big part of airbrush community loves twisted hoses because they don’t roll around on the floor so there is less of a chance to stumble.

The twisted hose will surely pull your hand, so be careful when choosing this one.

I wouldn’t be very concerned about that right now. Usually when you buy a good airbrush you will have some hose in the box which will be enough for you to get started. After some time you will buy another one because the one you got with airbrush is too short. This is all you should know about air hoses right now, so let’s move on.

After painting you have to clean your airbrush gun. If you work with enamel paint then you can use some special reducer, reach for white spirit or acetone.

With acrylic, in theory, you can use spirit or one really aggressive stuff available out there called isopropanol. This chemical can take even care of dried acrylics. You may argue – why to leave paint to dry and then use aggressive thinner, isn’t it better not to let the paint dry? Imagine that you’ve got some inspiration and your painting session lasts for 6 or even 8 hours. Some paint can dry in 2 or 3 hours completely, so dry paint inside your airbrush is actually a very realistic scenario.

To clean paint cup you can use any available tools – brush, cotton buds or even a napkin but don’t use recycled toilet paper because it can introduce a lot of paper dust. Paper dust can cause a lot of troubles when it gets into paint chamber.

To clean up the needle is also not a big problem, just wipe it up with a napkin moisten in special cleaner. Cleaning of paint chamber and the nozzle tip, on the other side, is quite different. These have to shine otherwise the fresh paint will be collecting on the remains of old paint and dry too until it will block the whole chamber.

For cleaning the chamber and needle tip there are special tools – cylindrical brushes also known as “Nylon Precision Brush Set”. You can buy those anywhere in airbrush supply shop and they are so cheap that everyone can afford it.

For blowing out the rests of paint and cleaning solutions from airbrush gun the clever people invented cleaning station. The price is very affordable but if you don’t want or can’t get one you can build cleaning station yourself. When you understand how it works and unleash your imagination you would be able to make it out of anything (even a rubbish).

Pipettes and bottles – only for your comfort. Pipettes are very useful when working with aggressive paints or reducers. Set of bottles of different sizes, with good lids are very useful for mixing paints. You can buy a special set in airbrush shop or find some in your house.

Airbrush holder – a must have. I didn’t know how useful it is when I started airbrushing but now, working without it is like missing one hand.

Masking tape – a must have – also known as Kabuki Tape. Be careful when buying those as there is a few types depending on adhesion to surface. I recommend brand 3M but Tamiya makes good tapes too.

Respirator – when working with water based paints it is not a life decision but breathing any paint dust over long period of time can cause some serious health issues. Medical or disposable masks known from construction site are absolutely useless. My own recommendation when looking at protection level, comfort and price the respirator 3M 6000 Series is probably optimal choice.

Airbrush Lube – not really required but it’s good to have. Many brands like Iwata, for example, sell their own lube with airbrush. You can also use synthetic oil (for lubing the bicycle parts) instead of airbrush lube.

Mineral oil, silicon paste or WD40 CAN’T be used in any case!

This is it for today! Have I forgotten anything? I’m sure I have. Let me know in comments.

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6 Comments on “How to Start Airbrushing? What to Get?”

  • What about the moisture trap? These are a must for thoseusing a compresor without a tank..even those with tank will collect moisture in some environments especially with a short hose. I personally have 5m of hosef from the tank to the moisture trap then another 5m from it to the airbrush. Perhaps this one is part of the compressor setup but is very useful to avoid avoid a messy job :)

    • I didn’t include moisture trap here because I mentioned it in previous article as part of the air pressure regulator but probably additional one won’t hurt to have. I got one with my Iwata but wasn’t using it really. The length of your hose is impressive, what type or brand is it and what moisture trap is there in the middle?

      • I purchased the hose from a local pneumatic hardware shop and they sold me per meter. The hose is flexible with nylon cores and doubled by another flexible core. Rated at 15bar (approx 215psi) I got the fittitings from them too. The hose from the moisture trap to the brush now is flexible 6mm hose rated at 90psi. The moisture trap was bought over the internet and it does have the regulator on it too. I choose a long hose to be at ease when moving and also to reduce maximum moisture reaching the moisture trap. I do have two compressors, a DIY super silent one (thanks for the guides over here btw) and a big 24Lts one that i can run outside the room and have enough length with my long hose.

  • That was a very interesting article thanks for the information