Airbrush Central

Using the Directory
The directory lists each page number and the general topics on each page. Use the control + f feature and enter a keyword to see if it was covered!

Airbrush Introduction, Maintenance, Cleaning, Colors, Thinning
What You Need To Get Started Airbrushing
Common Airbrush Problems and Solutions

Plamo Tsukurou- Camouflage and Rust
Basecoats and Shading

Page 2- Enamels, Filters, Future, Isopropyl Alcohol, Primer, Spray Booths, Vallejo Paints
Page 3- Gundam color, Lacquer Top Coat, Markers, Moisture Trap, Panel Line Wash, Pressure Regulator, Workshops
Page 4- Cheaper airbrushes, Moisture Trap, Needle Size, Regulator, Tank, TCP Global, Thinning, Trigger technique, Vallejo Primer
Page 5- Chinese airbrushes, Iwata, Moisture Trap, Paasche, Pressure Gauge, Tank Compressor

Cleaning Your Airbrush
A subscriber recently uploaded a really nice video that I wanted to share here. If a double action brush scares the crap out of you, don’t fret. They are really easy to work with, and single action brushes (mine is SA) are even easier than this. Remember that lube helps to prevent tip dry! Oh the enemy TD! I’ll post more vids and comments as I come across them to help folks.


Thank you so much for posting this. As a future Airbrush user, this is super helpful. Hey Mods! Sticky this!!!

Vallejo ? How come I didn’t come across a Vallejo product, working for my local hobby store for 2 weeks ?

Cause they don’t stock them? They have a good colour range and don’t cost much for the amount you get.

I’m aware of Vallejo, but have yet to see any in the United States.

Only place to get them in the States is online. I order mine through, who seem to have a healthy stock of them minus the big bottle of black primer. It’s been sold out for months and still hasn’t been restocked, haha. Haven’t tried their airbrushing line yet, but I’ve used their Model Color line (meant for handpainting) with the AB with good results.

I’ve been looking for Mr. Surfacer everywhere- I see that stuff all the time on Youtube and I want a big bottle of it so I can spray it through my airbrush. Can’t find it in the US.

You should check gundam hobby stores. R4L, GundamPlanet, Image Anime, Model Grade, Hobbywave, etc they all sell it. I buy it in bulk when i run out. lol

Thanks for posting all the helpful info Jfl0!
I just got my beginner setup all together and going this week. I went with a good airbrush and a cheapo compressor. I got an Iwata Revolution CR and the 1/8 HP Airbrush compressor from Harbor Freight.

I have no complaints about this compressor so far. I can get lots of free polystyrene and polypro from work (I work at a print shop where we print UV ink on it) so I’ve been getting some practice on that. I’ve started out with Tamiya acrylics which have been working just fine so far. I’ve been thinning it with 99% isopropyl or denatured alcohol and getting good results. The LHS guy claims they had Tamiya thinner analysed and it is nothing but denatured alcohol with a jacked up price. I don’t know him well enough to believe it as fact but it works so far.
When you prime your model before painting with acrylics by airbrush, what primer do you use? Does anyone use the Tamiya Liquid surface primer G? Would I need to thin this with lacquer thinner? Does anybody use an acrylic based primer? I’m wondering what the most common primer people use before airbrushing acrylics.

Friggin sweet. I helped someone!

Funky color on the compressor, but it seems like you got a good deal on a diaphragm if it is working for ya. Looks like it has a trap and everything. Crap I’m kinda jelly I paid more laughs. I have only one word of caution against using Isopropyl: it dries acrylics much faster than water or distilled water. Be careful on that note. Thanks for the note on Tamiya thinner- I’d believe it, but isopropyl works just as well cleaning out my brush of acrylics.

While I love to paint with enamels, with my current shop situation it is easier to work with acrylics. They are monster easy to clean through the brush. I bought a paasche 1oz cup at Hobby Lobby because it was similar to my badger 1 oz cup and yep, the cap to my badger cup fits the paasche. I use the paasche cup as my rinse cup. I fill it with whatever cleaning agent, disconnect the paint cup from my airbrush (keep the cap in), screw in the paasche cup and spray it through to an old t-shirt. Works wonderfully.

I actually use paint as a primer. Paint always adheres better when the surface has been prepared with sanding or a similar process. I do not use the Tamiya primer, but I have used “primer” color from Testors with good success. Someone somewhere else on the forums suggested primer as a main color, but I recommend against it as primer exposed to air for too long will discolor, like a bad super nintendo. :stuck_out_tongue: I have used an acrylic based primer with success.

I have not attempted a laquer or enamel based primer then painting acrylics. I am not sure what would happen. Whitehall Michigan? we go through there on our way to family outside of Detroit coming from Illinois. I used to live a bit of a ways from a Whitehall PA too. Go figure.

@Squee: I will check. I had no clue they could ship this. I lurve you in a non-sexual manner.

I’ve used Vallejo acrylic primer through an AB before and it works just fine. I’ve also used Duplicolor sandable primer and didn’t notice a difference. Primer is primer as they say so there’s no real advantage between acrylic, lacquer, or enamel. Pick which one you can get easily at cheap prices and go to town. I have used Tamiya Liquid Surface primer, but only to remove fine scratches from a surface and even then I applied with a brush.

I have a few more questions now that I’ve gotten deeper into airbrushing.
I’ve been building a MG Zaku II (1.0) and have glued parts together, added putty to seams, and sanded everything to get it smoothed out. I decided to airbrush on some Vallejo acrylic paint thinned with water as primer. It worked pretty well for this purpose because it allowed me to see if I got all the seams and imperfections smoothed out. I let the paint dry for 24+ hrs before doing any of this work. One thing I noticed is that the paint scratches off fairly easy with my nail and will rub off at joints where 2 parts rub together. I don’t really mind so much just because it’s only primer. Is this normal? I’m assuming when I’m all done a clear/top coat will make it more scratch resistant. Am I correct in thinking this or am I doing something wrong? Will Future work as a clear coat to protect the paint or would I need to use something else?

Vallejo acrylics are pretty fragile without primer underneath so yeah, that’s normal behavior in your situation. They can get pretty strong without primer, but only if you add more layers and give it plenty of time to cure (around a week is optimal). A clear coat will make it more resistant, but when it does scratch, the paint will go with it easily.

You can use Future or a lacquer clear coat without any issues (enamel too, but I haven’t tried it). Of course, if you’re using lacquer, make sure the paint has enough time to cure and spray on light coats or else the paint will get eaten up. It depends on how fast you want the clear coat to be ready for handling, really. In my experience, Future can take a couple of days and sometimes requires two or three layers.

Hey Brotz-

Sounds about normal to me. Just be careful with handling.

I got mine from Amazon:

Hobbywave also have them but they were out of 1200 at the time but I did get some 500 and 1000 from them.

Yes and no, It’s probably 98-99% alcohol but it’s the remaining 1-2% that makes the difference. They are some sort of retarding agent so your paint while drying faster than water thinned but still slower than using just isopropyl. Yes, you can probably mix Iso and water and get the same result but this keep it simple, I got a 250ml bottle for $9 and I used maybe 25ml painting the MG 00 Raiser so $1 a kit is not bad.

This is a great thread, someone should sticky this. The Airbrush maintenance part is very well done. I do use a lot of the same stuff from your list but I also differ in quite a few area so I figure I’ll share my recent experience and goes a bit more into the equipments and accessories here. A little background first.

Until recently. The last time I built models of any kind was over 10 years ago. It’s somewhere between the introduction of the MG series and before the PG Wing Zero Custom. I had a small setup with compressor, moisture trap, and a pretty decent Paasche and I was using Tamiya Acrylic at the time. I built quite a few kits like the Original MG RX-78, the Dom, etc. Problems was that airbrushing was a pain if you do not have a painting booth. All the fumes (even if you wear a mask, they still get all over the house before it goes out the windows), paint particles ends up all over the place and were a pain to clean up. Since there was no reasonably priced hobby scale painting booth available back then and I wasn’t about to spend $500+ (pre-2001 dollar) for a table size painting booth. eventually, I just stopped building kits.

But I still have kits dating from before and I never stopped buying. I also kept up with subs on Hobby Japan and Dengeki Hobby. I recently took a look at my store room and I have over 200 kits sitting there. All the PGs and a good percentage of the MGs & RGs, kits from the Original Bandai Macross (and it’s many spin-off and sequels) and StarBlazer releases and I have the Yamato 2199 kits sitting in the HLJ private warehouse waiting to be shipped. So I figure that I better start getting around to them before my eyes gets too old (already started) and my hands get shaky (fortunately not yet).

I dug up my storage box and start checking for things I need to replace or replenish. All the tools seems to be in good shape. Surprisingly, most of the Tamiya paint seems to have survived too (I guess always cleaning the bottle lip before putting the cap back on and keeping them in a dry cool place helps). I also search around on the Web to see what new tools and techniques is being used and I found tons of information (youtube, blogs, forums, etc).

The first thing I found is that Hobby scale Spray booth are now available at a somewhat reasonable price (under $250 mostly). I looked around and I found this (it’s basically the same as the Paasche one at half the price):

As you will read in the reviews. The fan is a bit weak in this one but you can’t beat the price and size. It will handle airbrushing with no problem unless you went full blast for an extended period. If you are using canned sprays. You’ll need to use short burst and give it a few second in between. I open the window a bit and sandwich the exhaust outlet between the window and the frame and then I use a medium masking tape to seal off the remaining open area to the top. The unit uses a 120MM PC fan at 12V and is rated at about 90CFM (cubic feet/minute) and I have found a 120MM 12V fan that will do 120CFM so I may get one to try to improve the performance a bit.

The benefits for the spray booth is as follows and to me it’s well worth the $90 cost:

  1. No need for a heavy mask on your face that gets hot and humid.

  2. Trapping the paint particles and exhausting the fumes out a window is much better than using a mask and fan. All you’re doing then is just spreading the particles and fumes all over the house.

I also want a new compressor since my old one was noisy and weak. I wanted one with a tank so it won’t run all the time and I get a more stable air flow. I was going to keep my Paasche airbrush as it was still working well but then I saw some of the combo pack with Compressor and Airbrush so I decide to get one of those since it’s always handy to have a extra airbrush around. I ended up with one of this:

The compressor is fairly quiet (at least compared to my old one) and it only runs about 1/2 the time when I set the output pressure to between 15-20 PSI. The Master airbrush works just as well as my much more expensive Paasche and while I originally intended it as my backup. It is now my primary as I learned that I can use lower air pressure with a gravity feed vs Siphon (my Paasche) airbrush.

I also got me 4 packs of these alligator clips to hold the pieces while painting and drying. You’ll need at least this amount for large MG kits (MG 00 Raiser) and maybe more for PG:

I also got eye protection. This is just to keep paint particles and fumes from irritating your eyes. This one goes over my reading glasses, not air tight but does the job along with the spray booth.

I still use a mask while painting but having a spray booth that traps most of the paint particles and exhaust most of the fume out the windows allow me to use a much lighter mask like this:

I also got a bunch of this in varies grades:

If you sand your pieces before priming and painting. You know how messy it gets. I use these wet. It helps traps most of the particles as you are sanding and you just rinse them in the sink every once in a while. Try doing that with sandpapers.

This is basically how my setup differs from the OP’s. I’ll get into what paint I use and why on the next post.