Airbrush

My deep Adventures in Airbrush.

creator: x14km2d | build: 2021-11-30 | update: 2021-12-26

Intro

I decided this year to work more professionally on my modeling hobby but for that you also need better tools. Sure, you can rebuild everything you see in videos with the simplest materials, but that is usually not as clean as with a professional alternative or costs more time. This year I had some problems. For example, with my Medieval Staircase, I noticed how quickly my expectations of my own quality can change. What I still found good in 2019-20 I now find just terrible to look at. I also noticed that I could save more time if I had adapted tools for repetitive tasks. For example, it is quite exhausting to paint test models with a brush, when it is actually only about working out results quickly. So I invested in an airbrush set.

I had with ten years already once an airbrush set but the technology of that time (and also the price) is not comparable with today’s products. I did not want to buy a very cheap set, but also not invest too much. Mid-range is in my opinion always a good start, because later you can always upgrade components. Overall, I have no problems learning a new tool, because I see everything as a tool and not something special. From that point of view, it’s just a brush that works with air and that’s what the name says. Airbrush. But it took a few days until I could do the first test, because I really have a lot to do here.

Get Started

To be prepared, I have watched a few videos on the subject in the last few days. How to get started with an airbrush gun and what to look for. Everything beginners need to learn when they enter a new topic. I also decided against buying expensive airbrush paints for now, but to use my acrylic collection. Since I did not feel confident enough and I also lacked experience I mixed the colors beforehand in small plastic cups. Unfortunately, I had no alternative, but will take care of it at a later date. I used black acrylic paint as primer, which works quite well.

![(../images/paintjob/airbrush_04.jpg)

First I tested how fast I can work with an airbrush and how good the paint application is. I was really surprised, because the few test models in the photo have only needed a few minutes. I applied a total of two layers and that was totally enough. Something I hadn’t even thought of until this point was how quickly the test models dried. Since the paint applications are so thin, it dries within minutes. Overall, this is a massive improvement if you want to work quickly. However, since it takes a few minutes to prepare all the tools and materials, it is only worth it if you want to do a lot of batches in a row. For example, if you want to prime and paint a complete Warhammer army, it’s worth it more than for a single figure. But since I always work on several projects at the same time I can collect the models and parts and then work them off in one go. The last point is the quality, because you notice the difference between brush with individual duktus1 and an airbrush application without significant properties of the surface.

The last point was how well I can work with complex models and it works great. I can get to difficult places and can spray the paint with the airbrush even in the smallest cracks. I also don’t have to go extra into the basement when I use a model with the normal primer spray can, for example, which also saves time. Here you can see the staircase I built after the first layer with the black acrylic paint. Although you can still see the orange bricks printed with the 3D printer still slightly shimmer through the application, but at the latest after the second layer, the orange is no longer visible. So it does not matter which PLA color I will use in the future and can thus always buy the current cheapest, because I primed all model anyway. In the next test, I will then see how well you can apply different colors in a model. So far I am mercilessly thrilled.

The Next Day

Ok, I underestimated something. The cleaning of the airbrush gun. After I had carried out the first test, I unfortunately had to do other tasks and therefore packed up the airbrush gun and stowed it away again under my desk. Of course, I had forgotten to clean the tool properly. That was a pretty bad idea and took revenge the next day. I wanted to apply the brown acrylic paint this time. Unfortunately, the airbrush gun was clogged and I just dumped nail polish removal into the 7cc Gravity Feeding Cup2 and then wanted to blow that through to get the dirt out of the channel. We remember, the nail polish remover with which you can not mix oil colors. Nail polish remover and acrylic paint is also not a good idea.

Instead of sitting down for a moment and thinking about the problem, I simply mixed brown acrylic paint with water and thought:

“If I just blow enough paint through the clogged channel, it will clear it. Because, we all know that if the artery is clogged with fat, we just have to eat more fatty stuff so that the artery clears itself.”

Of course not. You sit down, look for the next best video or article on how to clean an airbrush gun and get back to work. But me. I immediately had the next really super great idea. When an airbrush gun is clogged, you just shake the clog free. It’s that simple. I’am a genius.

Not. On this day I was on the level of with feces throwing monkey. One stupid idea chased the next, because I had then risen but times to clean the airbrush gun (of course, I had not watched an informative video). What should happen? An airbrush gun can’t be that complex, can it? Yes it can. How many small parts do you get stuffed into this tool? I bent the very important needle because I pulled it out from the back instead of the front. At some point I watched some videos, but by then it was too late. I packed everything back up and then ordered a bunch of new materials. Paints, primers, thinners, spares and much more. What do we learn from this. If you have a problem, look on YouTube (or somewhere else) to see if someone else has had this same problem. Yes, it’s good to do your own research, but if you break expensive tools, that’s not so great either. Next Monday all parts should be there, I hope.

Practice Day

After I had to wait a few days for my new airbrush needles, I could work a little on other projects. At some point, a friendly Amazon parcel carrier came and brought my material. First I had to deal with the construction of the airbrush gun and that is best done by disassembling and reassembling it several times. Through the Army I know how to learn this quickly without thinking too much. There it is done with rifles. First you learn how the components belong together and from this the brain learns independently how the components work together. Later you learn how to shoot. Many people (including me) sometimes think too much instead of just doing it first. If you break something, like me for example the airbrush needle, you have at least learned that this component breaks faster.

After learning how the airbrush gun works, I was finally able to get into paint. In my first attempts I used acrylic paint, which also works. However, I advise against doing this as a beginner, because you already need a lot of practice and confidence in your tool. I therefore ordered paint and thinner specially made for airbrushing. No matter what artistic tool you work with, paint can turn out to be a serious factor in your projects. unfortunately, you can watch as many videos as you want, but it won’t do much good. If you want to learn to work with color, you’ll have to work with color more, willy-nilly. For example, I made the mistake of diluting the already diluted airbrush paint even more. This is rather impractical, but only worthwhile if you want to apply e.g. very thin layer on Minis. In the beginning, it is really enough just to fill the paint into the feed cup and start your exercises.

![(../images/paintjob/airbrush_09.jpg)

There is a super big problem when you learn a new technique or tool. It was the same for me. When you unpack an airbrush gun (or any other tool) and use it for the first time, in most cases it works really well. Then you pack it away, preferably without cleaning it, and the next time you use it, nothing works. Most people then have no more desire, pack everything back into the box and sell the tool on the online flea market. It is then no longer fun, because then suddenly something is associated with work and no longer works as easily as before. Many projects fail because of this. But this is not only the case with tools.

Another example. You work through ten tutorials of an interesting programming language and everything works first class. You understand everything and the results are as given in the tutorials. Then you start your first project, compile your code and … your computer burns, your operating system burns and then the internet starts to burn. You get flooded with error messages in the terminal that you’ve never read about in internet forums and the best advice you can find is to just learn another programming language. That’s the point that can be applied to everything. Of course Witcher 3 is easy in the tutorial. It’s the tutorial! It explains how to crawl, nothing more. Walking and running you have to learn yourself. So the first time I used the airbrush gun after disassembling it, nothing happened except a few small splashes dripped onto the paper. I spent the next few hours disassembling and reassembling the airbrush gun because I didn’t seem to understand this tool very well.

In the next photo you can see the evolution of my exercise. On the left my first test starts, then left down, right up and right down. On my first piece of paper you can still see a lot of splashes, which is also due to the paint being too diluted. I was able to fix this problem, but until then I didn’t understand why I had such big blobs on the paper. Apparently my needle had loosened a bit and I had to screw it tight again. with the needle you have to watch out not only because it bends quickly but also because it has to be installed perfectly in the airbrush gun. This is also the reason why you really have to clean your airbrush gun very neatly. Even the smallest lump of dried paint can cause your tool to stop working properly. so I disassembled everything again and cleaned it. After that, everything worked better.

In the next step I had to train my muscle memory on how my finger has to work together with the small lever on the airbrush gun. There are models where you just push the lever down and you can control how much paint comes out of the nozzle, but I didn’t buy one of those. With me, you have to press the lever down and air comes out of the airbrush gun. Only when you move the lever back slightly, paint is brought into this much too complex system. This sounds easy, but it is not also because I have to practice it a lot. Unlike other people, my fine motor skills are not very good, so I need longer training for something like this and am slower overall in learning. On the other hand, I never forget a technique that I once learned and can even recall it from the FF in my sleep. In total I needed one day.

As you can see from the individual exercises, this got better and better as the day went on and I slowly but surely understood what I had to do to get certain results. In between I also tried to write with the airbrush gun, which is apparently also possible if you have enough experience. Towards the end I also tested how much paint I need and how best to spray several layers on top of each other.

After I felt so confident I could venture on a real model. I took my Medieval Staircase from the windowsill and applied a first layer with the brown paint. Working on a real model is something completely different than smearing lines all over a piece of paper. You can leave the model on the table, but when you get to difficult places you have to think about how to hold the model in the other hand. You also have to be careful not to over spray the other parts of the object. I still need more practice here and after a whole day my hand hurt and I got cramps in my muscles more and more often at the end because I apparently held the airbrush gun wrong. Overall, however, I have made a good progress.

Learning

Here are some points that I learned today and that I would like to share here again for a better understanding.

Overall, I’m dissatisfied with my result because I can still do better. Nevertheless, I have learned a lot. Also that I first have to overcome myself to deal with such a complex device. A brush is a brush. It too can become complex if you use certain techniques. But mechanical components bring the learning curve steeply upward and this one must master first. I will now work on my stairs with this tool in the next few projects and see the results.

Footnotes


  1. Brushstroke↩︎

  2. This is the original name from the manual. Most people just call the little cup where the color goes in feed cup or color cup.↩︎


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