Introduction to airbrushes:
Welcome to Scale Modelling Wiki. This article is intended for newcomers to the hobby and those who are curious about airbrushes or thinking on buying an airbrush and would like to know a little bit the basics before jumping into it.
I think the first question that comes into my mind is why would you need an airbrush? Personally, I think that if you want to get serious and improve your skills/results in this hobby you will have to own an airbrush at some point. An airbrush would allow you to get a finish paint product that it will be exceedingly difficult or almost impossible by just using brushes.
Now, when buying an airbrush one has to take into consideration few factors like buying a compressor, a hose that connects the compressor to the airbrush and ideally a spray booth to avoid breathing potential toxic fumes.
For the purposed of this article we will be looking airbrushes and its components without too much terminology.
There are several types of airbrushes and prices differ depending of build quality and extra features that can make using an airbrush an even more pleasure experience. But their functionality are the same!
Usually they are made of some sort of metal body, but it can vary in quality depending on the price… you could find online one for as cheap as £10 and as expensive as £500 to £600.
The design is remarkably similar across the range, let us have a look:
1) The Hose connector: this is where the airbrush physically connects to the compressor through the hose. You can connect the airbrush to the hose by screwing it direct to the hose adaptor or by installing a quick release adaptor that will allow you to connect and disconnect several airbrushes from the hose in a split of a second. I would highly recommend getting one of those since in time you might want to invest on a second airbrush and would like to be able to swap between them without hassle.
2) The trigger: It controls the air to paint ratio. You can do that by doing what is called the “double action” airbrush: you control how much air and paint will come out through the nozzle. Some airbrushes are “single action” which they work on an analogous manner as spraying from a spray can… you get my meaning 🙂
3) Paint cup: its where you pour the paint. It is important not to fill it up to the max as you will be moving your hand in various positions and can be a risk of spilling paint everywhere or worse still onto the kit itself! They do dome in varied sizes and in some models are replaceable and removable.
4) The nozzle cap and nozzle: the nozzle cap has two functions. It protects the nozzle and affects how the paint sprays onto the kit, giving different spray results. They are usually interchangeable. The nozzle holds the needle in place and is the “hole” where the mix between air and paint will come out from. Great care must be taken as it is a delicate part… once damage the spraying will not be the same again and will need to be replaced.
5) Needle chucking/spring guide/auxiliary lever and spring: This are the internal components that you will see when you detach the handle at the back of the airbrush. They control the trigger functionality allowing you to pull the trigger and when released to come back to its original position and to hold the needle in place.
6) Needle: One of the most important part of the airbrush and the most delicate one, especially the tip. Great care must be taken when cleaning and putting the needle back into the airbrush because once damaged it will have to be replace. They come in varied sizes usually measured in millimeters… for example 0,15mm or 0,4mm… the later one will allow more paint and paint to go through the nozzle as it is a much bigger hole (bigger needle’s diameter), the smaller the diameter, the more refine details can be achieved.
And that is it! at least for the purpose of this article. I hope that you got a basic idea of an airbrush components and reassure you that the mechanics behind airbrushing are simple... is the person behind the airbrush who makes the magic happen!
Stay tuned for future articles where we will go more in depth on parts, functionality, and troubleshooting… the later a world on its own!