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Airbrush recommendations


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Darran22/07/2015 21:45:43
243 forum posts
72 photos


Can anyone recommend an airbrush kit suitable for a beginner to use for painting models. Not used one before so any pointers would be appreciated.

Not after the cheapest or the most expensive, just an all round good beginners kit.

Andy Butler23/07/2015 12:36:31
455 forum posts
384 photos


For years I have had a Badger, a single action airbrush which uses jars for paint and a siphon tube. Link here. It is a very good starter aibrush, very simple to use and surprisingly good for a basic unit. Just recently I got myself a Neo for Iwata here which is a double action, gravity feed brush that is superb in both build quality and operation. I use a mini compressor with a 10 litre reservoir that is almost silent that I bought as scrap from work after it packed up. Just needed a new starter capacitor and has been fine ever since.

I did buy one of the generic double action airbrushes you can get for peanuts on Ebay and similar but had nothing but trouble with it.

Depends what you want to do with it really.

Foxfan23/07/2015 15:34:17
931 forum posts
7 photos

Darran, if you haven't decided on a compressor yet, get a bigger one with an air tank and then get a spotting gun from your friendly auto-body repair suppliers. A spotting gun will be cheaper than any airbrush worth a toss and paint much more, much more quickly and thoroughly. There is no need to have a "model spray gun" to paint models. Only the static plastic kit guys need an airbrush. Grown up models need a grown up approach to painting.

I got my garage compressor with large tank, regulator, gauges and water trap for just £40. The spotting gun was about £18 when I bought it and I recently saw one in a car paint shop for the same price.

I DO have double actions, which I use for the model weathering side of my business, but for small model painting I use a Paasche Model H, one for colour, one for clear finishes. For self-etch primer (all I ever use) I have the spotting gun. I am just about to spray a large model (Barnstormer) for a friend in HMG yellow enamel with the spotting gun., which is a small spray gun, but much bigger and less fussy than an airbrush. Fan pattern of maybe 2-3".

Whatever you choose, CLEAN the gun immediately, whatever you shoot through it. And I mean immediately!

I find you get into a routine of getting your paint mixed right first, everything laid out, including what you'll hold the model with and where you'll put it to dry, get the gun (whatever it is) hooked up to air and safely placed somewhere where you can hang it easily once the paint's on. Then have all the cleaning stuff handy. Cloth to wipe out any pot you may use, thinners to clean out the gun, somewhere to just spray the thinners away. Put your finger over the nozzle lightly and let the air blow back through, checking the bubbles until they're clear and clean. wipe a thinnery finger tip around the nozzle in case the paint has stuck to it.

Remember you can always cut a bigger compressor down to pressure, you can't turn up a mini compressor!

Good luck.


Tomtom3923/07/2015 15:58:18
708 forum posts
1 photos


Mr Tin (FOXFAN) has made some very valid points. I originally went down the route of a Badger 150 (I also have bought an Iwata ) with a "hobby" compressor and tank. I now only use these for fine detailing . With hindsight , I would have opted for the larger "garage" compressor (which I now have) with a HVLP spray gun. I recently saw a cheap deal at either Lidl or Aldi , which included all three for sub £70.

Erfolg23/07/2015 17:00:55
11876 forum posts
1376 photos

I think I agree with all the points made so far with respect to compressors.

I started many years ago using a car tyre, essentially inflated to its safe limit. The results were very disappointing, in both duration and falling pressure.

I then went the same route using the then common cannisters. There were a number of issues. The first even then it was expensive, for aeromodelling. The second is that pressure again falls, as the liquid vaporises, needing energy, this was then partly solved by partial immersion in hot water. The third issue, is for a model aeroplane a can lasts no time.

I then bought a diaphragm compressor, at some cost. This initially suffered a little from pulsing, solved by inserting a large plastic bottle in line, as water trap and reduce pulsing. The pressure generated was never great, yet started to fall with time.

I luckily stumbled across "Managers Bargain" in B&Q for a oil free piston compressor, with air reservoir. There was a problem that all the offers were damaged in some way. I put together one good one from the three, relying on memory. It cost £20! I still in use this now (probably 10 years), although gauged up to silly high pressure, I normally have it set at 20 psi.

So from expensive experience, you will save money and get better results with a rather noisy OFC, than the other options.

I principally used airbrushes for art work, but for modelling I use preferably a Badger type.

There is another thread which may interest you.

Allan Bennett27/07/2015 10:15:01
1793 forum posts
55 photos

The previous contributors have obviously found what suits them, but I've been using a Paasche airbrush with a small Iwata compressor for several years now, and am very comfortable with it. I started off with a cheap Badger, powered by air cans, then bought the Paasche and an industrial compressor with an air tank, but didn't really get the hang of it until I went on a 1-day beginners' airbrushing course at's office. The course introduced me to different kinds of paint and the appropriate dilution and air pressure for them, and it was the best £100 or so (IIRC) I ever spent. Picked up the Iwata compressor there before I left for home.

So far as I'm concerned, the small size of an airbrush is not a problem, even for largish models. Yes you can cover an area more quickly with a spray gun, but I'm not too worried about speed.

Tony Harrison 228/07/2015 11:17:48
261 forum posts
3 photos

I got into airbrushing a few years ago, for plastic (static) models, and it was quite a learning curve. My chief problem was that initially I handicapped myself by trying to save a few quid buying old s/h airbrushes and/or cheap new ones on Ebay. The latter might resemble Iwata or similar, but are nowhere near as well made, and often feature strange intricate construction...

Cheap make-do airbrushes are IME a waste of time and money, and struggling with them could put you off entirely. I have three Iwatas now, really well made from good materials, well designed, simple to strip for cleaning - just take great care with some of the really tiny parts... These are of course double action - despite other advice, I'd steer clear of single action brushes, which are less easy to use well.

Iwatas are not cheap, but as with model aircraft components such as motors and batteries, you get what you pay for.

As for paint, I used spirit-based enamels since I found it tricky to use acrylics. This proved to be just a matter of finding an acrylic that was easy to use straight from the bottle (Vallejo Air), after which my added confidence enabled me to use other thicker acrylics such as Tamiya and thin them using distilled water, windscreen washer fluid, and a drop or two of artist's flow enhancer.

Avoid cheap compressors as well! I have one with a double motor that I got on Ebay for under £100 hardly used, very good machine.

With the right kit and some practice to hone your technique, you'll be well away.

rgds Tony

John Roberts 929/07/2017 08:01:13
197 forum posts
175 photos

Can anyone recommend an airbrush & compressor combo suitable for a complete beginner please? Is there, for example, a starter kit that includes everything needed to get started or would I be better off buying 'separates'?

At this stage I am mainly interested in being able to spray complete airframes rather than doing detailed, intricate artwork although, depending on how I get on, I might want to develop in this direction later.

Thank you.

gangster29/07/2017 09:32:31
1083 forum posts
29 photos

Anyone who has seen my models will say I am the last person to advise on painting. I have used a couple of badger airbrushed for years one the basic and the other a very fine artistic thingy that is fabulous for minor touch up on cars. Whilst I will not suggest what brush to buy I have recently replaced my compressor with a 24 litre job. They are so cheap from places like screwfix or Machine mart. No way was I going to buy an airbrush compressor at the sae priceI have so many other uses for it. If noise is an issue though you may need to stick to one designed for airbrushes. Like the suggestions about the spot guns

Phil Cooke29/07/2017 09:33:36
2725 forum posts
1913 photos

Hi John, do a nice range of kits, supplying everything you'd need to get started, and more in some cases, across a range of budgets too...


John Roberts 930/07/2017 12:17:14
197 forum posts
175 photos

Thanks for the replies smiley​.

I think I might keep my eyes open for a decent quality secondhand combo. There are some super-cheap new packages on ebay but my spidey senses tell me they are likely to be junk but I don't want to spend too much to begin with. I would prefer initially to 'dip my toe in the water' and see how I get on.

Denis Watkins30/07/2017 14:40:10
4695 forum posts
135 photos

If you go the eBay route John, at least you will see if airbrushing is for you.

Get the combo that includes the reservoir of air tank, a big black thing on top of the motor

and the supplied airbrush kit does work, and overall quite quiet.

You want to be in £60 - £70 range

There are those that would say add £300 to your £70, for further quality of kit

But these small units work well enough to see if you have the spraying "gift"

Don Fry30/07/2017 19:57:10
4557 forum posts
54 photos

I have a deveblis (spelling?) airbrush, old but as good as any. But as others say, to paint a 5 foot model, you need a touch up gun, HPLV gun. An airbrush does the roundels, letters, weathering. They need next to nothing for a compressor. I.e. A proper air gun job, or anything biggger

Lidl does a HVLP gun for about £18, and is a good unit.

But the road to disaster lies in trying to do too many passes with kit too small. Each pass is a risk. A pro, wth tens of thousands of passes of experience gets away with it. Us amateurs best get kit to suit the job.

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