Since buying my airbrush, it probably has not been used as much as it should be. There have been many reasons for this, but since moving house, and investing in some dedicated airbrush paints, I have rediscovered my enthusiasm for this tool. So with some more experience, I thought I would share some of the things I have learned…
The single biggest pain I have had has been the paints I have shot through my airbrush. GW paints are horrible, Privateer Press P3 paints are better, but Vallejo’s Model Air and Game Air ranges are what you want. These paints largely do not need to be thinned, and do not clog the airbrush as quickly, if at all.
In particular I have been impressed with the newer Game Air range. These paints replicate the colours in Games Workshop’s paint range, but Vallejo paints tend to have finer pigments, and the Game Air paints have much finer pigments.
So far I used these with no problems with both the 0.2mm and 0.4mm nozzles, and they are easier to clean afterwards. Result!
Speaking of cleaning, cleaning your airbrush is the second biggest pain of owning one. The two things at the top of the list here are a dedicated nozzle cleaner, and proper airbrush cleaner (the Vallejo stuff works great). If you are in Sweden Röd Spirit makes an acceptable stand in for airbrush cleaner but isn’t as effective. This said, this stuff is utterly fantastic for striping paint off models.
Anyway in addition to these, cotton ear buds are kind of essential; and cotton cleaning pads (for cleaning needles) and dental brushes (for clean nozzles) are both super useful and very cheap.
Although I am still using my trusty Harder & Steenbeck Evolution I bought three years ago, I have changed two things. Firstly, the Evolution came with a fitting for a quick release coupling which I swiftly removed. Now I actually have a quick release coupling, this is back on and it makes handling the airbrush SOOOO much easier and I can disconnect the thing without depressurising the compressor’s air tank, and better still, I can tweak the air flow to the airbrush on the fly. Super sweet.
The second upgrade I purchased recently is a fineline nozzle cap. While this protects the needle, same as the old nozzle cap, it also makes it very easy to clean the airbrush needle whilst working with it. And because this nozzle cap does not obstruct your view of the needle, it makes fine work much easier.
Previously I only considered the airbrush as a base coat tool or for painting larger vehicles, however it is also surprisingly useful on 28mm scale troopers, and this new nozzle cap is super helpful.
As a tip, if you have an HS airbrush, most of the nozzle kits are interchangeable so if you want to replace one on an Evolution, the complete needle/nozzle/cap kit for the Infinity is probably the most cost effective solution because you end up with a spare needle and nozzle.
Now I’m starting to using the Evolution more, my next big upgrade is likely to be an HS Infinity, because of the resettable tail on it, however for now that will have to wait.
Airbrush primers and varnishes
It seems obvious, but of course you can also prime your models with your airbrush, and Vallejo have a range of primers in different colours for exactly this purpose. Compared to using a spray can this is far less messy and makes it easier to completely cover the model.
As with normal spray primers, it is important to use multiple thin coats. Thankfully the Vallejo primers come in much larger pots than their normal paints, and they seem to last longer because the airbrush is much more precise.
And once you and finally finished your model, Vallejo’s matt varnish works brilliantly through the airbrush. Previously this has been my sealant of choice and I have just painted it on, but the airbrush is perfect for this and quicker too.
So there are some of the things I have learned using my airbrush this year. I have also been playing with stencils and masking fluid but those might be topics for another time. Of course there is still a lot to learn but as a tool is has a lot of potential.