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Can someone recommend a good first airbrush that won't break the bank but still be capable of good results once I learn how to use it properly?  I had an airbrush long ago but after several moves, I have no idea what became of it.  I'm an aircraft modeler and I'm thinking about going back into plastic modeling.  Currently,  I build and fly R/C sailplanes and an airbrush could be useful for touching up repairs but my primary interest is for plastic scale models.  Suggestions are very welcome.  Things to look out for are especially welcome.

 

 

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Iwata Eclipse HP-CS. A very good quality workhorse gravity feed airbrush. I have the side feed version and it has given excellent service for over a decade. I'm sure others will agree. It has been one of the most recommended airbrushes on this forum.

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While it has limitations, I would highly recommend the Paasche Model H airbrush.  It is a bottom feed airbrush, single action.  This was my first airbrush, and I still have one today, though I also now have a number of higher end Harder & Steenbeck,  Iwata and GSI Creos airbrushes.  I use the Paasche for most tasks, including priming, large area painting, clear coats, etc., really, most everything but extreme detail work.  I recommend it because it is inexpensive, simple, only a few parts, easy to adjust and CLEAN, and, with practice, gives great results.  Of course, ALL airbrushes need practice to give their best results.  

 

Oh, one additional thought.  I have a modeling friend who, like me, has many (and even more than me, I think) airbrushes of all brands and types.  That being the case, his favorite, and almost exclusively used airbrush is the Paasche.  He even uses it for mottling on 1/72 scale airplanes.  This is an amazing skill set, and I"m sure that not everyone could do what my friend Rob does, but it does show what can be done with some dedication and practice!

Edited by Curt B
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My suggestion is buy the best airbrush you can afford, not the cheapest you can find. The flaws in a cheap airbrush impeded learning proper technique and seeing improvements as you learn. 

 

Don's Airbrush Tips has some great info. Make sure spare parts are readily available; I always have a spare needle and nozzle on-hand.

 

Once you do choose and buy an airbrush, practice on various surfaces including some cheap kits. A flat piece of cardboard is great for learning basic skills, but at some point you need to learn to move around the complex surfaces of a model.

 

I paint lacquers, which provide the smoothest and thinnest coat and dry very quickly. On the down side, they demand good technique and are solvent-based. Enamels are a little thicker, somewhat forgiving in application, but take days to cure and are also solvent based. Water soluble acrylics provide the thickest coat and dry quickly.

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Some more info on painting solvent paints (including Tamiya acrylic, which is IPA soluble).

  • Prepare surface as smooth as possible. Polishing pads help here.
  • Make sure there are no foreign substances on the model. I always wipe the model with 91% Isopropyl Alcohol (IPA) before painting.
  • Thin the paint with the manuf's thinner until you've verified others work as well. For my preferred Mr Color, I use Mr Color Leveling Thinner (MLT). I use MLT for Colourcoat paints too, as I know it works well.
  • Thin to the consistency of 1% milk. Try to thin only the paint you'll need for the specific session. Don't put thinned paint back in the jar/tin.
  • Always prime resin and metal. You should prime if you have multiple surfaces, for example plastic and metal. I always prime everything using thinned Mr Surfacer 1200 (thinned as above).
  • Set the full-flow air pressure to 15 PSI (1 atm). This means air (but not paint) is flowing through the airbrush. Static air pressure will be higher.
  • Spray at 0.25 in to 1.75 in (5 to 55 mm). I suggested practicing on cheap kits earlier to learn how to do this because it can be a little tricky to manage. The most important part is to not get too far away, so the paint doesn't dry before it hits the model surface.
  • The paint should hit the surface slightly wet. Use a grazing light to see this. If the paint isn't wet when it hits the surface, you're going to get an orange peel or worse.
  • Use thin coats to build coverage. White and yellow can require many thin coats to get full coverage. As I use lacquers, which dry very quickly, I can get full coverage in a single session. If I have multiple small parts I'll apply a thin coat to each part in turn until I've built full coverage on all parts. On a full model, I'll do the same with different parts of the model. You can do this with enamels too, but don't force this if the paint is tacky or wet.
  • If you are spraying a gloss color, only apply a final "wet" coat after you've gotten full coverage. This is especially important for white and yellow.
  • Wait until the paint is fully dry before masking. For enamels, wait until the paint has cured (several days, until you can't smell any off-gassing). With Mr Color, I will mask in 30m to an hour.
  • I primarily use Tamiya masking tape because of its good adhesion and low tack. I will also mask with Frisket film when I need a more complicated mask. Microscale Industries Micro Mask works well for paints. I always de-tack masking tape by laying it on the palm of my clean hand before applying to the model

HTH

-- 

dnl

 

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There are many cheap ABs selling on EB. Avoid these because they are just for general work and not for detailed job. Get the Iwata. I have 3 of them and they are very quality ABs. Dai 

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On 6/14/2020 at 3:18 PM, Mstor said:

Iwata Eclipse HP-CS. A very good quality workhorse gravity feed airbrush. I have the side feed version and it has given excellent service for over a decade. I'm sure others will agree. It has been one of the most recommended airbrushes on this forum.

I suggest this as well. Great performance, easy to clean, near indestructible. My hobby club uses them to teach airbrushing and they take the abuse.

 

Vern

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It might also depends on the type of paint you are going to use in the future. Some airbrushes don't take acrylic paint (like vallejo) very well. Great care needs to be taken to prevent or reduce tip dry. Air brushing narrow lines are also challenging.  I heard that the nozzle in Iwata HP-CS has a different design, very similar to those in Harder & Steenbeck, it allows more air flow, thus less tip dry and easier to clean.

You may also need to consider how to get spare parts for the airbrush. I have to replace needles and nozzles when I just started airbrushing and didn't quite know how to take care of it properly. It is easier to get replacement parts for certain brands, depending where you are.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Iwata HP-CS never let anybody down.
Its very well made, has a high quality feel, good weight in use, smooth trigger pull, top grade parts.
It uses the floating nozzle so its easy to strip and clean the front half when needed and its parts are readily available for a reasonable price.

It is a very strong performer even for the "expert" airbrusher because its so robust and reliable.

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On 7/8/2020 at 7:56 PM, ElectroSoldier said:

Iwata HP-CS never let anybody down.
Its very well made, has a high quality feel, good weight in use, smooth trigger pull, top grade parts.
It uses the floating nozzle so its easy to strip and clean the front half when needed and its parts are readily available for a reasonable price.

It is a very strong performer even for the "expert" airbrusher because its so robust and reliable.

 

On 6/20/2020 at 9:59 AM, admiralcag said:

I suggest this as well. Great performance, easy to clean, near indestructible. My hobby club uses them to teach airbrushing and they take the abuse.

 

Vern

 

On 6/14/2020 at 5:18 PM, Mstor said:

Iwata Eclipse HP-CS. A very good quality workhorse gravity feed airbrush. I have the side feed version and it has given excellent service for over a decade. I'm sure others will agree. It has been one of the most recommended airbrushes on this forum.

 

 

Ditto.

 

For years I used a Paasche H (still use it for clear coats or other big jobs). But two months ago I picked up an Eclipse HP-CS. I was initially concerned about the learning curve in going from a single-action to double-action. (Years ago my first airbrush was an Aztec 470 double-action...but I hated that thing for several reasons. I hated airbrushing as a result.) I needn't have worried. It was pretty intuitive, and my results immediately improved.  I've used it almost every day (COVID furlough) and have had no issues at all. Wish I would've done this years ago. 

 

jp

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  • 4 weeks later...

I had no idea what I was doing with the testors Aztec many years ago,  but I checked my two partial builds just now that I used it on and it did ok. I suspect testors enamel though....not acrylic MM.  Dont remember.

 

I think I will continue with some partial builds to learn more before maybe getting the Iwata as a step up?

 

this thread is gold info.

 

 

 

 

Edited by Bounce
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On 7/15/2020 at 4:40 PM, johncrow said:

yeah!  that Aztec I had I ended up just pressing hard and pulling back full....hehehe.

 

 

 

Ditto.

 

For years I used a Paasche H (still use it for clear coats or other big jobs). But two months ago I picked up an Eclipse HP-CS. I was initially concerned about the learning curve in going from a single-action to double-action. (Years ago my first airbrush was an Aztec 470 double-action...but I hated that thing for several reasons. I hated airbrushing as a result.) I needn't have worried. It was pretty intuitive, and my results immediately improved.  I've used it almost every day (COVID furlough) and have had no issues at all. Wish I would've done this years ago. 

 

jp

 

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  • 3 months later...

On a similar note - I am about to dive back into building, and have to replace my airbrush and compressor. My last brush was a Badger 155 Anthem, I really liked it. Is this still a viable airbrush? I know that Iwata is VERY highly regarded, I'm a little apprehensive about the price, though.

Any thoughts/comments?

Thank you all.

 

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I’m a big fan of my Badger 200.  Been using one for 15 years, it works for me.  Easy to use, cost-effective, made in the US and Badger has awesome customer support.  

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On 6/17/2020 at 2:12 PM, dnl42 said:

Some more info on painting solvent paints (including Tamiya acrylic, which is IPA soluble).

  • ...
  • Set the full-flow air pressure to 15 PSI (1 atm). This means air (but not paint) is flowing through the airbrush. Static air pressure will be higher.
  • ...

HTH

-- 

dnl

 

As far as setting the full-flow air pressure to 15 psi - how is this measured or controlled? I would set the outlet regulator to __?__ psi with zero flow?

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On 6/14/2020 at 11:14 AM, georgeg said:

Can someone recommend a good first airbrush that won't break the bank but still be capable of good results once I learn how to use it properly?

 

Iwata Revolution HP-BR gravity feed dual action, cheaper than the Iwata Eclipse HP-CS (which I also have), but can do things just as well.  In fact, since it has smaller needle/nozzle, it can do freehand camouflage better.

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I suppose the starter airbrush also depends on the types of plastic scale models the OP plans to build.  If it's cars or other models that require only a few colors and/or broad coverage, then the Paasche H will be sufficient.  On the other hand, if it's 1/72 scale aircraft or small tanks with complex camo paint job, then the Paasche H might get stressed to its limits.

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I can't say for the gravity feed airbrushes but, I've been using a Paasche VL for 25+ years and, it's NEVER let me down. You can but the whole VLS setup for @ $75.00. Very easy to get adjusted to and, super easy to clean.

Steve

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