airbrushing tips link


there used to be a link i know i saw it at alter egos i thought it was posted here to. it was airbrushing tips by vance hartwell i think thats his name anyway. it cover many different material and the paints recomended for addhearing to them the best. anyone know where that link is?


I'll have to remember this post when i get my airbrush kit one of these days! :)
Looks like a good site for good reference.
This part, "How to Choose the Right Airbrush" is taken from BearAir’s website ( It gives a good overview of the different types of airbrushes.

How To Choose The Right Airbrush
Not all airbrushes are the same. Some are intended for certain applications, while others are designed for specific paints. Choosing which airbrush best suits your needs is essential. There are two important questions to ask yourself when choosing an airbrush:
What will I be airbrushing? (T-shirts, autos, fine art, photos, etc.)
Which medium will I be working with? (acrylic, gouache, watercolor, oils, etc.)

Airbrushes are also designed differently. There are single action airbrushes and double action airbrushes. There are gravity feed, side feed, and bottom feed models. Each design has its own unique advantage, and serves its own specific function.
Single Action vs. Double Action
When you depress the trigger of a single action airbrush, both air and paint are delivered simultaneously. The amount of paint can be varied by adjusting the needle/nozzle assembly, but this means you must first stop spraying.
With double action airbrushes, you have greater control over both the air flow and paint supply. Press the trigger down for air, and pull the lever back for paint. This allows you to control air and paint flow independently, thus enhancing the effect without having to pause.
Most experts agree that you're better off starting with a double action airbrush, rather than a single action.
Gravity Feed, Side Feed & Bottom Feed
In gravity feed models, the paint feeds into the airbrush from a reservoir or cup mounted above the airbrush. This enables the artist to spray extremely fine lines at a low air pressure, thus allowing for more control. The airbrush is easily cleaned for quick color changes.

Bottom feed models use a siphon-feed system to draw the paint up from a jar or color cup mounted below the airbrush. The jars allow for larger volumes of paint to be sprayed for an extended period of time.

Side-feed models use the same technology as bottom-feed models. However, the paint jar or color cup is mounted on the side of the airbrush. This allows for slower spraying and better vision of the work surface.

There is also a very good Buyer’s Guide available at /
This shows how virtually every airbrush out there stacks up by showing what type of airbrush they are, what they’re best suited for, etc. It also has a good description of the different types of airbrushes available.

My personal recommendation for an all-purpose airbrush is the Iwata HP-C.
It will handle anything from a fine hairline to wide background/base spraying. It’s grunty, will handle just about anything you run through it and is easy to clean. If you get this airbrush I can just about guarantee that you’ll never need another type of airbrush.

If you do find you will need another airbrush there are two I also recommend.

One is the Iwata Micron B. This if for extremely fine line work. It’s pricey, but worth it. It too is easy to work with and clean but you do have to be careful of the needle tip and nozzle as they are very fine and are easily damaged. It will take some practice to get good control of the airbrush to really utilize it’s fine line capabilities to its fullest.

At the other end of the spectrum is the Iwata RG-2.
This is small spray gun that is great for larger scale spraying. I use mine for painting suits (along with the HP-C) or covering large areas quickly.

A lot of people like the Aztec. I have tried it and don’t really like it, for various reasons. I understand the idea behind having self-contained, removable tips but I find that I could never get them 100% clean. Also, the airbrush just feels like a toy in my hand. But, saying that, there are quite a few professional fx guys who swear by them. In the end, it’s what works for you that matters.

I personally have 9 airbrushes and spray guns. I have 3 HP-C, 2 HP-CS, 1 HP-BCS, 1 Micron B, 1 RG-2 and a large HVLP (high volume low pressure) spray gun. I also have my first Paasche H, which I never use anymore. The reason I have so many is because when painting I like to have my airbrushes set up with some colors permanently in them. This way I just change airbrushes instead of cleaning out one color and reloading another color. I have all my airbrushes set up with a quick disconnect on them.

This allows me to just pop the hose off, at the airbrush, and put it on another airbrush. It’s a mini version of the large quick disconnects you find on most air compressor lines. Well worth the investment.

Cleaning an airbrush is pretty straight forward. It’s a bit difficult to describe as all airbrushes are slightly different. I’ll give a general overview of cleaning a dual-action, internal mix airbrush, like the HP-C.

I first run whatever solvent is needed through the airbrush. This could be water, alcohol, Bestine, whatever thinner you used for the paint you worked with. I back blow the solvent through the airbrush by putting my finger over the end of the airbrush as I press down and pull back on the trigger. This helps loosen any dried paint inside the body of the airbrush.
Next I remove the needle from the back of the airbrush.
Next I remove the needle cap, nozzle cap and nozzle.

(Note: I haven’t removed the nozzle yet in this picture.)

I now clean the needle, needle cap and nozzle cap using a paper towel and the appropriate solvent. I use special brushes made for cleaning airbrushes to clean the nozzle and internal parts of the airbrush.

On reassembly I put a tiny bit of silicone grease on the front half of the needle. As I reinsert the needle it lubricates the o-rings inside.

Always clean you airbrush well when you’re finished with it. This way you will have many years of hassle free use with it.

Personally I don’t like using PAX as a paint, either on latex or on skin. I have used it on both and probably will again, but it’s not my first choice in most cases. When used on latex, especially foam latex, it just sits on the surface and doesn’t really become part of the piece. It can tend to peel away from the surface over time. It also is very plasticized and does not move as well as some other paints.

If you do use PAX I see no reason to use it once you’ve laid it down as a base coat. When I used to use PAX on prosthetics I would put PAX down as the base coat and then use straight acrylics on top to finish the paint job. Acrylics will bond to themselves and since PAX is all acrylic (acrylic paint and Pros-Aide, which is an acrylic based adhesive) subsequent layers of acrylic paint will bond fine. Sine you’re only using PAX as a base you can apply it with a paint brush or sponge. There’s no need to ever run PAX through an airbrush and run the risk of clogging it up.

I prefer rubber cement paints for painting both slip and foam latex. It’s a rubber and works well with latex rubber. It’s also a glue and sticks very well.

The way I mix my rubber cement paints is to first mix up the tints I want to use. I have a good selection of squeeze bottles around that I use for all my paints. I put my tints in these as it makes working with them easy and mess-free. I put some rubber cement in a paper cup and add the tint. I make it opaque. Don’t worry if you want a translucent color, you’ll do that in later steps. I now add the thinner. I use hexane in a weak mix (50g of hexane per liter). Most people will probably use something like Bestine to thin the rubber cement. Thin it just so it’s pourable and brushable, about 50% rubber cement, 50% thinner. You will have lots of different colors that you will make up. I then put all these slightly thinned rubber cement colors into their own squeeze bottles. I use this mix to brush on my base coat. For airbrushing I squirt out a small amount of my next color into a dental cup. I thin this down quite a bit now. I don’t know exactly how much I thin it by. You want it thin enough that it doesn’t "spider web" when you spray it. You’ll know what I mean when you see it. It’ll probably be a lot thinner than you think. Depending on the effect you want you can thin if so far down that the color barely shows when you paint with it. These are things that are hard to describe but easy to show. You’ll just have to experiment with it.

For sealing rubber cement paints there are many options. Most people have used baby powder. This takes away all stickiness from the paint, but the powder is now part of the paint job. By wetting it you can make it disappear for a short time, but as it dries you’ll see the whiteness come back. Powder also changes the colors of the paint job, changing blacks to grays, etc. It’s not a great way of sealing. Some people have use BJB’s SC-89. It comes in matte, semi-gloss and gloss. This is a one-part urethane that dries very quickly. It will seal the paint also, but will tend to peel off over time. Also, if it gets pretty wet it will turn white. Not a good look! The only good option for sealing rubber cement paint is V-Matte or V-Gloss. Both of these are water-based and non-toxic (unlike SC-89 which stinks really bad) and neither will change the colors of your paint job (like using powder will). It has been, and is being, used by Cinovation (Rick Baker’s shop), Stan Winston Studios, Edge FX (Steve Johnson’s shop), Optic Nerve and the Weta Workshop.

As for rubber cement safety, use it with good ventilation, a good respirator and latex gloves. Always wear clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty. Use common sense just as you would with any solvent or dangerous material.

Durability depends on how well you prep your surface and what paint you use and how you apply it. You need to clean your surface well to make sure there is nothing that can act as a release or barrier to your paint (powder, dust, grease, foam latex release agent, etc). I find rubber cement paints to be the most durable. I can’t comment on latex based paints as I’ve never used them.


SLIP LATEX: Clean well with a degreaser like hexane. Paint with rubber cement paints or lay down a PAX base and finish with acrylics.

FOAM LATEX: Clean well with an alcohol/water mix. You can wash foam latex, squeeze the water out and let it dry. Paint with rubber cement paints or lay down a PAX base and finish with acrylics. Or you can paint appliances with rubber mask grease paints (makeup).

GELATINE: Wipe lightly with isopropyl alcohol. Paint with acrylics thinned with water and alcohol.

SILICONE: Clean well with a degreaser (hexane) and then clean well again with acetone. This removes first any greases that may act as a barrier coat and then the acetone strips out a little of the silicone from the rubber which makes your paint stick better.

You can paint silicone with acrylics. Thin them with a bit of water and mostly alcohol. Once you start painting DO NOT touch the surface. The acrylic paint is just sitting on top and will wipe off quite easily. You need to seal the whole thing with silicone to protect it. You can thin down 100% silicone caulking with different solvents. Some people use methylene chloride. This is the most dangerous chemical in an fx shop. Pure cancer! Some use lacque thinner or xylene or D-Limonene. I personally don’t like this method of painting silicone as it’s not very durable.

I prefer to paint with silicone. Thin down silicone caulking (I use xylene). You can tint it with oil paints. How thin you make the silicone is, again, an experience thing. You’ll just have to try it and see what works for you, but it will be quite thin. A friend of mine uses the silicone caulking used as an adhesive for glass, etc. He thins it with lacquer thinner. This works great he says. Makes sense as it is a type of glue already and is made to stick to anything. Next time I paint silicone I’m going to try this method.

PLASTICS (like styrene): Plastics can be very difficult to paint. You need a good primer. Two good primers are a vinyl etch primer and liquid polypropylene (this is used to prime plastic car body parts for painting). Prime the plastic with either one of these and you can then paint it using acrylics. You may need to add a light layer of the polypropylene as a top coat to help keep the acrylic from scratching easily.

FIBERGLASS: Clean well. If you use acetone be careful as it can damage polyesther resin. Use a suitable primer (vinyl etch, a metal primer, etc) then paint with acrylics.

There are many different effects you can get with an airbrush. Way too many to describe here. One good one though is called splattering. With an HP-C this is done by removing the needle cap and the nozzle cap. You have to be careful as your needle and nozzle are now exposed and very easy to damage. By pulling your trigger all the way back and depressing it just a little (a lot of paint and a little air flow) you can get some great splattering. By thinning the paint way down you can get a very subtle effect.

I often paint with the needle cap removed. This allows me to see the needle tip and work closer to the surface and get a finer line.

Like so many other things, mastering an airbrush takes time and practice. I struggled for a long time, but I finally got it. I’m still not the best and am still learning and getting better. Just hang in there and you’ll be up and running with it in no time.

You can find airbrushes in lots of places, but there are a couple of places that have great service and great prices. They’re listed below.

They ship nationwide and are located on the east coast.

Pacific Airbrush
1150 W. Lincoln Ave.
Anaheim, California 92805
714-563-9363 fax
1-800-423-0250 orders
They also ship nationwide and are located on the west coast.


Wow...good stuff Hobbs! Thats the kind of info i'm looking for,because i'm getting ready to get my own airbrush
pretty soon. Right on man.