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Eclipse Side-Feed Takumi Airbrush (ECL350T) Iwata via The Airbrush Company My first slightly reasonable airbrush was the Humbrol airbrush that was pretty far from reasonable if I’m honest, but it was a side-feed airbrush, relying on gravity to help the paint flow out of the cup and into the body from the side, rather than from above, directly in front of the needle. This combines the benefits of gravity working on your behalf to supply your airbrush with paint, with the lack of obstacle right in your view of the front of the airbrush. This certainly renders it worth a look, especially as it’s from Iwata. We’re probably all quite familiar with Iwata, who have an excellent reputation for producing high quality tools for the airbrush artist (we’ll call ourselves artists, why not?), and have been doing so for many years now, with a huge variety of airbrushes of all varieties in their catalogue, in a variety of needle widths, trigger types and cup sizes to suit your line of work. In Japanese art circles, a highly-skilled artist with years of experience under their belt garners the name Takumi, a master craftsman. This airbrush arrives in a cardboard sleeved thick cardboard box, and after cutting the tape the lid slides slowly off to reveal a turquoise foam liner that cradles the airbrush and some additional parts within. The ‘brush is finished in high-gloss reflective chrome, and the 0.24oz/7ml paint cup is removable, sitting above the body within its own cut-out, with another cut-out below for the nozzle spanner, and a final recess for a small tube of Iwata Lube silicone-free airbrush oil. There are other pockets for parts that have been cut but not removed, showing that two larger paint cups could be fitted into the box if a different option was purchased. One looks large enough to take a diluted bottle of your average model paint with ease, and from the drawings on the short instruction sheet, it converts the brush to operate using a syphon feed, further increasing your options. Removing the airbrush is simple thanks to relief around the rear of the cut-out, which shows off the compact body, tipped with a soft clear protector slipped over the crown, the large flat trigger with its grippy surface, and the inlet for the paint cup, which caters for both left- and right-handed users, having two inlets and a stopper than can be transferred between them, allowing paint ingress through either orifice, with the plugged side preventing pass-through. Both fit using friction, thanks to some high-quality milling of the two parts at the factory. Chances are that if you are going to move them, you’ll only do it once unless you are that rare beast – an ambidextrous modeller! The stopper will doubtless get quite a grip of the aperture, so if you ever envisage changing it, make it a regular task to remove it and clean any debris to prevent it silting up and jamming. The handle of the brush has two cut-outs in its sides that allow you to adjust the chucking of the needle without removing the handle, and at the rear is a knurled knob that you can screw in or out to give you a “bump-stop” that will allow you to select the same flow width again-and-again, if for example you are painting mottled camouflage. Removing the handle shows a rubber washer around the join that will help prevent the handle sticking in place on the body. The needle screw is fully visible, and the tension adjuster just in front of it is exposed. If you’re like me, you’ll wind that all the way in at the beginning and only touch it again to either make sure it hasn’t wound back out, or to remove the rear internals by unscrewing them for seriously deep maintenance. At the front, the flexible cap comes off with light finger-pressure, and should be kept handy, as it is useful for back-flushing your brush during cleaning, remembering to put your fingertip over the little hole in the end. The crown is now visible, protecting the delicate ip of the needle from harm during light fumbling or delicate droppage. The four-pronged crown can be unscrewed to offer very slight smoothing of airflow for delicate painting, although the difference is so slight that I might be imagining it, and it might just be that I can both see the surface better, as well as get the needle fractionally closer to my work. The air cap is then visible, and this too unscrews to show the front of the nozzle and the tip of the needle, which is the most delicate part of any airbrush, so should be kept as safe as possible at all times. The very tip of the nozzle has flats on it implying that it can be removed, but the spanner included with this set isn’t suitable for the task, and I understand that the bi-metal nozzles aren’t meant to be separated, so take the hint and leave it in place like a sensible user. Instead, the large spanner grips the flats machined into the outer forward body of the brush, allowing the user to remove that and then free off the teardrop-shaped complete nozzle from its depression, permitting you to remove the needle forward for deep cleaning and to avoid dragging paint through to the rear. The aft section of the nozzle is brass, while the tip where the finest tooling has been carried out is a robust, long-lasting silver-coloured alloy that is unlikely to split unless you handle it very roughly, at which stage you’ll already have bigger problems. Brass wouldn’t hold up very long at all by comparison. In general usage the needle is removed from the rear after loosening the chuck, and here again the compact size of the airbrush shows itself in the length of the needle, which is 0.35mm at its tip, which makes it excellent for a general use airbrush that is capable of a great many spray widths, depending on how you use it. The technical data shows a spray pattern varying from 0.35mm to 50mm, which should suit most modellers’ needs. As proof of this, Iwata have included a small sheet of paper with the instructions that is a test sheet, showing both a tiny, narrow scribble in black that expands to a wide band and then fades out to a hazy trail of paint particles. The 7ml (0.24oz) tapered cup is finished in matching chrome, and has a long horizontal feed tube at the bottom, that mates with the body at the side. The lid has a lip inside to reduce dripping, and the syphon-cut breathing hole in the lid also helps to prevent paint build-up, gravity automatically decanting it back into the cup before it dries. The final part in the box is the lube, which should be used very sparingly away from the paint path to keep the various moving parts from sticking. This tiny tube should last years. The needle packing is PTFE, but unless you’re planning on soaking your airbrush in very ‘hot’ thinners, there shouldn’t be an issue, and I’ve used Mr Self-Levelling Thinners in many many airbrushes with PTFE seals over the years. I've now got a brand-new airbrush lying in pieces on my desk, so I’d better put it back together again and think next about painting something with it. I believe that’s called modelling, I think? In Action It wouldn’t be a review without running a bit of paint through the review sample, so I’ve done that. This is a medium sized needle, so I’ve been using it for medium-sized jobs. I primed a small model with some Alclad Grey Primer, and that came out lovely, with very little in the way of surface preparation needed for the next coat, which was to spray some Mirror by Stuart Semple, which I consider to be the best chrome paint I’ve ever used. It’s not cheap though, but you don’t use much because it’s so thin. The airbrush took both paints in its stride with no problems other than my own clumsiness, which is legendary. When cleaning the primer from the airbrush I managed to loosen the cup and it fell off and rolled down the front of my spray booth. Oopsie! On the upside, it didn’t dribble much paint, and what it did release was easy to clean up, but it illustrates the fact that you should push the cup well into the side of the airbrush, lest it come loose when you’re wiping paint away from the body. The surface of the Mirror came out nice and smooth, with a shiny surface that couldn’t be improved on much without putting real chrome on it. I know this is a review about the airbrush not the paint, but it’s worth noting that the Mirror paint is very thin, and Chrome is a tricky colour to spray consistently. With regard to the offset of the colour cup, I honestly didn't notice it after I’d filled it up with paint. It doesn’t noticeably affect the balance of the airbrush, and visibility is good thanks to the lack of cup in the way, which works for both left- and right-handers just as well if you switch the cup over. The tipped-forward trigger falls nicely to hand and is very grippy, adding little that could block your view of the work in progress, even with your finger in place. Clean-up is easy too, and being able to dismantle the whole nozzle is useful if you leave paint in your airbrush for too long, coupled with the compact nature of the airbrush itself will lend itself to anyone with small to medium hands who might find a standard sized ‘brush feels too large. I’ve got fairly large hands, and didn’t find any issues there, just noticing that it felt quite petite in my hand compared to my usual. Only the truly large-of-hand would find it too small, but then the whole modelling thing might be tricky if your hands are that big. Most gravity fed airbrushes are stuck with the one size of paint cup once you’ve bought them, unless you have the screw-on type. The side feed option takes the benefits of gravity feed with those of the syphon feed, and throws most of the negatives in the bin. The availability of larger cups that can hang downward and turn your ‘brush into a syphon-feed is useful for those that paint larger areas, or like to run several colour cups at once for a quick change. Conclusion This is a good quality airbrush with a feel in use that backs that opening phrase up all the way. It’s a great all-round ‘brush, and comes with everything you need to get going except the hose and possibly a Quick Release (QR) connector if you swap ‘brushes frequently like I do. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
Iwata Eclipse CS Airbrush (HP-CS) Iwata via The Airbrush Company If you don't already airbrush then it might be time to make the leap. I was a brush painter for many years until I took the plunge (don't tell but I still like to brush paint every now and again!). The Air Brush I started with was the Iwata HP-CS and this is still a good AB today for the beginner and the more experienced modeller alike. Iwata make a range of airbrushes from extra wide one through to extreme detail brushes, they cover this in their easy to understand "5 Ways to Spray". They list 5 categories of airbrush. Absolute Precision - Featuring the Iwata Custom Micro. This is specifically designed for extreme details. Total Control - Featuring the Hi Line & High Performance Plus airbrushed. This covers the Fine to Medium spectrum. All Star Versatility - Featuring the Eclipse series of Airbrushes which range from Fine to Wide. Effortless Coverage - Featuring the Revolution and Neo for Iwata Series. Mainly the Medium range for these. Full Finish - Featuring the G-Series and ANEST airbrushes. This is the Wide to Extra wide are. The Eclipse is very much a general airbrush fitting firmly into number 3. It has great coverage on the wider end down to fairly fine lines at the other end and is probably Iwata's most versatile airbrush. It is duel action in that pushing down the trigger releases air, and pulling it back controls the paint flow. It has a 7ml cup which comes with a lid if you choose to use it, the needle size is 0.35mm and it will spray a pattern from this upto 50mm wide. They recommend pressures of 25-35 psi but TBH I find less that this is needed for correctly thinned paint. Also in the box if a small tube of lube for the needle. and a head spanner, though I must admit to only ever tightening the head on mine finger tight. All Iwata airbrushes from The Airbrush Company come with a 10 year guarantee for piece of mind. Conclusion This is a great airbrush for the beginner and the experienced airbrusher alike. It covers most applications the scale modeller will need. If even a slightly ham fisted modeller like myself can get very decent results you know its easy to use! In addition If you need any advise on equipment, then the fine folks at Airbrushes.com (The Airbrush Company) are available and will help you get the best setup for you. Just give them a ring. Very Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
Acrylic Primer Set (PS01) LifeColor via The Airbrush Company You may prime your models or not – it's a choice that we make with some pros and cons on either side, but generally speaking I fall into the category of being a modeller that primes my models. I feel it gives a standard colour and texture over which to paint your top coats, shows up imperfections that might need some attention, and generally gives the model a key onto which you add your next layers. This brings with it some requirements for a good primer. I prefer using a primer that is sandable, and adheres well to the plastic so it doesn't pull off the paint when you remove any masking. I also spray my primers predominantly, so the ability to run them through an airbrush is also a must. This new boxed set from LifeColor is mainly aimed at armour modellers judging by the colours, but as I only had an aircraft fuselage to play around with them, that's what you get! The paints arrive in the standard box with the six colours all held in a card insert. The bottles are 22ml and have black screw caps keeping the paint in and new labels with their name and number at bottom centre. Opening up the lids you can see what they mean, as it is immediately obvious that they are pigment rich, and thicker than the usual consistency of LC paints, as evidenced by the slow sinking of my glass mixing beads into the pots. In the set you get the following 6 colours: BC01 Primer Panzer Dark Grey BC02 Primer Red Brown BC03 Primer Olive Drab BC04 Primer Tank Interior BC05 Primer Burned Base BC06 Primer Panzer Yellow Airbrush Use The thickness of the paint has a knock-on effect of requiring more thinners to get it to spray through an airbrush (my nozzle is 0.2mm), and clean-up is extended slightly due to the pigment content. I got the mix a bit wrong in the Burned Base, which explains the slightly spitty demarcation with the Tank Interior White. It's easily corrected with a bit more thinner though, and for this review I used Ultimate Thinners, as usual. When thinned correctly it sprays well and covers well, as you'd expect with the whitish shade of Tank Interior White requiring a little extra care initially to mist on the primer with heavier coats to follow. Ignoring clean-up between the colours, there was little to slow me down and my ad hoc thinning method (i.e. "that looks about right") seemed suitable. Adhesion seems good from the outset and upon trying the aggressive masking, burnishing and ripping off the tape again there was almost no paint removed despite my best attempts. The paint that was removed appeared to have possibly had its adhesion reduced by some exterior factor – possibly a little oil from my fingers. Fresh paint didn't fare too well against a sanding stick and it peeled off rather than sanded off. After the paint had cured overnight on a warm day (21oc) however it reacted better to sanding sponges, but was still a little prone to tearing with sanding sticks of coarser grades that had no cushioning layers behind the abrasive. Saying all that, you're a lot less likely to need to sand seams with AFV models, which is where these paints are aimed. Brush Painting This was a bit of a novelty for me, as I'm a dyed-in-the-wool airbrush user. I painted the insides of the fuselage halves with an AMMO #6 flat brush without thinning, and was very pleased with the results. The paint goes on very smoothly and brush marks don't seem to be much of an issue. Whether there's an element of self-levelling in the formulation I can't say for certain, but the effect suggests that there may be. Only the Tank Interior White, which is actually a slightly off-white with a hint of yellow-brown needed a second coat to achieve even partial coverage with a brush. I would have added a third coat if I was actually building the model rather than just testing the paint. The Dark Yellow also needed a second coat, but would not need another one on the basis you would be painting over it. I'm sure a veteran brush-painter could make a better job of it, and the fact that I was painting around lots of internal ribs didn't help, but overall I'm quite impressed with the quality of finish. I'm not going to throw out my airbrushes just yet mind you! Conclusion LifeColor paints are good acrylics and clean up with water, Ultimate Airbrush Cleaner or their own thinners. If you're not using it on subjects that may need further sanding after application, they're a good base for your work. Airbrush or brush painting gives a good finish, and using a similar shade primer to your top coat allows greater freedom to achieve the results you're after. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of