The airbrush is a very handy tool, which can be used for everything from painting backdrops, to making track look rusty, to adding “dust” or other weathering to trains or to painting models. And it’s not a very complicated tool, either. You can learn the basics in an afternoon. You don’t need to be an artist to use one for many of the common hobby purposes. But it’s not without its mysteries, and I had to do a fair amount of research before buying my second airbrush, so I decided to write up my notes for these pages. Some of this material originally appeared in a series of Airbrush musings, but the material here will be updated as I learn more, while the posts will not.
There are a lot of models using airbrushes, so you can probably get help with questions about them on any of the usual online forums. Google will also turn up lots of information. Sometimes it will seem contradictory, because what’s correct for one kind of paint, or one brand of brush may not be correct for another. If you ask a question somewhere, be specific about what kind of paint you use, what brand and model of brush you’re using (or compressor if relevant to your problem), and any other details.
And, it should be noted, some online advice is just downright wrong. I’ve run across some of it, and I hope these pages won’t contribute more. But I’m as error-prone as anyone, so take what you read here with a dose of skepticism if it doesn’t agree with your experience.
If you want some good basic information about different models of airbrushes and fundamentals of hobbyist airbrushing, see this site.
I’ll get into more detail on other pages, but first a couple of very basic points:
1. You can airbrush relatively inexpensively, but don’t be cheap. The least-expensive gear will almost certainly disappoint. Most “beginners” sets seem designed to frighten people away from using an airbrush at all. And don’t use “canned air”. You need a compressor or other source of reliable pressurized air. In a pinch, an automobile tire with the right adapter (Badger sells one for their hardware) will do.
2. Always, always, always wear a respirator and ventilate the room where you work, and don’t work near open flame (stoves with pilots lights, etc). This is true even if you use “water based” acrylic paints.