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I have been looking into getting an airbrush system, mostly due to your posts. It will probably happen after the craziness of the Holiday season. Is there any equipment you would recommend? So far, it seems that Iwata is the got to producer.

Thought I would break this response out into its own forum thread so it's not buried on page 7 of the miniatures painting feed.  :)

I can tell you how I set up my airbrushing, but the big horrible disclaimer is that this is just how I did it and there are many many opinions out there from folks with far more experience than me.  However, just googling "beginner airbrushing" yields overwhelming results.

Background:  My goals setting out were simply to get away from rattle can priming.  I had some disastrous results with AP White rattle can on some fairly expensive and hard to get Shadows of Brimstone resins that actually put me off of mini painting for 6+ months.  But, I had Kingdom Death inbound from KS and had to figure out how I was going to get the game painted up.

So, reluctantly, I turned to airbrushing.  I wanted to do this fairly cheaply (I wasn't convinced I'd stay with it) and due to the overwhelming/conflicting information out there wanted something fairly turnkey.  I also knew that I was going to be doing low-volume work (compared to a pro painter doing several dozen or hundreds of commissions a year) and did NOT need a lot of fine detail.

Equipment:

  • Master Airbrush Kit (Amazon, $80) - Comes with most everything needed - compressor, airhose, brush. The compressor isn't horribly loud, but the regulator on it really has no discernible PSI adjustment.  The airbrush that comes in the kit is fairly clunky; I haven't used it yet but may dedicate it to varnish or other things that are hard to clean
  • Iwata-Medea Airbrush Cleaner (16 Oz.)
  • 4 SET Airbrush Spray Gun Wash Cleaning Tools Needle Nozzle Brush Glass Cleaning Pot Holder (Amazon)
    • These 3 items are the "Frequently bought together" on Amazon and are the bare-bones basics to get you started.
       
  • Badger 105 airbrush - Impulse buy that I don't regret.  I had several brushes in my Amazon cart for weeks - H&S, Iwata, etc.  My opinion is that with a good name brand you really can't go wrong, but the thought of shelling out $250+ for an airbrush seemed a bit harsh.  I bought the Badger 105 simply because it was far cheaper, and it was the one featured in Miniature Monthly's videos (I could watch my exact airbrush be disassembled and cleaned).  See also below.
  • Spare braided hose - Badger, via Amazon
  • Separate water separator/filter in between the two hoses (also required an $8 adapter set sourced from Amazon).
  • Quick Disconnect
  • Squeeze bottle to put cleaner in
  • Misc stuff:  Paper towels, disposable brushes (to mix thinned paint), 1 oz disposable jello shot cups to mix paint in, and some latex gloves that I said I'd wear but never do
  • Airbrush Booth:  If you're going to airbrush indoors, a good well lit and filtered booth is going to be nice.  The airbrush will leave "dust" behind even if you spray into a cardboard box.  I tried this cheap one from Amazon (sensing a trend?) and like it.  There are youtube videos for homemade versions, though.  Warning:  This same model of booth is currently on Amazon under various "brands" - they are identical but the price varies. This one seems to be the cheapest version of the same item.

Again, this is how I did it.  It's working for me.  I have a fair amount of $$ wrapped up in this, but far less than going "super premium" straight out of the gate.  

Lastly, there are a LOT of youtube videos out there for free, but I very much recommend backing Miniature Monthly on Patreon.  Aaron is the factory painter for Shadows of Brimstone, and Elizabeth Beckley does commissions for Ninja Division and (since GenCon2017) Kingdom Death.  Much of their painting techniques are FAR (far, far, FAR) beyond anything I intend to tackle, but their beginners guides for Airbrushing and Cleaning Airbrushes as well as the recent videos on how to prep models have really really helped me.  At $10/mo, it's a good investment for me.

I'll close out with a few pictures.  The KDM ones are repeats, but the Shadows of Brimstone Autocannons are new.

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Edited by Zoxe
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Video resources.  

I don't watch a lot of streaming content.  I don't work in an office where I can listen to podcasts, and streaming around the house is generally done in spurts. Even the Miniature Monthly posts (which I pay good money for) are sometimes deferred for a good time to watch.

So when I say that I check the Tabletop Minions feed on youtube each and every week, please understand the context.  I don't always agree with Uncle Atom, and the content is very GW/Warhammer centric (which I have little interest in), but I still go check to see what's new every Friday.

The Airbrushing series is what got me hooked.  Here's the first video in that series.

 

Edited by Zoxe

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@Zoxe Wow, great info. Thanks so much. Give me a few months and, hopefully, I will post my Brand New Airbrush Setup here as well.

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Here's a quick update on a quiet Sunday with a few things I've learned since December.

Back in March, Mrs. Zoxe and I attended a Miniature Monthly boot camp in Chicago with Aaron and Liz from MM.  This was a super-small class format (6 students including us) over 2 full days.  We started at 9am and wrapped up around 5pm both days.  Day 1 was all hand brushing, but on Day 2 the airbrushes came out.  Not only did I get to work on models with my own Patriot 105, I was also handed a couple of Aaron's airbrushes for specific steps.

The Patriot 105 is good "quick coverage" brush with high volume flow that's good for priming and basecoating.  

When Aaron handed me his Sotar 2020, I realized that using the 105 for fine details was like using a 4lb sledgehammer to drive finishing nails.  The volume of paint coming out of the Sotar was so much less, that I really had to work to build up a discernible amount of paint on the model - we were using it to build highlights so this was perfect.  I also used his Badger Krome, which looks a lot like the 105 but is set up for finer details ala the Sotar.  I can't imagine trying to prime or basecoat with either brush.

So that's lesson #1 - different airbrushes offer a great deal of variety of "flow" so pick the right brush for the right purpose.

Lesson #2 is that the squeeze bottle I linked above is really a huge timesaver and mess-avoider.  I stumbled into the idea after watching a random youtube video and have had mine from almost the start, so didn't think much of it.  At the boot camp, I was watching the other students fuss with their bottles of cleaner and I could just squirt and go.  They also noticed the difference and I'm reasonably sure they're upgrading. :)

Lesson #3 is that for Badger stuff, a preferred source is https://usaairbrushsupply.com/ .. I had been buying all my stuff from Amazon but could have saved some time and money here.  

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This is an awesome thread, thanks so much for starting it. I want an airbrush badly! 

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Posted (edited)

@Zoxe  I'm looking into trying to start airbrushing (before I actually start painting KD:M).

I have a couple of questions about what you started with/set up.

1.  Why the spare hose and filter?  From what I'm seeing there is already a filter on the air compressor - so why do you need a second one "between hoses"?

I'm imagining from your description it goes compressor->filter->hose 1->filter->hose 2->airbrush.  If I'm just not understanding your set up - could you explain it in more detail?

2.  Have you tried the airbrush that came with the kit since you posted this?  If so - thoughts on it?

3.  It sounds like you're using the Patriot for your base coating as well.  A lot of what I'm reading seems to suggest a siphon feed for basecoating rather than a gravity feed.  Why did you make the choice you did?

4.  Follow up on that is that one reason I see quoted for the siphon feed is because of the small cup capacity of most gravity feeds.  Basically for doing a larger model like the Phoenix or the Dragon King - how much did the airbrush cover when basecoating / how often did you need to refill it?

5.  Are you satisfied with that kit air compressor, or are you thinking of upgrading it?  If the latter - why?

Edited by Thomas Browne

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I'll do a proper reply, but these are all great questions. Am on the phone while on a work trip. 

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1 hour ago, Zoxe said:

I'll do a proper reply, but these are all great questions. Am on the phone while on a work trip. 

No hurry - I'm not going and buying stuff today :)  Just researching still (deciding if I want to put that much money into it).

Another question:

6.  Do you prime with the airbrush as well?

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Ok, get a cup of coffee and get comfortable, here's the reply! 

A couple of notes up front:

  • Wherever I say 'MM' that means Miniature Monthly.
  • I should also point you at my KDM Summary Page so you can see my individual builds.  I try to give an overall process map for each figure.

 

1.  Why the spare hose and filter?  From what I'm seeing there is already a filter on the air compressor - so why do you need a second one "between hoses"?

This is a bit of insurance, and is probably overkill unless you live in a very humid environment.  The trouble is that if you don't have a tank on your compressor, the air hitting the first filter is still fairly hot and the water may not condense out immediately.  That means it may condense out up your hose - bad news! During a long session, you can get water in the hose and then SPLAT onto your mini.  Aaron at MM recommends the secondary inline filter to be placed away from the compressor.  A 'long' hose was about the same price as a shorty, so I just got the spare Badger hose.  With my setup, I did see some (minimal) condensation in the added filter but can't say that it would have averted a disaster.  I've since upgraded to a tanked compressor and don't notice condensation at the 2nd filter at all (see #5).

2.  Have you tried the airbrush that came with the kit since you posted this?  If so - thoughts on it?

I have not actually shot anything through it.  The trigger pull feels very clunky compared to the Badger brushes I've used.  I kept it as a spare, and intended to shoot varnish out of it, but honestly once I got the Patriot I never thought about it again.   To be honest, I'd be afraid to use it for detail work - some of the work I'm doing now really needs a smooth trigger pull or I'm going to BLAT out gobs of paint where I don't want them.

3.  It sounds like you're using the Patriot for your base coating as well.  A lot of what I'm reading seems to suggest a siphon feed for basecoating rather than a gravity feed.  Why did you make the choice you did?

I won't be able to find the source/citation now, but I remember reading at the time that siphon feed airbrushes tend to clog up with our high-pigment, fairly thick mini-paint.

Why the Patriot 105?  As I was shopping for an airbrush, I signed up for MM (see link above) and watched Aaron's starter video on airbrushing.  In it, he walks through a teardown, reassembly, and minor adjustment of a 105.  I figured that having the very same airbrush would come in handy - and I was right.  When I got in a bind, I went back to that video and re-watched the parts I needed.  Today, I could take the 105 apart without looking, and by extension probably any Badger airbrush, but when I was getting started having that safety net was worth it.

I could also point out that Aaron paints for a living; he could own any brush he wants and his well-worn 105 is what he uses.

Lastly - for all Badger stuff, try to catch them at a convention. The prices Badger was selling at Gencon were pretty nuts.  I could have gotten a Sotar2020 and Patriot bundle for the same price that I got the Sotar for.  I had to walk away from the booth before I got sick. :)

4.  Follow up on that is that one reason I see quoted for the siphon feed is because of the small cup capacity of most gravity feeds.  Basically for doing a larger model like the Phoenix or the Dragon King - how much did the airbrush cover when basecoating / how often did you need to refill it?

You can cover a surprising amount of surface area with the little gravity bowl.  I don't recall how many times exactly for the Phoenix, but maybe 1 or 2 refills.  Really not bad.  When I'm doing detail work, I'm using just 3-4 drops of paint and can get a lot done with that.  When priming or basecoating multiple figures at once, I'll of course fill the brush to capacity.

I've also found that for me, 1 full bowl of paint is about the amount that I shoot before I want to pop a little cleaner through the airbrush anyway.

So, if I have a lot of figures to do (like my recent Dropfleet Commander work), I mix a the amount of paint I think I need in a disposable shot glass.  I fill the airbrush and snap the lid onto the shot glass (it will begin to dry and skin over very quickly).  Spray airbrush until empty.  At this point, I fill and dump the airbrush to get any dried chunks out of the bowl, and then refill and spray 1 or 2 bowls full of cleaner into my cleanout trap.  Then I grab the remaining paint, refill, and continue.  Sounds more complicated than it really is; with the squeeze bottles I linked above it's pretty quick to do a cleanout.

This is overkill, but I don't have much trouble with clogging or dry tip this way - except maybe with white primers or very light gray basecoat.

5.  Are you satisfied with that kit air compressor, or are you thinking of upgrading it?  If the latter - why?

Yes, considering what I paid for it, it worked great!  I do have to add that I couldn't get the regulator to actually change the PSI.  But, it defaulted to about the PSI that I wanted to shoot at, so I shrugged and moved on.  I don't paint high volume so can't speak to its longevity.  It's not very loud and pumps up fast.

I did upgrade to a Badger Aspire Pro earlier this year, but this was driven by the fact that both me and Mrs. Zoxe would be taking airbrush classes together and I needed to outfit her with a self-contained kit.  At the house, we now share the Aspire Pro and the generic kit compressor only comes out on class days.  The Asprire is actually about the same loudness, but has a tank so the PSI is more consistent (but I do have to pause and wait for it to pump back up if I'm really going to town).

6. Do you prime with the airbrush as well?

Yes!  This was actually the reason I got the airbrush - I was totally done with any form of rattle can priming.  After even the first session with airbrush priming, I knew I would never go back.

That was almost a year ago. Each project I've taken on since then has added a little more airbrush work.  At the time that I'm writing this, here's what I'm doing (this is in the order that I started doing it):

  • Priming - I use Vallejo Surface Primer and thin it a bit, usually black.
  • Basecoat - I thin down ArmyPainter or Reaper paint
  • Directional Spray / Zenithal Highlighting
  • Highlighting and Shadows (i.e. going back over a hand-painted mini that's otherwise 'done' and adjusting highs and lows)
  • Masked details / stripes
  • Weathering with Inks

 

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@Zoxe,

  Thank you so much for the response.  Give me a lot to think about.

  Sounds like I probably should get myself a little more comfortable with regular brush painting first though before I step into this. 

  I really like the way your KD:M stuff came out though, and I've seen others with similar grey-scale/stone-like color schemes, and that's what I think I want to do with mine.

  Long way to go though.. I really need to finish up the first couple of minis I had started from Myth - which are the first minis I've worked on in like 35 years before I move on to KD:M

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On 8/9/2018 at 10:27 AM, Thomas Browne said:

@Zoxe,

  Thank you so much for the response.  Give me a lot to think about.

  Sounds like I probably should get myself a little more comfortable with regular brush painting first though before I step into this. 

  I really like the way your KD:M stuff came out though, and I've seen others with similar grey-scale/stone-like color schemes, and that's what I think I want to do with mine.

  Long way to go though.. I really need to finish up the first couple of minis I had started from Myth - which are the first minis I've worked on in like 35 years before I move on to KD:M

So, long ago I thought I replied to this, but apparently I didn't.  Gah.

Three questions/comments:

1. Did you get an airbrush?  How's it going?

2. If you haven't found it, this was the inspiration for my (and darn near everyone's) "statue theme" KDM.  This is the technique that stopped me in my tracks a couple of GenCons ago and made me really pay attention to KDM.  I took the basics of his how-to and adapted it for my skill level (i.e. "none" hahaha) and looking at it now am still amazed at some of the simple things that he did that have such a phenomenal result.  

Linky:  http://blackhandpainting.blogspot.com/2016/11/kingdom-death-stone-effect-tutorial.html

3.  Lastly: I can't plug Miniature Monthly enough.  There's a series of videos where Aaron paints a 6x6 tank using a mix of hand-brush and airbrush technique.  It sounds absurd (and is even weird to type) but that video series changed my life.  Using the airbrush to shade and then using the 2-brush technique for washes was that powerful.  At the Boot Camp in March, and again at Reapercon, we got some 1:1 with Aaron to use these techniques and I would totally take his class again.  (Also note - I'm a total pro at dual-brush shading when Aaron is in the room, but doing it here at home makes me say #@$%S words that would peel the paint off the walls, hahaha).

 

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3 minutes ago, Zoxe said:

So, long ago I thought I replied to this, but apparently I didn't.  Gah.

Three questions/comments:

1. Did you get an airbrush?  How's it going?

2. If you haven't found it, this was the inspiration for my (and darn near everyone's) "statue theme" KDM.  This is the technique that stopped me in my tracks a couple of GenCons ago and made me really pay attention to KDM.  I took the basics of his how-to and adapted it for my skill level (i.e. "none" hahaha) and looking at it now am still amazed at some of the simple things that he did that have such a phenomenal result.  

Linky:  http://blackhandpainting.blogspot.com/2016/11/kingdom-death-stone-effect-tutorial.html

3.  Lastly: I can't plug Miniature Monthly enough.  There's a series of videos where Aaron paints a 6x6 tank using a mix of hand-brush and airbrush technique.  It sounds absurd (and is even weird to type) but that video series changed my life.  Using the airbrush to shade and then using the 2-brush technique for washes was that powerful.  At the Boot Camp in March, and again at Reapercon, we got some 1:1 with Aaron to use these techniques and I would totally take his class again.  (Also note - I'm a total pro at dual-brush shading when Aaron is in the room, but doing it here at home makes me say #@$%S words that would peel the paint off the walls, hahaha).

 

Haven't bought one yet.  

RL expenses and DMG expenses have prevented it.  And as I said.. I think I need to get a little more practice hand painting before I start buying an airbrush.

Since I haven't even finished the first minis that I started painting a while ago yet. 

(First putting together everything KD:M expansions, and then getting my Paladin sleeves so I've been sleeving a bunch of my games on my work table).

 

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3 minutes ago, Thomas Browne said:

Haven't bought one yet.  

RL expenses and DMG expenses have prevented it.  And as I said.. I think I need to get a little more practice hand painting before I start buying an airbrush.

Since I haven't even finished the first minis that I started painting a while ago yet. 

(First putting together everything KD:M expansions, and then getting my Paladin sleeves so I've been sleeving a bunch of my games on my work table).

 

Oh, I understand completely.  :)

As I mentioned in another post, my pile of shame is currently at epic proportions.  All of KDM Wave 2 still in boxes.  GenCon purchases from 2 years ago still on the shelf.  It's... pretty bad. I bought into a whole new game system (Freeblades) at Reapercon and haven't opened it yet.  Dropfleet is still on my table, which I started in ... March.  

 

Why am I sitting here typing? I should be painting. :P

 

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4 minutes ago, Zoxe said:

Oh, I understand completely.  :)

As I mentioned in another post, my pile of shame is currently at epic proportions.  All of KDM Wave 2 still in boxes.  GenCon purchases from 2 years ago still on the shelf.  It's... pretty bad. I bought into a whole new game system (Freeblades) at Reapercon and haven't opened it yet.  Dropfleet is still on my table, which I started in ... March.  

 

Why am I sitting here typing? I should be painting. :P

 

BTW - that blog was in fact one of the first places I saw the stone-effect.. so yeah.  But handy to have the link again.

As for the delay, first I was waiting for some kickstarter stuff (wet palette), then I keep telling myself it's because it will be easier to paint uninterrupted if I get the rest of this stuff out of the way. :D

But at the current rate.. I'll probably be getting the Gambler's Chest before I get anything meaningful done (yes I know that's not due for like a year or more)

I definitely want to try and take at least one of the basic painting classes at Unplugged.  Also you keep talking about the convention deals, so I'm hoping that maybe Badger will be at PAX (since they're never at Dragon*Con which is my big con each year)

 

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Badger makes good stuff for the price and if you get a deal its even better. I have the Krome and love it (aside from my bent needle i really need to replace, my fault not badgers).

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I dropped my airbrush on the concrete floor tonight :( luckily it seems to be working fine still and the only currently noticeable issue is the quick connect is a little looser now. No noticable airleak though.

 

I think I got lucky.

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13 hours ago, Zoxe said:

 

I use Badger, not H&S, but this is mighty tempting.

Those look great. I really like that black finish. I wonder if that trigger shape would help limit the cramping I sometimes get.

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7 hours ago, Thomas Browne said:

Yeah - I might take the plunge on this.  

I'm not an expert on H&S stuff, but at face value they seem like a pretty good deal.  I've been trying to find a reasonable justification for jumping in, but I just can't.  We own a total of 4 Badger brushes between the two of us and can currently cover wide-area and detail painting (at least at our skill levels).  

 

... but it's still tempting.

 

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2 hours ago, Zoxe said:

I'm not an expert on H&S stuff, but at face value they seem like a pretty good deal.  I've been trying to find a reasonable justification for jumping in, but I just can't.  We own a total of 4 Badger brushes between the two of us and can currently cover wide-area and detail painting (at least at our skill levels).  

 

... but it's still tempting.

 

Yeah.. I'm not really familiar with the airbrushes - but the names I always here when I'm looking into them are Badger, H&S and Iwata.

IF I had been able to get the collector, I probably would have already jumped in.

Now it's like "do I want to jump into something unseen.. or maybe hope to see some things at PAX and wait."

 

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8 hours ago, Thomas Browne said:

Yeah.. I'm not really familiar with the airbrushes - but the names I always here when I'm looking into them are Badger, H&S and Iwata.

IF I had been able to get the collector, I probably would have already jumped in.

Now it's like "do I want to jump into something unseen.. or maybe hope to see some things at PAX and wait."

 

I haven't looked to see if he will be at PAX-U, but the Badger booth has had some outrageous convention prices.

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4 hours ago, Zoxe said:

I haven't looked to see if he will be at PAX-U, but the Badger booth has had some outrageous convention prices.

Assuming they'd be listed as Badger -- they aren't on the exhibitor list as of yesterday.  But I have seen several updates over the past few days.. so it doesn't mean it's final yet.

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